Editorials 10 June 2010

June 10th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald says must not alienate its customers.

What is surprising about the contents of a letter from the NZ Post board to the Government is the extreme nature of one of the options under consideration. That would see mail delivered every second day.

If enacted, this would be the equivalent of NZ Post shooting itself in the foot. In effect, the organisation would be conceding that postal delivery has become something of an irrelevance.

Advocates of such a move would say that is already largely the case. Over the past year or two, letter volumes have been declining by about 6 to 7 per cent annually, an unprecedented rate far in excess of the 1 per cent or so drop of previous years.

Almost all my mail now is junk. 80% of my suppliers now e-mail me statements etc.

That trend is almost certain to continue as more consumers embrace online communications and bill payments. But delivering mail every second day would surely serve only to accelerate the rate of decline.

Yes, but it would accelerate a decline in costs.

Of these, the ending of Saturday deliveries appeals as a reasonable first step towards cutting costs that would have little impact.

Australia and Britain long ago abandoned weekend deliveries, and the United States is about to do the same. It is remarkable that it has remained part of NZ Post’s contract with the Government for so long.

Indeed, it says much about the organisation’s service ethos. But relatively little mail is delivered on Saturdays, and the service would hardly be missed, even by old people, who rely more on mail than other groups.

A sensible first step.

The Press wants more cruise liners to Christchurch:

The idea of building a swept-up dedicated facility at the Lyttelton port to serve cruise liners is an attractive one.

In addition to the fact that the Lyttelton Port Company says that as its other shipping activities grow it has an urgent need for one anyway, a new, modern facility providing a good first impression for visitors to Christchurch and the wider region is certainly worth serious consideration. The port company has so far, however, not been able to persuade others who would have to put some money up to pay for it that the proposal is financially worth-while. Since they are the ones who would most benefit from the project, it suggests that some of the claims made for it may not stand up under closer scrutiny, at least not in the present financial climate. …

If a compelling economic case can be made that a better facility will increase the volume of traffic at the port above what would occur in any event, then the port company will deserve to win financial support for it. But money should not be put into it simply because it would make an attractive building on the waterfront.

The Dom Post says is fighting the right fight but with the wrong tactics. I agree. The Dom Post incidentally has been a strong campaigner itself against Japanese :

Supporters of New Zealander Peter Bethune, facing a Tokyo court after boarding a ship protecting Japanese whalers in Antarctic waters, are right to describe as bizarre ’s decision to ban him from future protests because of his bow andarrows.

Taken at face value, it is a late development of responsibility from an organisation that has a well-deserved reputation for protests that cross the line into idiocy and endanger lives.

Its founder, Paul Watson, threatened in an earlier protest to ram his ship into the slipway of a Japanese whaler, saying he would give it “a steel enema”.

He has been reported as referring to Greenpeace as “Yellowpeace” over its refusal to use violence. In a 2007 interview with the New Yorker magazine, he said Sea Shepherd had sunk – in port – 10 ships. (The magazine credited Sea Shepherd with two sinkings and two attempts.)

That sits oddly with Sea Shepherd’s now announced stance of “aggressive but non-violent direct action”.

Indeed. It may be a publicity stunt to try and get a lesser sentence for Bethune.

Another is that, however much Bethune might wish otherwise, the case does not revolve around Japan’s shameful use of the scientific whaling loophole to pursue what amounts to a commercial operation in the Southern Ocean, but around charges of trespassing, vandalism, possession of a knife, obstructing business and assault – charges on which he appears to have received a fair trial.

Bethune chose foolish tactics to promote his views. The Japanese were entitled to use the law to test whether he went too far. He and his family must now be concerned that he will pay a high price for his high principles.

The four charges he pleaded guilty to were fairly minor, and if he is found innocent of assault, I hope he gets to come home soon. If he is convicted on the acid throwing charge, he may be in Japan for a fair while longer.

The ODT notes the retirement of :

Mr Hodgson was no novice when he sought public office. He had become the Labour Party’s master election strategist at a time when such essential duties were still of an amateur nature.

He became aligned with Helen Clark’s backers and by the time she achieved the prime ministership, in 1999, he had become a member of her trusted inner circle along with Michael Cullen, Trevor Mallard, Phil Goff and Steve Maharey.

She appointed him a minister from a caucus light on genuine talent and gave him a heavy workload from the start, reinforced by his task in Parliament’s debating chamber as one half of Labour’s heavy artillery in debates – the other half being another Dunedin MP, Michael Cullen.

As a minister, Mr Hodgson’s success was mixed. His generally detached demeanour – that of a strategist and pragmatic thinker – provided no profile with which the public could warm to, and Ms Clark gave him some most unpopular portfolios including climate change, energy and health.

In politics, nothing lasts, and it became clear Mr Hodgson’s star was losing its shine in 2008, when he was replaced as the party’s chief strategist for the forthcoming election by Helen Clark herself.

Mr Hodgson has generally been considered a well-liked and hard-working constituency MP who wore his political colours lightly when it came to representing Dunedin’s interests and the personal matters with which, as Dunedin North MP, he dealt on a daily basis.

Even in this professional political era, Labour will miss his strengths – and Dunedin will certainly miss his abilities and advocacy.

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7 Responses to “Editorials 10 June 2010”

  1. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “.. and it became clear Mr Hodgson’s star was losing its shine in 2008, when he was replaced as the party’s chief strategist for the forthcoming election by Helen Clark herself…”

    that worked out well for them..didn’t it..?

    i wonder what hodgson would have done differntly from clark..?

    and farrar:..

    you missed the obvious reason..given by sea sepherd..that this will reassure the japanese judges that bethune will not be on the japanese tv screens next year…

    ..protesting again…

    (how does that not make perfect sense…?…)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  2. trout (901 comments) says:

    The demise of NZ Post will be accelerated by the IRD going on line (see elsewhere). IRD presently send 100,000 letters per week. It would be interesting to know how much NZ Post has spent (by way of capital cost and subsidy) on Kiwibank – is it a case of the child sucking the life out of the parent? Courier Post seems to be a success – they have a virtual monopoly through takeovers and have been able to whack up their rates accordingly; parcel posting has increased exponentially thanks to trade Me.

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  3. Pete George (22,839 comments) says:

    In a month away about half the letters I received (not many) were from IRD – but it is that time of year.

    It shouldn’t be difficult for IRD to reduce what the mail out. I can do all my tax returns on-line and any payments or refunds are direct credited, but then they send out multiple statements and advice notices.

    I think dropping Monday deliveries makes more sense than dropping Saturday deliveries. Most mail is sent by businesses and few will post in the weekend for Monday delivery. I hardly if ever get mail on Mondays, but do get it on Saturdays.

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  4. tvb (4,205 comments) says:

    No mention of Hodgson’s muck raking efforts which were failures. He seemed more interested in the negative side of politics than doing his jobs. Not a successful politician who is realistic when it comes to not getting a job from National.

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  5. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    I only with they stopped all overseas scam mail and local junk mail from being delivered back at their depots, by putting it in their own rubbish bins instead… that would be a productive cost savings.

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  6. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Labour lost its shine alone with Hodgson.. and now they’re doing the chicken dance.

    Mr Hodgson’s was a Labour star… say’s it all really for Labour.

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  7. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    cruise liners to Christchurch:
    not in the present financial climate. …

    Exactly Right.

    New Plymouth is also looking at it… but not in the present financial climate.

    ……………………………………………………………….

    The Dom Post incidentally has been a strong campaigner itself against Japanese whaling:
    and the Herald has been mostly against Bethune actions… I wonder why that is.

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