Letters to the Editor: smoking laws and election promises

Photo: ODT files
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including the plan to repeal smokefree laws, promises around the hospital rebuild, and the situation in Gaza.


Smokefree step a retrograde move

The coalition's plan to repeal the smokefree legislation (ODT 27.11.23) is a retrograde step, and will negatively impact tangata whenua in particular. When considered together with the intention to abolish Te Aka Whai Ora (the Māori Health Authority) it shows a disregard for the health of vulnerable New Zealanders and a lack of concern for the health of future generations.

The motive for these changes appears to be to increase revenue from tax, and to reduce spending in health administration. There is a fundamental failure to understand the reasons for the implementation of smokefree legislation and for the establishment of the Māori Health Authority. These moves will widen inequalities in society.

Hazel Agnew


Money making

Excellent editorial, "Smokers to the rescue" (ODT 27.11.23). Are there no depths to which the trio of government party leaders will not sink? Even the health of the young is up for sacrifice on the alter of grubby money making.

We like to think of New Zealand as free of political corruption but do we just do corruption in a different way from many other countries? There is a fine line being trodden when owners of multiple properties race to pass laws favouring landlords over tenants and those prepared to work for big tobacco pass laws detrimental to public health.

J. Munro
Green Island


All, not some

I was concerned to read (ODT 27.11.23) that, concerning the new hospital, "Some [my italics] cuts have since been reversed amid public pressure". The word, surely, should have been all. It is worth recalling National’s election promise: "A National-led government will ensure that the hospital will open with all the beds, operating theatres and radiology services that Labour took away . . . The new Dunedin hospital will be built better and sooner under National".

It would be good to have confirmation from the authorities that they are planning accordingly, including that all 421 beds, and the PET scanner, will be operational from the opening days of the inpatient and outpatient buildings. And the public pedestrian bridge over Hanover St reinstated (images of patients trundling through the traffic in wheelchairs do not appeal).

It is deeply disappointing that, as we read, the unnecessary cuts that Labour enacted put the project back by a year, and wasted a few more millions on redesigning.

I have a simple question. Surely, if we just go back to the previous 2021 business case — and I presume those plans are still sitting there on someone’s desk — and perhaps put in a bit of overtime, the original opening date of 2028 can be achieved.

"Better and sooner": OK, money where mouth is.

Dr Mac Gardner


Bring back planes

I agree with Susan Easterbrook (ODT 28.11.23) re the need for international flights to and from Dunedin.

We have a great airport with the proven capability of handling these flights and we used to have flights to and from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Why can we not have them again?

I know I'm not alone in thinking how good it would be if these international flights were reinstated. No more driving to Queenstown to collect relatives.

Margaret Mitchell


Pūteketeke politics

If John Oliver had asked the world to vote for the Australasian Crested Grebe, I wonder how many votes would have been achieved?

Liz Simpson


Noble intentions, but naive conclusions

Your editorial (ODT 22.11.23) joined other letters and contributions in describing the current Gaza tragedy and considering how to reduce the bloodshed. In closing you suggested: "What seems to be missing in this part of the Middle East is a moral compass which points out the sanctity and uniqueness of all human life, regardless of religion or of the country or state people live in."

In saying this you recognise that basic core beliefs about ourselves and our value as humans guide how we treat each other and provide a cardinal point in any ethical compass.

What is both curious and naive about the question you ask is that it refers to that part of the Middle East where three world religions meet — and religions matter, while the nation state system is still a recent arrival there and an imposed one at that. How can the developed religious convictions there be bypassed in hope of arriving at some conviction on the "sanctity and uniqueness of human life"? At this point your secular underwear is showing and the inadequacy of the preceding analysis is explained. Only secular Westerners try to assert the ‘‘sanctity and uniqueness of all human life’’ without religion or something transcendent establishing that value. Christians and Jews can do that. Muslims — as defined by the Koran, Hadith and Life of the Prophet — cannot. The Hamas Charter certainly doesn’t. Then practically, the value Israel places on the ‘‘sanctity and uniqueness of all human life’’ is then processed through the reality of a war for its existential survival. This is very much about the consequences of fundamental convictions and not merely "disarming extremism and aggressive jingoism, whether it be by Israeli or Palestinian."

Francis Noordanus


Address Letters to the Editor to: Otago Daily Times, PO Box 517, 52-56 Lower Stuart St, Dunedin. Email: editor@odt.co.nz