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


TIM PANKHURST: Editor of the Dominion Post

It has come to my attention that the Editor of the Dominion Post is telling people that the initiative to end my association as a columnist with his paper came from me. Readers might care to read the enclosed unexpected letter from him to me dated 28 November 2006 and my reply to him dated 3 December 2006.

Michael Bassett

November 28 2006

Dr Michael Bassett
17 Stilwell Road
Mt Albert AUCKLAND 1003

Dear Michael

From time to time we review our sections and columns and have made several changes this year, for example introducing Richard Long.

Accordingly, we no longer wish to continue your column.

We have to keep offering fresh comment to our readers and your views are now well known.

It has also been suggested by several readers that you are compromised -one suggested your column should be renamed fifth- in view of your undeclared advice to Don Brash on his pivotal Orewa speech. I note that you do not dispute this and that you have also given advice to other political leaders.

In that case, I believe this should have been declared and both you and The Dominion Post are exposed to duplicity.

Thank you for your contribution over some time now, but it's time to move on and I trust we can do so amicably.

We would be happy to consider one-off contributions from you on relevant subjects and to approach you for comment on relevant
news issues.

Best wishes for the future.


3 December 2006

Tim Pankhurst,
The Dominion Post,
P.O. Box 3740,

Dear Mr Pankhurst,

I have received your ungracious letter. I am happy to "move on" and had been considering doing so for some time, as you will recall from earlier correspondence both with you and your deputy.

However, I cannot allow your suggestion that I had been duplicitous to go unchallenged. I have never made a secret of the fact that I have been a friend of Don Brash's since 1967, or that I have been in intermittent contact despite our political differences over the years. I also had Helen Clark and Phil Goff as students of mine, and there have been many contacts with them. Mike Williams of the Labour Party wrote a thesis under my supervision, too. I have always been available to answer questions on a free and friendly basis, even for Dominion Post journalists. The suggestion that I wrote either of Don Brash's Orewa speeches is preposterous. Hager says that Brash himself wrote one of them. I did answer questions on one of the five points Brash wanted to touch on in his first Orewa speech because after ten years on the Waitangi Tribunal I possessed some expert knowledge on the Treaty. I provided the information when asked, and I suggested where further material might be gleaned. Soon after that speech Dr Brash told the press about those who had helped check its accuracy, mentioning my name. It appeared in several newspapers and a monthly magazine. Nobody, least of all an editor, has any excuse for being unaware of this fact. Suggestions of "duplicity" are therefore completely wrong.

By now you must be realising that there are many mistakes in Hager's book, and it was unwise - even unprofessional - to treat its contents as gospel, or as ammunition to ambush people who had not yet had an opportunity to check his assertions. For your interest, there is one whole page that claims to be based on emails of mine to Don Brash, that certainly didn't come from me. Several emails, whoever wrote them, are products either of Nicky Hager's carelessness, or someone's fevered imagination. I have kept my email correspondence with politicians, so I know what I am talking about. I have never possessed sufficient information about the internal workings of the National Caucus to advise anyone about its members, let alone suggest a campaign strategy.

Yours sincerely