We all know that some of our politicians aren't very bright. That's not a surprise, given that there are no qualifications for becoming a Member of Parliament.
Most party list MPs get into Parliament because they either learn how to suck up to a bunch of backroom hacks sitting on a list selection committee, or just happen to fit a party's criteria for gender, region, ethnicity or age.
Electorate MPs get there by getting on the good side of a few barons in the local branch or are the least-polarising candidate in a factional fight.
I've known a few MPs over the years who are as thick as two short planks. But I console myself that in a representative parliament, even stupid people are entitled to representation.
But the half-wittedness of senior parliamentarians in the past week makes me wonder if LSD was sneaked into Parliament's water system by secret members of a cell of the Tame Iti Urewera freedom-fighters brigade.
Now apart from a very sly but ill-advised reference to a case currently before the Court (which we have decided we will not blog about until the jury returns a verdict), McCarten is pretty scathing about the quality of our political representatives. But he had a particular barb for Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows; read on:
Then there's Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows saying he finds it hard to believe single mother Tania Wysocki can't make ends meet on the single parent's benefit. If Borrows could read, he would have had his disbelief dispelled, because Wysocki's household budget was splashed prominently in the Herald.
Even the dim-witted could see by her budget that Wysocki can't look after herself and her kids on the DPB if she goes off and studies.
So much for the Government insisting beneficiaries take up study and get off the benefit. They can't.
Burrows' boss, Paula Bennett, who was once on the DPB, hasn't said a word, although, unlike Burrows, she appears to be able to do basic arithmetic.
Now apart from the fact that McCarten's spelling is dreadful (we haven't corrected it), he's also been delivered a rebuke by the Minister himself this morning, as the Herald reports:
Government minister Chester Borrows yesterday elaborated on his claim that sole parent Tania Wysocki received taxpayer support totalling the equivalent of a $43,000 salary, saying it was a gross figure.
His office provided figures to show it included the domestic purposes benefit, the accommodation supplement, family tax credit and childcare entitlements once she starts her course later this week.
He said that when added up it came to $699.03 a week, or around $36,300 net on a yearly salary.
"For someone in employment to earn a new equivalent salary of $36,300 would require a gross salary of around $43,000, according to IRD's tax calculator," Mr Borrows' spokesman said.
"It is on this basis that the support provided to her at the time she begins study will be the equivalent of a $43,000-a-year salary."
The figures had not included 20 hours of early childhood education which cost the Government $220 a week.
Full marks to Chester Borrows (note the spelling Matt!) for rebutting McCarten's attempted smear. It's clear from the figures supplied by Borrows that the numbers he reported in Parliament last Thursday DO stand up to scrutiny, and that McCarten's comments about Borrows (note the spelling Matt!) and Paula Bennett's arithmetic skills are nothing but grandstanding. Of course, you'd expect that from someone who makes no provision for the payment of PAYE deducted from his employees over a period of eighteen months.
Now we know for a fact that Chester Borrows is a most obliging chap. And if Matt McCarten asked nicely, we're sure that Chester would even help Matt out with Unite Union's tax returns so that future dimwittedry on Matt McCarten's part is avoided.