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

Southern Steel

I watched a great game of Netball at Dunedin’s Edgar Centre this evening. There are two home games in Dunedin this year, and I’m hoping to get to both of them.

The mood was jovial – a family-friendly atmosphere.  The queue stretched out around the corner, and we got to our seats just in time to see the Canterbury Tactix early casualty, Phillipa Finch come off the court.  Southern Steel had an unconvincing start, but hit their straps in the second quarter, sufficient to take the lead.  They held a two-point lead for much of the match, but really began to hum after a crisp intercept – when the score was 31-29.  The Steel shifted up a gear, and five unanswered points followed; Griffin was deadly accurate and Wipiiti played with flair.  The Tactix struggled to get back into the game from then on.  The final score was 49-40. The Steel retained their unbeaten record in Dunedin, and reversed the result from their last match against the Tactix just 10 days ago.  And the afternoon time-slot meant we were even home to relieve the babysitter in time for tea.

Stuff has the professional write-up here.

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Thank God for the Sallies

Most people reading this blog will know I’ve been selected to run as Dunedin North’s Labour Party candidate in November’s General election.  Pete Hodgson is retiring, and I want to serve the people of Dunedin as their next MP. 

As the election draws closer, I’ll get my car painted and I’ll put my smiley face on roadside signs, plastered with the Labour logo. But jumping-up-and-down-on-street-corners-style campaigning is a long way off yet.  

In the meantime, I’m working hard to meet with as many individuals and groups in the electorate as I can.  Making sure I’m up to speed with current issues, is the first benefit of these visits.  The second is that more people are getting to know me, and understand that I am happy to be contacted with views, thoughts and concerns. 

Of course, I have my own existing Dunedin networks and contacts.  But I’m also increasingly finding that people are seeking me out.  There are always more groups to meet, and I’m enjoying finding out a few new things about my home town.

One group I’ve visited a couple of times recently is the Salvation Army, Dunedin Corps.  The local Sallies do some fantastic work with people who find themselves at the margins of society, whether through addiction, past trauma, or a myriad of other reasons.  They also prepare people on benefits for the workforce.  I was impressed by the set-up the Salvation Army is running in Dunedin, and by the positive ethic of a staff committed to making a real difference.

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Waitati

I can now say I’ve had the Waitati School Friday enviro-lunch experience. 

Students yesterday welcomed us onto the school grounds with the waiata Toia Mai.  These same students grew the veges we ate for lunch.  The baked potatoes were good, the apples were tastier than any I’ve had in a while, and I reckon the salad was world-class.  Pete Hodgson, my family and I enjoyed the hospitality and were thoroughly impressed with the students’ gardening efforts. 

A few weeks ago I attended a function marking another step towards sustainable energy production in Waitati, Warrington, Purakanui and surrounds.  There is always plenty going on at Waitati.  Today it’s the Blueskin A&P show.  Waitati continues to be an interesting and busy place. It highlights what can be achieved through the vision, pragmatism and persistence that accompanies the deliberate building of community.

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Front Bench in Dunedin

The Labour front bench met yesterday in Dunedin.  Reports say they had a productive meeting. 

Labour’s David Parker took the opportunity to distribute literature to the attending press-pack.  He gave them a copy of a previously unreported speech explaining what state asset sales under National would mean: higher power prices, and increased profits flowing offshore.  His jibe that leadership rumours had been a conspiracy to get the press-pack an undisturbed hour of reading-time on the homeward flight – went down well, I’m told.

On Monday evening we had a social event at the Kensington Tavern with around 100 supporters attending and rousing speeches from the MPs in attendance.  Everyone is focused on getting Labour elected – so we can get some progress on the big issues facing our country:

– The rising cost of living. Prices are rising faster than wages, and many families are struggling

– A Government that seems to have no plan for the economy

– National’s proposal to sell state assets, meaning higher power prices and profits heading offshore

– Labour’s plan to ensure every child has the best start in life. We need every citizen to contribute to society.

I attended some interesting meetings with my colleagues over the two days they were in town.  Colleagues from out of town got a picture of the challenges that are facing Dunedin.  Among others, we visited the excellent Otago Youth Wellness Trust; we visited the Dental School’s aging facilities, where our high-quality NZ dentists train; we spoke with representatives of the University and Polytech; we met with the DCC.   Some photos from the last couple of days are below. 

Photos below: Les Williams and I at the Kensington; Clare Curran, Grant Robertson, David Clark, Pete Hodgson outside the Dental School; Phil Goff and I on Princes Street on a perfect Dunedin day; Te Tai Tonga candidate Rino Tirikatene and I.

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Labour will stop asset sales

Power prices are rising.  And evidence suggests that in New Zealand, the sector charges too much for power: billions too much.  But energy companies get away with this because they’re “playing within the rules”.  The only silver lining to this dark cloud is that – because most of the assets are state-owned – most of the excess profits flow back into hospitals, schools and other public services.  

Currently, much of the profit from power companies is returned to us for the good of the New Zealand public.

But National want to change this. It is not that they want to stop power companies charging too much. No. Instead, they want to start selling off the energy companies.  This will mean that the excess profits will flow to new shareholders.  History tells us that shares sold in this kind of situation (supposedly ‘to mum and dad investors’) are later on-sold to multi-national companies; then the profits flow off-shore.  It happened when National sold Contact Energy, and it is crazy.  Power prices stay high, but the profits that used to go to our schools and hospitals now go to fat-cats overseas.

Labour will not sell off the family silver.  This is an important difference between Labour and National as we head towards the next election.

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Ignite

I’ve spent part of the afternoon talking to Ben Krieble, finance director of Ignite Consultants.  Ben, along with several other students running Ignite, is a former Selwyn College resident. 

Ignite is a great local success story.

Using students with real skills, Ignite is doing some great work in the not-for-profit sector locally.  This year they’re planning to help Presbyterian Support’s Octocan foodbank appeal,  Malcam Charitable Trust with a project to help leverage corporate sponsorship, and a campaign run by the Prostate Cancer Foundation to increase membership.

Students involved in Ignite are selected for their skills, and their dedication to making a difference.  Some have legal skill, some accountancy, others marketing and so on.  The students volunteer their time, and in turn benefit from experience solving real-world problems.  Anyone wishing to get involved this semester should make contact soon, although I understand registrations of interest are welcome at any time.

Good things can happen very quickly. Ignite started in early last year when a polish exchange student, Agnieszka Nazaruk, began sharing with Otago students her vision of a social-entrepreneurship consultancy, based on experience she’d had elsewhere with AIESEC.  Building on connections with Malcam Trust founder Malcolm Cameron, a board of advisors was established that included Claire Ramsay (Administrative Director of School of Business), Laura Black (CEO of Methodist Mission) and Peter Chin (then Mayor of Dunedin).  More local students wanting to make a difference quickly joined the project, and now one year on, Ignite already has a proud record of service to the local community.

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You can't beat Dunedin on a good day III

Great day in Dunedin today.  After spending most of yesterday in a planning session for the Otago Community Trust, it was great to get outside today and spend some time with the family.

The Arthur Street School fair was bustling as temperatures went into the mid-20s.  Plenty of happy laughter, raffles, brick-a-brack, dancing, singing and even a bouncy castle for the kids.  We bought half-a-dozen or so books for our boy.  The food was a personal highlight.

A walk on the beach, and a coffee at one of the local cafes preceded our swim at the St Clair Hot Water Pool.  We stopped to watch kite-surfers in the harbour on our way home.

Tonight I’ll get to hear Lyall Hanton address my students at Selwyn about his successful project commercialising Otago University research, and then I’m off to talk to a youth group about the opportunities presented by education.

There’s always heaps going on in Dunedin, and it is hard to beat our city on a good day.

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My day job

I am passionate about the opportunities that representing Dunedin North represents.  In the meantime I am campaigning, and also running a student hall of residence, sitting on committees, being a parent, and fulfilling responsibilities as the deputy chair of the Otago Community Trust

Running Selwyn College is a terrifically rewarding role.  In this job, I have pastoral care responsibility for residents making the transition to University study.  Of course I have planning to do and a budget to oversee, but it is working with people, and shaping community that is the most rewarding part of the role.

For those who are curious, the ODT has run a ‘slice of life’ piece on my life as Warden at Selwyn.  There are a couple of inaccuracies in the story but it paints a picture of the varied and interesting life of a College Head.

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The Quake

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Christchurch as the true horror of yesterday’s quake becomes apparent.  I spent much of yesterday checking up on students at Selwyn College where I am Head of Hall.  While immediate family seem to be safe, some still have friends or wider family unaccounted for. 

This evening a service was held at neighbouring All Saints Church.  Prayers were said for those known to have died or still missing, and for their families and friends.  Sadly, I feel sure there will be more bad news to come. 

A Dunedin group has set up a site for people fleeing the Christchurch area who are heading to Dunedin & need temporary, free accommodation. The site is set up by volunteers, with support from the OPIA and the Red Cross to co-ordinate people offering accommodation with people seeking accommodation.

Stuff has a how to help page up.  Donations can be made to the Red Cross online.  A facility to find people is also available.

The people of Christchurch have shown themselves to be resilient but the tragic loss of life in this quake just seems unfair. People from Christchurch have told me that the community spirit is strong after the first quake: that people have achieved a sense of common purpose through suffering.  I trust there will be a silver-lining, because right now things look pretty bleak.

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Online interview

Channel Nine, Dunedin ran as lead news story tonight, an interview with Pete Hodgson, Metiria Turei and me.

Pete said I was good, and that I had a lot of hard work ahead of me.  Metiria said she was only after the party vote this time around.  I said it was a real privilege to be selected to run.  We all agreed that the gap between rich and poor needs to stop growing.  A lot of ground was covered in a two-minute news segment.  View the newsclip online.

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