Home' Greymouth Star : June 10th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Wednesday, June 10, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1906 - Death of Richard John Seddon, prime
minister of New Zealand (1893-1906).
1933 - Australian Women’s Weekly is first
1935 - Alcoholics Anonymous is founded in
1942 - German Gestapo kills male residents of
Lidice, Czechoslovakia, in retaliation
for assassination of a German official.
1943 - Hungarian journalist Laszlo
Biro patents his ball-point pen.
1944 - Nazi troops massacre nearly
all the residents of Oradour-sur-
Glane, France, in a reprisal against
the French resistance movement.
1946 - Death of American boxer Jack Johnson,
the first black to hold the world heavyweight
1967 - Death of Spencer Tracy, US actor and
2002 - US Mafia boss John Gotti dies.
2004 - Ray Charles one of America’s most
beloved entertainers and to be hailed as The
Father of Soul, dies aged 73.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Nikolaus August Otto, German developer
of internal combustion engine (1832-1891);
Henry Stanley, English explorer (1840-1904);
Britain’s Prince Philip (1921-); Judy
Garland, US singer-actor (1922-
1969); Robert Maxwell, Czech-born
British media tycoon (1923-1991);
Maurice Sendak, author of Where
The Wild Things Are (1928-2012);
Tony Mundine, Australian boxer
(1951-); Elizabeth Hurley, British
actress (1965-); Faith Evans, US
singer (1973-); Tara Lipinski, US Olympic
champion ice skater (1982-); Kate Upton, US
model and actress (1992-).
“History is worth reading when it tells us
truly what the attitude toward life was in the
past.” — Dorothy Canfield Fisher, American
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom
the Father will send in My name, will teach
you everything, and remind you of all that I
have said to you.” — ( John 14.26).
A Greymouth man,
Mr Graham Wilson,
of Milton Road,
the rain to the house of his mother-in-law
suffering concussion and facial injuries late on
Monday night. He later told his wife that he
had been struck by a car near Wallsend, about
five miles out of Greymouth, while walking
along the side of the road.
The car did not stop, said Mr Wilson, after
it had hit him and thrown him high in the
air. He did not know how long he had been
lying on the roadside but he managed to
crawl through the heavy rain to the house for
help. Today he is in the Greymouth Hospital
suffering from concussion and facial injuries.
Miners from the Liverpool No 3 colliery
refused to work today because they believe
methane gas is “ bleeding” into a place in the
mine. Methane gas is that which the DSIR
believes caused the fatal explosion on the
collier Kokiri in Wellington harbour in March.
The men met this morning at the mine and
from this meeting decided to go home shortly
after 9am. Mine manager Mr J Lundon,
who gave evidence at the Kokiri inquiry, said
he believed it was over gas escaping from a
borehole though he was not certain if this was
the final reason for the stoppage.
A member of the union said later that the
gas had been the reason for the decision to
stop work. The men, he said, only wanted work
stopped for the day in the one particualr place
where the gas was escsaping. Stopping of the
place had been refused by the management so
the miners decided not to start today.
uFood for thought
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istory has become a
weapon in Russia’s
battle with the west over
Ukraine as President
Vladimir Putin looks
increasingly to the past
to whip up patriotism and rally support.
Last month’s lavish commemorations of
the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War
Two, several declarations by Putin and new
history textbooks have all presented what
some independent historians say are slanted
or rewritten versions of the past.
The Nazi-Soviet pact that divided Poland
in 1939 — which saw Moscow seize
much of what is now Ukraine, Belarus
and the Baltic States — is now seen in
a positive light. A new justification has
been found for the Soviet-led invasion of
Czechoslovakia in 1968 and some of Soviet
dictator Josef Stalin’s worst crimes have
been played down.
“It is an aggressive stance in the debate
over history,” said Alexei Miller, a history
professor at European University in Saint
Petersburg, who says all sides have been
distorting the past during the conflict.
“History is a victim of the current crisis in
relations between Russia and Europe.”
He says ‘wars of memory’ are being waged
with the west and ex-Soviet neighbours
such as the Baltic states and Ukraine, where
history is increasingly being interpreted in
different ways to suit political views.
Putin, who denies western accusations of
sending troops and weapons to pro-Russian
separatists in eastern Ukraine, has made
clear that he understands the power of
This is perhaps not surprising for a man
brought up in the Soviet Union, where
history was vetted to glorify Communism,
denigrate the west and denounce ‘enemies
of the people’.
“ When we show that we are right and our
actions benefit society, the state and people,
millions of our supporters will appear,”
Putin said at a meeting with historians last
He has also taken a close interest in
new history textbooks for schools which
describe his own success in ‘securing
social unity and agreement ’ at home while
‘consistently defending national interests’
Russian children will also learn in the
new textbooks how Putin’s Soviet and
Tsarist predecessors repeatedly defended
Russia against western aggression and
The textbooks state as fact that the 1939
pact that divided Poland was a justified
response to western policies aimed at
encouraging Adolf Hitler to attack the
Putin has defended the pact several
times, including during a visit by German
Chancellor Angela Merkel in May, when
he said it made sense “for defending the
national security of the Soviet Union”.
State media are an important weapon
in Russia’s information war with Ukraine
and the west, which imposed economic
sanctions on Russia after it annexed the
Crimea peninsula from Ukraine last year.
They are also part of the battle over the
Rossiya-1 television aired a documentary
on May 23 which gave a new explanation
for the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia,
then part of the Soviet bloc, by Communist
Warsaw Pact armies which crushed the
Prague Spring, intended to create ‘socialism
with a human face’.
Citing what it called newly discovered
documents, it said the invasion was needed
to protect the country against a Nato-
backed coup being planned under the cover
of the Prague Spring.
Czech and Slovak officials said the
programme distorted the facts. Slovakia’s
Foreign Ministry said Slovaks “refute all
attempts at rewriting history ”.
During the crisis in Ukraine, Moscow
has portrayed ethnic Russians or Russian
speakers living in the former Soviet
republic as threatened by fascists.
Russia has now introduced a law which
criminalises the ‘rehabilitation of Nazism’
and makes it punishable by up to three
years in prison.
The law attracted attention when
investigators opened a case against a
16-year-old for posting comments on social
media they said praised Nazi Germany ’s
invasion of Poland in 1939. Authorities
have also used the law to open criminal
cases against defacers of Soviet monuments,
including in Ukraine.
Unlike similar laws in other countries,
Russia’s also criminalises ‘knowingly
spreading false information about the
activities of the USSR in World War Two’.
The Baltic States and Ukraine have also
passed laws about history. Ukraine has
banned Communist symbols and made it
a criminal offence to deny the totalitarian
nature of Soviet rule from 1917 to 1991 or
to question the legitimacy of anti-Soviet
nationalist groups which at times co-
operated with the Nazis.
Critics see Russia’s law as part of a
growing pattern by authorities to stifle
discussion about history and cover up
“Access to the archives is getting worse
and worse,” said Sebastian Stopper, a
historian at Humboldt University in Berlin.
“It ’s just politically desired for now not to
shed light on crimes of the Russian State in
the 20th century.”
Stopper, an expert on Soviet partisans
in World War Two, has fallen foul of an
earlier Russian law against ‘extremism’, after
a court last year classified postings he made
on the internet as extremist.
He said his posts largely consisted of
extracts from Nazi documents and included
some of his own comments, which he
says tried to explain German soldiers’
“Of course there was nothing justifying
Nazi war crimes,” he said. He said he
suspected the real reason his research
ruffled feathers in Russia was because
it challenged previous claims about the
partisans’ effectiveness, long accepted as
facts in Russian histories.
Miller said that a common perception in
the west, that Putin is an admirer of the
Soviet system and Stalin, was unfair.
Russian history textbooks do have
sections dealing with the purges, famines,
labour camps and deportations under Stalin
— but they are typically quieter about
similar Soviet repressions against other
Some of Putin’s recent pronouncements
on history have been critical of former
Communist rulers when he sees
their actions as undermining Russia’s
Last year he blamed the Soviet
government for giving away what he said
were traditional Russian territories to
Ukraine in the 1920s. And in an implicit
swipe at Lenin’s Bolshevik revolutionaries,
he said that victory in World War One
“ had been stolen by those who called for
defeat of their Fatherland”.
“Putin is obviously a Great Power man.
For him this is the central issue of the
Russian agenda: To preserve the status of
a Great Power. From this perspective he is
obviously critical of the Bolsheviks,” Miller
But he added that, in the current stand-
off with the west, the state’s interest in
promoting public discussion and education
about Stalinist crimes had waned.
“It is now more about the west as the
enemy, more about the acts of aggression of
the west against Russia in various historical
History a weapon
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin leaves a festive concert marking the 70th anniversar y of the end of World War Two in Europe, as fireworks explode over Red Square in
Can the William Stewart Bridge be used
as a detour? My friend assures me it has
not been blown up yet.
The heading of your article on this issue
on the front page of yesterday ’s edition
does not portray the official council
position on this matter or, for that matter
the decision from Monday night.
The matter has certainly become
contentious and I have no intention
of becoming involved in the political
interactions of council members in this
other than to say that differences of
opinion are healthy.
The item that you report on was the
‘approval and adoption of the Grey
District Council long-term plan
2015-25’. During this discussion the
council approved the long-term plan
with financial provision for the CBD
redevelopment plan implementation
to commence in 2015-16. This was in
keeping with a decision taken by the
council a short time ago to provide for $1
million funded from a range of reser ves
accounts and internal funds, subject to
On Monday night, Cr Sandrey,
supported by other councillors, strongly
felt that the council, in spite of this,
should not continue with the project until
we have certainty of funding once the
Miners’ Recreation Centre is built. Their
views were recorded. There was no formal
amendment of the long-term plan.
The formal position as outlined in the
council decisions therefore is that the
CBD project will go ahead in 2015-16
with $1m, funded from reser ves/internal
accounts to be spent on the first phase of
the project, but that this is subject to the
council, following public consultation,
confirming that the plan is approved,
confirming the priority projects and
confirming that $1m funded from the
stated reser ves/accounts be spent on the
first priority project. No doubt, the issue of
timing of commencement of work on the
project will form part of that process.
The public consultation process will
Grey District Council
Health sector comedy
I see that even the agenda for the latest
West Coast DHB meeting is a state
secret (Greymouth Star, May 29) with yet
another citing of that hilarious DHB line
about secrecy being required because of
“commercial and industrial negotiations”.
Sure, it is an amusing line but even good
lines can become tedious through endless
repetition. Time they got another script
writer. I suggest Ben Elton or Rowan
Atkinson — Blackadder the health
bureaucrat should provide some good
The per vading air of secrecy surrounding
the public health system is further
emphasised by the continuing lack of
information regarding the private funding
of any developments in Westport and
Buller under the PPP (public/private
partnership) agenda, which has been a
disaster for health ser vices in Australia,
Britain and elsewhere.
Rather than merely bleating about this
matter, Damien O’Ã‡onnor (Greymouth
Star, May 27) should be telling the public
how wasteful and inefficient PPP funding
has been overseas and in New Zealand.
At the same time he should explain why
Labour governments always endorse
the ludicrous loans system which will
more than double the cost of the new
Greymouth Hospital — assuming it is
And to complete the sorry picture
of health system processes, I note
(Greymouth Star, May 25) a pensioner
receiving a bill for $1471.77 (to be paid by
June 11) for their partner’s ambulance trip.
Sure, it was subsequently withdrawn but
the fact that it was ever sent again shows
how the increasing fragmentation of the
health system causes unnecessary alarms
for people on the receiving end.
As a comparison, someone known to
me has had two trips to hospital care
in Brisbane from a Q ueensland rural
hospital, the first by the rescue helicopter
and the second by the Flying Doctor
plane. There was no charge for either.
Perhaps, on reflection, there is no need
to involve Messrs Elton and Atkinson
since the privatisation/outsourcing/
fragmentation of ser vices secret agendas in
health are quite bizarre enough already
Democrats for Social Credit
The recent report on hospital clinic
waiting lists is worth expanding on. There
are many reasons why a GP may refer a
patient to hospital. Sometimes the GP
knows what the diagnosis and the urgency
are, but does not have the expertise
to provide the necessary treatment.
Referrals for surgery or cancer fall into
this category and are easier to monitor.
However, waiting times should be
interpreted with an understanding of the
urgency and capabilities of a hospital.
A GP may refer patients when the
significance of symptoms are uncertain
or when there is a possibility of multiple
interacting medical problems. Sometimes
input from different specialties is required.
There are many such patients, especially in
the older age group and palliative care.
With numerous medical specialties,
an individual doctor is only capable of
gaining adequate depth of experience
in a few specialties. This is similar with
nursing and allied health personnel. To
provide a hospital ser vice for those most
in need, requires an understanding of
available physical and human resources
and the ability to co-ordinate these.
Those with sufficient medical training
knows that complex medical problems
are often better dealt with on the day
of the referral, rather than saying book
into a clinic. This allows better and more
efficient use of resources compared to
the limited time and team resources of a
Reducing clinic waiting times without
providing the necessary level and mix of
expertise, may not necessarily improve
the standard of ser vice. The standard
of ser vice can be difficult to quantify.
Average life expectancy of someone
admitted to an aged care facility is
a potentially useful indicator of the
standard of hospital services.
Google self-drive cars
When travelling through Hokitika, I was
disappointed to see how the Greymouth
Star chose to advertise the article about
Google’s self-driving cars ( June 5).
‘Google mum on driverless car crashes’
suggests that Google is hiding its
responsibility in crashes. The content of
the article shows the exact opposite — not
a single crash involving the self-driving
cars was the fault of the self-driving
car. The headline seems to me to be an
attempt to stir up controversy around self-
Self-driving cars are simply the logical
progression of safely automating activities
humans used to do. The vast majority of
fatal car crashes are the result of human
error, and self-driving car technology
has the potential to reduce these
other wise senseless deaths. Self-driving
car technology should be embraced, not
1080 poison factor y
I refer to a Greymouth Star article of
October 16, 2014 about the West Coast
Chief executive Mr Ingle said the
council was looking for options to
diversify its investment fund and saw an
opportunity to invest in industrial land
in a growth area in central Canterbury. It
was considered a very secure long-term
investment both for capital growth and
reliable rental returns’.
These premises in Rolleston may well
prove to be a bad investment. I cannot
believe any other business would occupy
these buildings and the prohibitive cost of
decontamination may well come back to
haunt the West Coast Regional Council
drivers of this project.
As a West Coast Regional Council
ratepayer I am appalled at the secretive
decision process involved.
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