Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan: Paula Bennett and the eight homeless bears

Social housing minister shies away from latest bedtime story.
Paula Bennett's staff leaked information to the media. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Paula Bennett's staff leaked information to the media. Photo / Brett Phibbs

What makes people get into politics? Imagine being the Minister of Social Housing, and seeing someone who helps the homeless as the enemy.

A marae in Mangere puts its hand up to shelter the homeless, and the Government sees this as a slap in the face. How dare the marae undercut Winz's motel rates! If the Minister of Social Housing is McDonald's, she sees Te Puea Marae as KFC. And the Colonel must die.

So Paula Bennett's office happens to tell someone in the media that the man in charge of Te Puea is under police investigation.

Who hasn't been investigated by police? Robin Hood was. So was Jesus. (Indeed, so was Teina Pora.)

When the information was revealed to come from her office, she made it clear it was one of her people, unauthorised, not her. "It's just not appropriate and not something I would stand by and not something I would do," she said. Well, that must be true then.

It was like throwing a staff member under a bus, then blaming Auckland public transport for having a bus lane.

You don't need the greatest memory to recall the very detailed bedtime story the Prime Minister once told the media, about the Ministry of Social Development teaming up with the Salvation Army, one cold night, to visit eight cars (yes, eight) the homeless were living in.

I can't tell it quite as well as the PM did, but once upon a time, there were eight cars, and these eight cars contained families of homeless bears. Wise men knocked on all the car-doors, with jugs of honey, plates of bacon, and Trivago listings of motels, but none of the bears appreciated the welfare state poking its nose into their self-determination.

One bear was too cold, one bear was too hot, and one bear was just right, but regardless, none of them wanted either secular or faith-based alternatives to sleeping in a car.

Indeed, they were just enjoying the best Kiwi snooze ever when the knock on the window woke them up! The moral was that there should be tax cuts before the next election to get rid of Government workers who have so much time on their hands.

Eight cars. A specific detail in a vivid story. You could feel the condensation on the windows. The story was told around the media campfire by John Key, and when the Salvation Army said it was too mythological even for them - and these are people who think the book of Genesis is a documentary - he had to backtrack. He said that while it didn't happen as such, literally, in reality, on this planet, in this dimension, he was merely passing on the legend, as related to him by the Shaman of Social Housing.

The bus tyres shuddered over the Minister of Social Housing. Having discovered bus routes, it was not to be long before she used one herself, for what can only be called a staff outing.

So what is important to the Government?

While the Government sells state houses and pays rent for motel units, it can't be long before Winz fits each homeless person with a helmet GoPro camera, so the Government can identify people who give change to the homeless, and put them on a list.

Don't help! We will do the helping!

I assume when Paula Bennett tells people she's Minister for Social Housing, she adds a chuckle afterwards. What a waste of housing stock. In this market! On her business card, I bet it says "Minister of Social Housing, LOL".

On the bright side, she's Minister for Climate Change.

What would happen if a Kiwi came up with an invention to lock up CO2 emissions? Would her office accidentally carbon discredit them?

We're halfway through the year, and the Government finally reacted this week to last year's refugee crisis, announcing emergency measures, which will start in 2018, give or take. Put it in your diary, we can have a little tear of national pride in 2018. Our quota hasn't even kept pace with population growth in decades, and it's a third of the amount that Australia take, per capita.

Is the housing crisis a reason not to take refugees? The Government can't say that, because they don't admit that a housing crisis exists. It's an outdoor flow surplus.

We can afford to take more. We have however much money the Government says we have. Can't we just do it out of self-interest? A lot of Syrian refugees are better at sailing a boat than our America's Cup team.

- 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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