Home' Greymouth Star : August 13th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Thursday, August 13, 2015
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
column as a public forum for West Coasters and
welcome your opinion and suggestions.
Letters may be submitted by post, fax or e-mail and
must include your name, address, phone number
and — except for e-mails — your signature. Noms
de plume are not accepted.
Please keep your letters honest, respectful and
within 300 words. Letter writers will generally not
be published more often than weekly. The Editor
reserves the right to edit or not publish letters,
especially those that are offensive or too long.
Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
uLetters to the editor
1826 - Death of Rene Laennec, French
physician and inventor of the stethoscope.
1870 - Explorer John Wesley Powell becomes
the first white man to see the Grand
1910 - Death of Florence
Nightingale, British nurse in the
1940 - Three United Australia Party
ministers and the Chief of General
Staff die in an air crash in Canberra.
1942 - Walt Disney’s animated
feature Bambi premieres at Radio City Music
Hall in New York.
1945 - World Zionist Congress demands
admission of one million Jews to Palestine.
1946 - Death of H G Wells, British writer.
1961 - East Germany seals off border
between East and West Berlin, closing
Brandenburg Gate to halt people fleeing the
1964 - Last hangings in Britain take place with
two men executed for murder at Liverpool and
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Lucy Stone, US pioneering feminist (1818-
1893); Annie Oakley, US markswoman and
circus performer (1860-1926);
John Logie Baird, British inventor
of television (1888-1946); Alfred
Hitchcock, British film director
(1899-1980); Alan Sainsbury, British
supermarket pioneer (1902-1998);
Ben Hogan, US golfer (1912-
1997); Makarios III, first president
of Cyprus (1913-1977); Fidel Castro, Cuban
leader (1926-); James Morrison, English singer-
songwriter and guitarist (1984-) .
“ You should avoid making yourself too
clear even in your explanations. ” — Baltasar
Gracian, Spanish philosopher (1601-1658).
“ My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me
according to Your word.” — (Psalm 119:28).
As he was walking
out of the Dobson
State mine on Tuesday
fire brigade head Mr Cecil Skeats was run over
by a mine truck. He suffered a crushed leg
though luckily no major bone was broken.
He was admitted to the Greymouth Hospital
where his condition today was described as
Bruce Mann, the Runanga 22-year-old
who landed a fractured jaw on the eve of his
departure to rendezvous with the New Zealand
Rugby League team in Auckland, before
leaving for England, could still make the trip.
An offer to conduct an appeal for funds to pay
for his fare has been made to Mann, but he
has not yet accepted. Mann, now in Bur wood
Hospital, was told of the offer yesterday but
was dubious about accepting.
Stating that he did not think he would like
to accept, Mann said that he felt he was still
young enough to gain selection for the next
tour. However, he wanted a few days to think
the matter over and will give his decision later
The possibility of a competitive industry
in Westland serpentine rock is “extremely
doubtful” says the Minister of Science Mr
Talboys. Mr Talboys said this in a reply to a
plea by the Member for Westland
Mr P Blanchfield for the DSIR to investigate
and encourage the development of huge
quantities of serpentine at Griffen’s Range.
Mr Talboys’ reply is: “ The deposits of
serpentine at Griffen’s Range, Westland,
were quarried prior to 1914, but the activity
ceased during World War One. The problem
is inaccessibilty and the capital cost of
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
New Zealanders like to make fun of
their Security Intelligence Ser vice. That
an SIS agent ’s abandoned briefcase was
found to contain a cold meat pie and a hot
copy of Penthouse magazine has provided
endless fodder for the nation’s satirists.
The ser vice’s critics also like to reiterate
its agents’ failure to secure a conviction
for espionage against William B Sutch —
one of New Zealand’s most distinguished
public ser vants. More latterly, we have
been encouraged to shake our heads in
wonderment at the sort of Cold War
madness that could persuade the SIS to
keep a file on the mild-mannered Keith
Locke — from the age of 10.
Largely forgotten among all this
guffawing and tut-tutting is the occasion
when the SIS got it right. When all
the weeks of sur veillance and electronic
eavesdropping actually paid off, and New
Zealand’s spooks were able to parade the
scalp, not of some lowly Eastern Bloc
attache, but of the Soviet ambassador
The so-called “Sofinsky Affair” took
place just before Christmas in 1979 and
featured the Soviet Ambassador, Vesevelod
Sofinksy, caught in the act of handing
over $10,000 of “Moscow gold” to a
representative of the Socialist Unity Party.
The latter, a Soviet-aligned communist
organisation, though small in numbers,
wielded considerable influence in the
then-powerful trade union movement.
Sofinsky was the SIS’s biggest “gotcha” by
far — a Christmas present wrapped up in
the reddest of red ribbons.
Yet, the Prime Minister of the day,
Rob Muldoon, was troubled. His most
obvious course of action was to expel the
ambassador for what everybody agreed
was an egregious breach of diplomatic
protocol. The problem was that, on
Christmas Eve 1979, just days after the
wildly successful Sofinsky “sting”, Soviet
armoured divisions began rolling across
the Afghani border.
Amid the outraged protests of the
Muslim states, and the teeth-grinding
rage of the “free world”, Prime Minister
Muldoon was desperately worried that
New Zealand’s expulsion of its ambassador
would be construed by the Soviet
Government as an act of exaggerated
Cold War fealty. How would the Soviets
respond? What would happen to the
burgeoning trade relationship between
the two countries? What was a delinquent
ambassador worth? Hopefully not that
Muldoon dispatched one of his most
trusted advisers, Gerald Hensely, to
consult New Zealand’s principal allies
on the likely consequences. The ( Jimmy)
Carter Administration in Washington
urged caution, but the British were
confident that the most New Zealand
had to fear by withdrawing Sofinsky’s
diplomatic credentials was that the Soviets
would do the same to New Zealand’s
ambassador in Moscow.
So it proved. The two States expelled
each other’s ambassadors, but took no
further action. The shipments of butter
and mutton to Russian ports continued
uninterrupted — as did the unloading of
Russian-made Lada cars at the Auckland
docks. Not even the Soviets’ reckless
inter vention in the internal politics of
New Zealand, or the presence of T-55
Russian tanks on the streets of Kabul,
was enough to keep the Dairy and Meat
Boards’ exports out of the Russian market.
Back in 1980, foreign trade was important
to New Zealand’s prime minister.
Is it still? As dairy prices tumble, and
the Australian banks start sharpening
their pencils, you might think that New
Zealand’s current prime minister, John
Key, would be doing everything within
his power to move this country’s major
exports over the border of any country
willing to let them through. Russia is one
such country. Her people are hungry for
butter, cheese and milk powder, and their
government is anxious to supply them.
Who, or what, could possibly prevent
New Zealand and Russia from taking
advantage of this mutually beneficial
The answer, apparently, is exactly the
same combination of “allies” who, back in
1980, had no problems at all with New
Zealand trading with the Soviet Union.
Today, however, the Russian Federation is
a “no-go area” for New Zealand exports.
Russia could invade Afghanistan in 1979,
and not be subjected to trade sanctions.
But, in 2014, her defensive annexation
of Crimea (which had, up until the mid
1950s, been an integral part of the Russian
state) has prompted her Nato enemies to
declare Russia’s markets off-limits.
Why is our government not challenging
the European Union’s/Nato’s/United
States’ right to impose such trade barriers?
Time, perhaps, for the SIS to place the
American ambassador and the National
Party under sur veillance?
Chris Trotter is a left-wing
Trading with the enemy?
A generation of people are being
left behind as banks race to embrace
new technology, according to Banking
Ombudsman Deborah Battell.
Ms Battell, who stepped down as the
ombudsman on Friday, said one of her
biggest concerns not just for the industry
but for society was that older people were
being left vulnerable to financial abuse
because they could not keep up with
“Banking is developing and changing
so fast. There are those that are being left
behind. My particular concerns are for
the elderly who find it so hard. They don’t
understand mobile technology.”
Ms Battell said the banks had a guideline
for how they treated older people and those
with disabilities but it needed updating.
“Banks have gone a fair way down the
track of trying to lift financial capability
but I would like them to revisit some of the
issues for the elderly.”
Ms Battell said New Zealand had a
rapidly ageing population and that meant
increasing incidences of dementia.
“As a society we are going to have to do a
lot to ensure elderly people are safe and can
manage money well.”
Although future generations would
be technologically savvy, she said, in the
meantime there would be a period of 10 to
20 years where some people were going to
But the head of the New Zealand
Bankers’ Association, Kirk Hope, said he
was confident banks were doing all they
could to ensure older people had access to
Mr Hope said there was an industry focus
group that met annually to discuss issues
and the voluntary code had come out of
“It deals with the needs of older
customers and those with disabilities. It is
voluntary but most banks would meet the
He did not believe the group needed
to meet more often. “ Technology is not
changing that fast.”
Mr Hope said all of the products
that were available in the past were still
Asked how long cheques would still be
around Mr Hope said that was directly
related to customer demand.
“If there is demand for it they will still be
available.” He said technology was more
about enabling more people to access
banking without having to come into a
For those who could not come into a
branch and were not internet-savvy there
was telephone banking. “People don’t have
to do it on a computer.”
Although there might be a perception
that banks were closing branches he said
that was not the case.
— N ZM E -New Zealand Herald
Departing watchdog fears
elderly lost in bank tech race
tate coalmines have been on
the West Coast since 1870
employing many thousands
of workers over the last 145
years. During that period
over 430 coalminers have
lost their lives in coal-related accidents.
The announcement that the State-
owned enterprise will be placed into
administration could signal the end of a
long association between Government and
the West Coast which has supplied the
bulk of New Zealand’s coal firing
the furnaces that industrialised New
Our high grade coking coal is exported
to steel mills throughout the world so I
hope new buyers with new capital can be
found for Stockton, Spring Creek and
Strongman mines if the administrator
comes to that conclusion.
Over the past 50 years the West Coast
has gone through a painful transition
from extractive to sustainable industries,
which has come at a huge cost forcing a
population decrease of 25% from 40,000
down to 30,000. Now the State-owned
Enterprise is in administration it leaves
us with nothing but resilience as in the
past to adjust, by finding new sustainable
industries to take the West Coast economy
for ward. There is always sunshine after
rain, we know that on the Coast. With
help from Government we can make the
transition less painful. Coal royalties were
received by Government over the 145
years with minimal re-investment back
into our region, and dividends were paid
by the State-owned Enterprise. Some
years ago the head office was shifted to
Christchurch draining more employment
from the West Coast and ballooning office
staff numbers to 300. The SOE spending
was out of control with the inevitable
conclusion we have come to today. Solid
Energy had a duty of care to their loyal
workers on the coal face but instead have
completely let us down by accumulating
$320 million of debt.
You could say this is emotive but if you
witness the stress families go through
having to relocate to other regions and
find employment and housing, it is not a
There has been a domino effect with
lower tonnages of coal placing the
Midland railway line between the Coast
and Christchurch in jeopardy. This
outcome must be avoided at all costs.
Over the past five years the Buller
district has lost 450 direct coal industry
jobs and the Grey district including Pike
River has lost over 500 jobs. Hundreds of
contracting jobs also followed the mining
In 2009, Solid Energy employed 1100
workers on the West Coast now it is 300.
We will recover from this in time
because we have no choice, we have other
industry to diversify to, but as an SOE the
State must play its part in the transition
through the duty of care it owes a region
that played a major role in industrialising
The mayors and chairs from Waikato,
Southland and the West Coast have
worked with the SOE over the past
month regarding environmental impacts
so that the transition to administration
goes smoothly. It is an important
social responsibility for the State, the
administrator and councils to find new
owners and opportunities for existing
profitable mines within our region.
Together we must rise to the
Coalmining has brought prosperity and pain to the West Coast. On the back of Solid
Energy’s announcement today, Grey District Mayor TONY KOKSHOORN looks at
the past — and the future.
Rising to the challenge
The entrance to the Spring Creek Mine.
Links Archive August 12th 2015 August 14th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page