Letters to the Editor: Labour, trains and April fools

Park Central playground auditor Tina Dyer takes a ride on a new seesaw in George St as part of a...
Park Central playground auditor Tina Dyer takes a ride on a new seesaw in George St as part of a compliance check. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including the politics of the Taxpayer's Union, reinventing the Labour Party, the allure of trains, and a late April fool.


Moving in mysterious ways, data to provide

A year ago or more, by some mechanism unknown to me, I found myself on the receiving end of information from the Taxpayer's Union.

Instead of crying-off and resigning, I began to take an interest in this organisation and its findings.

Although it has in no way enhanced my peace-of-mind, it is nice to be privy to much of what is really going on in the country instead of relying on our distinctly left-wing press.

I had the advantage of knowing David Farrar, its co-founder, during his days at Otago University, so I had expected the organisation to be partisan and right-leaning.

Being apolitical, and bearing in mind the sage advice of one Billy Connolly, "Don't vote for the bastards, it only encourages them", I have found this organisation to be pretty impartial in its stance on matters of public concern.

Jocelyn Harris may put her mind at rest; they do not ritually see our present, and I hope, temporary, prime minister as the "cat's pyjamas" either, due to his already well-publicised failure to lead by example.

If only we could bring their talents to bear on our city council, we might even begin to be consulted on matters of public concern, instead of being endlessly confronted by faits accompli to try to justify its endless profligate spending, very little of which makes our city a better place in which to live.

Ian Smith


Reinventing yourself

The traditional values of the Labour Party no longer exist. The evidence is clear: Real jobs, that add to the economy; affordable housing (supply and demand); benefits for the genuinely deserving; affordable food. Labour has so steered away from its historical values.

The rhetoric exists sometimes, but political realism proves Labour is a hollow party. It needs to reinvent itself or fade.

A pragmatic rental-based political party may soon take the place of Labour as the new centre-left. Imagine a party that stated it is fine to be a landlord, but after 2027 future rentals must be new-builds. This would positively refocus the housing market without impoverishing landlords or destroying the housing market. Labour will not do this.

So voting centre-left, Labour is flogging a dead horse. Ask yourself, can your children and grandchildren afford to buy or rent a home?

The warning to Labour is clear. Time to reinvent the party, or fade away to political irrelevance.

Brett Smith


Not an April fool

As I read your front page (ODT 24.4.24) I momentarily believed it must have been April Fool’s Day. I do hope the council still has enough money to upgrade the other playgrounds which are appropriately placed in suitable areas throughout our city.

Tess Gilfedder


Know your weaknesses

The Prime Minister’s "ruthless" sacking of two peripheral ministers is a delightfully rhetorical gesture.

One wonders whether he will be so brave when his more senior ministers fail to perform and, more particularly, when the hard nuts in his support parties slip up.

And it might be interesting to know at what point his Trumpian "you’re fired!" turns into some insight into his own possible weaknesses.

I’m sure he has one or two, even though, as a manager, it’s not good form to confess to them.

Harry Love


The indefinable allure of a train on the track

Chris Trotter (ODT 26.4.24) bewails the unequal roads versus rail transport contest, and reflects that curious affection for rail that many have; perhaps seen in the fact that people will often wave at a passing train, but not a bus.

It cannot all be due to early influences of Tootle and Thomas; there’s also lots of children’s books about buses. There’s just something indefinable about trains that sings to the soul. That said, may we be clear-eyed about the desirability of establishing an “inland port”, so that all goods coming into Port Chalmers can do so by rail. The current planning seems to favour Mosgiel; but there’s that question of huge trucks belching along Gordon Rd, and the cost of a bypass. Mayor Bryan Cadogan (ODT 10.4.24) makes a very good case for a Milburn base: his bit of land sitting perfectly between Highway 1 and the main trunk line. MP Mark Patterson sees merits in both sites (Star 25.4.24). Well, why don’t we have both? No such thing as too much space.

And returning to misty-eyed, we must never lose the line to Middlemarch. It’s a Dunedin taonga.

OK, the track needs attention. I have previously suggested that the responsibility of line maintenance should be in KiwiRail’s bag. This is a government-owned — in other words, it’s ours — entity. They need to do the right thing, on behalf of their own community. A marginal expense, for them. Step up to the (foot)plate, chaps. Do that right thing.

Mac Gardner


Tribute welcomed

It was lovely to see a write-up in the paper on Bernadette Farnan (Obituaries, ODT 27.4.24): a talented lady in many fields taken far too soon. I enjoyed judging gymnastics with her as she would tell lovely stories about her family.

Christine Montgomery


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