Steve Braunias: Secret Diary of Dr Nick Smith

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I figure on taking a different approach to things. Soothing their fears doesn't seem to work, so I'll tell them the blunt truth. Photo / Mark Mitchell
I figure on taking a different approach to things. Soothing their fears doesn't seem to work, so I'll tell them the blunt truth. Photo / Mark Mitchell

MONDAY

Here I am standing in the middle of a field.

My phone rings, and someone starts yelling, "Is that the Minister of Housing?"

"Yes," I say dreamily, "and before that, the Minister of Conservation, Education, Immigration, Corrections, Social Welfare, Treaty Negotiations, Environment, ACC, Climate Change, and Local Government."

"You've been around."

"It seems like forever," I answer, my voice deep and wise.

"What are you going to do about the housing crisis?"

"There is no crisis," I tell the caller. "It's just a figment of your imagination."

"But people are sleeping in cars!"

"In other words," I intone, "they have a roof over their heads."

TUESDAY

Here I am in my doctor's office.

I figure on taking a different approach to things. Soothing their fears doesn't seem to work, so I'll tell them the blunt truth.

A patient comes in and asks for a complete checkup. He says he hasn't been feeling well and wants to find out if he's ill. "Dr Smith," he says, "I have a feeling that I'm experiencing a crisis."

I give him the check-up, and analyse the situation.

I tell him, "I'm afraid I have some bad news. You're dying and you don't have much time."

His voice shakes and tears spring to his eyes.

"Oh no, that's terrible. How long have I got?"

"Ten."

"Ten? Ten what? Months? Weeks?"

"Ten ... nine ... eight ... seven ..."

WEDNESDAY

Here I am in John Key's house.

I say to him, "If you look at the Massey University Housing Affordability Index, independently produced by that university, actually housing affordability in Auckland and every other market in New Zealand is actually more affordable now than when National came to Government. So actually there is no housing crisis."

He's blowing up balloons for his son Max's 21st birthday party.

I add, "Now it may be true the International Monetary Fund states that New Zealand house prices increased at the second fastest rate in the world last year, and that only Dubai saw greater price rises. But actually the fact remains that houses are more affordable under National than they were under Labour. So actually there is no housing crisis."

He unscrews his head, and it floats around the room with the other balloons. Pretty soon I can't make out his head from all the balloons, and then I hear a high-pitched voice say, "So actually there is no housing crisis!"

Max comes in. "That'll be dad," he says. "On the helium again."

THURSDAY

Here I am in Bill English's office.

He's rehearsing his speech from today's Budget. He says, "Housing development on surplus Crown land in Auckland receives a $100 million boost in capital funding.

"This follows the $52 million set aside in Budget 2015 that has so far resulted in agreements for 20 parcels of land.

"As well, $200 million is provided over four years for at least 750 more places for those with the most pressing housing needs, and to meet the rising cost of social housing rents. Furthermore - "

"Bill," I interrupt him, "you're bleeding."

He's got a really bad paper cut, and the blood is staining the Budget. He gets it all over his shirt, and it drips on the carpet, and he just keeps bleeding.

I give him a bandaid but it doesn't do a damned thing.

FRIDAY

Here I am standing in a field.

My phone rings, and someone says, "What are you doing?"

"Finally, after all these years, after all my parliamentary service," I say, "I'm outstanding."

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- NZ Herald

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