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

Innovation in Dunedin

Last week I visited The Distiller, a group of start-up companies working together to achieve business success.  I mentioned them briefly in my post on Phil Goff’s visit.

I though it worth linking here to the longer story I put on The Standard about the Distiller visit.  The post provoked plenty of feedback.  Comment threads traversed a variety of topics including the economy, lack of Government support for industry development, benefits of trade, financial policy, and more.

I wish these guys well and look forward to following their success.


With Phil Goff in Dunedin

I spent some time this week with Labour leader Phil Goff – on a visit organised by Dunedin South MP Clare Curran.

The day told a familiar story; New Zealand has much promise, but opportunities to create a fairer, more productive society are being squandered by the current government.

We visited entrepreneurs at the University of Otago to discuss new technologies and their potential to contribute to our economy.  I see the ODT has visited since.  The potential for New Zealand exporters to benefit from the weightless economy is extraordinary – if only the National Government had a decent plan to support the sector.

In Brockville, we met with Daniel Campbell, his wife Corinna and their three children, Tyelah, Jesse-James and Caleb.  They’re hard-working folk with a positive mindset, but they are struggling to make ends meet.  Daniel is working all of the overtime he can get.  GST increases, power and petrol price rises and looming cost increases in early childhood education are limiting their choices.  The kids are able to go to the doctor because of the cheaper doctor’s visits that Labour introduced. But a trip to the dentist for Daniel to get the fillings he needs isn’t an option.  These guys can see the sense in taking GST off fresh fruit and vegetables to make healthy options for their kids more affordable. 

Goff visits the Campbells in Brockville

With Phil Goff visiting the Campbells in Brockville

We also visited John Kennedy who survived a major brain event six years ago – thanks to Dunedin’s neurosurgeons.  If neurosurgeons weren’t available locally, he would likely have suffered permanent brain damage or death.  His story is an inspiring one, and he wrote to Tony Ryall to express concerns about the threatened loss of services.  John wrote at the start of August, and disappointingly hasn’t yet received so much as an acknowledgement of his letter from the Minister of Health.  On the upside, it looks increasingly likely that the Government will cave in to commonsense on this issue, but not before a well-paid panel has deflected criticism for the Government.

Phil was well-received at a ‘Drinking Liberally’ event in the evening.  He related the stories of families he had met who are struggling to cope with rising prices.  Sadly, families on lower incomes are worse off thanks to National’s tax switch, and there is no indication the current government sees anything wrong with its reverse-Robin-Hood approach.

Thanks to the families, individuals and groups who took time to share their stories with us during Phil’s visit.


Health cuts hurt

Tony Ryall and the National Government are not funding the health sector properly.  Instead they have been focused on increasing the GST we all pay to fund tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy.

The Southern District Health Board is signaling service cuts ahead. Yesterday’s ODT reported that reduced services in Mental Health are likely.

We do not yet know exactly what services will be cut locally, but sadly it seems that “service reductions” will be cynically targeted towards the most vulnerable – those least able to fight back. 

The Key Government has talked a lot about “savings in the public sector”.   This translates to less money for hospitals and schools.  It is a deliberate policy.  Back in May, Labour Health spokesperson Ruth Dyson pointed out:

“The Budget revealed that Public Health will be cut by $68 million over 4 years. Mental Health loses $12 million over 4 years, and the Primary Health Care Strategy will decrease by $58 million over 4 years. The Minister has called this lower priority spending.”

Shame on National.


Dunedin North

Tonight I was selected as the Labour candidate to stand for Dunedin North

Following in Pete Hodgson’s footsteps is a real privilege.  He’s been a powerful advocate for Dunedin North – and will be for a while yet.

Thanks to those who’ve supported me through the selection process and to all of the Labour Party members and affiliates who turned out on the day. 

The Labour Party in Dunedin North is strong.  Talent and experience runs deep in this electorate.  It is an honour to be selected and I am looking foward to working with local members to deliver a serious Labour victory in 2011.


25 September – Selection Day

Please put a ring around Saturday 25 September in your diary if you haven’t done so already. This is the day local Labour Party members get to play their part in selecting a candidate to contest the next general election.

Since Pete Hodgson announced in June that he would retire at the next election after 21 years as our local MP, I’ve been working hard to meet with as many of you as possible. If I haven’t tracked you down yet and you’d like to meet, please be in touch

The selection meeting is open to local party members and will take place at Knox Church Hall, Knox Church, 449 George Street, Dunedin. Registrations open at 2:15pm and the selection meeting starts at 3pm.

This is an important day for Dunedin North.  I hope to see you there.


Child poverty is not ok

I have a young son, born earlier this year into a family where he is loved, supported, and nurtured.

This is true of the majority of children born in our country.

Sadly, despite being loved, a significant minority of children in New Zealand are born into cold, damp overcrowded houses, challenged by the hunger and the stress of poverty.  This is not ok.

Our local Labour Party Branch has set itself the goal of learning more about child poverty in our country in order to contribute to its eradication. To this end, we held a child poverty forum last week.

Elizabeth Craig, the Director of the New Zealand Child and Youth Epidemiology Service and Nicky Taylor, Director of Anglican Family Care were invited to share their wisdom. The general public were also invited to attend.

Although I’ve seen similar statistics before, I was struck again by the obvious links between low incomes and a variety of preventable medical conditions.  Over 20% of children born in this country are dependent on a parent who is a benefit recipient.  Put another way, the adequacy (or inadequacy) of the benefit provided affects one out of every five children born.

Research tells that our benefits are not adequate. More…


Killing the New Zealand Dream

Our future: the reason people choose to stay in New Zealand, or return to New Zealand, is tied up with the type of society we have.

People love New Zealand because they feel at home here.  You and I value access for everyone to quality health-care.  All New Zealanders value schools that are safe with dedicated teachers, and an education system that delivers quality results for our kids. 

These values are rooted in the fact that New Zealanders have an underlying sense of fairness.  It is what makes New Zealanders tick.  We love to see everyone have a fair go. 

Our pride in our identity as New Zealanders is tied up with a sense of fairness.

The tax-switch National “delivered” in its last budget was another example of National’s reverse Robin Hood policy: taking from the poor to give to the rich. 

Even on their own terms, National’s logic is fatally flawed.  National says that tax cuts for the wealthy will help New Zealand attract and retain talent.  For reasons I will explain below, this is simply not true.  More…


An eye to our future

The early years are the most important for a child’s brain development.

Dunedin’s early childhood education (ECE) centres know this.  They have led New Zealand in the provision of quality childhood education. And because they are more advanced than others, the government’s funding cuts will hurt Dunedin the most.

Each of Dunedin’s ten quality non-profit ECE centres – run at the University, the Hospital and through the Dunedin Community Childcare Association – will on average lose $50,000 dollars every year as a result of the National Government’s cuts. More…


Dunedin takes to the streets

Keeping neurosurgery in Dunedin makes sense.

Friday’s rally was huge. The ODT reports that up to 10,000 people marched. 

The greater Dunedin area has a population about 10 times smaller than metropolitan Auckland. 10,000 people turning out to march in protest here is equivalent to over 100,000 turning out there. Not even the impressive anti-mining protest there got close to that. The march on Friday is a clear statement that Dunedin is a community that cares about public services. More…


Fire at will

National’s regressive work-place policies are going to increase the gap between rich and poor.

People take a risk when they start a new job. They leave the security of the previous job and the social networks that go with it.  Methodist Mission Director Laura Black has challenged local employers to reject the 90 day legislation in recognition of the fact that good managers shouldn’t need to use regressive rules.