Letters to the Editor: alcohol, driving and left-wing bias

Experts say 8000 New Zealanders have died because of hazardous drinking. Photo: Getty Images
A Health NZ longitudinal survey of 6799 adults showed that 16% of the adult population of New Zealand drink in a harmful way. Photo: Getty Images
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including a change in the way we are drinking, left-wing and right-wing policies, and who instructs the driving instructors?


He rebutted it, so it must be true then

Mayor Radich’s rebuttal of Rob Hamlin’s assertions regarding council debt merely served to confirm their validity. (ODT 12.4.24).

Council debt, says the mayor, is supported by its ability to collect rates, which is the key to the ongoing strength of its credit rating. That debt, he says, is not secured against residents’ houses. Not quite true.

The mayor knows well that payment of rates is a legal obligation under the Rating Act, and that failure to pay may well result in legal action to enforce a house sale to settle the account. The AA credit rating from S+P exists solely because of the individual personal guarantees of council debt by Dunedin ratepayers.

The current "negative" outlook for DCC debt, along with the acknowledgement that debt will rise, signals a future credit downgrade and costlier borrowing.

The council currently pays $1 million per week in interest. Selling the family silver may or may not be the best option, but even considering it means that we had better stop unnecessary spending.

Ian Pillans


How we’re drinking

The ODT editorial (15.4.24) "Booze not just youth problem" says that young people are drinking more responsibly. This is true — but the editorial does not acknowledge that we are drinking differently.

In the Health NZ longitudinal survey of 6799 adults on the health and wellbeing of Kiwis shows us that more of us are drinking responsibly.

In fact 84% of adults — more than four out of five of us — drink beer, wine and spirits responsibly. This is an increase of 3 percentage points from last year.

Hazardous drinking is at the lowest level since the survey began — sitting at 16% of the adult population. This is 110,000 fewer Kiwis drinking in a harmful way.

We still have a way to go with the way that we are drinking, but let’s acknowledge that there is a cultural change in the way that we are drinking.

Virginia Nicholls
Executive director, NZ Alcohol Beverages Council


Knowing left from right

Those who complain of media having a left-wing bias could consider what "left wing" means. It refers to those who advocate the promotion of greater social and economic equality and who are concerned for those in society who are disadvantaged. Who among us does not consider that morally good?

Left wing means a wish to reduce excessive differences in status, power and wealth. Right wing, in contrast, refers to those who put an individual’s autonomy ahead of social equality. It implies conservatism, or the belief that things are better left unchanged.

Leaders of our country who have been left wing have introduced policies that everyone benefits from, including those who define themselves as right wing.

Universal superannuation and free healthcare are good examples. Right-wing leaders have tended to remove such social benefits as much as they can regardless of social consequences.

An example is National governments selling state houses, which has contributed to our present housing crisis.

Those who have a comfortable lifestyle tend to dislike left-wing policies until they get unlucky, lose their jobs and their wealth and find themselves turning to society for help. We all benefit from left-wing policies and if our media does have such a bias we can all be grateful for it.

Susan Grimsdell


Nervous would-be drivers need empathy

What are the qualifications and qualities required for VTNZ examiners who test young drivers for a driver’s licence? Do these examiners have stringent tests and are their personalities and people skills suited for this important position?

Too many capable young Dunedin drivers are failing their driving licence tests and it is time for the examiners to make known just how many young people are having to resit their tests — sometimes more than once.

Many of these applicants need licences to get to school or work or even to help transport elderly relatives to appointments. What are they doing wrong and are they being encouraged by a friendly examiner?

When being tested, most people feel nervous and nervous people make more mistakes. It is ridiculous when some capable young people are held back and their confidence dashed by examiners who are too critical. Surely it is the job of examiners to encourage and help build the confidence of each, especially those who are completing a resit examination. Maybe it is time for driving school teachers to be given the qualification to test their learner drivers when they know that they are ready to drive alone safely. Then more young people would pass their tests.

Bernice Armstrong
North East Valley


Holding on

I read with much amusement the article (ODT 6.4.24) in which Cr Steve Walker suggested that the mayor takes a plane trip to Wellington to talk to Shane Reti.

The majority of the people needing the new hospital voted for Labour.

Without representation in government, I would not be surprised if the new Dunedin hospital is put on hold.

If there is a common sense course at Otago University, then maybe Cr Walker should attend.

Gavin Mead


Reasons why this is a failed government

The basic foundation and purpose of government since at least the English Civil War and Hobbes’ essay Leviathan on the necessity for government, has been the protection and wellbeing of the citizen whether republic, a democracy or some other forms of government.

Governments need to recognise the role of citizens not as consumers or clients but as citizens. If we take seriously the concept of the role of the state to protect its citizens then this government must be considered a failed government.

This coalition government has appointed a recent gun lobbyist who talks about the AR15 30-round automatic weapon like the one used in the Christchurch mosque massacre as a sporting gun, in charge of firearms policy. A government which is considering bringing the AR15 back into New Zealand is definitely putting lives at risk.

The government’s apparent wish to please the tobacco industry shows a disinterest in the protection of the health of our young people. And David Seymour’s intentions to cut free school lunches shows the same disregard for the wellbeing of young children growing up in poverty.

The same goes for their disregard for the future of our young people when it comes to climate change. The profit of the few from offshore oil and mining is more important to them than the protection of the many lives to come.

This is why this coalition is a failed government.

Marvin Hubbard


[Abridged — length. Ed]


Going backwards

Thank you for writing what we are all thinking. (ODT editorial 13.4.24). These are people who have real work to do and who have real families to support.

People cannot be treated like a percentage point on a spreadsheet. The wealthy will make the most gain from this government’s action. Everyone else will be losing or going backwards.

Mary Robertson


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