COMMENT:

DR MICHAEL BASSETT

I got up and put on the kettle and then my slippers, and walked to the letterbox. It was still dark. I had to be careful: the frosts make the garden path slippery underfoot. I took out the morning paper and a leaflet from Noel Leeming. No one writes letters anymore, do they?

Back inside, the kettle had boiled, and I made myself a cup of tea. My preferred method is to pour in the hot water first, then rest the teabag on top, and watch as it slowly capsizes, staining the water in a slow, even manner. I wait approximately 120 seconds before very gently squeezing the bag against the sides of the cup with a teaspoon, and then removing the bag and adding the milk.

I drank it standing up. I know some people who sit around and wait for the phone to ring but my philosophy is that it's better to stand.

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The kitchen was so quiet I could hear the clock ticking. I thought back to the constant whirl of noise and activity when I served New Zealand as a government minister. Many people remark that it's a dreadful oversight that I haven't received a knighthood but I give it no thought. Certainly I made conditions better for the country during the era of Rogernomics. I performed my duties to the best of my abilities, and that is what it counts.

So few people understand what public service truly means.

I analysed the newspaper from front to back, and then inspected the leaflet, making notes in the margins about inflation and import tariffs. Before I knew it, it was midday.

I was about to put on the kettle again when I nearly jumped out of my gown. A strange, shrill noise started up. It emanated from a small black object on the kitchen table. I picked it up, and said, "Hello?"

"Michael," said the caller. "Don Brash."

DON BRASH

It's amazing how quickly people have responded to the Free Speech Coalition. All it took was a few calls to raise $50,000 for a judicial review that will challenge Auckland Mayor Phil Goff's descent into fascism.

Mayor Goff has banned two international speakers from sharing their opinions at a venue owned by Auckland Council. But a mayor simply cannot make a judgment of someone else's political views when he decides who can use the council's facilities. It's vitally important that the council facilities, which are paid for by all ratepayers, are available to people with a wide range of political views.

I haven't looked very closely at the two speakers but I understand one of them has said some races are more intelligent than others. Now of course I don't think that. I've never argued that for one single moment.

But I'm not defending those views. I'm defending the right of free speech. That's the important issue.

DR MICHAEL BASSETT

We have this rather extraordinary liberal preoccupation with everything Māori while we push Pakeha culture aside.

Māori are having a whale of a ride on the back of the Treaty.

DON BRASH

Te reo is no value to me, essentially, at all. It is tokenism of the worst kind.