Letters to the Editor: hospital cuts, Israel v Gaza and oil

The Budget has allocated stand-by funding for the new Dunedin hospital build. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The new Dunedin hospital build. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including short-changing the health system, competing views on the Middle East, and a fast-track plan for drilling oil.


Fully funded hospital is the South’s fair due

Recent reports about the new hospital, distilled in your editorial of 10.6.24, are disconcerting.

Had the original plan been followed, under governments of either stripe, the outpatient building might be closer to nearing completion, and the inpatient building might by now have had above-ground progress visible. Every further chop and change brings with it more eventual cost, financial and functional, and yet further delay. Among functional cost, I include matters of medical management, and of staff morale.

Some readers may recall that I stood as an independent candidate in the 2023 election, my main platform "No Hospital Cuts". Immediately following the election, in correspondence with Dr Shane Reti, he reassured me, succinctly but unequivocally, that "We have been clear what we would put back in the fit-out from what was removed, for example the PET scanner, beds and operating theatres".

Recent health statistics in our region have been concerning. The tyranny of the postcode is such that specialist appointments are declined in the Southern jurisdiction at the highest rate in the country. Some here have to pay for their own PET scans, while Aucklanders in the public system are not charged. We are desperately short of some specialities in particular, radiation oncology a notable example.

The South has long been short-changed from Wellington; if a $2b+ hospital price-tag is needed to provide some redress, then so be it.

Dr Mac Gardner


[Abridged — length, Editor.]


Adding two and two

Otago Medical School made it clear that it could take up to 48 extra students from 2025, and the Auckland school planned to take another 20 (ODT 10.6.24).

But the National-led government, despite National’s election promise of 50 more places, will only fund 25.

Health Minister Shane Reti has "excused" this (yet another) broken promise, citing possible difficulty finding clinical placements for graduates, who need at least a year of supervised work in hospitals or general practice before full registration.

But that’s five years down the track — surely enough time to get organised?

Concurrently junior hospital doctors are objecting to back-to-back 15-hour weekend shifts after working all week. That means there’s a shortage of junior doctors, not too many.

Cannot Dr Reti put two and two together?

The real problem is government’s refusal to tax realistically to fund health and other essential services properly.

Tell the truth, Dr Reti.

Tony Fitchett


Attack of the vapours

In his article on the Treaty of Waitangi (Opinion ODT 10.6.24) Dr Harry Love is no doubt entitled to his cheap-skate rationalism, though fly comments about the Anglican Church having given up on God and vapourings about a new priesthood taking over Aotearoa scarcely fill one with confidence.

His polemic against the covenantal dimension to the Treaty as being fundamental to Māori and the Crown at the time runs clean contrary to Māori perception and to the magisterial research of such as Anne Salmond and Claudia Orange.

No doubt he has done us a service, though, by articulating so well the difficulties of some Pākehā minds in relationship to bicultural issues.

Peter Matheson
Maori Hill


No need to correct one’s memory regarding war

D. Crooks need not bother "correcting" my memory (Letters ODT 10.6.24) because the facts of the matter do not depend on it. After World War 1 Palestine became a British mandate. Some politicians decided it would be a good idea to permit European Jews to emigrate and live there, but there was never any intention to create a separate state.

The United Nations, however, hatched a plan to partition Palestine.

Naturally, the Palestinians didn’t like the idea of losing 56% of their country and a civil war broke out.

The British tried to keep the peace but the Jews attacked them and drove them out. The state of Israel was born of war and terrorism.

Talk of a "two-state solution" is just a smokescreen to disguise that fact.

Dennis Horne


[Abridged — editor]


Good v evil

I would like to comment on the responses to my letters (8.5.24, 6.6.24) regarding the situation in Gaza, by Dennis Horne and J. Fincham.

It would seem, that both correspondents are firm supporters of the Hamas regime in Gaza and object to my assertion that anyone supporting these terrorists is morally corrupt. They excuse the fact that Hamas use their own people as human shields to protect themselves from IDF military strikes.

Hamas know that the tragic killing of innocent Gazan citizens as part of collateral damage, will enable pressure to be brought to bear on Israel to desist in their intention of wiping them out.

The above correspondents are of the view that the conflict is the oppressors against the oppressed.

I am of the view that it is the good against the evil.

Dave Tackney


[Abridged — editor]


Building things and the voice of the people

Vox populi — the voice of the people. A voice exercised not only at the ballot box, but throughout a government’s term of office — and, as such, a tenet of true democracy.

A concept, however, that Shane Jones, Minister for Resources, either fails to — or willfully refuses to — acknowledge.

Despite his relentless, metaphor-mangling rhetoric that the election of the current government somehow gives it an inviolable mandate to pursue their proposed fast-track consents process, an opposing vox populi is getting louder by the day.

Protests against the Bill around the country are one indication.

Of greater significance, is the record-setting 27,000 submissions to the select committee considering the Bill.

Indeed, so many of these submitters sought to appear before the committee it was forced it to hold a ballot for the limited spaces available.

This, then, will be a test case, a true test of our democracy.

Will this government hear and respond to the voice of the people?

Or will it continue — as it has in so many instances in its eight months in office — to ignore that voice, and deny democracy in the process?

Max Reid


Strange ideas

Shane Jones, who is quick to remind us that he has a "mandate" (despite the small number of votes his party secured), seems to have a very limited notion of the rights of others.

Pushing ahead with a fast-track plan for drilling for planet-injuring oil and gas, he has now told a journalist he will recommend to Cabinet that they negotiate long-term contracts with companies so that a future Labour-led government could not stop fossil fuel drilling.

The man has a very strange idea of democracy if he wants to tie the hands of future governments and block the wishes of their voters.

Bill Southworth
Port Chalmers


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