Letters to the Editor: Michael Laws and southern power

Michael Laws
Michael Laws. Photo: file
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including the mainstream views of Michael Laws, and could a thirst for electricity cause an economic boom in the South?


A two-fingered salute to local democracy

The headline in Saturday's ODT (15.6.24) gave the impression that a Otago Regional councillor should never have been elected by ratepayers in a democratic election.

It was an example of click baiting and was probably successful as it raised my ire enough to respond. Headlines create an instant view of the situation and they have a lasting effect. My headline may have read "Departing staff member criticises councillor."

Why do people bother to take part in elections? Firstly to elect a candidate who has opinions and standards, and secondly the voters — who after considering what the candidates stand for — can then cast their vote according to their own opinions.

Do we want people who have strong opinions and are prepared to stand up for them, and debate the issues? Or do we want seat warmers who just go along to meetings for cups of tea and biscuits?

This is not to say those who have a different opinion to the elected person cannot express their views, and there are plenty of avenues to do this and persuade others to do so also.

But for a staff member to use the media to attack a councillor, is at the least, disappointing. And for the media to fall into this trap is also more disappointing.

People are employed to work for the organisation that pays them to do a job. While they are entitled to have their own political views, that should not encroach on their employment.

It looked like a two-finger salute to the voters and democracy. It is also an insult to the other good staff members who keep a politically neutral view of what they are employed to do and keep a high standard of public service despite their own personal politics.

Errol Wills
North Otago


Mainstream views

I was amused to read that Cr Michael Laws thinks the Green Party and Alex Foulkes represent extreme environmental policy at odds with mainstream society. The Greens won 11.6% of votes in the last election ahead of Act New Zealand (8.6%) and New Zealand First (6%) — for whom Laws was an MP.

I suggest that Cr Laws is the one with a less-than-mainstream ideology. Furthermore, surely an environmental advocate is exactly the sort of person suited to the ORC biodiversity partnerships position.

Heaven help us if someone with Cr Laws' supposedly "mainstream" attitude to environmental protection was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Mr Foulkes' departure.

Janice Lord
Kuri Bush


Not extreme

Well talk about the pot calling the kettle black Trev, to paraphrase the late, lamented Fred Dagg.

Michael Laws displays something akin to what psychologists call transference: word for word, he appears to be talking about himself, not Alex Foulkes.

To quote Cr Laws: "People like that should not end up in an organisation in which they are creating or implementing policy when they have very clear and extreme political views. They sully the organisation of which they are a part."

Mr Laws has represented both National and NZ First . I have not heard him mention this history when on the hustings, whilst Mr Foulkes has properly declared his.

It is the regional council's job to sustainably manage our natural resources of land, air and water. That means their staff may well be trained in those fields of science and as such are likely to care about those things.

Extreme? I think not.

Deborah Robb


Power up the South from our natural resources

Prof Andrew Perchard’s opinion piece (ODT 14.6.24) on the aluminium smelter at Tiwai Point underscores its central economic role in the South.

Alas, a political class beholden to consumers over 1500km from the Manapōuri hydro-electricity scheme repeatedly bemoan that the largest hydro scheme in New Zealand has a single main customer, ignoring the valuable income generated by the smelter. When speaking of sharing electricity, they are not referring to the South Island, they are referring to the 50% of the vote north of Hamilton.

The power will flow north of Cook Strait and only a smidgeon will power export generating activities. The majority will not add a cent to export growth but will power consumer items in the conurbation surrounding Auckland.

If we employ lateral thinking instead, however, this thirst for electricity could be an economic boon for the South Island. Instead of selling off Aurora Energy and leaving the electricity market, perhaps the Dunedin City Council should encourage private investment to develop offshore wind power and large solar schemes?

We have plenty of wind and suitable offshore locations perfect for wind turbines. As for solar power, our island is between 40 degrees and 46 degrees South; the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany are farther from the equator and have significant solar generation, with Germany producing almost double that of Australia. New Zealand, however, despite more sunlight than the countries above, produces 300 times less solar electricity than and 1/40th less wind power than Germany.

We have land. We have ample wind. We have sunlight. We just need the will.

We must end the eternal cycle parsimony and cuts undertaken by our local MPs and counsellors, to create a new prosperity from our local renewable energy resources.

Dr Duncan Connors


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