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

Andrew Little in Dunedin

Great to have Labour leader Andrew Little in town yesterday. A full day included breakfast with the Mayor, a meeting with the University Vice Chancellor, a tour of Dunedin Hospital’s buildings, visits to local businesses Abacus Bio and Escea, a social housing discussion with Presbyterian Support, and an address to a large crowd of staff and students at the University – as well as sundry newspaper, television and radio interviews at stops along the way.

15.05.11 Dunedin Hospital Andrew David

The tour of Dunedin Hospital was an important opportunity to see the mix of old and new facilities. It highlighted the desperate need to replace the aging clinical services building.  Actually there is widespread agreement that it needs to be updated. It is the last major metropolitan hospital in New Zealand to get that treatment. The real problem is that the Government is dragging its feet on committing to a full upgrade, and it keeps pushing out the planning process. That won’t do. As we saw for ourselves, the situation is increasingly dire.

Full credit to Andrew for taking the 10 hour visits schedule – on top of the travel – very much in his stride.

Read today’s ODT write-up here.

15.05.11 Otago University Andrew David in crowd15.05.11 Dunedin Andrew Little Owen Rooney15.05.11 Dunedin Hospital David Carole Heatley15.05.11 Dunedin Hospital Andrew David Clare Scrubs15.05.11 Dunedin Hospital Peter Jane Andrew15.05.11 Dunedin Andrew David Clare Nigel Bamford

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Rebuild Dunedin Hospital

My star column last month made the case for an urgent commitment to a full hospital rebuild in Dunedin. I’ve reproduced it in full below.

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This year is critical for Dunedin. Overdue decisions about the rebuild of our hospital will have an impact on our city for years to come. It is imperative that the Government commits to getting on with the job before 2017 and does not welch on a full upgrade.

The ability of our city to attract university professors and medical specialists with international reputations depends upon opportunity to exercise their specialties in appropriately modern facilities.

We need top medical staff – to retain the services we have come to expect from the main hospital serving communities in the South. We fought (and won) for Neurosurgery. We can fight and win this time too. Our community pays its fair share of taxes, and Dunedin is the last major metropolitan centre in New Zealand to receive a capital upgrade for its hospital facilities. It is our turn for investment.

But we also need modern first-world health facilities for another reason: important parts of our local economy leverage a strong and successful hospital. Top researchers at the medical school attract important funding to the University. Our city needs that.

The equipment top specialists use and the expertise they bring with them also benefits local businesses. Biotech companies develop solutions in collaboration with our city’s health experts. New Zealand’s health system enjoys a good reputation built over generations. And this reputation is also valuable to those developing biotechnology solutions.

If we want high-paying jobs in our city that serve a growing market worldwide, we could do a lot worse than to provide conditions favourable to development of more health-technology companies.

So why has the Government been reluctant to state the exact nature of the rebuild and a date that the first sod will be turned? It is difficult to know for sure, but slow progress on committing to necessary funding is a factor. Perhaps in part it is also due to a lack of direction from the very top; the Minister has struggled to find a new and willing Board Chair for the under-funded DHB.

The loss of training accreditation for our intensive care unit last year stands as a warning about the consequence of failing to update our buildings. It will be harder to attract specialists until the facilities are upgraded. That has implications for healthcare locally. It also has implications for biotech businesses in our community and the high-paying jobs they generate.

If Dunedin seeks a future with the kind of prosperity it has enjoyed in the past, it needs a strong healthy workforce – and a strong health workforce. A full upgrade of Dunedin Hospital will contribute to both.

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Invermay Petition Handover

Invermay

Many thanks to the 12,500 people who signed my petition to Save Invermay.  It has sent a clear message that people won’t stand by while the Government makes economically reckless decisions, especially where they also carry an impact on local jobs.

I handed the petition over to my colleague Clare Curran less than a week after the Auditor General published a preliminary report-back on her investigations into the fraught AgResearch restructure. With no adequate business case, the $100 million project is up in the air.  In a related Select Committee hearing, the board and senior management were unable to provide assurances that the proposed change would have a positive financial return to the Crown!  They admitted retention issues were ongoing, but seemed determined to plough ahead regardless of the weakness of their case.

The Auditor General wasn’t able to draw any firm conclusions about staff losses insofar as they relate to the restructuring. But in the subsequent Select Committee, I exposed the fact that most of the key scientists in the Animal Genetics area have moved on since 2012.  All is not well at AgResearch.

My original letter to the Auditor General was also signed by David Parker and Clare Curran.  I think it is still worth a read. Many of the issues it raises have not yet been addressed.

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The Save Invermay Campaign

The Save Invermay campaign is about the community coming together.  We’re fighting together for rewarding jobs and for New Zealand’s wider interest.

If you’ve heard about the issue, skip to the short update video below.

If you’re new or want to find out more, read a selection of my blogs and articles on the issue here, here, here and here, or visit the Save Invermay website.

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Save Dunedin Hospital

A major rebuild of Dunedin Hospital is long overdue. In New Zealand, every other major metropolitan centre has already had a hospital upgrade.

Unfortunately things in Dunedin have deteriorated to the extent that surgery is cancelled because operating theatres leak, and intensive care training accreditation has been withdrawn.

Dunedin Hospital Emergency

A significant portion of New Zealand’s medical staff are trained in the Dunedin Hospital. They shouldn’t have to train in third world conditions.

Last election, Labour committed to a hospital upgrade if elected. I’m sure this pledge was an important part of our local success.

But the current Government has been very slow to commit to rebuilding Dunedin Hospital as a fully functioning tertiary hospital.  Understandably, this is making the city nervous (the hospital sits at the heart of the University, and the University’s success is critical to Dunedin’s economic prospects).

The Government’s failure to act is also making the wider region nervous. A loss of services will have a serious effect on the South. A Facebook page has been launched.  Access to adequate healthcare is a basic concern for every citizen!

This year, I’ve spoken out about the problems associated with the current buildings, and the urgent need to commit to an upgrade.  The Otago Daily Times responded with an excellent and straight-shooting editorial saying: “Clearly, something has to be done”. I agree. 

You will hear plenty more from me on this topic.

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Bailing out John Key

Today I questioned Steven Joyce on his 2013 promise that the SkyCity convention centre would be free to the taxpayer. Back then he announced in a speech: “Under the final agreement, and consistent with the Heads of Agreement signed in May, SkyCity will meet the full project costs of the convention centre”.  Today he was typically evasive on this commitment.

When Andrew Little questioned John Key on his previous promise that the convention centre was to be free, the Prime Minister tried to pretend that promise only applied to a $402 million convention centre, as though the one he was now talking about was another. I spoke out about this in my contribution to the debate on the Prime Minister’s opening parliamentary statement.

What I find most despicable is the deliberate misleading by the Prime Minister and Steven Joyce. I predicted in 2013 that SkyCity would be back for more cash because the contract was set up for them to do that.

John Key was in political hot water in 2013 and willing to pretend further cash wouldn’t be needed – for politically expedient purposes. Now his chickens are coming home to roost.

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Ecuador!

Today I delivered a speech on the economy and trade – at the 23rd Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum – in Quito, Ecuador.

Addressing APPF conference Quito

Overall, the World gains from trade. Forums that generate cross-cultural understanding, and promote international trade are important to our well-being.

But not every individual will benefit from removing trade barriers.  In my speech, I stressed the responsibility home governments have to ensure the overall gains from trade are shared fairly.  Within any given country, some industries will prosper and some will struggle when trade flourishes.  The disparities this creates needs to be addressed.  More equal countries tend to be more prosperous.

In addition, while most prosper, sometimes globalisation can have miserable effects for individual economies.  The Asian Crisis and Argentina’s struggles in recent decades illustrate this.  Sometimes open trade does not produce immediate, generous and lasting benefits for individual countries that lower their trade barriers.

As we shift towards an ever more globalised economy, the World needs to strengthen the support mechanisms that go with it, to assist countries that struggle when subjected to the whims, moods and mistakes of international financiers.  Investment bubbles and runs on banks show that markets don’t always provide timely and helpful information to those at their mercy.

The Global Financial Crisis exposed the vulnerability in our financial systems once more.

Trade is more enthusiastically entered into when the gains are clear, and downsides are properly covered off.  And we need trade. We really do.

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Merry Christmas

Late last week I filmed a Christmas message in Dunedin’s Octagon.  Watch it below:

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Inequality harming NZ

The OECD’s latest (4 page) report on inequalities argues that evidence inequalities harm growth – is becoming more compelling.

In New Zealand’s case, the report’s authors estimate a whopping 15.5% negative impact on economic growth (GDP/capita) as a result of inequalities in our country.

inequalities harming growth OECD

I concentrated on the benefits of a fairer society in my first ever speech in Parliament. The last 5 minutes of my maiden parliamentary speech canvassed the reasons why greater equality makes a society more prosperous.  I believe what I said in my maiden speech continues to hold true.  With one in four kiwi kids growing up in poverty, the need for a more equal society is now more pressing than ever.

The evidence continues to mount. A more equal society is not only better to live in – it is also likely to ensure nearly everyone is better off.

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The Government failing our Economy

In an attempt to cover up the fact that he is failing to rebalance NZ’s economy towards exports, Bill English this week changed the reporting measure.

The Minister’s new volume-based measure of success is akin to placing more importance on the volume of possession held by the USA Eagles in the first half of a recent test match, than on the value of the All Blacks 43 points on the scoreboard.

Unfortunately for the Minister – on the political front – his current rhetoric doesn’t match up with his earlier statements [e.g. see paragraph two of the Ministers’ signed Foreword on page 3 of the MBIE Export Progress Report].

While the Minister is managing the politics, our exports have fallen from close to 33% as a proportion of the economy, when he took office, to now under 30%. The Minister is failing in his goal of rebalancing the economy towards exports.

Even with terms of trade at 40 year highs, the OECD says we will have the second worst current account deficit in the developed world this year and the IMF says we will have the worst.  On-going failure to rebalance the economy puts at risk the relative prosperity and security New Zealanders have come to enjoy.

As a country, we cannot forever borrow (either publicly or privately) – to buy more than we sell.  If the Government doesn’t manage the economy toward balance, eventually there is a consequence – as Greece found out.

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