Letters: Christmas gifts, private healthcare, Three Waters, education, and Gaurav Sharma – New Zealand Herald

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Here's to a simpler, more thoughtful Christmas. Photo / 123rf, File
A gift guide
There are numerous anxiety-producing events in the world at the moment that can make the average person feel helpless and hopeless to effect any meaningful change. But there are two areas where
Going private
After 16 years as a hospital doctor, it is heartening to hear discussion about equity in healthcare and chronic understaffing. Yet no one has had the political courage to question the corrosive effects of our lucrative private health-care system on our publicly funded one. We undoubtedly lose health workers to foreign, more lucrative shores, but we also lose personnel to the local private system. Every nurse tending to a patient in a private hospital is unavailable to look after one in a public hospital. Every doctor who performs a procedure in private is unavailable to do the same in public. And when the wait for a specialist referral or surgical procedure grows too long, the public system pays to have patients seen by the very same doctors in private. We will never have equitable health care when people are allowed to “jump the queue” or access more treatment options in private if they can afford it. We should not allow the private healthcare system to go unexamined and unchecked. If we do not have the courage to ask uncomfortable questions, we will never get to where we claim we want to go. Art Nahill, MD, Remuera.
Liquid assets
The Three Waters legislation is designed to give every New Zealander access to clean potable water of a consistent quality, such as we enjoy in places like Auckland, regardless of their location. This in response to some local authorities in provincial areas, who proved themselves incapable of doing this and the legislation was to include a provision that our water infrastructure could not be sold overseas. How is this a bad law? Why is there opposition to the provision of clean water everywhere, which can’t be sold off to overseas interests at the stroke of a pen? In whose interest is it to give away our access to water? Is there a political agenda we don’t know about yet? Am I missing something here? Grahame Waite, Glenfield.
Testing times
As a long-time educator, I am increasingly concerned about the direction the bureaucrats are taking NCEA. Compared to most other OECD countries, we have an absolute obsession with assessment. We are the only country in the world that formally assesses our young people in the last three years of secondary schooling, and has three qualifications at three levels (four if you include University Entrance) in those three years. Now it seems we are going to add even more assessments with regular online tests administered by the ministry throughout the year, and literacy tests that young people have to pass to get any recognition of individual talents they might have in many other areas of learning. Has anyone thought that this obsession with testing and the inevitable significant reduction in the time available for learning may be one of the prime reasons our young people are not doing as well as their peers in many other countries? David Hood, Hamilton.
Derailed debate
Gary Carter is correct (NZ Herald, December 13), it has been a trainwreck of a year. In fact, it’s been almost three years due to a pandemic creating social and economic chaos, globally. However, Three Waters and the TVNZ/Radio NZ merger have not contributed to the trainwreck. Without going into the pros and cons of either, it appears Carter’s opposition to Three Waters is co-governance. How did co-governance become such a big deal? Why are so many people scared of Māori having input into the future of our water? There is already co-governance for the Waikato and Whanganui rivers and I’m not aware of any issues with this arrangement. Māori consider water to be sacred and have a strong environmental track record. Surely their participation in maintaining and improving our water quality should be welcomed. Three Waters has become a political football driven by misinformation and racial mistrust and it would be great to see some sensible debate in the New Year. Paul Kenny, Ponsonby.
Over achiever
Gaurav Sharma did more for New Zealand than he could ever have achieved as a Labour MP. By forcing the Hamilton West byelection for Labour to lose, NZ immediately has the fast track residency for nurses, midwives and other medical professionals who have been denied and who are so desperately needed. The delay has been inexplicable and the waiting times for treatment have been a horror story. Well done Gaurav. June Kearney, West Harbour.
Standing down
The Prime Minister has announced a list of three Labour Cabinet Ministers and three Labour MPs who will be retiring next election. Recent political polls indicate that, unless there is a drastic turnaround in Labour’s favour, many more than just six Labour MPs will be “retiring” or will be ”retired” after next year’s general election. Philip Lenton, Somerville.
Cultural chasm
“Do we have to own all that? They are not even New Zealand paintings… If it’s the bequests [of art] that cost us to look after the damn [paintings] it’s not much of a bequest if you ask me.” These are the reported (NZ Herald, December 13) words of our mayor. What does he think a “world-class city” consists of? Is it limited to cafes, accessible beaches and “well-run” public transport? There is also an implied suggestion that art is somehow an elitist activity. Hopefully, he is now aware that just as many people go to art galleries and museums as sporting events. Perhaps he feels we should go overseas to enjoy what the world has to offer? Rod Thomas, Associate Professor, School of Law, AUT University.
Tough ask
Eric Wolters’ letter (NZ Herald, December 13) illustrates one of the big weaknesses of the “get tough on crime” or “stronger penalties” approach to crime: how would “stronger penalties” affect those who smashed his son-in-law’s van if they couldn’t even be identified in the first place; let alone arrested, charged, convicted or sentenced? ”Getting tough on crime” should be about getting tough on crime occurring in the first place, not waiting until after it has been committed and the damage already done (to everyone concerned) to react harshly. Morgan L. Owens, Manurewa.
That’s a wrap
The simplest way to help reduce plastic in the environment is to avoid buying Christmas gifts packaged in plastic or made of plastic. We can make a difference. Traditionally, after Christmas, our landfills are full of plastic waste. Many young people are concerned about our environment, this would be an excellent opportunity for them to rally support. I would like to see Government legislate to stop the use of plastic drink bottles. We need to go back to glass and have a refund policy to encourage recycling. There are lots of areas where we can help reduce our plastic use. S. Hansen, Hastings.
Football heroics
I agree with the sentiments in your editorial (NZ Herald, December 13). Kiwis love an underdog success sports story, and Morocco have certainly provided that in Qatar. Although several of their players ply their trade at top-flight European clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, none are regarded superstars like Ronaldo or Neymar. This tournament has shown that football, often called the “beautiful game”, is very much a team game. Another observation is the pin-up boys are usually the strikers scoring goals but the hero of Morocco is possibly their goal keeper, Yasmine Bounou, affectionately known as Bono. When Qatar were awarded the hosting rights for this tournament, I thought it was crazy and spending $6.5 billion building eight new stadiums in the desert, even crazier. London has seven teams in the Premier League, each with magnificent stadiums plus Wembley with 90,000 seats and could have easily hosted the tournament without building anything. However, the decision has been vindicated. Growing the game in the Middle East and Africa will have millions of boys and girls aspiring to be the next Bono. This is a brilliant outcome and bodes well for the future of football. Glen Stanton, Mairangi Bay.
On Seymour
People who sought definitions of “hate speech” from advocates of laws to prohibit its utterance, and stated “you will know it when you see it”, might now wonder whether calling an MP ” an arrogant prick” in the House qualifies as “it”. J. Livingstone, Remuera.
David Seymour claiming Jacinda Ardern’s apology for calling him an arrogant prick a “victory” confirms what an astute PM we have. Jeremy Coleman, Hillpark.
On Christmas
Originally, Christmas was intended to celebrate a birthday. The birthday boy, now buried under layers of tinsel and depleted credit cards, is no doubt calling, wistfully, “Hey, what about me?” Anne Martin, Helensville.
On farmers
Dear Tom, That was a fine advertisement (NZH, December 12). Now please give us another one with the details we should be aiming for. Keith Duggan, Browns Bay.
On cones
I will not be at all surprised when the next NBR Rich List comes out to learn that we have a new billionaire in our midst. Mr W Hat, road cone manufacturer. L Mallon, Te Atatu.
On goodwill
To the lady who helped out on Monday evening at the car park pay station at Auckland Airport. You know who you are. A big thank you. Will Phelps, Ohinewai.
Jim Bolger challenges co-governance
They want the PM to clarify her position on co-governance? They’re asking the wrong person for two reasons. Firstly they should be asking Nanaia Mahuta and secondly, the PM has never clarified anything. Her answers are all evasion and platitude. John K.
We cannot get a straight answer out of this Government about its real intentions for co-governance. The policy was not campaigned on and seems to be backdoor politics where New Zealanders have no say. How could so many ministers be asleep at the wheel that actually voted it in – apparently by mistake? I do not trust them whatsoever and never will. They are addicted to spending and power. Mark W.
I don’t see why Bolger is so dismissive of a referendum. Let the people decide. Paul A.
If both Bolger and Doug Graham publicly disagree with David Seymour then I am delighted. Seymour is clearly doing the right thing by everyone. John H.
A really interesting and informative article. Thank you, NZ Herald. Alfred T.

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