It’s well established that once traffic growth in a city reaches a certain point, it clogs a city, destroys its quality of life, and threatens its economic and social viability. One only needs to think of Auckland, London before the congestion charge, Los Angeles and many other car dependent cities. In Auckland, despite decades of motorway building, congestion is gradually strangling the city, at a huge cost to its economy and quality of life.
It's time to question why the oldest, most polluting buses in the Wellington region are used to transport children to school each day. It's become the norm for operators to reserve their most clapped-out buses for schoolchildren mainly because they get a special exemption from NZ Transport Agency bus rules. NZTA stipulates bus operators must remove vehicles from their fleet when they are 20 years old. But under a schoolbus exemption, operators can keep them in service for a further six years if they are used as schoolbuses.
Many Wellingtonians regret the fact our forefathers got rid of Wellington's trams 50 years ago. Now there's another, similarly short-sighted proposal on the table: to scrap our pollution-free, climate-friendly fleet of trolley buses and replace them with diesel buses. At a time when fossil fuels are becoming scarcer and pricier, and we're being exhorted to switch to clean, sustainable energy sources, it makes no sense to replace trolley buses that run on renewable energy with diesel buses powered by fossil fuel.
There's been a lot of soul searching about the historically low voter turnout at this year's local body elections, which followed the lowest voter turnout in 100 years at the 2011 general election. Discussion has focused on ways to make it easier for people to vote, such as online voting. But few have questioned the wider implications of the low voter turnout –and what it might mean for the health of our democracy.
There must be better ways of saving money in our health system than trying to slash the budget for hospital food. Unhealthy food is the leading cause of ill-health in New Zealand, with many people ending up in hospital as a result of poor eating habits and consuming too much processed, mass-produced, industrial food. That's why giving hospital patients good quality, fresh food should be an integral part of healthcare and helping patients recuperate.
One of the National Party's favourite taunts against the former Labour Government was that it was a "Nanny State" government. National MPs seldom missed an opportunity to paint Helen Clark as a "health Nazi" or ridicule Labour's healthy eating policies as examples of "Helen Clark getting into your pantry".
It's time to question why methyl bromide, a highly toxic and potent ozone-destroying gas, is being routinely used on our waterfront, close to the heart of the city, and near to residential apartments, businesses, Victoria University campus, the stadium and our cruise-ship terminal. Methyl bromide is used to fumigate cars and other imports, and occasionally logs, on the port, but the fumigation process is primitive and the controls are woefully inadequate, and result in residues of methyl bromide wafting around in our environment.