Sound of silence on demise of post shops

Labour Dunedin South MP Clare Curran is singing from the same hymn sheet as Sir Michael Cullen...
Labour Dunedin South MP Clare Curran is singing from the same hymn sheet as Sir Michael Cullen and Cr David Benson-Pope when it comes to the closure of the South Dunedin NZ Post branch - a sheet which apparently has no words. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Just was wondering if you can guess what the three people pictured here today have in common?

That's right. Well done.

Sir Michael Cullen, David Benson-Pope and Clare Curran have all been - or are, in Ms Curran's case - Labour Party MPs for Dunedin South.

What else do they have in common?

Any ideas?

Yes, you're absolutely on the button - they've all run for cover on the impending closure of the South Dunedin NZ Post shop, the heart of that community and the densest-populated electorate in the country, home to a large percentage of elderly voters.

If they have voiced any concerns which I've missed, apologies. They must have done so into cotton-wool padding in a soundproof studio while suffering from laryngitis.

Where is the social conscience of this Labour coalition Government?

Where are the social consciences of a current minister and the electorate's own MP, and of former ministers and MPs who know the area probably better than most people?

Many will be disappointed with Sir Michael, although, as a former NZ Post chairman, he will probably be well-practised in the "unfortunately, there are always commercial imperatives" school of thought.

As a former Dunedin South MP and ex-NZ Post chairman, you might think Sir Michael Cullen would...
As a former Dunedin South MP and ex-NZ Post chairman, you might think Sir Michael Cullen would have had something to say about the closure. PHOTO: ROSS SETFORD/NZPA
Of course there are. But there are also social responsibilities.

Many will be disappointed with Mr Benson-Pope, given he is also a Dunedin city councillor.

But even more will be disappointed with Ms Curran, the incumbent MP, who was so vocal about the closure of the Hillside Railway Workshops.

NZ Post is also closing branches in Moray Pl, Mosgiel and Dunedin North. And Kiwibank is retrenching to a stand-alone branch in central Dunedin.

NZ Post says it is working on finding "postal partner businesses", although there are no details yet of what that might involve and where they may be.

For the folk of South Dunedin, especially, let's hope that alternative will be close to the existing NZ Post branch, pretty much smack-bang in the middle of King Edward St, and that it offers as many services as it does.

The silence from Sir Michael, Cr Benson-Pope and Ms Curran on this has been a disgrace.

Norman Kirk

Moving on to a Labour Party politician who probably would not have stayed quiet on this issue.

Remember my ham-fisted drawing in Tuesday's column of someone who played a major role the night Norman Kirk died?

Susan Hall emailed, possibly with tongue in cheek, to ask: "Was the picture a self-portrait?" Err no, given I was only 9 years old at the time. Thanks anyway, Susan.

But then Doug Leggett called and hit the nail on the head:

"I reckon that's Bill Toft," he said.

And Dunedin city councillor David Benson-Pope, with similar MP experience, has also been...
And Dunedin city councillor David Benson-Pope, with similar MP experience, has also been strangely quiet. PHOTO: ROSS SETFORD/NZPA
It is indeed - although the veteran New Zealand newsreader probably didn't have shoulder pads in his jackets quite as large as the ones in my drawing.

Well done, Doug!

Dunedin cable cars

I was laughing on and off for hours after a phone call from Robert McGrath, of Milton.

He remembers a trip on the Mornington cable car with his nana in about 1947-48. She was carrying a big, old-fashioned rose bush with ferocious thorns. Because of that, the driver told them to sit on the outside on the way up High St to the Mornington terminus.

"People used to often hop off before the cable cars stopped. I remember this very well-dressed man sitting forward of nana, and we were all facing out. Of course when he stepped off before it stopped, he ended up right in front of her and then the rose bush was stuck right into his backside and the back of his trousers.

"My nana kept tugging the damn thing back, but the thorns were such it was kind of dragging him back with it. He finally came loose. It would have been quite fun watching him get to his house from there. It didn't just make a little tear in the backside of his trousers, I can tell you that."

Robert's nana had green fingers and often picked up illicit plant samples on trips to the Dunedin Botanic Garden, he remembers.

"I never saw her do it, but then she'd show me what was in her bag. She had the most amazing fuchsias in her garden as a result."

She also used to laugh hysterically at things - presumably also including the "well-dressed" man walking down the road with no seat left in his trousers.

Thanks Robert. She sounds like she was a total delight.

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