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

Highs and Lows

It has been a big week for me in Parliament.

Back home in Dunedin this evening, local TV presenter Rebecca Meek interviewed me for Channel Nine news to cover off recent events.

My bill to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr was narrowly defeated. But I’m determined to keep up the fight for a fairer distribution of our country’s wealth.

To that end here’s a link to an article published yesterday by RadioLive where I say John Key needs to put his money where his mouth is.

On the good news front, it was announced on Wednesday that I’ve won an Eisenhower Fellowship to study next year for seven weeks in the United States.

While I’m in the USA, I want to learn more about the rapid change online learning is bringing about and it’s potential to help those from modest backgrounds get ahead.  I want to find out more about politically engaging those who are disaffected with society, and I want to examine a range of constitutional and economic issues.

The Eisenhower Fellowship programme aims to arm participants with skills and connections to make a positive difference in the world.

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Some Dunedin Bouquets

There is always plenty going on in our fine little city. 

Yesterday I watched the Otago Rugby League team score it’s first win of the season at Kettle Park: a handsome 62:18 victory over the West Coast.  A couple of local Young Labour members collected a bunch of Keep our Assets signatures on the sidelines.  Also, over the weekend I attended a couple of successful school fairs – at Kaikorai Primary and Balaclava.  And there was news that the Otago Boys Rugby Team has made the national schoolboys final. Well done to those boys, and good luck for the final.

One recent event I have heard plenty of positive reports on was the very successful Rutherford Waddell conference run out of the University of Otago. Rev Waddell’s 1888 talk on “The Sin of Cheapness” led to action against poverty in the Dunedin of his time, and continues to inspire folk today.

Also to be commended is the Dunedin City Council’s Draft Social Wellbeing Strategy. It builds on the legacy of Waddell and others in recognising the place of a local response to the challenges facing our community.  Despite an enviable quality of life, Dunedin has an aging community, low wages and poor housing stock.  What should being a citizen of Dunedin promise and require of us?  Contacts for feedback by 21 September are at the end of the document.

I recently attended the Wellington launch of the Living Wage Aotearoa campaign.  Kieran Ireland from East Otago High School was shadowing me for the day to find out what life as a parliamentarian is really like.  He came too.  It was a colourful affair.  Look out for local Living Wage events in coming months.

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$15 minimum wage makes sense

My second Members Bill aims to increase New Zealand’s minimum wage to $15/hr.   If ultimately successful, I would expect the minimum wage to already be sitting at $14 by the time it got through the Parliamentary process.  A $1/hr increase may not seem like much to some, but it makes a big difference to those living below the poverty line.

A minimum wage increase helps working families put nutritious food on the table for their kids. 

One of the additional bonuses is that it is likely to have a stimulatory effect on the economy.  The estimated $427 million cost will boost the prospects of many small businesses.  This is because people on low incomes are likely to spend any additional money immediately – on necessities like food, shelter, heating and school books.  Wealthier folk are more likely to spend money on overseas trips (which don’t help our economy much) and/or savings (which doesn’t have an immediate stimulatory effect).

I’ve put the case for the minimum wage in greater detail in an Otago Daily Times article – published today.

UPDATE: 4 September.  The NZ Herald has carried a separate opinion piece from me on the minimum wage.

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Raising the minimum wage

I’ve had a second members bill in my name drawn from the ballot. This one seeks to raise the minimum wage to $15.  This is desperately needed to ensure hard-working Kiwis are able to afford to put healthy food on the table for their families. I’ve outlined the case for raising the minimum wage on Labour MPs website Red Alert, here and here.

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Mondayising Progress

A survey last week on the Stuff website showed public support for my Mondayising proposal continues to sit above 80%.

My Bill aims to ensure hard-working Kiwis who receive 11 Public Holidays in those years when Waitangi and Anzac fall on weekdays, will also receive all 11 Public Holidays in the Public Holidays Act in those years when commemorations fall on a weekend.

Waitangi and Anzac will still be commemorated on 6 February and 25 April respectively.  

What changes is that when one of these days falls on a weekend, a day’s holiday will be allocated to the following Monday, in the same way it currently is for Christmas when it falls on a weekend.  We still celebrate Christmas on 25 December, but an extra day’s holiday follows Boxing Day.

On the day before my Bill passed its first reading, the ODT published a piece I wrote explaining the case for Mondayising. The Bill has now been referred to select committee before it returns to Parliament to continue its journey to law. For those who are interested, a video of my speech introducing the Bill for its first reading is online here.

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Red Alert

In addition to occasional commentaries or discussion pieces, I’m now in the habit of putting up a regular weekly post on the Labour MPs website Red Alert called ‘By the Numbers’.  It’s shorter than most posts I do and swings between deadly serious and tongue in cheek. I’ve described it as ‘an appetising, nutritious, numeric snack that boils down the week’s news’.

This week’s edition of By The Numbers focuses on Asset Sales.

Red Alert is an opportunity for Labour MPs to float ideas and discuss current issues.  It is neither an official policy site, nor something for news releases.  Sometimes it is controversial.  One of my recent posts on National’s failure to manage the economy got a few people fired up.

All of my recent Red Alert blog posts can be found by clicking here.

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Keeping our Assets

This week, the Government is set to push its unpopular asset sales legislation through a second reading at Parliament. 

Selling our best revenue-generating assets makes no economic sense.  Profits from these state owned companies currently fund our schools and hospitals.  When the assets go, our public services are at risk.

I sit on the select committee that heard public submissions on the partial asset sales proposal. We heard around a hundred submitters present in person – and only one wanted to defend the current proposal.

But all is not lost.  In a piece recently published in the Otago Daily Times, I explain how our assets can still be saved, and why.

Labour has set up a website to support the campaign to save our assets.

This Saturday Dunedin residents will join the protest against asset sales in a silent march organised by Grey Power.  Gather 11am at the Dental School for a walk to  the Octagon.  Bring signs.  Bring copies of the petition to keep our assets.

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Updates from the local branches

One of the strengths of Labour in Dunedin is the branches that support the wider electorate organisation.  Each branch has its own history, flavour and interests.  Here is a taster and some local contacts for those interested in engaging directly in Party activities. More…

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Government cuts hurt Dunedin

I’m concerned about the chilling effect Government cuts are having on Dunedin.   Links to a couple of recent articles I’ve written about this are in the text below…

It used to be the case that the Government had representatives close to the coal face who understood local interests and fed into policy processes.  But now local officials’ jobs are being cut.  The remaining Dunedin officials are increasingly being kept in the dark on policy development, and then asked to defend the indefensible to local service providers.  I’ve written that the Wellington cookie-cutter, one-size-fits all approach, is not working for Dunedin.

Due to a range of factors that includes a stable professional workforce, and a relatively static local population, Dunedin compares well with other centres on social service provision.  Providers often lead nationally in terms of innovation and effectiveness.

Solutions trialled and implemented in Dunedin are sometimes rolled out further afield.  Mornington PHO is a case in point.  It was a trend-setter nationally, until its wings were clipped and a cookie-cutter model was imposed.

Dunedin solutions may sometimes work elsewhere. Trouble is, the converse is not necessarily true.  Many of the ‘solutions’ central government is imposing on us are not working for Dunedin.

And another thing.  Cuts are affecting Dunedin’s volunteers too.

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Community volunteering

I’ve had a piece published in the Otago Daily Times praising the contribution of Otago’s volunteers.  Their efforts are an important part of what makes Otago a great place to live.

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