Letters to the editor
We are two Australian conventional farmers from states which have allowed the commercial release of genetically engineered (GE) crops. We have been touring New Zealand describing our experiences and circumstances since the commercial release of GE crops.
We received a very warm welcome from farmers, farmer representatives, scientists, students, urban people and Maori representatives. We saw great interest and concern by the vast majority of those we met about how the release of GE would affect New Zealand's enviable reputation as a clean green producer of high quality food and fibre.
Your nation has a magnificent opportunity to learn from Australia's lack of foresight. Price penalties, market resistance and questionable agronomic aspects have combined with very high seed and technology costs to disillusion many who adopted and promoted GE.
The reason key issues of concern were ignored in Australia is because governments and research sectors plan on profiting from farmers on their public research alliances with multinationals.
We urge New Zealand people to take genuine concerns seriously and not let the GM industry take control of the debate and the outcomes. Beware the GE man bearing gifts.
JULIE NEWMAN and BOB MACKLEY
In his letter to the Express on August 22, John Miller states that the church has a responsibility to protect the institution of marriage as "it has always been, and that is between a man and a woman". His assertion that marriage has always been between a man and a woman is not quite accurate - that is to say, it is factually incorrect.
Ancient societies have practiced same-sex marriages in the past. I use the example of ancient Rome, where there are many known instances of same-sex marriage. Most notably perhaps the marriages to other men of emperors Nero and the lesser known Elagabalus, better known as Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus.
Christianity and the introduction of the Theodosian code, implemented in 342 AD, brought about the prohibition of same-sex marriage in Rome and the immediate execution of any couple who were so married.
Mr Miller raises concern at my claim that the views of particular people contributing to the marriage debate are ignorant. A statement I stand by.
He then proceeds to warn to me that "when he points his finger at others, three are pointing back at him". This is the "three-fold law" teaching of the Wiccan religion.
My original letter can't have made clear the fact that I am a person independent of such superstitious belief, a mistake I hope I have now rectified. I understand the church has a right to be heard. I don't believe it has the right to dictate how citizens live and interact with each other, as many of the debate's contributors would have us believe, however.
Rates based on a land value system are not archaic but more efficient and fairer than a capital value system. Efficient, because land is easier to value; fairer, because it discourages speculation on empty land, especially near town centres.
This is because, if levied accordingly, holding costs for that land become onerous - owners must pay up or sell. If they choose to pay the rates, so be it, but either way the community benefits.
Rate levies based on capital value are great for investors, farmers, speculators, etc because the bulk of the rates is on the capital improvements, which in relation to the land value is usually minimal.
For the ordinary town dwelling ratepayer, however, a high capital value levy means that any improvement to house, factory, shop, etc will incur a higher valuation and hence higher rates, thus punishing productivity, aesthetics and, in some cities, actually promotes urban decay.
In towns and cities using a capital value rating system you may notice large, empty sites and derelict buildings because owners pay little in rates, therefore can hold on to the land at little expense to make a larger profit when they do eventually sell.
The councillors' worry is that some of their constituents are finding it harder to pay the new rate levies. That might be so, but they are probably sitting on under-utilised valuable land.
In Marlborough the bulk of the wealth is held by the rural landowners so it is only fair they should contribute a bit more to council's ever-increasing infrastructure costs.
On the brink
Tinkering with MMP will fix nothing. MMP is not the problem. Political parties are and they cannot be fixed.
There is a little known fact that one cannot truly represent another unless one first represents oneself.
Party MPs cannot represent themselves unless they are released by the party to vote freely according to conscience. This rarely happens. All other times they vote how the party directs them.
This makes for governance which is primarily concerned with the next election.
Consequently, superannuation is out of control. So is borrowing. Indeed, the whole world teeters on the brink and it can all be laid at the feet of political parties.
- The Marlborough Express