On Monday afternoon last week, after finishing work as a volunteer at the Hospice Shop in Warkworth, I tripped on a seat in Argyll Angle and badly hit my head. Four Mahurangi College students – Luke Brown, Megan Maclachlan, Maddie Miles and Leah Sainty – came to my rescue. They lifted me up, asked me how I was and then walked me back to The Oaks where I live. The receptionist Raewyn took me to the doctor to get my injuries checked and she thoughtfully made sure that someone checked on me during the night. The next day, two of the students returned to see me and brought a beautiful bunch of flowers. Then they did the same thing the next day. They were so caring and compassionate. Thank you so much for being there and for helping me. And, my apologies to their grandparents, but I feel I now have four new grandchildren. It just goes to show that people in Warkworth really do care about one another.
Pat Wells, The Oaks, Warkworth
In his recent Viewpoint column, Bevan Woodward (MM Oct 23) suggests some very sensible steps for addressing climate change. Unfortunately though, we don’t seem to have a national decision-making process which can adopt sensible suggestions. Our parliamentarians can act together in uncontentious matters, but in difficult matters they too often seem to be more interested in what is good for their respective political parties rather than in what is good for the nation. Community groups up and down the country habitually make decisions by consensus, but our elected leaders just don’t seem to be capable of doing this. The latest example is the Environment Select Committee’s final report on the Zero Carbon Bill, released on October 21. MPs from the four major parties received over 10,000 submissions and heard 800 submissions. They deliberated for several months and had the whole machinery of the state available to provide expert advice. Did they use the opportunity to develop a common position so they could lead the country forward together? No. Their report is split on party lines, meaning that any action which follows could be reversed after the next election. There is a way to break this pattern and that is to convene a Citizens’ Assembly. This works much like a jury. A number of citizens (say 100) are selected at random and brought together at public expense. They are provided with expert advice and then asked to recommend what steps the country should take. This approach has been used with some success elsewhere – for example in Ireland, to address some intractable social issues as well as climate change. A Citizens’ Assembly does not replace parliament, it simply advises. But when an assembly achieves a high level of consensus, then even MPs can see that this takes precedence over party politics. Moves are under way to establish a NZ Citizens Assembly in 2020. An organising conference is to be held on November 11 this year. All interested people and organisations are invited – details are at climateemergency.org.nz.
Bob Lack, Grafton
Not so fast
Further to my previous letter (MM Oct 2) regarding Ministers Peters and Jones wanting to spend up large on the Northern Rail, there were a couple of replies (MM Oct 23) that do need to be corrected. Both writers suggested that road transport is heavily subsidised by taxpayers and owners of cars, etc. For a considerable number of years now, since the introduction of the road user charges licence system (RUC) was adopted, trucks over 3.5 tonne have had to pay a per km charge that relates directly to their road loading and number of axles, etc. The bigger the load, the more you pay. It is quite a complex system, but all trucks pay big money to use the roads, in fact arguably they subsidise the motorist.
A study in 2009 – an independent Review of the RUC funded by Land Transport – found that heavy trucks and some other vehicles were, in fact, paying more than their fair share towards roads by some 20 per cent plus. I have worked pretty much all my life in and for the transport industry. I am very proud of what this industry contributes to our nation’s standard of living every day. It is a great NZ customer-centred service industry that works hard on all our behalves, genuinely earning every dollar it gets.
It is certainly not taxpayer subsidised and deserves better wisdom and understanding from those who would publish otherwise. The movement of freight is competitive and customer-driven. Any government should be careful about putting taxpayer money into what might be a more emotional and political perceived need.
Maurie Hooper, Snells Beach
Beware NIMBY uprising
Spring is the ideal time to burn remaining autumn debris before the fire ban. Watch for the uprising of climate change, green NIMBYs who delight in wasting Council time and resources investigating little backyard fires.
Deanna Yarndley, Warkworth