Embattled Health Minister David Clark has abruptly resigned his portfolio.
Clark made the surprise announcement at a hastily called media conference at the Beehive this morning.
His resignation came after his demotion down the cabinet rankings following repeated Covid lockdown breaches and ongoing accusations that he’d gone missing in action during the pandemic response. Publicly berating Health DG Ashley Bloomfield was probably the last straw.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accepted his resignation and said it was “essential our health leadership has the confidence of the New Zealand public.”
Clark said it had been an “extraordinary privilege” and he had given it “my all”.
However, he accepted he was distracting from the Government’s Covid response.
PM Ardern has confirmed that Chris Hipkins will take over the role in the short term.
“I am appointing Chris Hipkins as Health Minister until the election. Our response to COVID is on a stable footing and I have full confidence that Minister Hipkins will oversee the portfolio with the thoroughness and diligence he brings to his other areas of responsibility.
“Post-election I intend to reassess who is best placed to take the health portfolio forward.”
National may consider Clark’s resignation as a victory however it does remove one of their only effective talking points in the run up to the September election.