Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan: Car-sleepers camping at the bit for Key's help

Showing his softer side, the Prime Minister gave an insider's tip: homeless people should contact Work & Income.
Showing his softer side, the Prime Minister gave an insider's tip: homeless people should contact Work & Income.

Housing crisis, what housing crisis? It depends on what you mean by crisis, says the Government. And of course, what you mean by housing.

The evidence includes people sleeping in cars; and garages in South Auckland rented out for $400 a week. The Government would say this is more a crisis in parking than housing. The Prime Minister was shocked: how can anyone afford to live in a car, with Auckland's parking rates? Who could afford to sleep more than an hour?

This Government is doing plenty for housing. For example, the businesses who have bought the Government's stock of state houses will do very well. People who own houses already are doing very well. And if people are living in cars and tents, then that's not a housing problem, that's a camping problem. And as a camping problem, that's a problem either for DoC or Search and Rescue.

Showing his softer side, the Prime Minister gave an insider's tip: homeless people should contact Work & Income.

He might as well have tapped his nose conspiratorially while saying it. It was about as useful as telling someone sleeping in a car to wind up the windows if it rains.

One homeless person did contact Winz, and Winz put them into a motel for a week, generously adding: "Don't worry about the charges, you can owe it to us."

These are the public agencies that make Serco look good.

Winz seems to see itself as a hotel website, something like booking.com or Wotif. I'm surprised the PM didn't helpfully add that if Winz couldn't help you out, there's always AirBnB.

By directing the homeless to Winz, not only was the PM solving a social issue, he was also doing his bit as Minister of Tourism and solving a motel's room vacancy. Is this Government good for small business or what? But does he get recognition for that? No! Lefties are calling for tenancy houses to have a warrant of fitness - yet when the homeless are sleeping in a three-door, one-point-six litre dwelling that actually does have a warrant, they still complain! The PM can't win! And look, if you've got a car to sleep in, why aren't you earning money from it on Uber?

I remember when you had to go on your OE to see homelessness. You felt worldly seeing a homeless person. Now, we have enough on our shores that even public servants are calling for it to be illegal.

There's no need to make it illegal. It already is. Housing is a human right, according to the United Nations. Maybe when a New Zealander runs the UN, that will be enforced here.

I suppose if you're in Government, the first question on homelessness is: would these people vote for us?

And once the polling comes back, if the answer is no, well that shows the homeless are members of rent-a-crowd, and they're probably deliberately sleeping in their cars because Nicky Hager told them to.

Maybe instead of being homeless, these people are just terrible drivers, asleep at the wheel from all that "medicinal" cannabis.

To our Government of deal-makers and business fertilisers, people sleeping in cars and tents just shows the market at work. If homelessness were bad, the homeless wouldn't be homeless: they'd be homeful. Look, why are some people rich and some poor? Obviously the poor are doing something wrong, and the worst thing we could do would be to encourage that, with incentives like emergency housing. The PM could probably say: "In my day ... " Actually, he wouldn't. In his day, he grew up in a state house.

If the poor insist on using cars and tents as housing, then the market will react, and price cars and tents in line with housing: and next, the cashed-up Chinese will buy out all the stock at Kathmandu and Turners. The only people camping will be Chinese money-launderers, Russian oligarchs and misogynists driving a Wicked Camper. And is that what you want?

So how can the homeless - the least powerful people in society - get a voice? They would have to all get into their cars, and drive into one electorate. There, assembled, they'd have the voting clout to affect one seat in Parliament. Remember the kind of love, courtship and flirtation the electorate of Northland received when it held a by-election? Imagine the homeless being offered 10 brand new bridges to sleep under. Luxury.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan's books of humour include ‘America on 5 Bullets a Day’ and ‘An Asian at my Table’. Before comedy, he graduated with honours in law and his legal research was published in the New Zealand Law Journal. His TV work includes a documentary in which he trained to be a casino croupier. He once held his breath for 3 minutes and 50 seconds. Visit RaybonKan.com

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