He talked the walk – and walked it
One thing’s better than having someone agree with you. That’s having someone in your corner – without being asked – who has ‘‘talked the talk and walked the walk’’.
Michael Bassett held United States and Canadian professorships, was a city councillor, and spent five terms in Parliament, with portfolios including Local Government, steering the first amalgamation of 10 Auckland isthmus local bodies into one city council in 1989.
That national purge trimmed local bodies to 93 – from an astonishing 817!
He began: ‘‘I liked your column – right on the button’’
On the city underground: ‘‘It will never make money. It won’t even cover its costs. The mayor will then either demand bigger subsidies from the government for the shortfall in revenue, or he’ll push up our rates to pay that shortfall, or borrow yet more money.
‘‘Public transport in the Auckland region already gets a huge subsidy. And it will need more to pay for the white elephant.
‘‘Money doesn’t grow on trees, something current councillors don’t realise.
‘‘This profligate council hasn’t been through the stage the amalgamated Auckland City Council went through after 1989. Bruce Anderson, then CEO, was a crackerjack.
‘‘He ran a slide rule over every aspect of the new council’s functions, closed a couple including the Works Department, contracting out, and reducing staff from 2650 to 1980.
‘‘This meant considerable savings for ratepayers as surplus staff were either made redundant, or went to the contractors providing services back to the council at much less cost.’’
What about this week’s meetings on restructuring? He’s not surprised. It should have been done long ago.
‘‘On the 1991 experience I’d hazard a guess of several hundred surplus staff.’’
He shakes his head over the suggestion that sprinkling funeral ashes could need a permit and a fee.
‘‘The product of people with not enough to do.
‘‘This council has a
big appetite and many expensive ideas, more than doubling the council’s debt over the last 31⁄ years.
‘‘Now, the mayor wants government money (taxpayers’ of course) for an early start on his great white elephant, the underground rail route.
‘‘Planning a second harbour crossing is much more urgent – absolutely vital in the very near future.
‘‘Tolling can be done with overhead cameras, perhaps – and/or a congestion charge. A more honest approach would be user pays for the two crossings.’’
‘‘Is Len on the right track?’’ See quick quotes next week.
About New Zealand fish processed in China for the NZ market – Alton Gullery, Countdown seafood merchandise manager:
‘‘Our first preference is to work with New Zealand suppliers. Companies based here process hoki and John Dory, but not whiting.
‘‘Earlier this year, our local supplier of crumbed, frozen fish fillets closed down.
‘‘No company in New Zealand produces crumbed, frozen whiting fillets, so we sourced these popular products from a company which processes in China.
‘‘The Select Southern Blue Crumbed Whiting, referred to in your column, is a fish in New Zealand waters (Area 6, sub-Antarctic) under the Quota Management System.
‘‘Southern Blue Whiting is frozen and then processed (crumbed) in China.
‘‘The frozen fillets are not thawed and refrozen, but tempered to 80 per cent for processing, following the same process and food safety requirements standard in NZ.
‘‘The Just Caught brand of frozen fillets is also New Zealand-caught.
‘‘Any food product sold in New Zealand must meet stringent food safety and quality standards.
‘‘These are set and monitored by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
‘‘We have our own supermarket safety and quality requirements for any product we sell, including keeping fish at the required temperature every step of the way until it is purchased by the customers.
’’All frozen seafood must comply with food safety requirements when coming back to NZ.’’
Michael Bassett: ‘‘Planning a second harbour crossing is much more urgent – absolutely vital in the very near future.’’