My values are Labour values.

I want to help build a stronger, more caring society. I am passionate about Dunedin, and I bring considerable energy and wide experience to the task of representing this electorate.

My diverse work background has given me an understanding of the economic and social levers that can be pulled to achieve meaningful change.

Please read some of the discussions included here. I welcome your comments.

- David Clark

Universal Basic Income anyone?

Ensuring all members of society have the basics to survive (and prosper) is the bread and butter policy of every social democratic party – if you’ll excuse the pun.  We want equity of access to justice, healthcare, education and so on, but we also want to make sure all people have enough money to get by.

Longer term, serious changes will need to be made to our society if this vision is to become a reality.  These changes need to be made, not just to meet present challenges, but to meet future ones. If you haven’t watched the video below – ‘humans need not apply’ – please do. It gives a sense of the enormity of the transformation required.

Universal Basic Income anyone?



Reflections on provisional result

First, if you voted for me this election: thank you. I am grateful for your support and will work hard to repay the trust you have placed in me.  Thanks also to those who supported me throughout my first term. I very much look forward to serving Dunedin North for a second term as your electorate MP.

A full week has passed since election night. Every day since has proved afresh (were it necessary) that a day is a long time in politics.

Now, the obvious. Election night 2014 was a huge disappointment for Labour supporters. A party vote tally of 24.7% was no mandate to lead a new progressive Government. It was a trouncing.

For Labour: listening, reflection, learning and rebuilding must now occur.

Questions must be asked. Why, for example, was Labour’s share of the electorate vote up 9.3% across New Zealand? And why did the party vote slump whilst we won more, rather than fewer, electorate seats?

For Labour the overall election result was grim. Perhaps less obvious on the night, hidden in the local results were some small silver linings.

Dunedin North was National’s fifth-worst result. Projections based on Labour’s difficult 2011 election defeat would have seen National comfortably win the party vote in Dunedin North. Instead, taking boundary changes for this election into account, National’s booth-by-booth party vote actually took a 1.3% hit (compared to a rise across the country of 0.8%).  On election night Labour actually won the party vote in Dunedin North.  It remains to be seen whether Labour will hold the party vote once special votes are counted. But the fact it was close must be a huge disappointment for National – with so much rural territory coming into the electorate in 2014, and an upswing of support elsewhere in the country.

Party Vote Dunedin North 2014 provisional

A large part of National’s party vote decline can only be put down to the intelligence and insight of the voters in Dunedin North. But I believe no small amount of credit is due also the experience, wisdom and hard work of volunteers on my campaign. They were motivated to campaign because they believe in creating a better New Zealand.  Still, I feel I owe them a huge debt of thanks on behalf of the people Labour represents.

At a candidate level, I was chuffed that my personal majority was the highest of any Labour MP in the South Island. Again, I think this a reflection on the contributions of many.  In particular, I am grateful to those who have shared and continue to share the fight for a common-sense outcome at Invermay.  And also the many many people who have educated me about shortfalls in New Zealand’s health system, particularly as they play out in the South.  I must thank the staff in my office too – whose hard work and dedication is often the very thing electorate MPs are judged upon.

Candidate Vote Dunedin North 2014 provisional

In addition to the musings above, here are a few early reflections on what went right in Dunedin:

1/ I think Labour’s relatively strong showing in both North and South Dunedin owes a lot to the positive plan for Dunedin that Clare Curran and I launched when the Labour Leader visited the city early in the campaign. Our simple message – that Labour would save Invermay, grow a modern engineering cluster around Hillside, and upgrade our dilapidated hospital – resonated.  It resonated because it reflected local concerns, and because it gave concrete examples about what Labour’s wider ‘vote positive’ campaign meant in practice.

2/ I also think tying this local campaign to a party vote message worked. Our additional billboards were simple: Labour will save Invermay; Labour will support local manufacturing; Labour will upgrade Dunedin Hospital.

3/ Literally hundreds of local volunteers and supporters contributing to a campaign generates an energy of its own.  Everyday heroes like Ciaran and Heather bring a lot of people with them. If you have hundreds of heroes, thousands of people in their wider social circles will be predisposed towards hearing what these heroes have to say – before they ever don a rosette. The days of mass-membership may have passed, but healthy and active membership does make a difference.

I’m keen to hear your feedback on other things you think influenced the local result.

I’ll be back in my regular pattern of Saturday door-knocking before too long. But if you have something to share, don’t wait for me to knock on 18,000 other doors first. Drop me a line. I’ll be pleased to hear your considered reflections.


Heather and Labour

Heather has been a Labour activist since forever. She is a volunteer who wants kids to be able to access their dreams. Find out why Heather is campaigning so hard for Labour in Dunedin North.

For more Dunedin North Labour stories click here and here.


Ciaran and Labour

Ciaran wants to see students reach their potential. He also wants a more equal society.

He’s new to campaigning, but he’s doing a fine job. Find out why Ciaran’s working so hard for Labour in Dunedin North.

If you are a Labour supporter and able to join Ciaran and other volunteers for a few hours helping out on election day, we’d love to hear from you. Please email



On the Campaign Trail

Port School

Ice Bucket ChallengeLauren Labour BusOU PasifikaPort DoorknockersBus in Port ChalmersTV3 Interview


Here’s Why

My story and values. I’m seeking your support. Here’s why.


Labour’s positive plan for Dunedin

Yesterday David Cunliffe was in town to announce Labour’s positive plan for Dunedin.

Read the press release for a flavour of the announcements.

– Labour commits to upgrading Dunedin Hospital. A major capital rebuild to create a modern teaching hospital will begin in our first term.

– Labour commits to saving Invermay.

– Labour commits to re-opening and upgrading Hillside as the centre of an engineering cluster.


Cunliffe with Young LabourLabour's positive plan for Dunedin launchUniversity Union main common roomCunliffe Dunedin Chamber Address

Some good coverage from CH39 Dunedin TV.

For a fuller analysis, click the link to read the front page lead in the Otago Daily Times or the subsequent editorial.


Positive for Dunedin

I enjoy campaigning.  Now Parliament has risen, I get to spend more of my week in Dunedin with the people who elected me. Whether at street corner meetings, during door-step conversations or at meet the candidate events, I love the direct feedback.  Most Dunedin people are hoping for a Labour-led government.  Thankfully that is looking more and more likely by the day.

Opportunities for people to meet their local candidates involve a fair bit of organising. My thanks to all of the groups that are hosting events – as well as to all of the volunteers campaigning hard for Labour in Dunedin North.

Brockville Street CornerChatting at HRINZ meet the candidates forumDavid Clark with Aaron SmithOn CampusSt Margarets College visitWith Pasifika community group

Photos clockwise from top left: a snowy street corner meeting in Brockville; snap! – matching shirts at the HRINZ meet the candidates event; meeting students on campus; with Pasifika community group; at St Margaret’s College; with All Black and Highlander Aaron Smith.


Vote Positive

Karitane Internet Petition David Clark with Sue O'NeillHoardings VolunteersPalmerston DoorknockBackbenches with Wallace Chapman

It is only a matter of weeks until the September 20 General Election.  We’re into the final ‘sitting week’ of the 50th Parliament.

Pictures, clockwise from top left: 1/ receiving the petition to Parliament of Sue O’Neill and 110 others for better broadband in Karitane; 2/ volunteers begin erecting Labour Billboards; 3/ appearing on Backbenches TV with host Wallace Chapman; 4/ door-knocking in Palmerston.


Why Dunedin is better off with Labour

My big motivation for seeking election was to tackle rising inequality. All evidence points to healthier and happier people in countries with small gaps between rich and poor. And healthier, happier people are more productive. Contemporary economists say it gets the best out of a whole population, rather than the wealthiest few.

The good news is Labour has a positive vision. We want to make the kind of change that really matters. I am proud of my part in shaping our plan.

This is my first term as an MP. I’ve had success with my Mondayising Bill. It is the only Bill voted along party lines to succeed against our opponents’. I’ve also experienced frustration. My Bill for a $15 minimum wage was voted down. In doing so, the Government demonstrated a preference for rhetoric over action.

Webb cartoon

The election looms. Polls go down and up. Wellingtonians get into a lather. But my experience in Dunedin is that people are more concerned to know the difference a change of Government would actually make.

Frankly, it is the most important question. What does Labour stand for? How will Labour partner with communities? What difference will it make?

Those of us who pay tax in Otago, expect government funded services. Dunedin is a city of education. We look forward to Dunedin hospital receiving due priority. Our operating theatres leak. Dunedin is currently the only major metropolitan hospital that hasn’t received a proper capital upgrade. We learn that the immigration service intends to shut its doors here, and that CYFS is shedding more Otago positions. This won’t do.

Labour stands for positive change that goes beyond three year election cycles. We are raising our sights. We want to achieve decent incomes, opportunities for families, and homes we can all be proud of.

Govt has role in building strong regions DC OpEd ODT 30 June 2014

Decent income means the creation of well-paying jobs. Government plays a role here. The OECD says that benefits from agglomeration in big cities play a part, but it is also clear that the really big opportunities for western economies lie in raising skill-levels in the regions.

Labour has always stood for strong regional development. We fought for Hillside, and we will save Invermay. Both of these local examples provided decent jobs, skills training and economic returns to the country.

Labour has a positive vision for this region’s economy. What we learn from the OECD is that not only is it in Otago’s interest, it is in New Zealand’s interest as a whole.

Much future opportunity for our city lies in high-tech. High-tech industries typically have low environmental footprints and build on the education that lies at the heart of Dunedin. There are many innovative firms in town – think: Pacific Edge, TracMap, TracPlus, Squid Gel, Avos, ADI, Fisher and Paykel design, Animation Research, NHNZ, PocketSmith, Education Perfect and Escea. These firms often succeed despite the head-winds created by a hands-off Government which leaves the playing field tilted towards established industries. A Labour-led government will prioritise support for emerging business.

And greater opportunity in Otago means we can build on our reputation as a great place to bring up kids. Labour stands for strong families. Our $60 Best Start payment will provide desperately needed support to the estimated 50,000 children under three who are currently living in poverty. Modest- and middle-income families will be eligible once they’ve used up any related paid parental leave. For Most families it will be for up to one year, but lower income families can count on it for three.

Labour will open opportunity for 25 hours’ free early childhood education for three, four and five year old children, an increase from 20 hours. We’ll reverse funding cuts made in Budget 2010 – that hit Dunedin hardest – for centres with high numbers of qualified staff.

We also want to make housing warmer, healthier and more affordable.

Home ownership rates are at their lowest level in 60 years. LVRs have seen first home owners locked out in Dunedin. Like most in the OECD we’ll bring a Capital Gains Tax to address speculation that drives house prices up. With industry, Labour will build the tens of thousands of houses that New Zealand needs. We’ll also introduce a warrant of fitness on rental housing that stops the letting of housing likely to cause ill-health.

As I campaign for the first time as a sitting electorate MP, I’m excited about the positive change that can be wrought by a government working with businesses, communities and families in our region. I’ve touched on decent incomes, family opportunities and housing we can be proud of. We’ve plenty more positive initiatives.

At its best, Labour has been a government of the people, working to achieve the type of enduring progressive change that matters. I’m positive the sixth Labour Government will do just that.

[Originally published in The Otago Daily Times, Monday 30 June 2014]