Home' Greymouth Star : August 25th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, August 25, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1819 - Death of James Watt, Scottish
inventor and developer of the steam engine.
1822 - Death of Sir William Herschel,
German-born English astronomer who
1940 -The British Air Force drops first bombs
on Berlin in an overnight raid.
1942 - Australian troops begin the
battle in the first on-land defeat of
the Japanese at Milne Bay, Papua.
1984 - Author Truman Capote
is found dead in a Los Angeles
mansion, aged 59.
1998 - Seven Cuban-Americans
are indicted by a Federal court panel in San
Juan, Puerto Rico, on charges of conspiracy to
murder Cuban President Fidel Castro.
2004 - South African police arrest Mark
Thatcher, the son of for British leader Margaret
Thatcher, on suspicion of involvement in a
coup plot in Equatorial Guinea. Thatcher later
pleads guilty and avoids jail in a deal with
2009 - The last of the Kennedys — Edward
Moore Kennedy — dies aged 77.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Ivan IV (The Terrible), first tsar of Russia
(1530-1584); Erich Honecker, East German
leader (1912-1994); Leonard Bernstein, US
composer-conductor (1918-1990); Sean
Connery, British actor (1930-);
Frederick Forsyth, British novelist
(1938-); Gene Simmons, US rock
singer-actor (1949-); Elvis Costello,
(1954-); Tim Burton, US film
director (1958-); Billy Ray Cyrus,
US singer (1961-); Claudia Schiffer,
German model (1970-); Alexander Skarsgard,
Swedish actor (1976-);.
“Of all forms of caution, caution in love is
perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.” —
Bertrand Russell, English mathematician and
“Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders,
making the most of the time.”
— (Colossians 4:5).
Although the West
Coast is not even off
the ground compared
with Canterbury’s civil
defence planning, this province would sur vive
in an emergency where some cities would
not. This is the view of chief civil defence
warden for the Greymouth borough Cr O H
Jackson, who returned yesterday from a senior
wardens course at Lincoln College. “I am sure
that the West Coast would sur vive under any
circumstances. We here are used to a form of
isolation and would sur vive under conditions in
which some cities wouldn’t.”
Almost every borough and county in the
South Island was represented at the three-day
course. Crs R A Aynsley and C Coulson were
Grey County Council representatives.
As the fine spell continues there is no
abatement in the fire risk on the West Coast
— e specially after the drying effect of fierce
easterly winds earlier in the week. Fire officers
in both Greymouth and Hokitika have warned
residents of the danger and in Hokitika a plea
has been made to residents to keep tracks to
pools and creeks clear so they can be used as
water sources to fight fires.
On Thursday night the Westport Fire Brigade
was called to Sergeants Hill and spent 90
minutes protecting buildings in the area when
a fierce scrub fire threatened to engulf the hall,
bitumen treatment plant and houses.
The Arthur’s Pass National Park Board has
begun construction of a two-roomed public
shelter at Kellys Creek, two miles this side
of Otira. The shelter is identical to one just
completed at Andrews Stream on the eastern
side of the pass.
uFood for thought
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n election debate is
brewing between National
and the Opposition parties
that cuts to the heart of
their different approaches
to Government ’s role in
building infrastructure — and who their
supporters are. National wants to spend
big on roads in the regions. Labour, Green
and New Zealand First want to spend big
on rail and buses in both Auckland and
It is shaping up as a battle between car
owners and truck drivers in the regions
and younger bus and train passengers in
Auckland. It pits young and urban against
old and provincial; green versus grey. It
is also a battle between those prioritising
climate change policies over regional
economic growth, and between those who
want to super-charge Auckland’s growth
and those who see provincial areas as
National has become the roading
Government since 2008, increasing fuel
taxes by 9c a litre to pump investment into
the economy and the Christchurch rebuild
through its roads of national significance.
They included the Victoria Park tunnel,
the Water view tunnel and the Waikato
expressway. These projects were mostly
welcomed as improving links between and
within the biggest cities. They were seen
as economically justifiable and popular
with drivers. But National is now planning
to roll out 10 new roads of national
significance in regional areas that handle
much less traffic and produce much lower
benefits for each extra dollar spent.
Public transport advocates and
opposition parties argue the money would
be much better spent improving rail and
bus ser vices in Auckland and the regions,
both for passengers and freight.
“There are only so many large-scale
roading projects that provide good value
and a bunch of the current roads of
national significance seem to be scraping
the barrel,” Lowrie said in blog post
highlighting that the new projects had
traffic volumes that were less than half
that of Auckland’s main roads.
“These projects will save a few minutes
here and there, but nothing like the 40
minutes the whole Waikato expressway
will save along New Zealand’s busiest
inter-regional corridor; nothing like
the impact of Water view connection
on completing Auckland’s motor way
network,” he said.
“Instead more and more money is
getting shovelled into projects that provide
less and less return.”
National’s Transport Minister Simon
Bridges instead saw the new roads
as being critical for growing regional
economies, even if they were not needed
“They are lead infrastructure projects
meaning we are investing now to
encourage future economic growth,
rather than waiting until the strain on
the network becomes a handbrake on
progress,” he said.
The numbers at stake are huge. At the
current growth rates, the Government
will be spending around $4.5 billion a
year on new roads and road maintenance
through its National Land Transport
Fund by 2024-25, up nearly 30% over
a 10 year period. That is thanks to a
growing pipeline of fuel taxes, road user
charges and vehicle registration fees
that are flowing into the fund from a
fast-growing fleet of new and used cars.
The Government built a money raising
machine with its fuel levy increase
announced quietly on the last Sunday
before Christmas of 2012. It is now
scrambling to spend it as fuel usage grows
quickly with more and bigger cars on the
road travelling more and more kilometres.
Over 800 cars a week are currently joining
Auckland’s motor ways.
But the debate over the roads of national
significance, which are paid for from a
mix of the Land Transport Fund, direct
Government funding and Public Private
Partnerships, is shifting to whether this
fast-growing pot of gold should be used to
build and run railways and more busways
Labour and the Greens are pushing to
use the fund to pay for rail infrastructure,
which Kiwi Rail and freight operators
such as Mainfreight have also called for.
New Zealand First is also a fan of using
rail to move freight and passengers off the
roads, as well as to develop better links
with the regions. This debate could be a
crucial one in any government-forming
“The transport budget should go towards
projects that move people and freight the
fastest and reduce congestion — and that ’s
rail,” Greens Transport spokeswoman
Julie-Anne Genter said in calling to use
the fund to pay for rail.
“Spending the money on motor ways
is wasteful because it won’t solve the
problems in the medium term. Most likely
it will make them worse,” she said.
What are the roads of national
The roads of national significance
have been identified as the essential
transportation routes nationwide. They
are typically four-lane highways, with two
lanes of traffic flowing either way.
There are currently seven roads of
national significance, only two of which
have been completed: Tauranga’s eastern
link toll road and Victoria Park tunnel.
Construction has begun on the remaining
four roads of national significance: Ara
Tahono — Pahoi to Wellsford; western
ring route including the Water view tunnel,
Auckland; Waikato expressway from the
Bombay Hills to Cambridge; Wellington
northern corridor from the Airport to
Levin and including Transmission Gully,
and Christchurch Motor way connecting
the CBD with the airport and the Port of
Where does the funding come from?
Roads of national significance are funded
through The National Land Transport
Fund. This fund is mostly made up of two
sources of revenue: road user charges and
the fuel excise tax. The former is paid by
all diesel vehicle owners, while the latter
taxes you every time you fill up with petrol
at the pump.
The fuel excise tax currently makes up
third of the price of fuel. The Government
has raised the fuel excise tax by 9c a litre
since 2012. The tax hike was used to
increase the land transport fund, which
was announced by Transport Minister of
the time, Gerry Brownlee.
The National party’s proposed 10
new highways will be funded through
a combination of the national land
transport fund ($10.5b) and public-private
Existing roads of national significance
performing poorly — but as expected
The roads of national significance have
been heavily criticised for their low
Minister of Transport Simon Bridges
said this year the benefit-cost ratio for the
Warkworth to Wellsford part of the Ara
Tuhono roads of national significance was
as little as 0.25. This puts the project at a
loss of 75c for every dollar.
Bridges also came under heat this year
by the Green’s transport spokesman
Julie-Anne Genter over failure to provide
an updated benefit-cost ratio for the
Auckland east-west link. A 2015 estimate
put the benefit-cost ratio at 1.9 . Although
in this case the benefits do outweigh the
costs, a benefit-cost ratio under 2 is still
Public transport advocacy group, Greater
Auckand, believed a number of the
highways were built with the knowledge
that the benefit to cost ratio was very
“Some of them were never expected
to work well in the first place, a good
example is the Tauranga link, there
are only 5000 cars a day using it,” said
Greater Auckland’s L owrie.
Lowrie said that the business case put
forward for the Wellsford to Whangarei
link only had a benefit-cost ratio of
between 0.3 - 0 .5. The file has since been
removed from the NZTA website.
“One of the problems we are seeing is
an inconsistent argument. Where the
business case has been done and shows
that it doesn’t stack up, they just ignore
it,” he said.
While the economic performance of
the roads of national significance are
subject to contention, they have proven
themselves in safety. To date, there have
been no fatalities on any of them.
Many transport industry leaders at
the 2017 Election Transport Forum
welcomed National’s plan to build more
New Zealand Road Carriers’ Calven
Bonney said the newly announced roads
of national significance would provide
much needed roading infrastructure.
“It’s very much needed. We’re struggling
with road maintenance, mainly because of
the weather,” Bonney said.
Many industry representatives believed
a benefit-cost-ratio did not accurately
reflect the economic benefits the roads of
national significance presented.
However, representatives from both
Road Transport Forum NZ and the
Motor Industry Association were also
confident that the existing roads of
national signficiance met a benefit-cost
ratio of at least one.
Road Transport chief executive Ken
Shirley was skeptical that the benefit-
cost ratio methodology captured the
full economic advantages of the roads of
“A good example is when they first
proposed the Harbour bridge in Auckland
back in 1959. It didn’t meet one in cost
benefit — in other words it wasn’t going
to pay its way — well who would take
away the Habour bridge today?”
“That is the problem with that tool,
the measuring tool of benefit to cost
ratio, because what wasn’t factored in the
incredible growth along the foreshore
because of the bridge.”
Meriana Johnsen is studying
a masters of journalism at Massey
University in Wellington.
Road v rail debate
National plans to splash another $10.5 billion on new regional motorways.
But do they make economic sense and should that money be spent on rail instead?
MERIANA JOHNSEN reports.
PICTURE: Lynn Grieveson
A Kiwi Rail locomotive heads a train on the main trunk line next to the Waikato Expressway.
The ‘great old city
In response to the letter from Dennis
Oman (Greymouth redevelopment,
Greymouth Star, August 23), this ‘great
old city of Greymouth’ will remain that,
but only if we change with the times and
also invest in its future.
Greymouth is an old coalmining town
making a painful transition to a place
that attracts locals and visitors so that we
can take advantage of the huge tourism
potential and changing retail trends.
Doing nothing is not an option.
The town square will host social
gatherings and entertainment which
will form a big part of the future central
business district. The airport works fine
and we have plenty of green spaces around
our beaches and coastline which are a
drawcard in their natural state. The Coast
Road is rated by Lonely Planet as one of
the top 10 drives in the world, so what is
the problem Dennis?
During construction of the aquatic
centre and town square, design faults and
unforeseen problems occurred. This is not
what we wanted but is all too common.
The council has been compensated for
the error, which will now be rectified. The
aquatic centre and new stadium are a huge
attraction for Greymouth city.
It is great to see Mr Oman returning
to Greymouth and in time Dennis will
realise that there is lots to see and visit. We
have not got the amenities and attractions
of big cities but our environment and the
resilient nature of Coasters are guaranteed
to put a smile on his face.
Grey District Council
The process of the council considering
the proposal from Forever Beech to
sustainably log its forests continues to
Like a character from a children’s
book, Cr Sandrey now breathes fire and
brimstone because of mass submissions
from ‘greenies’. I know that scene. I play
a similar role in our recent play on the
history of native logging on the Coast — a
play dutifully ignored by councillors. How
could they ever learn anything from the
arts? Or from history?
But at least, rather than foolishly
asking for submissions on a principle,
they are now seeking a report from the
Department of Conser vation on the
ecological significance of the forests
and, at the same time, somewhat
schizophrenically, will try to sell said
forests in order to not have to deal
with the complexity of owning and
administering ‘a jewel in the local crown’,
which complexity will involve the
considering of a report on the ecological
importance. Anyone for medication?
Surely they should have commissioned
the report before asking for submissions?
And why on earth, since the council is
now seeking useful information, does not
the council commission a report on the
economic returns of allowing sustainable
logging and the likely cost of any damage
to the West Coast tourist brand? An
informed public could then respond.
Rumour hath it that Forever Beech has
run out of timber sources on privately-
owned land and could fold if they can
not access another timber supply. Is there
any truth in the rumour? And since
Development West Coast was a major
shareholder, the plot thickens. If there is
any truth in this, the information should
be out there.
But, by asking for submissions on the
principle, the council have reluctantly
gathered the useful information that there
is considerable opinion on the matter from
outside the region. If the council wants to
be dealing with national media coverage
of people sitting up trees ‘ jabbering
emotionally’, go for it. Maybe they will
then need to hire a PR firm?
Sorry, now I am calling on lessons from
history — quite irrelevant. I will shut up
and go and present our play in Mapua.
Some Nelson councillors with time on
their hands will be there.
Fluoride is a protected poison. When
added to water at 0.7mg/ litre it is 70 times
that allowed for the equivalent poisons of
lead and arsenic. Because of smaller body
size, children will receive a proportionally
higher dose of the toxin, increasing the
likelihood of damage to health. If, for
example, the mother of an infant is unaware
that her water supply is fluoridated and
innocently uses tap water to mix formula,
her child will receive a dose of fluoride far
beyond misleading theoretical safe levels.
This is what makes mass medication of a
population such a dangerous ham-fisted
If the aim truly is the dental well-being of
children, this method is similar to using a
sledgehammer to crack a nut.
In a submission to the parliamentary
select committee in 2016, Fluoride Free
NZ mentioned Childsmile, an oral hygiene
programme used in Scottish schools.
While at school, competent people
showed children how to remove plaque
by brushing their teeth and at the same
time explained the importance of caring
for maturing teeth. The Scottish scheme
led to tremendous improvements in dental
health. When adequate cleaning of teeth is
combined with healthy diets and limitation
of sugar-laden drinks and food — far and
away the main cause of dental decay — the
benefits will easily outperform tyrannical,
mass medication of water and at a fraction
of the cost.
Authoritarian top down approaches
undermine free choice and human dignity,
whereas respect and explanation enhances
Isn’t it time fertiliser companies dealt with
their own waste? Should not the dumping
of hazardous waste from profitable
chemical process into municipal water
supplies for dilution cease? Should rate and
taxpayers be subsidising private fertiliser
The oral health of children is, I believe, a
distraction, a bogus cover story that masks a
destructive, anti-social act.
Recent media articles about a series
of incident reports by the Health and
Disability Commissioner (HDC),
provides justification for the people’s
protest about the downgrading of West
Coast hospital facilities.
The HDC reports were published in
June this year and the incidents date back
to 2012-15. Many of the HDC reports
showed errors, directly or indirectly,
resulting from having targets for ‘shorter
stays in hospital’, ‘more in primary care’,
fragmented primary care (multiple
c linicians providing primary care),
secretive incident investigations focused
on blaming individuals.
Usually most of the information relevant
to quality and safety in acute care can be
gathered in a few hours, by few trained
individuals. The unreasonable delays of
three to five years in providing reports,
and the secrecy during investigations, has
disrupted the culture of teamwork. When
an individual is to blame, it is often a
problem with their attitude, and failing
to take corrective action immediately is
In one of the cases, adverse comments
were made about six doctors from the
orthopaedic and anaesthetic teams in
Palmerston North Hospital, about the
delayed diagnosis and causation of a
perforated gastric ulcer. The ulcer had been
diagnosed in the hospital four years earlier.
If there had been adequate secondary care
follow up of the treatment of gastric ulcer,
the orthopaedic team would not have been
required to diagnose a perforated ulcer.
Another case included multiple nurses
and doctors trying to manage a patient at a
university health centre, with an infection
eventually diagnosed as meningitis.
In addition, when considering hospital
bed numbers, it is important to note that
Ministry of Health funding for residential
care subsidy, does not cover specialist
visits (not publicly funded by the DHB or
ACC). Using private residential care for
patients with complex or acute medical
needs can obstruct the patient ’s access to
basic health care.
Shorter hospital stays are possible with
better quality care; more in primary care is
possible by improving access to secondary
care expertise to primary care.
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