David Clark (New Zealand politician)

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David Clark

David Clark sawyers bay.jpg
40th Minister of Health
In office
26 October 2017 – 2 July 2020
Prime MinisterJacinda Ardern
Preceded byJonathan Coleman
Succeeded byChris Hipkins
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Dunedin North
Assumed office
26 November 2011 (2011-11-26)
Preceded byPete Hodgson
Majority11,754
Personal details
Born (1973-01-05) 5 January 1973 (age 47)
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Katrina
Children3
Alma mater
Occupation
  • Treasury analyst[2]
  • Presbyterian minister[2]
Websitewww.davidclark.org.nz

David Scott Clark (born 5 January 1973) is a New Zealand Labour Party politician who is the Member of Parliament for Dunedin North. He was the Minister for Health until July 2020.[3][4] Previously he has been Opposition Spokesperson for Small Business and Economic Development.[5]

Early life[edit]

Clark grew up in Beachlands, just south of Auckland, and was schooled in Auckland.[2] He studied at Saint Kentigern College and spent his last year on a school exchange in Germany, immersing himself in the German language.[1]

In 1991, Clark moved to Dunedin to study at the University of Otago. He initially studied medicine but abandoned that in favour of pursuing degrees in theology and philosophy. Clark also studied theology and philosophy at Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen.[1][2]

Ordained in 1997, Clark is a Presbyterian minister.[3] He worked as the Assistant Minister at St Lukes Presbyterian Church in Auckland.[2] He was the celebrant at the civil union of MP Grant Robertson.[3] Clark later returned to the University of Otago and completed a PhD on the work of German/New Zealand refugee and existentialist thinker Helmut Herbert Hermann Rex. He has also worked as a Treasury analyst and the warden of Selwyn College at the University of Otago.[3][1] Before his election to Parliament, Clark served as deputy chair of the Otago Community Trust.[3]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2011–2014 50th Dunedin North 49 Labour
2014–2017 51st Dunedin North 26 Labour
2017–present 52nd Dunedin North 9 Labour

Opposition, 2011–2017[edit]

After serving as chairman on the Labour Party Dunedin North electorate committee, Clark was selected by the Labour Party to replace the retiring Pete Hodgson in the electorate.[2] He won the seat at the 2011 election securing 12,976 votes (44.25 percent), 3489 more than his closest rival.[6]

Clark's maiden parliamentary speech focused on his concern about rising inequality and his passion for social justice. In it, he argued that a more equal society will produce better outcomes, both socially and economically.[7][8]

Clark shot to early prominence in 2013 as the sponsor of the popular ‘Mondayising’ Bill that saw additional public holidays set aside in years when Waitangi Day and Anzac Day fall on a weekend.[9] This was the first Bill to pass against the Government in four years.[10] In Opposition he served as Labour's spokesperson for various areas, including Revenue, Economic Development, Small Business, Tertiary Education, and latterly Health.[11] During his time as Revenue spokesperson, he drew attention to difficulties the dated Inland Revenue computer system was creating for the organisation, and the small amounts that multinational companies were contributing to the tax base.[12][13][14][15]

Clark completed an Eisenhower Fellowship in 2013,[16] focusing much of his trip on the priority accorded to the values of fairness and freedom in New Zealand and the United States.[17]

Clark stood again in Dunedin North for the 2014 general election, securing 16,315 votes (46.44 percent). This was 5917 more than his closest rival, National list MP Michael Woodhouse, and thus he increased his majority.[18]

Coalition Government, 2017–present[edit]

David Clark was re-elected in Dunedin North during the 2017 general election, securing 21,259 votes and defeating Woodhouse by 11,754 votes.[19] He was elected as a Cabinet Minister by the Labour Party caucus following Labour's formation of a government with New Zealand First and the Greens.[20]

In late April 2018, Clark appointed three new chairs to head Auckland's three district health boards: Pat Snedden for the Auckland District Health Board, Judy McGregor for the Waitemata District Health Board, and Vui Mark Gosche for the Counties Manukau District Health Board. These appointments replace Lester Levy, who had headed all three boards and resigned in December 2017.[21] On 30 April 2018, Clark conceded that the Government would be unable to deliver on its election promise of reducing General practitioner fees but indicated that it would be introduced in phases over time.[22][23]

On 4 May 2018, Clark announced that the Dunedin Public Hospital would be replaced by a new hospital on the site of the former Cadbury factory site and a neighbouring block that included the building occupied by Work and Income. The construction project is estimated to cost NZ$1.4 billion, would involve around a thousand workers, and is expected to be completed by 2026.[24][25]

In mid-June 2018, Clark received criticism from employees of the Counties Manukau District Health Board for allegedly trying to silence their reports of run-down buildings, asbestos, and overflowing sewage at Middlemore Hospital. Clark has denied these allegations and expressed criticism for staff communicating through the media rather than through official channels.[26][27] Clark subsequently apologized to Counties Manukau DHB chairman Rabin Rabindran for the handling of the Middlemore saga.[28] That same month, Clark defended the Government's $500 million pay offer to nurses after the national union, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, voted to go on strike.[29]

In mid-July 2018, Clark was forced to publicly defend his decision to go on a family holiday prior to a planned national strike by the Nurses Organisation.[30] On 25 July, Clark in his capacity as Health Minister signed a NZ$173.5 million pay equity agreement to pay 5,000 mental health and addiction workers more. Other co-signatories and interested parties included union representatives from the E tū and the Public Service Association as well as the Ministry of Social Development and the Accident Compensation Corporation.[31][32] In late July, he announced that the District Health Boards, Nurses Organisation, and the Ministry of Health had successfully negotiated a joint accord to ensure safe staffing levels for nurses.[33][34]

In early September 2018, Clark suspended the troubled Oracle IT project to overhaul the District Health Boards' ageing IT systems. The troubled project had cost NZ$100 million.[35] In mid-November, Clark announced that the Government had scrapped plans for a proposed third medical school in the Waikato region on the grounds that the project would have cost billions to set up and operate.[36][37] On 19 November, he also announced that the Government would establish a NZ$20 million new health centre in the South Island town of Westport.[38]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

As Minister of Health, Clark took a leadership role in the Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand. In early April 2020, Clark drew media attention and public criticism when he drove to a Dunedin park two kilometres away from his home to ride a mountain bike trail despite the Government's COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Clark later apologised to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for ignoring official guidelines advising against non-essential travel.[39][40][41][42] During the first week of the country's national lock-down he also drove his family twenty kilometres to a nearby beach for a walk. Ardern subsequently announced that Clark offered his resignation, but due to his role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she did not accept it, instead depriving him of his ministerial role as Associate Finance Minister and demoting him to the bottom of Labour's Cabinet ranking.[43]

In late June 2020, Clark attracted media attention and criticism following a press conference at which he stated, "The director-general [Ashley Bloomfield] has accepted that protocols weren't being followed, he has accepted responsibility for that and has set about putting it right".[44] His remark was interpreted by some journalists as blaming Bloomfield for the Ministry of Health's mismanagement of quarantine following a recent outbreak stemming from overseas travel.[44][45] The Spinoff's editor Toby Manhire opined that Clark's "humility bypass" created problems for Ardern's government.[46] Left-wing commentator Chris Trotter described Clark's handling of the situation as "shameful" and called on Ardern to dismiss him from his position. Right-wing commentator Trish Anderson criticised Clark for not "'pulling his weight' in the government" and criticised Ardern's perceived inaction against him as a "failure of leadership."[47] Clark's Wikipedia article was also vandalised with remarks attacking his handling of the press conference with Bloomfield.[48] [49]

In early July 2020, Clark announced that he was resigning as Minister of Health, stating that "I've always taken a view that the team must come first ... so I've made the call that it's best for me to step aside." Prime Minister Ardern accepted his resignation, stating that she "accepted Clark's conclusion that his presence in the role was creating an unhelpful distraction from the Government's ongoing response to Covid-19 and wider health reforms."[4][50]

Personal life[edit]

Clark is married to Katrina, and they have three children. His brother, Ben, stood for Labour in the North Shore at the 2011 election, placing second behind Maggie Barry. During his university years, Clark was a competitive cyclist and has twice completed the Ironman Triathlon.[51][52]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Mitchell, Rob (8 April 2018). "National Portrait: David Clark, Health Minister". The Dominion Post. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019 – via Stuff.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Loughrey, David (27 September 2010). "From minister to standing for MP". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 24 January 2019. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e "About me". David Clark – New Zealand Labour Party. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b "David Clark resigns as Health Minister: 'It's best for me to step aside'". Radio New Zealand. 2 July 2020. Archived from the original on 1 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  5. ^ Mackenzie, Dene (26 February 2013). "Rising star David Clark promoted". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 7 April 2020. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Official Count Results -- Dunedin North". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  7. ^ Clark, David (15 February 2012). "In search of a more equal society". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  8. ^ Mackenzie, Dene (15 February 2012). "MP articulates his vision of social justice". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 16 October 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  9. ^ Editorial (18 March 2013). "Editorial: Strong case to 'Mondayise' holidays". The Dominion Post. Archived from the original on 11 December 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  10. ^ Shuttleworth, Kate (17 April 2013). "Mondayising bill passes its final hurdle". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Hon Dr David Clark". New Zealand Parliament. Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  12. ^ "6300 caught in IRD privacy breaches". The New Zealand Herald. 29 October 2013. Archived from the original on 24 September 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  13. ^ Pullar-Strecker, Tom (7 May 2012). "Glitch hits IRD website". Stuff. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  14. ^ Shuttleworth, Kate (29 November 2012). "Dunne must front up over IRD privacy breaches – Labour". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 24 September 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  15. ^ "Labour slams Government over Facebook tax loophole". 3 News. 29 November 2012. Archived from the original on 25 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  16. ^ "Labour MP awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship". Dunedin Television. 19 September 2013. Archived from the original on 21 September 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  17. ^ Clark, David (3 June 2013). "Fairness the hallmark of our country". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  18. ^ "Official Count Results – Dunedin North". Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 22 January 2020. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  19. ^ "Dunedin North – Official Result". Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 16 January 2020. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  20. ^ "Who's in? Who's out?". Radio New Zealand. 20 October 2017. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  21. ^ "Health minister Dr David Clark names the three new Auckland DHB chairs". The New Zealand Herald. 29 April 2018. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  22. ^ "GP fee cut: Govt needs to 'prioritise promises' – Minister". Radio New Zealand. 30 April 2018. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  23. ^ "Cuts to doctor's fees may be phased in over time". Radio New Zealand. 29 April 2018. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  24. ^ McNeilly, Hamish (4 May 2018). "Popular tourist attraction Cadbury World closing to make way for $1.4 billion Dunedin Hospital". Stuff. Archived from the original on 19 August 2019. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  25. ^ "Dunedin Hospital announcement: What you need to know". Otago Daily Times. 4 May 2018. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  26. ^ Lynch, Jenna (14 June 2018). "David Clark accused of silencing DHB staff over Middlemore". Newshub. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  27. ^ Moir, Jo (24 April 2018). "Middlemore Hospital: What really went down between health minister and Counties Manukau DHB?". Stuff. Archived from the original on 2 November 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  28. ^ Bennett, Lucy (18 June 2018). "Health Minister David Clark 'said sorry' to Counties Manukau DHB chairman Rabin Rabindran over Middlemore Hospital saga, correspondence shows". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 2 November 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  29. ^ Small, Zane (19 June 2018). "The Govt has 'put everything on the table' for nurses' pay – Health Minister David Clark". Newshub. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  30. ^ Bennett, Lucy (13 July 2018). "Health Minister David Clark defends holiday in lead-up to nurses' strike". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 16 April 2020. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  31. ^ "Health Minister David Clark signs pay equity agreement". Stuff. 25 July 2018. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  32. ^ Bennett, Lucy (25 July 2018). "Pay equity settlement for mental health and addiction workers signed". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 13 June 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  33. ^ Moger, Laine (27 July 2018). "Safer staffing levels for nurses agreed, Health Minister David Clark says". Stuff. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  34. ^ "DHBs, nurses reach agreement on staffing levels". The New Zealand Herald. 27 July 2018. Archived from the original on 29 August 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  35. ^ Bennett, Lucy (4 September 2018). "Health Minister David Clark suspends troubled Oracle DHB IT project". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 17 May 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  36. ^ "Government pulls plug on Waikato rural med school". Stuff. 15 November 2018. Archived from the original on 3 May 2019. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  37. ^ "Plans for third medical school scrapped: Clark". Otago Daily Times. 15 November 2018. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  38. ^ Walls, Jason (19 November 2018). "Health Minister David Clark has committed $20 million for a new health centre in Westport". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 6 January 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  39. ^ "PM: David Clark 'needs to be a role model'". Radio New Zealand. 5 April 2020. Archived from the original on 7 April 2020. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  40. ^ Manch, Thomas; Cooke, Henry (2 April 2020). "Health Minister drives to local park to ride his mountain bike, amid coronavirus lockdown". Stuff. Archived from the original on 7 April 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  41. ^ "Coronavirus Covid 19: David Clark apologises to PM for flouting his own Government's lockdown advice". New Zealand Herald. 3 April 2020. Archived from the original on 7 April 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  42. ^ Sachdeva, Sam (4 April 2020). "Clark's biking calamity a sign of wider confusion". Newsroom. Archived from the original on 6 April 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  43. ^ "David Clark offers to resign after revealing he took a trip to beach during Covid-19 lockdown". Radio New Zealand. 7 April 2020. Archived from the original on 7 April 2020. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  44. ^ a b "David Clark throws Ashley Bloomfield under the bus, while Bloomfield looks on". Stuff. 25 June 2020. Archived from the original on 24 June 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  45. ^ "Covid 19 coronavirus: Health Minister David Clark throws Dr Ashley Bloomfield under the bus - as he stands right behind him". New Zealand Herald. 25 June 2020. Archived from the original on 24 June 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  46. ^ Manhire, Toby (25 June 2020). "David Clark is not responsible". The Spinoff. Archived from the original on 24 June 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  47. ^ Ensor, Jamie (25 June 2020). "Health Minister David Clark's behaviour 'shameful', Jacinda Ardern needs to act - commentators". Newshub. Archived from the original on 24 June 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  48. ^ "Health Minister David Clark's Wikipedia entry edited following controversy with Dr Ashley Bloomfield". New Zealand Herald. 26 June 2020. Archived from the original on 25 June 2020. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  49. ^ "David Clark's Wikipedia changed". Newshub. 26 June 2020. Archived from the original on 27 June 2020.
  50. ^ Coughlan, Thomas (2 July 2020). "David Clark resigns as Health Minister, will contest general election". Stuff. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  51. ^ "Athlete Tracker – IRONMAN.com | Official Site of IRONMAN, IRONMAN 70.3, 5i50, Iron Girl and IRONKIDS | Triathlon Races | Official IRONMAN Merchandise | IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii". IRONMAN.com. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  52. ^ "Athlete Tracker – IRONMAN.com | Official Site of IRONMAN, IRONMAN 70.3, 5i50, Iron Girl and IRONKIDS | Triathlon Races | Official IRONMAN Merchandise | IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii". IRONMAN.com. Retrieved 8 September 2013.

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Pete Hodgson
Member of Parliament for Dunedin North
2011–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Jonathan Coleman
Minister of Health
2017–2020
Succeeded by
Chris Hipkins