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Feedback: July 16, 2016

Cosseted liberals; the Brexit vote; enhancing cognitive abilities; and extracting organ donations.

Cartoon/Phil Parker
Cartoon/Phil Parker


Obviously, the liberal elites don’t like Brexit (Editorial, July 9). But perhaps the British wanted their nation back?

Unlike liberals, who do not feel great patriotism for king and country and live in leafy suburbs shielded from the consequences of mass migration and decisions made in Brussels, the ordinary British person feels the effects first-hand: the hostile stares of Muslim men who now make up the neighbourhood when they return to Luton to photograph their grandfather’s old house; trying to make a living but being undercut by cheap labour from Poland and Romania; the loss of democracy as unelected Brussels bureaucrats make the most minute of decisions.

Ordinary people, when given the opportunity, rose up to reject the plan of their so-called liberal masters. Liberal elites in this country, the US and throughout the Western world need to heed that lesson.

Scott Lelievre

The editorial hits the nail on the head: proportional representation delivers meaningful options for protest votes and a mechanism that can address the concerns of the alienated. Who knows, it might have prevented Brexit ever happening.

Under PR, Scotland’s democracy has become more representative, outward-looking and resilient. Westminster, however, is stuck with its Tweedledum and Tweedledee pseudo-democracy. Yet the angry and disaffected English still believe they have the world’s best electoral system.

Jim Colvine
(Mangawhai Heads)

One has to wonder why, if the numbers are accurate, two-thirds of the younger demographic could not be bothered to turn out for a vote the results of which they now march in the streets against.

Perhaps next time they could consider the possibility of embarking on that arduous personal Everest, the walk to the polling booth.

John Dennehy
(Albany, Auckland)

What extraordinary presumption is displayed by the editorial on the Brexit vote when it proclaims that “older voters have imposed their will on those with more at stake”.

The suggestion that “older” voters, whatever that means, have less right to express a view is incredible. Democracy happens when people vote and every vote is equal. The result is the will of the people, no matter what the Listener may think it should have been.

Russell Garbutt


Robert Patman was spot on (“A reckless gamble”, July 9). The Brexit referendum was non-binding, which means that it does not become law until it has been passed by Parliament.

It is the duty of the House of Commons to examine the matter, and if it considered the action unsound, it could reject the motion. The public could make its feelings known at the next election, which could be called early.

Ken Chandler

Robert Patman’s views are almost unbelievable. Presumably he only finds democracy acceptable if the results go the way he thinks a rich minority want. Like it or not, the poor and the uneducated get a vote as well and they all count. The UK should not halt its plans to exit the EU.

Paul Hicks

Is Professor Patman really an undercover politician for the Remain campaign? Fifty-two per cent of Britons voted for Brexit. Who is he to tell them what to do?

Mirella Newman
(Gate Pa, Tauranga)


It’s a bit of a stretch for Peter Grattan (Letters, July 9) to claim the right to criticise Britain, Britons and the Brexit vote “as I am British”.

Heck, he left Britain in 1957. How seriously would Kiwis take criticism of, say, the flag referendum result from someone who left when Keith Holyoake was Prime Minister?

Nick Stride
(Green Bay, Auckland)


Jim Flynn’s six suggestions for enhancing children’s cognitive ability (“Mind gains”, July 9) seem intuitive, except for one: make homework automatic.

Excessive emphasis on homework is common and risks duplication of a classroom environment at home at the expense of allowing children real leisure time and encouraging them to use it in life-enhancing ways.

I prefer David Bowie’s take on parenting: “And if the homework brings you down, then we’ll throw it on the fire and take the car downtown.”

Andrea Dawe
(Sandringham, Auckland)


Keith Petrie touches on a critical point about acceptance of generic medicines (Health, June 25) – that doctors and pharmacists, as health professionals or “agents” in healthcare transactions, ought to be advocates of a rational and knowledgeable approach to medicines.

However, the fact that New Zealand and America are the only countries in the world to permit direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines should not be underestimated in its effect on patients. The pharmaceutical industry is well resourced to imply superiority over generic medicines through such advertising, yet little attention is paid to research findings such as those by Petrie and others.

A 2012 Australian study showed that variation between different batches from the same originator brand were greater than the variation between originator and generic brands, and responsible for changes in concentrations of the drug in patients’ blood samples. Furthermore, a recent series of University of Auckland studies could find no difference in health outcomes between patients who changed from originator brand to generic and those who did not make the change.

Consider also that many parent pharmaceutical companies produce a generic version themselves to capture the market after the patent on the originator has expired, nullifying the quality argument.

Certainly, psychology is at play here, but in an environment of direct-to-consumer advertising by powerful multinational pharmaceutical companies, it is not that surprising.

Charon Lessing
AUT lecturer in pharmacology
Letter of the week


The suggestion of a change to the organ-donation law to “opt out” rather than “opt in” (Editorial, June 25), with all it would entail, is naive and simplistic. As a recently retired Auckland intensive care specialist, I have about 35 years’ experience of asking for organ donations, and I doubt that a clinical team could be found in the country that would be foolish and hard-hearted enough to act on such a law against family wishes.

The assertion that ICU specialists “generally do not” ask when donation is unlikely for reasons of belief is also wrong. Many times I or my colleagues have asked families to consent to organ donation knowing that their beliefs might prevent it. But we asked nonetheless.

Ironically, and sadly, in my experience many of those who would benefit from donation are from the groups whose beliefs preclude it.

Nigel Rankin
(Howick, Auckland)

I have recently been the recipient of a cornea from an anonymous donor for which I waited nearly three years. The lack of donor material is something that we rarely think about until it affects us or someone close.

I hope the family of my donor reads this and takes comfort from the fact that I will be forever grateful to them, and the loved one, who gave me my vision again.

A Kennedy


I enjoyed the article on Sir James Carroll (“Fighter for two peoples”, July 9) and noted in the photo of the Urewera chiefs performing a haka how relaxed and happy they look.

Contrast this with the way it is performed today – all tongues poking out and warlike. I can see why the All Blacks perform the haka in an intimidatory manner but can’t help thinking that over-vigorous actions might be a reason for some of the in-your-face behaviour of our young (and not so young) people.

Dave Robinson


Simon Nottingham (Letters, July 9) claimed that the US marines were the only people who came to defend New Zealand during World War II.

In fact, America resolutely stayed out of the war until it was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor. True, it had been helping Britain by lending money and equipment, for which it demanded repayment after the war – while assisting Germany to rebuild and modernise its industry.

I agree that we should be friendly towards the US, but we should also bear in mind that the marines came to Australia and New Zealand to save their own bacon, not ours.

Stephen Palmer
(Bastia Hill, Whanganui)


Perhaps a lot of loneliness could be avoided if society were more accepting of the person alone (“Only the lonely”, July 2). Commentators rail against people on their own in cafes with a book or a newspaper propped in front of them supposedly “hiding their shame”. No such thing. Who’s to say they’re not just enjoying reading with a refreshment away from home?

Fay Lambert

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