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


Today I delivered a speech on the economy and trade – at the 23rd Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum – in Quito, Ecuador.

Addressing APPF conference Quito

Overall, the World gains from trade. Forums that generate cross-cultural understanding, and promote international trade are important to our well-being.

But not every individual will benefit from removing trade barriers.  In my speech, I stressed the responsibility home governments have to ensure the overall gains from trade are shared fairly.  Within any given country, some industries will prosper and some will struggle when trade flourishes.  The disparities this creates needs to be addressed.  More equal countries tend to be more prosperous.

In addition, while most prosper, sometimes globalisation can have miserable effects for individual economies.  The Asian Crisis and Argentina’s struggles in recent decades illustrate this.  Sometimes open trade does not produce immediate, generous and lasting benefits for individual countries that lower their trade barriers.

As we shift towards an ever more globalised economy, the World needs to strengthen the support mechanisms that go with it, to assist countries that struggle when subjected to the whims, moods and mistakes of international financiers.  Investment bubbles and runs on banks show that markets don’t always provide timely and helpful information to those at their mercy.

The Global Financial Crisis exposed the vulnerability in our financial systems once more.

Trade is more enthusiastically entered into when the gains are clear, and downsides are properly covered off.  And we need trade. We really do.


Merry Christmas

Late last week I filmed a Christmas message in Dunedin’s Octagon.  Watch it below:


Inequality harming NZ

The OECD’s latest (4 page) report on inequalities argues that evidence inequalities harm growth – is becoming more compelling.

In New Zealand’s case, the report’s authors estimate a whopping 15.5% negative impact on economic growth (GDP/capita) as a result of inequalities in our country.

inequalities harming growth OECD

I concentrated on the benefits of a fairer society in my first ever speech in Parliament. The last 5 minutes of my maiden parliamentary speech canvassed the reasons why greater equality makes a society more prosperous.  I believe what I said in my maiden speech continues to hold true.  With one in four kiwi kids growing up in poverty, the need for a more equal society is now more pressing than ever.

The evidence continues to mount. A more equal society is not only better to live in – it is also likely to ensure nearly everyone is better off.


The Government failing our Economy

In an attempt to cover up the fact that he is failing to rebalance NZ’s economy towards exports, Bill English this week changed the reporting measure.

The Minister’s new volume-based measure of success is akin to placing more importance on the volume of possession held by the USA Eagles in the first half of a recent test match, than on the value of the All Blacks 43 points on the scoreboard.

Unfortunately for the Minister – on the political front – his current rhetoric doesn’t match up with his earlier statements [e.g. see paragraph two of the Ministers’ signed Foreword on page 3 of the MBIE Export Progress Report].

While the Minister is managing the politics, our exports have fallen from close to 33% as a proportion of the economy, when he took office, to now under 30%. The Minister is failing in his goal of rebalancing the economy towards exports.

Even with terms of trade at 40 year highs, the OECD says we will have the second worst current account deficit in the developed world this year and the IMF says we will have the worst.  On-going failure to rebalance the economy puts at risk the relative prosperity and security New Zealanders have come to enjoy.

As a country, we cannot forever borrow (either publicly or privately) – to buy more than we sell.  If the Government doesn’t manage the economy toward balance, eventually there is a consequence – as Greece found out.


Week number one in Wellington

Parliament is sitting once more. I’ve enjoyed the chance to show demonstrable support for Dunedin’s design industry – by sporting a newly minted Tamsin Cooper jacket.

David Clark parliamentary swearing in

Political analysts up and down the country have lept at the chance to have a say on the tailored blazer.  This is largely because Parliament’s reconstitution has otherwise produced few surprises.

John Armstrong’s column is here. Jane Clifton’s view is here.  It was also covered on TV and wireless, and by Dave Cannan in the ODT’s ‘Wash’.

Early on, I also seized the opportunity to make my first contribution to the 51st Parliament – taking a call in the Address in Reply debate to raise concerns about New Zealand’s future in light of big changes coming our way.


Universal Basic Income anyone?

Ensuring all members of society have the basics to survive (and prosper) is the bread and butter policy of every social democratic party – if you’ll excuse the pun.  We want equity of access to justice, healthcare, education and so on, but we also want to make sure all people have enough money to get by.

Longer term, serious changes will need to be made to our society if this vision is to become a reality.  These changes need to be made, not just to meet present challenges, but to meet future ones. If you haven’t watched the video below – ‘humans need not apply’ – please do. It gives a sense of the enormity of the transformation required.

Universal Basic Income anyone?



Reflections on provisional result

First, if you voted for me this election: thank you. I am grateful for your support and will work hard to repay the trust you have placed in me.  Thanks also to those who supported me throughout my first term. I very much look forward to serving Dunedin North for a second term as your electorate MP.

A full week has passed since election night. Every day since has proved afresh (were it necessary) that a day is a long time in politics.

Now, the obvious. Election night 2014 was a huge disappointment for Labour supporters. A party vote tally of 24.7% was no mandate to lead a new progressive Government. It was a trouncing.

For Labour: listening, reflection, learning and rebuilding must now occur.

Questions must be asked. Why, for example, was Labour’s share of the electorate vote up 9.3% across New Zealand? And why did the party vote slump whilst we won more, rather than fewer, electorate seats?

For Labour the overall election result was grim. Perhaps less obvious on the night, hidden in the local results were some small silver linings.

Dunedin North was National’s fifth-worst result. Projections based on Labour’s difficult 2011 election defeat would have seen National comfortably win the party vote in Dunedin North. Instead, taking boundary changes for this election into account, National’s booth-by-booth party vote actually took a 1.3% hit (compared to a rise across the country of 0.8%).  On election night Labour actually won the party vote in Dunedin North.  It remains to be seen whether Labour will hold the party vote once special votes are counted. But the fact it was close must be a huge disappointment for National – with so much rural territory coming into the electorate in 2014, and an upswing of support elsewhere in the country.

Party Vote Dunedin North 2014 provisional

A large part of National’s party vote decline can only be put down to the intelligence and insight of the voters in Dunedin North. But I believe no small amount of credit is due also the experience, wisdom and hard work of volunteers on my campaign. They were motivated to campaign because they believe in creating a better New Zealand.  Still, I feel I owe them a huge debt of thanks on behalf of the people Labour represents.

At a candidate level, I was chuffed that my personal majority was the highest of any Labour MP in the South Island. Again, I think this a reflection on the contributions of many.  In particular, I am grateful to those who have shared and continue to share the fight for a common-sense outcome at Invermay.  And also the many many people who have educated me about shortfalls in New Zealand’s health system, particularly as they play out in the South.  I must thank the staff in my office too – whose hard work and dedication is often the very thing electorate MPs are judged upon.

Candidate Vote Dunedin North 2014 provisional

In addition to the musings above, here are a few early reflections on what went right in Dunedin:

1/ I think Labour’s relatively strong showing in both North and South Dunedin owes a lot to the positive plan for Dunedin that Clare Curran and I launched when the Labour Leader visited the city early in the campaign. Our simple message – that Labour would save Invermay, grow a modern engineering cluster around Hillside, and upgrade our dilapidated hospital – resonated.  It resonated because it reflected local concerns, and because it gave concrete examples about what Labour’s wider ‘vote positive’ campaign meant in practice.

2/ I also think tying this local campaign to a party vote message worked. Our additional billboards were simple: Labour will save Invermay; Labour will support local manufacturing; Labour will upgrade Dunedin Hospital.

3/ Literally hundreds of local volunteers and supporters contributing to a campaign generates an energy of its own.  Everyday heroes like Ciaran and Heather bring a lot of people with them. If you have hundreds of heroes, thousands of people in their wider social circles will be predisposed towards hearing what these heroes have to say – before they ever don a rosette. The days of mass-membership may have passed, but healthy and active membership does make a difference.

I’m keen to hear your feedback on other things you think influenced the local result.

I’ll be back in my regular pattern of Saturday door-knocking before too long. But if you have something to share, don’t wait for me to knock on 18,000 other doors first. Drop me a line. I’ll be pleased to hear your considered reflections.


Heather and Labour

Heather has been a Labour activist since forever. She is a volunteer who wants kids to be able to access their dreams. Find out why Heather is campaigning so hard for Labour in Dunedin North.

For more Dunedin North Labour stories click here and here.


Ciaran and Labour

Ciaran wants to see students reach their potential. He also wants a more equal society.

He’s new to campaigning, but he’s doing a fine job. Find out why Ciaran’s working so hard for Labour in Dunedin North.

If you are a Labour supporter and able to join Ciaran and other volunteers for a few hours helping out on election day, we’d love to hear from you. Please email



On the Campaign Trail

Port School

Ice Bucket ChallengeLauren Labour BusOU PasifikaPort DoorknockersBus in Port ChalmersTV3 Interview