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

Green-tech flying high

Right now, we’ve got problems as a country.  Prices are rising faster than wages, and the Government seems to have no plan for our economy.  This blog looks past our current dire situation, to what might be around the corner.

Green technologies will shape our future as a planet.  Not only do they improve our chances of survival as a species, but, because they use available energy resources more efficiently, they’ll make our economy more competitive.

I’ve been reading up on personal transport possibilities in recent days.  The idea of personal ‘green’ aeroplanes has been around for a few years.  Before them, microlight aeroplanes established the concept.  But they’ve been relatively expensive to manufacture, expensive to run, a little unreliable, and they require an airstrip to land.

Things look set to change.  Advances in design and battery capability mean More…

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Thieves Alley Octagon Market

Today I got to give away dozens and dozens of free balloons.  I reckon it has got to be one of the most fun ‘jobs’ I’ve ever had.  Everyone likes balloons; everyone likes happy children.  And the two go hand in hand like John Key and Asset Sales.

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Waitangi at Otakau

It was Otakau’s opportunity to host Ngai Tahu’s Waitangi celebrations this year.  The welcome was warm, the weather was sweltering.  Some photos from the Powhiri…

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Education is best investment

I’ve got an OpEd in the Otago Daily Times today, highlighting the way in which Dunedin families and children will be amongst the hardest hit by the Early Childhood Education funding cuts.

Sixty-nine quality early childhood centres in Dunedin, with 2900 children currently enrolled – will be forced to cut services, raise costs, or both. And this comes at a time when inflation added to the GST rise – means family budgets are being squeezed particularly hard. To read my piece click here.

Another must-read is a backgrounder to a NZ Herald OpEd last year.  Written by Margaret Carr and Linda Mitchell, it is one of the most succinct and accessible pieces I’ve read about the funding cuts.  Qualified teachers in early childhood centres: do we need them?  explains the importance of quality, and the effect of cutting $400 million to the education and care sector.

Labour has pledged to restore the funding. The next Labour government will put children and families at the centre of social policy.

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The biggest cuts for the smallest people

Today is the day the Government’s $400 million in cuts to quality early childhood education (ECE) come into effect.  Surveyed providers across Otago are losing on average $48,500 each.  They are being forced to raise fees or cut services.  20 hours free quality ECE is no more.

Those most likely to miss out are the kids who need it the most.

It’s a funding cut that will increase inequality in NZ.  Wealthy neighbourhoods will have 100% qualified staff because they can afford to pay more and others will have reduced quality or withdraw their children from these providers because they can’t afford it. Those children will be behind the others for the rest of their lives.

Sadly, the Government is refusing to rule out more cuts.  

Enough of this short-termism.  We need an ‘investment’ culture.

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Opportunity for all

Labour leader Phil Goff gave his State of the Nation speech this week. 

One of the foci of Phil’s speech was on removing distortions in the New Zealand tax system that cause low and middle-income earners to effectively subsidise the very rich.  A change to the top-tax rate was mooted, but only at a very high level.  The overall focus was on making sure the system becomes fairer.

Interestingly, there’s a useful piece in the current edition of The Economist on tackling inequality that takes a similar line.  

The thrust of the article is that to tackle inequalities, policy-makers should focus on removing distortions in the economy and on raising the incomes of  low and middle earners.  Social mobility is top priority.

As The Economist’s author notes, the benefits of greater equality to the health and well-being of populations has been well documented by the authors of The Spirit Level.  

The Economist article is inconsistent in parts.  It points to the unjustifiable wealth gains associated with the financial markets but argues without nuance against ‘taxing the rich’.  It contains some bald generalisations including (ironically) about ‘sloppy thinking’.

But, overall it is a thoughtful piece.

Back to Goff’s speech.  The interesting thing is that Phil’s common-sense approach to creating a fairer society is resonating widely.  Taking GST of fresh fruit and vegetables makes sense to those who understand economic incentives, and have seen studies on the long-term impacts of poor food choices.  It also makes sense to a mother struggling to pay her family grocery bill. 

Focusing on social mobility and the opportunity for low and middle-income earners to get ahead – is likely to resonate with the authors of The Economist magazine.  Closing tax loop-holes for the hyper wealthy makes sense. 

All of these policies have clear thinking behind them.  They are also resonating with Joe and Joanna public.

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Not even

The current government is letting things slip.  I’ve posted on Red Alert about the growing gap between rich and poor that is killing the New Zealand dream.

One thing I particularly value about New Zealand is the way that opportunities are open to all.   I want things to stay that way.

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Opposed to nothing?

Normally the role of ‘opposition’ is to ‘oppose’. 

When the Government does something that oversteps its mandate, is improper or is not in the best interests of the country, the opposition has responsibility for pointing this out.  It shares this role with the media.

Normally.

What is strange about the current government is that it seems to have no plan.  The opposition can challenge cuts in early childhood education or in home help for the elderly, but it’s hard to challenge the government’s general direction.  It just doesn’t seem to have one.

On the up-side, Labour has been left a space in which to launch its own plans.

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facebook

I’ve launched David Clark for Dunedin North on facebook

Visit http://www.facebook.com/DavidClarkforDunedinNorth.  Navigate to the middle at the top of the page, and click the ‘like’ button to follow the campaign.

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Positive for Children, positive for our future

Long-term thinking has long-term results.

Labour Deputy Annette King announced at the Labour Party conference that new social spending was going to have the well-being of children at its heart. 

All children need the best start in life if they are going to thrive, and if they are going to contribute positively to our country. This includes the 20% of children in New Zealand currently born into poverty.

Today Annette has posted an update, outlining the problem, and starting to lay out a vision of how things can be done differently:

“Labour believes a much wider and deeper change is required; one which fundamentally alters the way government invests social spending by implementing an integrated package of policies that focus on the development needs of Kiwi children in their early years. Such a comprehensive focus on child development is brand new to New Zealand. More…

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