Letters to the editor: hospital cuts, euthanasia and Te Tiriti

An artist’s impression of the new Dunedin Hospital. PHOTO: ODT FILES
An artist’s impression of the new Dunedin Hospital. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Today's letters to the editor from readers cover topics including hospital cuts, assisted dying laws, and the promise of equality.


Hospital cuts and the lack of justification

The significance of the $90 million cut to the proposed Dunedin hospital build needs closer examination.

The original estimate was $1.47 billion, but following an estimated budget increase of $200 million the Government decided to stump up with just $110 million, leaving cuts to be made to claw back $90 million.

Now $90 million seems a great deal money in the eyes of most but it is only 5.7% of the current $1.58 billion cost estimate. Given that the argument is being based on cost estimates, two examples of cost increases are illuminating.

Firstly, Transmission Gully went from an estimated build cost of $850 million to a cost in excess of $1.25 billion. That works out as a 47% increase on the original estimate.

Secondly, the Auckland Rail Link had an original cost of $4.4 billion. Recently a revised estimate of $5.4 billion was quoted and an extended finish date. That equates to a 24% increase on a project that is far from completion.

Corelogic stated in late 2022 that South Island building costs were increasing at 11% annually for residential builds. If this inflation figure is applied to the hospital build then the cost is increasing by over $3 million per week. It can be taken as given that the completion cost will far exceed the $1.58 billion so why are we even discussing design cuts and/or delays in fitting out the build?

No cuts are justified on the basis of such variable estimates as to the actual cost. Stick with the original design and get on with the project.

John Fenby
President, Grey Power South Otago


Every day we read in the media or hear on the news about the government spending millions of dollars.

Meanwhile the health system right throughout New Zealand is falling apart.

The cuts to the design of the new Dunedin hospital are unbelievable. Dunedin Hospital is a teaching hospital and is important for all New Zealand. Therefore it should be nothing but the best in all departments. Our locally elected MPs David Clark and Ingrid Leary — who should be screaming from the rooftops in Wellington in support of the new hospital — appear to be hiding under a rock.

Let’s all unite behind the mayor and councillors and take a stand. The hospital is important to us all.

P. Forgie


The Government’s priorities for capital investment are highly questionable.

The proposed Auckland light rail project is not supported by a majority of Aucklanders. Most feel that a spur line, from the existing one to the airport, is a cheaper and more sensible option.

The transport minister announces plans for a second harbour crossing. Fair enough, long-term one is needed, and planning should have been under way years ago. However, at the same time he resurrected the plan for a cycleway/pedestrian crossing to be built at a cost of, at this stage, $700 million.

How on earth can these projects take priority over building a completely fit-for-purpose Otago regional hospital?

How can they think of pruning $90 million off this project, and instead spending $700 million on a nice-to-have idea, but of dubious overall benefit to the country?

Our health system is rapidly descending into Third World status, and money needs to be spent where it is really needed.

Colin Figgins


The slippery slide and assisted dying laws

The opponents of euthanasia warned that the present law now enshrined would lead to calls for greater extension.

Now that the "slippery slide" of assisted suicide is in operation, there would be a clamour for more access for other categories of people. Such is the line that Dr Mac Gardner advocates (ODT 9.3.23).

If David Seymour ends up on the Government benches, he wants to "loosen restrictions on euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand (The New Zealand Herald, 7.11.22). As Richard Harward notes, "doctors who provide deaths are paid by the Government , yet hospices, who provide effective care for people with terminal illness, have to struggle for funds".

Unless we get rid of this draconian euthanasia law, the culture of death in our country grows ever stronger.

Colin Campbell


Generating costs

Why would any government consider spending $16 billion on a scheme like this that actually adds no additional generation, when $16 billion spent on installing solar to every house in the country would add considerable amounts of energy to the system and would make New Zealand a world leader in carbon sequestration?

The current available generation would then be used to provide for times when the sun wasn’t shining.

If every home was connected to the grid then the total available power would be sufficient to power industries during the day so conserving the hydro power for times when required.

Silly idea? Probably, but such a huge amount of money for a scheme that adds no additional generation seems to me to be a waste of money.

Bruce Barnett
Taieri Beach


The Treaty and promise of equality

Phillip de Wattignar (ODT, 23.3.23) writes: "Chris [Trotter], David Seymour and other current history deniers are wrong. The mischief lies in their claim that the Treaty contained a pledge of equality for all New Zealanders. It did not."

The third article of Te Tiriti promises "all the ordinary people of New Zealand" (ngā tāngata Māori katoa o Nu Tirani) "the same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England" (ngā tikanga katoa rite tahi ki ana mea ki ngā tāngata o Ingarani"). The translation is that of Sir Hugh Kāwharu, which can be found on the Waitangi Tribunal website.

This looks like a promise of equal rights and duties, indeed "precisely equal rights and duties" (tikanga rite tahi), for all New Zealanders.

Greg Dawes


Parker and mob rule

Mr McDougall’s views (Letters, 27.3.23) are a clear demonstration of letting one’s TV do their research for them. Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull is an advocate for biological women and the seeming erosion of their privacy and rights in a world where men are claiming to be women.

Ms Keen-Minshull’s tour down under intended to facilitate spaces where mainly women could attend to hear and be heard about women’s rights.

The behaviour of a thuggish, unruly mob in Auckland on Saturday has potentially set back the good work of the peaceful rainbow community who may now be tarnished with the behaviour for some time to come.

For as long as I can remember the best advocates of the rainbow community have been biological women and they certainly deserve the basic human right of "Freedom of speech".

I say to the crazed mob that if that is victory then you have a long, long way to go to becoming a decent human being. Shame.

Gary Cole


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