Home' Greymouth Star : May 6th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, May 6, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1839 - Death of John Batman, the Australian
farmer and businessman who founded Victoria.
1840 - First adhesive postage stamps, the
Penny Black and the Twopenny Blue, go on sale
1889 - The World’s Fair, with the
newly built Eiffel Tower, opens in
1910 - Death of King Edward VII
after nine-year reign.
1919 - Death of US children’s
author Lyman Frank Baum, famous
for his Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
1937 - German dirigible
Hindenburg explodes and burns on landing at
Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36.
1941 - Josef Stalin becomes Soviet Prime
Minister, succeeding V M Molotov.
1954 - Englishman Roger Bannister becomes
the first person to run a mile in less than four
minutes, with a time of 3:59:4.
1960 - The sister of Queen Elizabeth II,
Princess Margaret marries commoner Anthony
Armstrong-Jones in Westminster Abbey.
1992 - Death at the age of 90 of German-born
screen siren Marlene Dietrich at her Paris home.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Robert E Peary, US explorer
(1856-1920); Sigmund Freud,
Austrian psychologist (1856-1939);
Rudolph Valentino, Italian-born
movie star (1895-1926); Orson
Welles, US actor-director (1915-
1985); Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, US
boxer (1937-2014); Bob Seger, US
singer (1945-); Alan Dale, New Zealand-born
actor (1947-); Tony Blair, former British prime
minister (1953-); George Clooney, US actor
(1961-); Roma Downey, US actress (1963-);
Melania Trump, Slovenian model (1970-).
“The worst moment for the atheist is when he
is really thankful and has nobody to thank.”
— Dante Rossetti, English poet (1828-1882).
“Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my
God!” — ( John 20.28).
It is enough to
make a pioneer Buller
gold-digger weep. The
silt, soil and sand they
once discarded in their search for gold is worth
£19,583 6s 8d per inch! This, at least, on the
bar of the Westport harbour.
To scour the harbour entrance and give
another “two or three feet ” depth on the bar
is going to cost £705,000 according to an
announcement by the Minister of Marine Mr
Scott yesterday. At the minister’s maximum
figure of three feet this will put the value of
the Buller bar far beyond land values in central
London, Manhattan or Tokyo — in fact almost
£20,000 an inch.
Spending £705,000 on a harbour
improvement scheme which will actually
narrow the Westport harbour entrance and
give only two or three feet extra depth at the
bar has caused eyebrow-raising even in some
Westport circles. It is believed that it is for
this reason that the Government has shown
considerable hesitancy in bringing the scheme
While two or three feet does not sound
impressive for an outlay of well over £500,000,
every foot of extra depth allows an extra 300
tons to be carried by the bigger ships. This
means that K-class ships will be able to take an
extra 900 tons in normal conditions.
An ‘occupational hazard’ caught up with
the Greymouth railway guard Mr Edward
Halley yesterday morning. Stepping off the
riverside platform for his train he fell heavily
and broke a bone in his ankle. Mr Halley, of
Geraldine Street, was treated in the outpatients
department of the Greymouth Hospital.
uFood for thought
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daily game of Cold
War cat-and-mouse is
ratcheting up tensions in
the Baltic and drawing the
biggest military presence
into the region for over 20
years, Swedish military officials say.
Eye-to-eye encounters with Russian
combat aircraft and reports of suspected
submarines in Swedish and Finnish
waters are fuelling regional concerns
about Russian assertiveness in the wake of
the Ukraine crisis and reversing years of
Western officials say Russia has stepped
up probing flights and mock bomb
runs near Europe’s borders since 2013,
forcing aircraft from Nato nations and
non-Nato allies like Sweden to scramble
repeatedly. For its part, Moscow says Nato
(North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) has
dramatically increased reconnaissance
flights near its borders.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989,
the Baltic island of Gotland, for decades
Sweden’s front line of defence against the
Soviet Union, was all but abandoned by
the military to the tourists visiting the
walled medieval town of Visby.
Now, two JAS 39C Gripen combat jets
are on quick reaction alert (QRA) at the
nearby “for ward operating” air base and
Sweden plans to reopen a permanent army
garrison on the island.
“I did my first QRA here in 1988,
chasing not Russian but Soviet aircraft
with Red stars on the fins,” Colonel
Marcus Bjorkgren, chief of staff of the
Swedish Air Force, said.
“A couple of years later there was
absolutely nothing in the Baltics. We
begged controllers to scramble us just
so pilots could see something and most
often it was a German signals intelligence
aircraft. We filed reports and that was
Last year, however, Swedish fighters,
early warning aircraft and reconnaissance
planes flew over 600 missions, up almost
half from post-Cold War levels seen five
The Saab Gripens are used to do
reconnaissance, collect signals, fill gaps in
radar or simply display force.
“ You don’t provoke each other, but you
keep a close eye and show your presence,”
The amount of regional military activity
is back at Cold War levels, he said, with
Nato aircraft also crowding into the region
on Baltic air policing missions. “ We are
back pretty much on the level where we
were in the late 1980s and early 1990s.”
The European Aviation Safety Agency
has said safety incidents involving civil and
“non-co-operative” military aircraft over
the high seas, particularly over the Baltic
Sea, significantly increased in 2014. In the
first three months of 2015, Nato aircraft
intercepted Russian planes more than 100
times all over Europe, a Nato official said.
Sweden has drawn closer to Nato in the
past few years but Prime Minister Stefan
Lofven has ruled out seeking membership
of the United States-led alliance.
The deployments highlight the strategic
importance of the Baltic, an economically
important trading zone for 90 million
people, still littered with mines from two
Lithuania last week said Russian
ships where disturbing the laying of an
under water power cable connecting its
grid to Sweden. Moscow said it was
protecting military exercise areas.
Deeper and more clandestine rivalries
are being played out under the Baltic Sea,
a harsh and complex environment for
under water warfare.
Last week the Finnish military said it
had fired hand-held depth charges as
a warning against a suspected Russian
submarine in waters near Helsinki.
The incident came months after Sweden’s
biggest mobilisation since the Cold War,
when stealth ships and helicopters scoured
the Stockholm archipelago after reports of
under water activity.
“ We have 100% proof that at least one
submarine or under water vehicle came far
into Swedish territory,” Rear Admiral Jan
Thornqvist, chief of staff of the Swedish
navy, said, adding a report on the October
incident would be published soon.
Russia’s Defence Ministry mocked
the Swedish report, saying there was no
chance of Sweden finding a “Russian
Sweden says the suspected incursion
was the most serious incident in its waters
since a Soviet sub ran aground near a
naval base in the “ Whiskey on the Rocks”
incident in 1981.
Today, the rocky island where the
stranded Whiskey-class submarine
provoked a 10-day diplomatic stand-off
is marked by a mock road-traffic sign
But policing Sweden’s maze of narrow
inlets is a huge task.
Sweden’s own military has questioned
its ability to defend itself for more than a
week against a Russian attack.
“ We realise we are back more or less to
the scenario as it appeared in the 1980s
and early 1990s and have to be able to
handle that kind of threat,” Thornqvist
After 20 years of reduced or stagnant
spending, Sweden is increasing its defence
budget by 10.2 billion Swedish crowns
over the next five years in a deal supported
by parties on both sides of the political
aisle in the Riksdag, where once-vocal
opposition to higher military spending has
Finland, Nor way, Poland and the
former-Soviet Baltic States are following
The immediate impact will be on
regional demand for air and naval systems,
defence analyst Francis Tusa said.
“ Especially in Sweden they are
realising their navy was run down almost
catastrophically over the last 10 years and
that is being reversed,” Tusa said.
“ If you were to ask for the order of
priority in terms of getting things into
ser vice, it is air, naval and then land. ”
The Swedish navy, with five radar-
evading Visby-class cor vettes, is still
regarded as skilled in anti-submarine
warfare and a leader in tactics and surface-
But it stands at 25% of its Cold War
strength, Thornqvist said, warning further
cuts would be “disastrous”.
“It is state of the art; however . . . you can
almost put it one pocket. There are not
many ships but capacity is impressive. ”
Anti-submarine depth charges are seen on the deck of Swedish Koster-class naval mine-hunter HMS Ulvon at Karlskrona naval base, Sweden.
DWC reality check
Development West Coast (DWC) has
lost its way completely if it is run on the
basis that economic development is not its
job (Greymouth Star, May 5).
The trust deed specifies DWC’s objects
— ‘to promote sustainable employment
opportunities; and generate sustainable
economic benefits for the West Coast,
both now and into the future’.
It is not up to trustees or staff to
determine such a fundamental change
from what Dr Cullen, as settlor, and
the Labour government, intended and
expected from the $120 million settlement
in 2001, of which $92 million became the
It is well documented that the West
Coast Development Trust was established
to create employment at a time when
some communities — like now — were in
dire need of jobs. No government of the
day has changed this. The settlor of the
trust has not changed this, and the trustees
cannot change it.
Over a period of four years this
organisation has focused on business
breakfasts and the likes, and has slowly
run from economic development as its key
function, to become a provider of courses
and events where everyone pats each other
on the back.
The call that DWC cannot be involved
in economic development as it could lose
its charitable status is nonsense and can
be fixed forever by legislation. Of course it
needs political input, which must surely be
My view is the emperor has no clothes
and it is time to go to the Government
and have the trust divided three ways
and controlled by each district via a
straightfor ward trust to promote economic
development. There are ‘wage makers’ and
‘wage takers’ and the latter spend far too
much time protecting their own status and
are unable to create employment. DWC is
an organisation now full of ‘wage takers’.
Where is the finance for Coast
businesses that create jobs that keep our
How about the assistance for young
farmers towards farm ownership? Why is
the creation of just one extra job by each
existing business not the focus of DWC?
Take off the blindfold, DWC, and get
in touch with our communities. You will
find it is very tough out there. Buller’s
position is the worst I can recall and about
to get even worse, and Grey is not much
better. Dairying is in a down cycle similar
to 1986, coal could well go sideways for a
number of years. And yet in among all of
this are a number of exciting businesses
creating jobs and forming the basis of
communities seeking to, if not grow, at
least not shrink. Tourism, like it did in
the 1980s, will lead the Coast out of this
The existing model for DWC has not
added economic value to our communities,
rather it has saddled them with expensive
nice-to-have facilities which will not be
sustainable if the most important thing
— jobs — do not exist.
Green Party attack
In my opinion, the Blackball May Day
celebrations were marred by the audacity
of Ms Fitzsimons of the Green Party
to launch an attack on the coalmining
industry — in Blackball of all places.
The Coal Action Network has the
stated aim of closing all coalmining in
New Zealand. They could not care less
about the 30-odd jobs in the hills behind
Blackball in the Roa Mine and all the
support jobs in transport and other
industries. Also the major sponsorships
from Roa Mine to our district.
I told Ms Fitzsimons in no uncertain
terms that the Labour Party lost
thousands of votes at the last election
because thinking people do not want a
coalition with the Green Party.
A better name for the Greens would
be the ‘anti-everything party’. They are
against milling the windblown timber and
will be against the Haast-Hollyford road.
There was no mention of the thousands
of cars, trucks etc that cause the smog
in our cities, where not a lump of coal is
burned. But they still enjoy the products
that coal provides, as every single thing we
use that is not grown is mined.
the wrong side
An item in the West Coast Messenger
(April 22) by Ivan Wilson, West Coast
road safety co-ordinator, entitled ‘Sharing
the road with tourists’, urges us to exercise
patience with tourists (foreign drivers),
and ‘not to get wild with our visitors
because there’ll be more of them’. He then
flabbergasts me with his next statement:
‘Avoid rushing into bends in case a visitor
is approaching in the wrong lane —
believe me, it happens.’
What speed then does he recommend?
10kph, 20kph? Believe me then, any speed
will be potentially fatal if one connects
with another vehicle in the ‘wrong lane’.
According to press reports, 37% of road
accidents involving tourists in New
Zealand occur on the West Coast. This
summer has seen an alarming number
of fatalities involving tourists forgetting
where they are and straying on to the
wrong side of the road.
Drivers with possibly no experience
at all of driving on the left, let alone
negotiating the winding, hilly roads that
make up much of our landscape, plus our
generally low traffic density, make us more
vulnerable to being hit by someone taking
off after stopping to take a photo etc, and
reverting to what they are used to doing all
their lives —- driving on the right-hand
side of the road.
And Mr Wilson exhorts us to ‘share that
responsibility, eh!’ New Zealand the way I
want it? Yeah, right.
As a matter of interest, China does not
allow foreigners to drive in their country.
I recently saw a media article stating
‘ up to 550 patients are missing out
on elective orthopaedic surgery in
Canterbury each year, as public hospital
surgeons struggle to meet demand ’. The
article states Canterbury surgeons having
to perform surgery for other DHBs
have compromised their ability to serve
the Canterbury public, and claims the
funding system is part of the problem.
What the article does not explain is that
the workload for Canterbury surgeons
was deliberately increased by destabilising
rural ser vices in order to divert funds.
Short-sighted changes have compromised
the provision of ser vices to both regions.
Maintaining a high level of expertise
as well as sufficient bed capacity at Grey
Base Hospital, can improve services to
both regions. This means improving the
surgical as well as medical skill mix to a
level that existed before the demolition.
This means the hospital planning needs
to include a ‘ buffer’ bed capacity.
For patients needing level care beyond
Grey Base Hospital, Canterbury bed
capacity is more efficiently utilised by
keeping them locally until the space is
available in Canterbury. This requires
both the physical space of the bed
and the relevant medical, nursing and
allied health personnel and expertise.
Additional bed capacity can also be used
for early discharge from Canterbury. A
buffer bed capacity is also essential for
patients living far from the hospital as
they may need to stay in hospital for
longer, for safety reasons. For optimum
use of peripheral hospitals such as
Reefton and Buller, you need to consider
the available local expertise. Expertise
can fluctuate for reasons such as holidays.
Sometimes a longer stay at the base
hospital is safer.
Moana health clinic
I see that the Government ’s withdrawal
by stealth from providing funding for
public health facilities has been taken
a step further with the announcement
that if the new Moana health clinic is to
eventuate the money will have to come
from the community (Greymouth Star,
Strange — I thought the community
already paid for the public health system
through their taxes.
That notwithstanding, I have an
alternative plan that I am sure the current
West Coast DHB board and so-called
‘advisory’ committees would embrace
wholeheartedly since it would achieve
two things; first it would provide most of
the Moana funding from existing DHB
funds and secondly it would prove that
the board and committee members put
the community ahead of their vast fees for
sitting around tables listening to a load of
twaddle while knowing that they really
achieve nothing that has not already been
decided behind closed doors elsewhere.
Here is my plan: the Moana cost is
reckoned at $270,000. The board and
advisory members fees for the 2013-14
financial year were $229,211.
If the board and committees were
disbanded that money could go into the
Moana project. The shortfall of about
$40,000 could be found by getting
the lower ranks in the corporate office
hierarchy to draw straws to see who
loses their job — which would also
have the benefit of reducing the outflow
of BUMPH (bureaucratic unsolicited
mountainous paper heap) from that
Voila. Budget achieved and bureaucracy
Now all we need is a minister of health
with the intestinal fortitude to implement
similar measures on a New Zealand-wide
Democrats for Social Credit
Support urged for
May I, through your column make an
appeal to everyone to show support in
tangible ways to the MS West Coast
Inc, and the Disability Resource Support
Group to keep these worthy and necessary
groups alive in our community. They
provide much needed support, advice, care
and compassion to all who suffer from
disabilities in various forms. Let them
know they are not alone and people do
care for them. Until a family member,
loved one or friend suddenly requires
assistance they have no idea of fellow men
and women in the same situation.
Our hospital and some other care groups
are stretched to cover everyone on the
Coast. We do not want people to suffer
unnecessarily by being unable to seek
assistance from these support groups. Do
we want to see them disband or become
unavailable? No. Of course not.
Then get along to the special meeting
on Wednesday, May 20 at 12.45pm at the
Paroa Hotel and be prepared to do your
best to support them and continue their
great work in our community.
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