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

Please explain

The anti-MMP lobby has made it’s first major public gaffe.  They have proudly listed white supremacist Alex Fogerty amongst their founding members. 

Of course, they’ve done nothing illegal here.  All they have done is draw attention to one group looking to benefit from a less diverse parliament.  Many of the other backers are the same names you would expect to see behind National and Act party campaigns.

The Anti-MMP folk have done a rapid back-pedal, deleted Fogerty’s name from their website and forced him to withdraw from membership.  Here’s a cached version of the website, before Fogerty’s name was removed.

More shocking for me was to find that this same white supremacist, Alex Fogerty, is friends with Dunedin North National candidate Michael Woodhouse.  That may take some explaining.


Why I'm standing for Parliament – redux

There is no doubt that employment opportunities are unduly limited in NZ at the moment, and especially in Dunedin.
I am hearing more and more sad stories about unemployment as I go about the electorate.  In my other role – as an employer – I am shocked at the disproportionately large number of qualified applicants – many currently out of work – who are applying for each job I advertise. 
It shouldn’t be this way.
Things could be different.  The most immediate example in Dunedin is the Government’s decision to instruct KiwiRail not to consider wider economic benefits when it’s contracting for new trains to be built.  Now they are planning on laying off 41 workers at Hillside.  This is shameful. 
As you’ll probably know, I’m not elected yet, but am standing as Pete Hodgson’s replacement at the next election (November). 
I’m standing for Parliament because I believe we need a fairer society, and I want to be a part of making that change happen.  Most of our forebears came to NZ to escape a class-ridden society, and now it feels like we’re slipping back towards one. Solutions I favour don’t involve giving the biggest tax cuts to the top 10% of income earners.  I’ve written elsewhere about sensible and necessary changes that would strengthen our economy.   
If you are one of these people who are out of work, or in work – and struggling to make ends meet – I hope things improve for you in the next while.  Please be assured that it is for people in your situation, that I am wanting to fight.  Of course, I am just one person, but I am hoping to make a difference.
The gap between rich and poor needs to be closed.  One in five NZ children are currently born into poverty through no fault of their own.  This in not okay.  Opportunities for success need to be available to all citizens.  If not, we will all inherit the unfortunate long-term social and economic consequences
Fortunately, Labour is committed to addressing these issues.  A rise in the minimum wage to $15/hr has already been announced as Labour policy: likewise news that the first $100 earned each week will be untaxed.  These measures bring relief to those who need it most.  Labour’s commitment to reverse cuts to the early childhood sector will produce longer term rewards.
There are plenty of other issues I’d like to tackle if the good people of Dunedin North choose me as their MP.  But my biggest concern is fairness.  I want to play a part in making New Zealand a place we can all believe in – and contribute towards.  I want to create a New Zealand where everyone can realise their true potential.


Engineering in Dunedin

There is a cluster of engineering firms in Dunedin that have been doing clever stuff for years.  They bring money to our town in the form of jobs and investment, and they make stuff.  Useful stuff.

Some (not all) of these firms are under threat because of a recent Government decision.  The Government has instructed KiwiRail to opt for cheapest rather than best product.  This has seen taxpayer money flow overseas rather than to Dunedin.  This decision affects more than just Hillside. It will have knock-on effects.  There will be unemployment and skilled workers will leave town.

Amongst the large economies, Germany and Japan have the highest wealth per capita.  They have a manufacturing base.  People say China is going ahead because of manufacturing.  Why does it seem like the National Government is trying to get rid of our productive industries?

There is an alternative.  While there may be a small extra cost – to KiwiRail – for making things in Dunedin, from a wider taxpayer perspective, funding kiwi skills and jobs is the better choice.  We need government decisions that take these wider benefits into account.  Labour is working towards this alternative.


Hillside Jobs, Dunedin Jobs, Kiwi Jobs

Things are heating up. The workers at Hillside Railway Workshops, their families and supporters, are determined to draw attention to the Government’s short-sightedness.

They’ve set up a website.  And this Wednesday 22 June at 7pm, there will be a public meeting at Cargill Enterprises Hall – 199 Hillside Road opposite the workshops. Please consider attending.

Workers are convinced that the 40 job-cuts already announced are just the beginning. The Government seems determined to shut Hillside down.

So what’s the fuss about?

If Hillside is shut down, it will affect hundreds of Dunedin families.  Not just the workers at Hillside, but also at the firms that sub-contract to them.  And the decision is a crazy one. More…


Central Otago and beyond

A couple of days in and around Wanaka over Queen’s Birthday. Fabulous big landscapes. A restorative weekend with family.


Government fails Dunedin

The cost of living continues to rise, and the Government is out of touch on the impact of rising costs on New Zealanders. That is the clear message I received from Dunedin respondents to Labour’s cost of living survey conducted last weekend.

People in the electorate were asked about the impact of rising food costs, doctor’s visits and power prices on their household budget.  The overwhelming response was that the Government is out of touch on the issues the increasing cost of living creates, and that household income is more stretched now than it was three years ago.

Worryingly, almost half of the respondents had recently More…


ECE Taskforce report

I’ve previously outlined the case for quality early childhood education in the Otago Daily Times. 

Yesterday, the Government taskforce appointed to review the sector released its report.  NZPA’s take on it is here.

The group synthesised current literature on the sector, and made some sensible recommendations.  There is a healthy emphasis on capturing the benefits that flow from targeted early intervention. 

But, in many ways it is a disappointing report.  More…


Owning our future

The election is now less than six months away.  We’re starting to get a better picture of where each political party stands.  And they are standing in quite different places.

The keynote speeches at Labour congress have been available online for a couple of weeks.  I’ve just re-read them. They’re good. The links below mean you can read the original text.  Phil and Annette’s can also be watched on YouTube.  

Personalities are set to play a lesser part in election politics this time around.  Instead, each linked speech has a strong emphasis on Labour values and policies.  In this vein, Party President Moira Coatsworth drew attention to the difference that Labour represents.  She spoke about the environment, equality and the economy.  She also spoke about our strengths as a Party.

Annette King’s speech focused on making sure all children have what they need to succeed. Too many of our most vulnerable are slipping through the cracks.  Action must be taken.  Annette announced the creation of a Ministry for Children as the platform for action.  More on this closer to the election.

Phil Goff’s speech, Owning our Future, focused on creating jobs and growing the economy.  You can read the detail.  He also reiterated that when it came to asset sales, only one party had learnt from the past.  Labour will keep kiwi assets in kiwi hands.

At this year’s election, New Zealanders will have clear choices.  Choosing wisely (or not) will make a real difference.


Drill Baby Drill – debate tonight

A live debate.  Should we go green or go underground? Come and hear whether we should harness wind, waves and a ‘green’ lifestyle, or mine, drill and make the most of our underground resources.

Brought to you by the Otago University Debating Society. The event is tonight 7pm at St David’s Lecture theatre on the North-West corner of the University campus. My team – ‘Team Green’ – is taking  on ‘Team Underground’ who feature speakers from NZ’s mining lobby group Straterra, Geology lecturer Prof. Dave Craw, and student Paul Hunt.

There will be a panel discussion afterwards where you can tell the debaters what you think.  Gold coin donation.


Asking the hard questions

Under the current Government, New Zealand’s economy has stagnated.  New Zealand appears to be bucking the OECD recovery trend. 

During National’s time the value of goods and services produced by each worker in NZ has fallen.  In economics speak: GDP per capita has fallen.  Analysis a few months ago demonstrated that median wage earners (those in the middle) are now worse off than they were before.  Things haven’t improved since.

Yet the Government is projecting a rosy picture: 4% economic growth not too far in the future.  Why should this projection be accepted?   And Treasury’s revenue forecasts are $4 Billion more optimistic than those the IRD is making (presumably based on the growth forecast).  In 2009 John Key said our economy was coming ‘aggressively out of recession’.  People will be a bit more sceptical this time around.

Massaging the figures is not just a New Zealand preoccupation. A recent Economist article shows how America paints a prettier picture of itself than it should.  Only problem with toying with statistics is that people wise-up to it eventually. 

I’m expecting journalists and opposition MPs will be asking the hard questions once the budget has been properly digested. Watch this space.  In the meantime, R0b at The Standard offers this wry comment on what lies behind Treasury’s numbers.