|40th Minister of Health|
26 October 2017 –2 July 2020
|Prime Minister||Jacinda Ardern|
|Preceded by||Jonathan Coleman|
|Succeeded by||Chris Hipkins|
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament |
for Dunedin North
26 November 2011
|Preceded by||Pete Hodgson|
|Born||5 January 1973|
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.Previously he has been Opposition Spokesperson for Small Business and Economic Development.
Clark grew up in Beachlands, just south of Auckland, and was schooled in Auckland.He studied at Saint Kentigern College and spent his last year on a school exchange in Germany, immersing himself in the German language.
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.
Ordained in 1997, Clark is a Presbyterian minister.He worked as the Assistant Minister at St Lukes Presbyterian Church in Auckland. He was the celebrant at the civil union of MP Grant Robertson. 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. Before his election to Parliament, Clark served as deputy chair of the Otago Community Trust.
|New Zealand Parliament|
|2011 –2014||50th||Dunedin North||49||Labour|
|2014 –2017||51st||Dunedin North||26||Labour|
|2017 –present||52nd||Dunedin North||9||Labour|
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.He won the seat at the 2011 election securing 12,976 votes (44.25 percent), 3489 more than his closest rival.
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.
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.
Clark shot to early prominence 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.This was the first Bill to pass against the Government in four years.
Clark completed an Eisenhower Fellowship in 2013,focusing much of his trip on the priority accorded to the values of fairness and freedom in New Zealand and the United States.
Clark stood again in Dunedin North for the 2014 general election securing 16,315 votes (46.44 percent), 5917 more than his closest rival National List MP Michael Woodhouse, and thus increasing his majority.
David Clark was re-elected in Dunedin North during the 2017 general election, securing 21,259 votes and defeating Woodhouse by 11,754 votes.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. He currently serves as Minister of Health.
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.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.
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.
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.Clark subsequently apologized to Counties Manukau DHB chairman Rabin Rabindran for the handling of the Middlemore saga. 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.
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.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. 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.
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.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. 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.
As Minister of Health, David 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 Ardern for ignoring official guidelines advising against non-essential travel.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. Prime Minister 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.
In late June 2020, Clark attracted media attention and criticism after he said at a press conference "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", which was interpreted by some as blaming Bloomfield for the Ministry of Health's mismanagement of quarantine following a recent outbreak stemming from overseas travel. 's editor Toby Manhire opined that Clark's "humility bypass" created problems for Prime Minister Ardern's government. 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." Clark's Wikipedia article was also vandalised with remarks attacking his handling of the press conference with Bloomfield.The Spinoff
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."
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 New Zealand Ironman.
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|New Zealand Parliament|
| Member of Parliament for Dunedin North |
| Minister of Health |