Your waste-to-energy (WtE) article (MM Feb 19) grabbed my attention, in particular this – “The only way WtE could compete is if landfill taxes were dramatically increased. In short, we’d have to pay a lot more to get rid of our rubbish. So, it comes to this: are we willing to pay the price?” But dramatically increasing landfill taxes is not the only way WtE could compete. Government has the capacity to access funds from the bank it owns on behalf of all New Zealanders (the Reserve Bank), without costing taxpayers or ratepayers anything, and building a WtE plant which the country could then own – much preferred to allowing ownership by an overseas company. That funding mechanism has been used in this country (and others) before and is currently used in both Japan and China. The Ministry of Works report on the state house building programme started in 1936 states: “To finance its comprehensive proposals, the Government used Reserve Bank credit, recognising the most important factor in housing costs is the price of money – interest is the heaviest portion in the composition of ordinary rent. [It] was able to obtain funds at the lowest possible rate of interest. The sums advanced by the Reserve Bank were not subscribed or underwritten by other financial institutions. This showed it was possible for the State to use the country’s credit in creating new assets for the country”. The key fact here is that the interest paid on the loans went back to the Government due to its ownership of the Reserve Bank. This mechanism is attracting significant international support from economists, economics professors, and financial writers. $5 billion in taxpayers’ money annually currently goes in paying interest on government borrowing when it could instead boost funding for health, education, etc. More can be found here – tellmemore.org.nz
Chris Leitch, leader Social Credit
Party on Hill St
What fantastic news to read the Hill Street intersection is to be fixed (MM Feb 19). Thank you to the Fix Hill Street Now lobby group, all the local politicians and all the community leaders who have fought for this for so long on behalf the wider community. A special thank you to Cr Greg Sayers for being able to turn all that advocacy into a favorable decision. As some skeptics say the proof is in the pudding, but I’ve got my party hat ready to celebrate when the new roundabout is opened.
Alan Kendall, Snells Beach
Get a move on
While it was encouraging to see that NZTA is applying for resource consent for the Warkworth to Te Hana motorway (MM February 19), it was not mentioned when the motorway would be built. In recent correspondence with the Minister of Transport, Phil Twyford, I mentioned the following as reasons why the motorway should be started in 2021, after the completion of the Puhoi to Warkworth section. These are as follows: There have been 36 deaths and 102 crashes in the last 10 years, in excess of eight million vehicles pass through Warkworth annually; the Government has surpluses and low interest rates on borrowing at present; and wouldn’t it make sense to use the experienced workforce who are presently building the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway? Mr Twyford did not disagree with any of the above reasons, but he did state that work would not start until 2030! With a building time frame of six years this means completion in 2036 – this means 16 years from now would be the earliest this urgent motorway would open. This is unacceptable, as there is no valid reason not to start work in 2021. I suppose it is too much to expect common sense to prevail on this matter after we see the Government has committed to build a cycleway over the Harbour Bridge, despite its budget going from $31 million to a staggering $360 million.
Bryan Jackson, Snells Beach.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford responds: We’re making SH1 from Wellsford to north of Warkworth safer through the Dome Valley with proven upgrades like median barriers. These will save lives, like they have in places like on Centennial Highway north of Wellington, where nobody has died since they were installed. The upgrades in Dome Valley are expected to be completed before the opening of the Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway. SH1 between Auckland and Whangarei is being progressively upgraded. The Clark Labour Government built the Northern Gateway Orewa to Pūhoi, we are building Pūhoi to Warkworth which is due to be completed next year, and we’ve just announced $692 million for a new four-lane highway for what is currently the most dangerous and busy section of the road between Auckland and Whangarei – SH1 Whangārei to Port Marsden. There’s no doubt that Warkworth to Te Hana will be built, but NZTA also has to balance projects nationally against available funds. We can’t do everything at once, but we are making progress.
When I moved to Rodney 25 years ago, many of the roads were unsealed. Cars slowed down when passing someone walking on the road or driving an open tractor. They also slowed when driving past a dwelling, so that people could keep their windows open and hang their laundry outside. Today, our roads are still unsealed but the drivers have changed. Instead of showing consideration for the poor souls being smothered in dust, drivers now take no prisoners. They race along the dusty roads as if there was no tomorrow. They do not notice the clouds of dust behind their vehicles or, if they do, they do not give a rat’s tail. How have drivers become so selfish within one generation?
K. H. Peter Kammler, Warkworth