Dr Michael Bassett

Dr Michael Bassett

Newspaper Columns


19/12/06 Problems of Opposition since 2001
13/12/06 TIM PANKHURST Dominion Post
05/12/06 Nicky Hager and the Hollow Book
21/11/06 Greeks Bearing Gifts
07/11/06 Poor Policing in Auckland
24/10/06 Careless decisions on Auckland's Waterfront
10/10/06 The PC Clobbering Machine
26/09/06 Toxic Politics
12/09/06 Auckland's Robbers' Convention (NZ Herald)
12/09/06 Labour's Political Scandals
29/08/06 Corruption and Party Funding
14/08/06 War in the Middle East
01/08/06 New Zealand's Future?
20/06/06 Our Infrastructural Needs
20/06/06 Leave
06/06/06 Diverting the Public's Attention
23/05/06 New Zealand and Australia
09/05/06 The Maori Seats
11/04/06 Dogs and Priorities
28/03/06 Parliament's Size
14/03/06 Crime and Police priorities
28/02/06 Family Planning and Poverty
14/02/06 The Cartoon Furore
31/01/06 Greater Financial Understanding
03/01/06 Encouraging Economic Literacy
20/12/05 Immigration and Adaptation
06/12/05 Problems with Psychiatric Care
22/11/05 Maternity Services Gone Wrong
08/11/05 Political Correctness
25/10/05 MMP and the 2005 Outcome
11/10/05 A New Cabinet?
27/09/05 Social Divisions
19/09/05 Election Aftermath
13/09/05 Election Dirty Tricks
30/08/05 Election bribery
16/08/05 Reflections on New Zealand
15/08/05 David Lange: An Assessment by a Colleague
07/06/05 Facing the Electricity Future
07/06/05 ON LEAVE
24/05/05 David Benson-Pope
10/05/05 Three in a row for Blair
26/04/05 Press Accuracy
12/04/05 Hawkins and the Police
29/03/05 Lunacy Sightings
15/03/05 National's Predicament
01/03/05 Making Quality Decisions
15/02/05 Aid to Africa
01/02/05 Orewa Mark II
18/01/05 Asian Tsunami
04/01/05 Sir Apirana Ngata

Poor Policing in Auckland


Blockhouse Bay is a pleasant Auckland working class suburb. It contains a cross section of Aucklanders, with a slightly larger weighting of Pakeha superannuitants. Decent law-abiding folk, who value personal security and have always voted Labour. However, last election the National Party doubled its party vote at most booths, and nearly trebled at one. It's an area to which this ministry needs to be super attentive. Yet it seems to be at the cutting edge of the collapse that is taking place in law and order throughout Auckland, and especially its working class suburbs. No one in authority cares, least of all the Police.

In Blockhouse Bay's main street behind a very unpretentious shop front is the local law office. It's run by two competent guys with 25 years experience apiece, supported by hard-working staff. Their business reflects the neighbourhood. Conveyancing, neighbourhood spats, and occasional brushes with the cops form much of the firm's work. But early on the morning of 2 September someone threw a rock through the office windows. Nothing stolen, but glass everywhere. The Police were informed. No visit, nothing done. New windows were installed at a cost of $1,800. The following Saturday, same thing, same time. The Police paid a perfunctory visit this time, tut-tutted, and took away the rock. New windows again. On 23 September it happened once more. Claims to the law firm's insurance company now stood at $6,427. When informed, the cops said they had no cars in the area, although two were quickly spotted, speeding in the opposite direction. Then broken windows again on early Friday 6 October. And for a fifth time over Labour weekend. Because reinforced glass had now been installed, an axe was necessary to smash the windows; slivers were discovered many metres away. One of the lawyers protested vehemently to the Police who refused to visit, and advised him to come into the station and fill out another incident form! Not surprisingly, the lawyer thought this a waste of time. Instead, the two walked nine doors down the road to the Community Constable's shop where they were confronted by a notice saying that it was "closed until further notice". The window contained warnings about vandalism, and a sticker: "Have you Hugged Your Kid Today". One thing for sure: neither lawyer felt like hugging a cop, if any were around, which they weren't.

After five smashings, and no Police action, the lawyers are wondering what to do next. It's like some inner city parts of the United States. The insurance company is reviewing its cover, so the lawyers have boarded up their windows while they work inside. Not surprisingly, their clients are concerned; so are fellow shopkeepers who also feel vulnerable. The school, it seems, has also been vandalised. The law office was an eyesore when I visited, and reminded me of what I'd seen in Soweto. The lawyers are considering erecting a large notice explaining that it will stay this way until the Police and the Government take action to enforce the law against whoever is waging this vendetta.

Sadly, police inaction occurs in other parts of Auckland too, often in working class areas. My constituents used to vote Labour because they trusted us to protect their property while they battled to get ahead in life. Law and order has always been a sensitive issue where people live on the margins. Now that there are more welfare recipients, and all the social problems they breed like rabbits, it's more vital than ever. But after seven years in office this government's policing priorities are hopeless. The extreme left has always been more sympathetic to the perpetrators of crime, believing in their muddle-headed, middle class way that criminals are the "victims of society" and need understanding. The Police used to be more hard-headed, but now seem to have joined modern Labour and surrendered. It's easier for two cops to sit in a car waiting for the radar to beep than to chase vandals, pursue thugs, or attend domestic violence calls. The wealthier Auckland suburbs, of course, gave up on the Police long ago. Their citizens contract private companies who can arrive within four minutes. This shocks the criminals, who usually scram.

It's high time Annette King got serious about poor policing in Labour areas if only because her supporters are shifting. If the Blockhouse Bay lawyers start a national campaign against current Police priorities, Labour will have only itself to blame.