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

Kelsey Yaralla Kindergarten

On Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting Kelsey Yaralla Kindergarten alongside local MP Pete Hodgson.

 

Pete was there to present a cheque donated by business to support community activities: an enjoyable task for the local MP.

The Kindergarten has a proud history, recently celebrating 90 years in operation.  The enthusiasm of staff and students there is infectious. Unfortunately next year the Government’s short-sighted cuts will affect the centre’s budget – but that’s another story.

Friday, at least, was a joyous occasion.

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Pike River Mine

The emerging tragedy at the Pike River Mine has stunned us as a nation. 

Almost without exception, people I have spoken to in recent days have a connection with the West Coast.  This is close to home and explains our strong identification with the families and friends of the victims.  We know them. Or at least, we know someone who knows them.  More…

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Share the road

I used to race bicycles.

When I was riding several hundred kilometres per week, I reckon my life was seriously threatened through the carelessness of others once or twice a week.  Like most cyclists, I developed a sixth sense that helped keep me alive.  And I was lucky.

I am not saying cyclists are without fault.  I remember the Share the Road team being formed when James Faulding – one of the cyclists I used to race with – was killed out training.  He was on the verge of selection for the New Zealand team and his sudden death was a shock to us all.  As I recall, the driver didn’t indicate – but James must carry some of the blame – he was riding at dusk without lights.  The Share the Road team was formed as a practical response to an ongoing problem.  Education and awareness are still needed – for both drivers and cyclists.

This week, the unnecessary deaths of five cyclists in five days have prompted some action.  The Coroner is going to investigate. People are blogging about it.  The cycling advocates network has been vocal.

One of the more provocative pieces published today reminds that cyclists are ‘people too’.  Thus Russell Brown has modified the expletives in a post by Greg Ford and published it as a piece of prose entitled: I’m not a f***ing cyclist. I’m Ruby’s daddy, on a bike. (Please be warned: the post contains strong language.)

Whatever the final outcome of the Coroner’s report, it is pleasing to see the matter properly examined.  Advocates of driver and cyclist education have wondered how many more avoidable deaths it would take.

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The Ghost of Muldoon

Rugby World Cup, Canterbury Earthquake, filming of The Hobbit. 

I believe all are important to New Zealand – but all have been handled poorly by the present Government.

This evening the Government pushed through a law containing some extraordinary Muldoon-esque powers in part 4 of the RWC Empowering Bill.  Murray McCully is set to have sweeping powers to make decisions about anything that can be connected with the World Cup – without further reference to Parliament or the Executive.  This is bad legislation. 

This is worrying enough on its own.  But perhaps more worrying is the trend that is starting to show in law-making by the National Government.  This Government is developing a taste for unbridled power; they are increasingly avoiding the checks and balances of Parliament.

The powers given to Murray McCully in the Rugby World Cup legislation follow hot on the heels of the Canterbury Earthquake legislation.  Don’t get me wrong: there was an argument for extra powers to be given to Gerry Brownlee at the time.  But now the size and shape of quake damage is better understood, those sweeping powers should be removed.  Instead, the Government is busy pushing through more extraordinary powers.

Parliamentary urgency is increasingly being abused.  We recently saw the Government fail New Zealanders during the Hobbit dispute; it pushed through some irresponsible employment legislation under the guise of appeasing Warner Brothers.  Again, a worrying trend: there was no need to make the law in a rush without proper examination.  The Government keen to avoid too much scrutiny, pushed that legislation through under urgency. 

Of course, I’m not the only one worried about this trend.  Labour’s Chris Hipkins has produced a thoughtful piece reflecting on these issues. Just last weekend Sir Geoffrey Palmer, recently retired from the Law Commission voiced similar concerns in an article published in the Christchurch Press.  Public servants I have spoken to privately are horrified at the abuse of power represented by these laws. 

The Ghost of Muldoon lives on – and not just on twitter.

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We won!

Neurosurgery services are to stay in Dunedin.  The findings of the expert panel review have been announced

An independent Governance Board will be appointed to lead the implementation of the review panel’s findings. 

In short: the panel has recognised just how crazy the proposal to remove services from Dunedin was, and is promoting a strengthening of services in Dunedin: More…

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Hundreds march for quality education

It was great to be amongst hundreds of Dunedin people marching down George Street yesterday.  The Government has cut $400 million from early childhood education.  Local centres are being forced to cut qualified staff and raise fees – some by 25%.  People are not happy.

Dunedin has lead the way in provision of high quality early childhood education. 

Our city has the largest proportion of children enrolled in centres employing qualified staff.  In Dunedin next year, 2900 Children currently enrolled in high quality early childhood education will be immediately affected by the Government’s funding cuts.   

The true number of those affected is much greater.  The families of these 2900 children will be affected too.  Some won’t be able to afford the fees at all.  And – to widen the circle further still – those centres that hoped to employ 100% qualified teachers in the future, now will not be able to afford to.

The Government has set up a taskforce on early childhood education.  Many are expecting more cuts.  Despite a huge amount of scientific evidence that suggests this is an area where more money should be invested, the Taskforce’s mandate maintains an emphasis on penny-pinching.  

 To make your submission to the Task force click here.

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You can't beat Dunedin on a good day II

Lonely Planet has announced Wellington as one of the top ten cities in the world to visit next year.  Wellington is great, but I still reckon you can’t beat Dunedin on a good day. With a friend visiting from Wellington this past weekend, I was keen to show off some of Dunedin’s great seasonal attractions. So here’s my version of a Lonely Planet style potpourri of Dunedin experiences…

The Farmer’s Market is always worthwhile but especially pleasant when the sun is out. Try the whitebait fritters – second to none – and the boutique beers, breads and good coffee.  Noelene and Dion Ombler’s Garden on Upper Junction Road is a little-known treasure.  It is exquisite at this time of year — rhododendrons especially, and the entry fee is a donation to the Cancer Society.  We skipped through the Boat Show (now the ‘Outdoor Show’) which was on at the Edgar Centre, where a couple of weeks ago we popped into the women’s lifestyle expo.

It’s school fair season now, with old-fashioned treats not to be missed. We stopped in on the Sacred Heart School fair in North East Valley.  Some great pot plants and quality bric-a-brac. We secured a hand-knitted jersey for our boy for $5.  Lunch at the historic Carey’s Bay Hotel, a friend’s 60th celebrations, some family time and a walk on the beach at Doctors Point capped off a pretty special weekend for us, but there’s plenty more on offer in the city that is home to one of the largest nature-documentary businesses in the world. 

Lonely Planet 2012? You can’t beat Dunedin on a good day.

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You can't beat Dunedin on a good day

I rode my mountainbike up the switchback track, Nichols Creek, yesterday with a friend.  The track is the combined effort of volunteers and the corrections department.  It is spectacular single-track that can be ridden in both directions.

My fitter friend was faster in both directions (despite an obvious gravitational advantage for me on the downhill section) but I had a blast.  You can’t beat Dunedin on a good day.

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Towards a Labour Government in 2011

Further thoughts about the Labour Party Conference:

Annette King’s speech was a highlight. She announced that the next Labour Government will put children at the centre of policy in areas including health, education, social development and housing.  Vernon Small has a useful summary of the announcement. 

Putting children at the centre of policy is timely.  As I’ve argued previously, New Zealand cannot afford the social and economic consequences of widespread poverty.  Investing in our children is the best way to secure our future as a country.

It was encouraging to see the latest Roy Morgan Poll before heading to the conference.  If an election were held tomorrow and Labour secured just a further 3% off National, and added the Greens as a support party, it would have a greater mandate to govern than National.  Suddenly everything seems possible.  Of course there is only one poll that matters – and that is election day – but a swing towards Labour may explain why National have been looking a little spooked in recent weeks.

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Labour Annual Conference

I’ve left this year’s annual conference buzzing.

Phil Goff’s keynote speech outlined a vision and path for New Zealand that would see a prosperous future for ALL New Zealanders.  He compared that to the creation of two New Zealands by the National Government: one struggling to afford enough to eat, and the other – where life is getting easier – enjoyed by a privileged few. 

Phil described how the big picture needs to be addressed to create a New Zealand we can all be proud of. 

As an aside, it is a real credit to the clear way he outlined his vision – that Phil’s section on reforming monetary policy was received by the crowd with genuine excitement.   I often find I’m in a minority when it comes to real unbounded enthusiasm for that kind of thing!

It’s not possible to do a complete round-up of what went on.  The Standard has a good crack at a short summary.  There were dozens of workshops, and, since they run parallel to one-another it’s not possible to get to them all.

Annette King’s speech was another conference highlight for me, but I’ll write more on that later.

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