Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan: Govt using big words as band-aid for housing

Dr Evil.
Dr Evil.

The Government is planning to lend $1 billion to councils. For infrastructure.

I bet when they thought this up, they said "One Beeeee-lion Dollars", tipping a pinky at their lips, like Dr Evil.

I wasn't at the weekend National Party Conference, but I picture it as a particularly perky board meeting of Spectre, or Smersh, stamping cloven hooves to enthusiastically endorse the latest brilliant scheme of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, supervillain from the James Bond films.

At Auckland prices, with an average house costing $1 million, $1 billion represents 1000 houses. I suppose if we count driveways, carports, bus shelters and residents' parking, that multiplies the new dwellings by 4 or 5. Still, would 5000 new houses fix the housing crisis? Or as the Government would prefer us to call it, the housing optical illusion? The housing pub quiz?

Of course, this money isn't allocated to build houses. The Government doesn't want houses - they're selling off state houses.

(State houses only encourage people to be poor.) The Government is looking ahead to the future, when people will be replaced by robots, and as we all know, a population of USB sticks doesn't take up much space.

What about millennials priced out of the market? Is it a war of generations? Well, first, the market can do no wrong. Secondly, the only millennial the PM sees regularly is Max Key, so you can understand why his sympathies are torn.

The Government's priority isn't to fix the crisis. The Government's priority is to indicate it was listening, like a mime artist tapping on his earlobe. The Government is like a cleaner you've hired, shuffling things on a desk when they see you walk in.

Look! WE'RE NOT DOING NOTHING.

Furthermore, it's a loan. An interest-free loan, so that means the Government is shouting councils the interest on a billion: at 3 per cent, that's $30 million. That's what the Government spends on a basic America's Cup sinking.

And what are councils meant to do with this? Infrastructure. A four- syllable word. Voters glaze over. It sounds important. It sounds adult. They've been patted on the head, and told there's nothing to see.

What's important is that when the Government gets asked, in the 2017 election, what they did about housing, they can spout a sentence which contains words like "billion", "infrastructure", and "housing".

Somehow, the weight of syllables, like foam from a fire extinguisher, will manage to blind, smother and drown public distress.

What councils do with the money isn't even important. Infra-what? The more badly they use it, the better. Then it's not the Government's fault. It's Auckland's fault.

I shudder to think what would happen if Auckland actually improved infrastructure. Auckland has the worst traffic in the world. If buyers are happy to pay today's house prices in a city as constipated as Elvis in his last weeks, imagine what houses will cost when there's a train to the airport.

To put a $1 billion loan in perspective, look at what we're spending on defence.

$20 billion. Real money, not a loan. This is effectively a donation to the military-industrial complex, a $20 billion Christmas voucher, bought online from an arms dealer.

Who knows, if the arms dealer is lucky, we might even lose the voucher and never cash it in.

Do we need to spend $20 billion on defence? Can't we just Uber an aircraft carrier? We're only ever gonna need it for short trips around our economic zone, so owning is, in military terms, overkill. Come to think of it, if we're only ever trying to frighten rogue fishing trawlers, all we need is a boat holding a giant cardboard cut-out that looks like an aircraft carrier. Or, a boat shaped to look like a sea monster, out for revenge.

A further omen of the coming apocalypse launched on TV this week: The Real Housewives of Auckland. It's like a sequel to The Bachelor, scripted as a warning. Asbestos for the female psyche.

Let me pitch a different reality show: Real Houses of Auckland.

It would follow the glitzy party lives of a few slim, 2-bedroom shacks, born from modest means but with good bones, now somehow worth a couple of mill, after only a smidge of cosmetic upkeep.

The houses never need to work, yet they make thousands week on week, lounging in the sun, tax-free. Everyone pervs at their online profile, and the media can't stop publishing their photo.

Welcome to the dream.

- 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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