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David Clark

Written By: - Date published: 12:16 pm, April 4th, 2020 - 152 comments
Categories: accountability, covid-19, david clark, politicans, Social issues - Tags: , , ,

A cabinet minister goes for a drive to have a ride on his bike during a lock-down that he’s partly responsible for, and we’re meant to just ‘move on’ off the back of a school boy level “Sorry Miss”?

No. Fuck that.

I live in a fairly remote place with a road running below. Pre lock down, that road sent up a general hum of traffic noise. After lock-down, the silence was complete, until the day before yesterday when the hum was building up again.

Now I’m sure some of the traffic on the road was people going to a supermarket, or people just driving aimlessly to get away from being cooped up. But I’m also pretty sure there would have been some people traveling out of their “bubble”. Some of it understandable. For example, I can imagine quite a few parents of lone children hooking up with the parents of other children so that their children can retain a modicum of social normality.

But what kind of message is being sent when one of the government’s own upper middle class twats imagines it’s fine to do what David Clark did? Do lock down rules only apply to people without four wheel drives and the ability to go for a day out?

If David Clark can get away with a simple “sorry”, then why the fuck would anyone else feel the rules around lock-down are to be taken seriously?

I mean, is this lock-down serious? If so, the government needs to demonstrate how seriously it is and jettison David Clark.



152 comments on “David Clark ”

  1. Cinny 1

    Some media and right wingers are losing their minds over the Health Minister going for a bike ride. Sounds to me like some people are going a little bit stir crazy.

    Meanwhile is media calling out simon bridges for traveling around and not social distancing? No, the double standards are gobsmacking.

    Calling for a minister to resign over a bike ride is pathetic.

    Honestly the commentary over this incident especially on some social media reminds me of when my girls have a wobbly. Is this what it's coming to? Wow, more important things to discuss.

    Click bait politics over a bike ride, the Government must be doing a darn good job if this is the biggest complaint coming from the right wing.

    Bill did you take a survey of the drivers on your road to find what they were up to, where they were going? If not you are just speculating.

    • Bill 1.1

      Cinny. Surfers aren't allowed to surf and according to some previous announcements, beaches are off limits.

      David Clark lives in the North end, and if he wanted or needed to exercise, there is no shortage of ability to cycle in Dunedin's north end – on the flat, up and down hills – it's all there.

      The rub is, that David Clark did what he did because he wanted to have himself a wee bit of pleasure – not exercise. And so off he went in his big "Hi! I'm David" vehicle (possibly) imagining the track he was heading for would, unlike in normal times, be his, and his alone to enjoy. (From the photo, the car park is otherwise vacant.)

      There are cyclists who cycle out this way daily (about 20km from Dunedin). I don't have any issue with that.

      David Clark is in a position that requires he not be a fucking hypocrite. Cycling somewhere is one thing. Going for an outing in your 4WD to indulge your pleasure when you are the public face of stringent limitations being placed on people's movement throughout New Zealand is quite another fucking matter.

      • Bearded Git 1.1.1

        Storm in a tea-cup Bill-get over it.

        • Bill

          If ministers actions undermine government messaging, and people begin treating this lock-down with a cavalier attitude similar to those ministers, then that's potentially quite some "storm in a teacup" we're looking at there BG.

          Jist sayin'

      • Gabby 1.1.2

        Given he's probably pissed off a lot of folk by locking them up, exercise in private isn't a bad idea.

      • Cinny 1.1.3

        David didn't think it through, he just wanted to de-stress and blow off some steam. It was a dick move but it's not the end of the world.

        But I am more worried about you, because you are seem so upset about it.

    • James 1.2

      “Calling for a minister to resign over a bike ride is pathetic.”

      you miss the point entirely. It’s not that he went for a bike ride – but because he broke all the rules around isolation / bubbles etc that he had been talking everybody else did – thereby inferring that it’s not really as important as he says.

      • Gabby 1.2.1

        He didn't break all the rules. I don't think he broke any.

        • Bill

          The optics and undermining of messaging are 'big cheese'.

          • Gabby

            The undermining was mainly by a pack of whingers.

          • observer

            No Bill, you are shifting your ground.

            Optics and messaging. Yes, I agree. Which is why the PM shouldn't sack him. You know how headlines work. Elevate this non-story (already fading) and Ardern has a self-inflicted wound. It's not in the news now, why revive it?

            If you stick to "Clark shouldn't have done it", fine. But it seems you want the PM to destroy the optics she's using so well. For what gain?

            "Ardern vacillates, then caves" … optics? Disastrous.

        • Paddington

          I'm not sure they are rules or guidelines, but https://covid19.govt.nz/help-and-advice/for-everyone/leaving-your-house/, which the rest of the great unwashed are supposed to be following, says that:

          "Help our emergency services by only doing safe activities, such as going for a walk."

          The messaging of what he did wasn't great, particularly from the Minster of Health.

          • greywarshark

            Trouble the message of what to do comes out differently on different days and from different people.

            • Paddington

              If you mean there has been inconsistencies, sure, there has. But to be fair, the bit about not putting yourself at risk has been fairly obvious from the get go.

      • infused 1.2.2

        its fine when lefties do it. give up

        • KJT

          I'm on record as objecting to attacks on right wing politicians for irrelevancies, also.

          Or anyone for forms of exercise that are no more risky than walking or cycling..

          Waste of breath when there are much more pressing issues to talk about.

          The police commissioers secrecy about the rules the police are using, for example.

  2. Stephen D 2

    I think you’ve got cabin fever, Bill. He made a minor error of judgement, got found out, and has apologised. End of.

    • observer 2.1


      I commented here yesterday that he was a fool, and he was. He deserves the criticism he got.

      But on the long list of things the government needs to be focused on, it wouldn't make the top 100.

      Perspective, please.

    • aom 2.2

      The 'minor error of judgement' sets a tone that says self-entitled wankers who deliberately cause risk to others or cause trying extensions of the lockdown only have to apologise and all is well. NOT end of!

      • stigie 2.2.1

        John Key would have sacked one of his ministers for less !~

      • Bill 2.2.2

        Yes, he (and by dint of inaction, the government) basically signaled that this lock-down is just a malarkey for those with a certain wherewithal. Anyone want to suggest there are not people now thinking "what's good for the goose…." and possibly getting pretty lax on it as a result?

        • mpledger

          I don't think he should have been sacked but he was bloody stupid on so many levels.

  3. Muttonbird 3

    Massive over-reaction to a nothing incident. The families who are meeting up so their kids can play is, while understandable, potentially much more dangerous.

    Besides which, Clark was 500m from home at best.

    However, I'd rather Clark spent his time really asking his ministry hard questions about the policy they are demanding the country follow. The Minister is after all the meeting point between that Ministry's policy and the rest of the interests of the the country. The Health ministry is rightly concerned with Health, but not the overall health of the country as it were. So they’ll just do what they do and with no questions asked how are we to know what the best policy is?

    Right now they seem to be ruling the roost and Clark isn’t really visible enough, imo.

    If he’s got to go it should be for that reason, not the bike ride. His performance reminds me a bit of Justin Lester’s and we all know what happened to him…

    • pat 3.1

      Inclined to agree a beat up, but it is apparent that Clark may not be the sharpest tool in the kit….and a question…if Clark was 500m from the cycle track why did he need to load his bike on to a vehicle to drive there?

      • Muttonbird 3.1.1

        Pat, I was being a little sneaky.

        If you look at a map of the area the drive from his house to the car park is 2.5km or whatever but the way the crow flies from his house to the area he was riding it is much less.

      • joe90 3.1.2

        Because asphalt chops up expensive knobblies?

    • Stunned mullet 3.2

      'I'd rather Clark spent his time really asking his ministry question about the policy they are demanding the country follow. The Minister is after all the meeting point between that Ministry's policy and the rest of the country. The Health Ministry is rightly concerned with Health, but not the overall health of the country as it were.'

      Lol good luck with that, Minister Clark has completely abrogated responsibility to Ashley and the ministry who are now running the show.

      You do make a very good point that the critical planning that's required is how we exit lockdown and jump start the country again.

      • Muttonbird 3.2.1

        Luke Malpass makes the point in an article today. He appears to have always been a little pandemic sceptic but he's right that the govt has handed all decision-making to the Ministry of Health up to this point.

        Would be great for Ardern and Robertson to wrestle some of that back although I realise they are waiting for data and trends to come through. They will also be very worried about winter so probably another reason for extra caution right now.

        • Bill

          I wonder of they'll have to ask permission of John Ombler, the mandarin who was somehow appointed "All of Government Controller" before they start any wrestling?

          • Muttonbird

            Without wanting to appear like a pandemic denier myself, I'm concerned that the MOH priority is to have zero or close to zero deaths recorded. What a feather in the cap that would be when bodies are rotting in the streets in Ecuador and rest homes in Europe are left abandoned.

            It's fine as a goal but everyone is asked to make sometimes life-ruining sacrifices here and the MOH should not be immune from making sacrifices too.

            • Stunned mullet

              I'd very much hope you're wrong – from my limited understanding I would expect the decision to relax the current restrictions will be based upon a significant decline in new cases and little new evidence of community spread.

              Then the trick will be how to try and limit flare ups locally and via imported Kiwis returning home – otherwise we're back here in a couple of months time.

            • McFlock

              The original pandemic plan was to just "flatten the curve", but a flatter curve keeps killing people and disrupting the economy unpredictably (for those who still think there's a choice between the two). But that was based on influenza, which we will never be rid of. Like Tb, it's one of those things we have to live with and ameliorate.

              covid-19 is like rabies or foot&mouth: if we can eradicate it here, we can stay covid-free. Better in the longer term.

              As for the discussion about the ministry leading the decision-making, well yeah. Epidemic control is an expert discipline. Demanding ministers dictate the process is like asking ministers to help code up a computer information system. What I'd look to ministers for in that regard is to ask whether the outputs are working as intended.The opposition is a backstop to that. They didn't do that with novapay, but nobody expected the minsters to write the code or manage the project – just to make sure the outputs matched what was promised.

              • weka

                Can you comment on the wisdom or not of replacing a Minister of Health at this time (for something relatively minor like what Clark did)? How disruptive would it be to all the things being done at the moment?

                • McFlock

                  No idea at the higher levels. But it's definitely a good question to ask.

                  A former MoH colleague of mine went through a list of ministers of health by the length of briefing note they wanted: some were down to bullet points max one page, others went for multi-page tomes down to the nth detail. This was felt through all the tiers between the minister and my colleague. So there will be a period of adjustment.

                  Then there's bringing the minister up to speed on what and why. If Clark's the sort of minister who needs things explained three times anyway, possibly not much loss. But if he hears it once and remembers, but is replaced by someone who needs to hear it three times… and then of course they "take a more active role in decision making".

                  • weka

                    thanks, that's the kind of thing I was thinking. He's not a figurehead, he's an important part of a complex system.

                    It's not just covid either, there's the rest of the health system to keep functioning and adapting to the new situation.

                    There's also the issue of who would replace him. Haven't seen any suggestions from the sack him crowd.

              • Stunned Mullet

                'But that was based on influenza, which we will never be rid of. '

                Maybe not there's some clever medical researchers out there…


        • Pete George

          Shouldn't the Minister of Health have some decision making authority over the Ministry of Health?

          Or do you think the Minister is sidelined in his own Government?

          • Muttonbird

            In this situation the Health Minister should be communicating ministry advice to the government and be communicating government advice to the ministry.

            The ministry seems to have total control right now and Clark is nowhere to be seen, except in the Signal Hill Reserve carpark…

            • New view

              Most of you here are happy to turn the other cheek and down play Clark’s little mistake. He’s so important that as the minister of health he’s not even based himself in Wellington while the lock down is on. His history isn’t good but there’s no one to replace him and JA wouldn’t because it would look bad (and it does) and we mustn’t look like we aren’t doing this right. Clark has acted like a moron in my opinion and is out of touch with the sacrifices most NZrs are making. Those on this forum chortle at Bridges clumsy mouth and say keep him on as he is our biggest chance for re election. I say keep Clark on for the same reasons. J A has no choice but to keep him but it makes this Government less credible by virtue of its clown ministers and its leader in name only who won’t discipline them. But she gave him a jolly good talking to of course.

        • Gabby

          What do experts know, after all.

      • ScottGN 3.2.2

        Nobody has abrogated any responsibility to anyone else. Dr Bloomfield has simply assumed his responsibilities as demanded by our Pandemic Plan and the State of Emergency powers. And if you take a look at the other Westminster System Commonwealth Realms like us you’ll see the same Civil Service response. It’s the system working the way it should.

        • Stunned mullet

          Oh I agree with that – my wording should have been better.

        • Marcus Morris

          Hop New view reads this. A Tory troll desperate for some negativity to trumpet. There is not too much of that about.

      • mauī 3.2.3

        Lol good luck with that, Minister Clark has completely abrogated responsibility to Ashley and the ministry who are now running the show.

        Good point, couldn't he at least be visible at press conferences and take some of the huge load off Dr Bloomfield. I think I've seen more of the Civil Defence spokesperson in recent times, and this is really not their problem.

        • Anne

          He's in lock-down in Dunedin maui. As are all the ministers and MPs with the exception of the PM and Finance minister. Bloomfield by way of his position must front the public re- this crisis and he is domiciled in Wellington along with the PM and Finance minister. I agree he is looking very tired but hopefully the tide will turn soon and he can temporarily withdraw from the press conferences and have a well earned break.

          • mauī

            So arguably the second most important person in the country is in lockdown seperated from all the other key people. Great…

            • mpledger

              They can do their job by video conferencing – they don't have to physically touch things to do their job like a butcher. And that is probably better – the more vital you are in the decision making, the fewer people you should physically see.

              • That would work in some respects for decisive people (although reading reactions and the feel from a group is much easier in face to face meetings).

                The problem here is there are indications that Clark isn't a good decision maker and that's perhaps why he is on the sidelines.

  4. Stunned mullet 4

    Notwithstanding he's a pretty naff Minister of Health, I agree Bill.

    If the PM wanted some degree of stability during the current situation she could've said the Minister offered me his resignation and I deferred accepting it until after we move to Level 2.

    • observer 4.1

      How on earth would that contribute to "stability"?

      The media and public have given it the five minutes it deserved, and it's done.

      • Stunned mullet 4.1.1

        Either he is doing something valuable in his portfolio as of now during lockdown in which case keep him for that period and maintain stability during lockdown – or he isn't sack him and it will make no difference..

        • observer

          What matters is tests, PPE, flu vaccines, all the other health issues.

          The PM telling the public and health workers that the Minister won't be here much longer (your suggestion) undermines everything that matters.

          If he's not up to the real job, he should be replaced, like any Minister. That has nothing to do with a bike ride.

          • Stunned Mullet

            I both agree and disagree.

            On his performance as a Minister as Health he (or the Ministry under his time) has been poor.

            • The meningitis vaccine fiasco in Northland
            • The decrease in vaccination coverage
            • The removal of a number of measures to track DHB performance
            • Running out of flu vaccine last year and what looks like a supply chain rupture this year

            and there are no doubt additional examples..

            If this was one incident in isolation where we weren't advising the general public to isolate and not needlessly drive away from one's locale then no issue but he is the Minister of Health and it is not reasonable behaviour from the Minister of Health at the current time.

            • mpledger

              There was unprecedented demand for flu vaccine last year. IIRC demand went up by 500,000 shots.

              Some of the measures of DHB performance measures were stupid anyway. Some of the way the system was structured meant some DHBs were never going to be able to meet the targets.

          • Grumpy

            And a very ineffective Minister too.The Southern DHB is refusing to process 50% of swabs taken by GPs. This is very disheartening and something the Minister should be front and centre on.

        • Gabby

          That's what I was just thinking about Slick Bodges. Time he got off the pot.

    • Bill 4.2

      I think it's less about stability and more about buy in.

      Vaguely in line with if Hone Harawira had been pinged dragging a puff while he banged on his SmokeFree 2025 crusade, aye?

      Clark takes a casual jaunt to have himself some down hill pleasure while he's part of a government telling people to pare it back to just necessities on the travel front…

  5. Molly 5

    I believe that those in authority, need to hold themselves to higher standards than those they seek to impose on others.

    That applies in this case, and the justifications used in this instance are inadequate.

    There is a quality of leadership and role modelling that is markedly absent, which should be expected and achieved, especially during such a time.

    (I personally don't care about David Clark's usual fitness regime and his attempts to offload some stress in this manner. There would be many in NZ who are dealing with lockdown with varied and immense pressures, and accommodating the lockdown requests with grace.)

    • I Feel Love 5.1

      And there will be many, who jump in their cars for a quick drive to the beach or wherever, to get some outdoors time, including many making a big deal out of this. Bloody hypocrites.

    • weka 5.2

      I personally don't care about David Clark's usual fitness regime and his attempts to offload some stress in this manner.

      I care. Of all the people in the country who I want to be managing their stress well right now, he'd be in the top ten, probably in the top five. I don't want his ability to function or make decisions to be compromised any more than it has to be.

  6. mickysavage 6

    Us authors often disagree!

    Exercise is allowed as long as distancing requirements are met and clearly they were.

    We do not yet have a designated distance away from home and Clark was not far from home.

    Maybe he could have ridden to the park on his bike. maybe time was precious and he wanted to save some extra minutes.

    I think we should expect high standards of ministers but apart from engaging in a sport with potential safety implications I don't see that this is a breach.

    Admission: I am also getting out each day to exercise although I have not driven anywhere to do so.

    • Stunned Mullet 6.1

      To be fair Mickey if this was Ryall or that other twat Jonathon Coleman you'd likely already posted an opinion piece calling for their incarceration and public flogging.

    • Bill 6.2

      As I've said above, I don't give a hoot if people cycle 20km or more. The cycling or exercising isn't the issue. But David Clark's motivation wasn't exercise – he could have jumped on his bike at the front door and headed out if exercise was his intention.

      Molly (above) is on the same (cough) track as I am over this. People are being asked to participate in something quite extra-ordinary, and messaging is everything.

      So what now for the those who head off down to the beach for a surf? They free to do that now as long as they say they are just taking some exercise? I mean, I'm pretty sure the number of surfer drownings off Dunedin's popular surfing beaches is really, really low, and so if Clark can argue his track has only recorded a few accidents and one helicopter lift over the years….then why can't they?

      • Drowsy M. Kram 6.2.1

        We all make mistakes, but IMHO it's important for MPs, and government ministers in particular, to be seen to 'exercise' good judgement, or at the very least common sense, particularly during global crises, e.g. the Covid-19 pandemic and fallout.

        That being said, will the number of additional NZers inspired by Clark's poor example make a significant contribution to total 'exercise'-related injuries, or indeed Covid-19 cases, during our level 4 lockdown? Hope not.

  7. bwaghorn 7

    Imagine the pressure and stress the minister of health is under during at the moment!

    If he needs to ride ride a bike to unwind good luck to him .

    The rest of stay the fuck home

    • Bill 7.1

      If he needs to ride ride a bike to unwind good luck to him .

      I agree. You missed the point of the post, yes?

    • I understand him wanting some time out but people with big jobs have big responsibilities and have to make sacrifices.

      Grant Robertson said:

      “He understands that he needs to be leading by example, he didn’t do that in this case, and that’s why he has apologised,”

      “I certainly think it’s important for the minister of health not to put himself in any risk … We don’t want the minister of health out mountain biking.”

      “He’s available to front anytime …"

      But riding a trail "between video conferences" (presumably there was important stuff happening) he wasn't available to front any time.


      Both Robertson and Ardern have made it fairly clear Clark shouldn't have gone trail.

      Robertson said the apology could be taken on by all New Zealanders. Some won't care. they will just follow Clark's example and ignore Ardern's requests.

      I don't think Clark should resign over this, but I think Ardern and Robertson should be having a serious think about whether the Ministry of Health is being handled adequately by the Minister.

      • indiana 7.2.1

        Why? He got disciplined the same way parent would discipline their child in a situation like this.

  8. Robert Guyton 8

    Ho bluddy hum.

  9. The problem this has highlighted is that Clark is working from home in Dunedin (when he's not going for a drive and ride between video conferences) while his Ministry seems to be running things from Wellington. He appears to be ineffectual on the sidelines.

    This makes the Minister and by association the Prime Minister weak. She just laughed off what Clark did on Seven Sharp last night and avoiding answering, saying "I was just going to give you the charity of my silence."

    Then she gave us plebs a lecture about the importance not doing what Clark did and instead staying close to home and staying safe: "What we need people to do is stay local and also stay away from risk. And that’s really important because ultimately we don’t want our emergency services or other people having to come to your rescue., and that’s why that’s so important right now."

    Ardern said that the timing of lifting of restrictions is dependent on how we behave (as opposed to how Clark behaves), and also we can inform ourselves from the data.

    She said "“All the data we’re sharing with you I’m getting as well, so you’ll see what’s happening with the numbers and what’s happening in our regions, how we’re looking in order to come out of Level 4. "

    Note she did not say 'All the data I'm getting we're sharing with you".

    It sounded like a prepared and carefully scripted interview.

    Ardern interview – lockdown, eradication, data, duration, business on hold

    Dominant Ministry of Health, weak Minister – and weak Government

    So far Ardern has done a reasonable job of communicating but she can't just keep kicking the level 4 can down the road, or people will follow Clark's example more and more and do as they please. If what he did is just laughed off by the PM then the rest of us should be fine to do as we please too.

    One problem for the Government PR machine now is that with a lot of people sitting at home with time to ponder the ongoing uncertainty more and more questions will be asked, and criticism is likely to grow until there are much clearer plans being made public (I presume that they are looking at various plan options in private).

    • Barfly 9.1

      Hey Pete can you put the knife down? I'm worried with all the blood from being plunged into labour party's peoples backs it may get slippery and hurt you.

    • Ed1 9.2

      "Then she gave us plebs a lecture about the importance not doing what Clark did "

      Not that I heard!

      This morning I did hear someone on Radio NZ talking about what people should be doing, and from the description it seemed to cover what Clark did as being permissible. I cannot however now remember what time it was.

      I think however that to use the words from above it was not good optics, and rightly Clark apologised for that.

      As for not doing exercise as he should always be available to staff, that is sheer nonsense. All MPs are advised to keep fit and take time off to look after themselves – and rightly so.

  10. Andre 10

    Who thinks Clark did it out of a sense of entitlement and thinking that the rules didn't apply to him?

    Who thinks it just didn't occur to him that it fell outside of how a lot of people interpreted the vague, shifting and inconsistent instructions about what we've all been asked to do and not do?

    • I think probably more of the latter, but when you do something your boss has specifically asked the public not to do, and as a Minister he is supposedly closely involved in all of the decision making and public statements, then it's going to cause some problems.

      It should have been clear to Clark that the PM had advised against what he did.

    • Stunned mullet 10.2

      Little bit of both I suspect Andre with some special muppet seasoning on top.

    • pat 10.3

      or who thinks he didnt think at all.

    • Anne 10.4

      Spot on Andre. I'm still confused and so, I suspect, are most people.

      I'm off for my last swim of the season shortly and there will be cops sniffing around for sure. Bugger them. 😉

      Popped up the road for a loaf of bread earlier and saw 3 cop cars float past in as many minutes. Felt like a criminal. 😮

  11. AB 11

    Very poor judgment – demote him at the next cabinet reshuffle. He's human and subject to the same temptations as the rest of us (the water looks beautiful today) – but has to set a higher standard.

  12. mauī 12

    He might not have broken any rules, but yeah I guess the optics are bad. It does smack a little of arrogant governance. Thinking back to the early days of this I remember Ardern doing media standups with other ministers standing in the background within 1m. Again one rule for them, another for…

  13. observer 13

    I'm just relieved that in this State of Emergency (official) we have a Prime Minister who has a firm grasp on what really matters and what does not.

    Meet you all back here in a month and we'll discuss how huge an issue this bike ride was in our Great War. (Spoiler alert: nobody will).

    • ScottGN 13.1

      Totally agree observer. In fact, given the fresh horrors visited up us near daily by this disaster I bet nobody is going to remember this in a week’s time let alone a month.

    • Stunned Mullet 13.2

      'Meet you all back here in a month and we'll discuss how huge an issue this bike ride was in our Great War. (Spoiler alert: nobody will).'

      You are very likely correct.

      I expect most people will be discussing the economy (and their and their families personal circumstances) in 6-8 weeks time.

  14. Molly 14

    (I seem to be occasionally missing the reply button in the threads. Have tried different browsers, Chrome and Firefox, and pressing F5. Is there a fix I should be doing?)

    So, this is a reply to weka @ 4.2

    My comment was: I personally don't care about David Clark's usual fitness regime and his attempts to offload some stress in this manner.

    Of course, I agree that he needs to manage his stress in a way that keeps him healthy. Like many – if not most – of those in lockdown, usual ways of alleviating stress need to be adapted to the new situation.

    He was in a position to demonstrate this by simply not doing his usual exercise, and chose to do it anyway. Modelling adaptation and change during lockdown was a very low bar, and he still managed to trip over it.

    • The Al1en 14.1

      Losing the reply button happens here too. Best result I found is to make a new test post at the bottom of the page which still shows up, then delete it straight away. This somehow brings all the reply buttons back.

      [lprent: definitely a cache problem somewhere in that case. ]

    • weka 14.2

      I have an invisible disability and people make judgements about what they see me doing all the time. They're usually ignorant of what is going on and their judgements are off. I know so little about Clark, what his usual routine is, why he chose to do this on this particular day (thoughtless? stressed and wasn't thinking? overloaded and needed something to make him feel better and this was the thing within reach? entitlement clouded his judgement?), whether time was a factor in his decision, all of the above, none of the above, things I can't even think of. But I see a lot of people judging him on the basis of guesses and supposition.

      Apparently he apologised for the riding on a track thing, because it has more risk than is warranted. I'm glad he didn't apologise for the driving. I completely agree with the issue of leading by example but there is nothing wrong with people driving a few kms down the road to go for a bike ride esp if they have time constraints. He fucked up, not majorly, but then he apologised. This is a good outcome.

      I'm ok with him doing what he needs to do, within the boundaries, to keep himself well enough to do the job the best he can.

      Replacing a Minister in the middle of a crisis is really bad idea and I'm shaking my head at the number of people thinking it's a good one. He's not a figure head, he's an important part of the apparatus that is desperately trying to save lives without completely fucking the country. Replacing him would be additional strain on an already stretched system.

      Maybe my tolerance here is because I haven't left the property in ten days but seeing other people do that doesn't make me think I should. If Clark needs to, I'm good with that.

      • Molly 14.2.1

        I don't think he should be replaced as Minister. I do think he could've done much better.

        The only article I have read on the issue was on the Herald where he is quoted, FWTW:

        "As Health Minister I try to model healthy behaviour and this afternoon I decided to fit in a bike ride between video-conference meetings.

        "This was my only chance to get out for some exercise in daylight hours," he said.

        Clark said the bike track was "not challenging" but in December 2018 a cyclist who suffered a shoulder injury in a fall had to be rescued by fire crews and ambulance staff. The cyclist had to be carried down to the car park on a stretcher.

        In October last year a young mountain biker was injured during the national schools championships at Signal Hill. The teenager had to be flown to Christchurch Hospital.

        "I don't want to give anyone the perception that I take these matters lightly," Clark said.

        "This is a reminder to me to think carefully about how best to fit some exercise into my new-normal routine."

        There's just an element of justification in there that strikes me as a bit tone-deaf.

        He thinks he is a role-model, but only for healthy living – not for behaviour during lockdown. He doesn't want to give the perception that he takes these matters lightly, but he missed the opportunity to take the matter with gravity and restraint.

        He refers to it as a reminder for himself, but fails to acknowledge any learning or recognition regarding how difficult it will be for other NZers to adapt their regular fitness routines.

        Once again, I don't think he needs to go.

        I just don't think he should be excused this error in judgement, and he needs to broaden his understanding of why it was a problem.

        • weka

          Agreed on that last sentence summary.

          He's not a brilliant Minister, but he's what we've got for now.

          I'm ok with the apology, but my expectations might be lower than most 😉 If we weren't in a crisis I think this would have been yet another playing out of ego/macho politics from both sides of the house. I'm just relieved we can move on. That modelling was useful, but I take your point that this was a lost opportunity to reiterate boundaries and the necessity of acting well now.

    • lprent 14.3

      (I seem to be occasionally missing the reply button in the threads. Have tried different browsers, Chrome and Firefox, and pressing F5. Is there a fix I should be doing?)

      Hi Molly:

      I'm certainly not getting it locally.

      Try shift + F5 (or shift + the refresh icon). That forces a reload of the all of the page included the cached items. F5 on its own loads the page, but not the cached items if the signature elements haven't changed between the client and the server.

      The most likely reason is that the CSS or icons or even the javascript hasn't loaded correctly into your local cache. That is fouling up.

      It could also be a cache item at the ISP.

      Let me know if that works or not. If it doesn't I'll try resetting the cache id.

      • Molly 14.3.1

        Thanks, I will try that next time. Learnt something new about the SHIFT + F5, so that's one to remember.

        Seems to be all good today.

  15. Yeah, that makes sense – in the middle of a health pandemic, sack the health minister!!

    Sure, he's acted a little bit like an entitled idiot (and why on earth did he have to use his van with his face plastered all over it) but not good to change colonels in the middle of a war.

    • adam 15.1

      Actually the policy of firing underperforming and poor officers was a key feature of the US military of WW2. It meant that the stupid, lazy, or just bad officers didn't get men killed unnecessary. Coupled with that, it meant those of talent and skill rose to the top faster.

      So yeah changing colonels in the middle of a war, is a bloody good idea.

  16. Ian 16

    Obviously what he did was dumb

    However, on balance, is switching to a new minister in the middle of a pandemic really the best thing to do?

    • weka 16.1

      No, it’s really not.

      • adam 16.1.1

        Why not?

        He not seen by anyone as overly competent, and he not really adding much to the discussion except this fubar.

        • weka

          If he should be removed because he can't do his job, that's a different discussion. But removing a Minister involves changes in a system at a time when stability and continuity actually matter. I'm assuming this matters for the Minister of Health position, I haven't actually seen any informed comment on this. But it makes sense about systems management generally. I'm also guessing there is work involved in replacing a Minister, which affects other people, and it's not something to be done lightly esp in this particular stage of the pandemic.

          I also think it's ok for people in positions of power to make mistakes. What they do next is what matters. There are limits obviously, and it's interesting to consider where the limit should be in this case, but I don't see what he did as being even close to warrant removing him from the position.

          • adam

            Disagree with the whole, the system will struggle with changing minister part of your argument. Ministers change all the time – BFW.

            As for making mistakes- sure we all human.

            I'm just not seeing him do anything of great worth, all I'm hearing is small towns struggling with keeping doctors clinics open, the same amount of homeless sleeping in cars, and I have other concerns about planning and communication from the MoH. And lets leave aside the complete and utter mess around support for disabled, that clark and co (MoH) have once again forced on disabled people and their families. Mistakes I'll accept a few, but as you said, what they do after what counts.

            So at the end of the day, the whole "do as I say, not as I do" thing from clark is a bit much.

            • weka

              BFW? We're not in a major national and international crisis all the time. And we don't change them all the time, it's relatively infrequently for what should be fairly obvious reasons.

              Like I said, if the issue is about how he does his job that's a different discussion, not related to the bike thing.

              • adam

                His job – for want of better word is to be a public face/leader in this health crisis.

                So the "do as I say, not as I do" bike thing actually was part of his job.

                And no, we been in major crisis before and ministers have had to go – it's just the job, and how it works. When people are found wanting in the times of crisis – we should let them go.

                • weka

                  again, if it's about his general performance as a Minister, different convo.

                  We've not been in a crisis like this in my 50 odd years.

                  "So the "do as I say, not as I do" bike thing actually was part of his job."

                  yes and he has acknowledged the problem and apologised. That increases my respect for him.

                  • adam

                    So if it part of his job, then it is a discussion on his performance. Which has been found wanting, especially for disabled people.

                    Either this is a crisis and we need the best people in the job – or we make excuses for people under the perception it's a crisis.

                    • weka

                      As I've been saying in the past day in this subthread, we can have a conversation about whether Clark is doing his job well enough to keep it. But firing him this week over something minor is neither good for the health system and covid management, nor that useful politically.

                      My starting point would be who might replace him? Haven't seen any discussion of that in the past few days.

  17. Sanctuary 17

    Well this thread was born in stupidity and moved smoothly to fake news reckons, impressive.

  18. Andre 18

    The esteemed and learned Professor Geddis opines that driving five minutes to mountain bike a gentle well-graded trail is permitted within the rules. Especially within the clarified rules quietly issued on Friday. Definitely not a good look to do it if you're Minister of Health, but within the rules.


  19. aj 19

    My view: careless optics, but no 'crime'. Optics of course are more important than the lack of 'crime'. Optics will be forgotten as the consequences of this event unfolds, unless the police lay charges for similar or even less harmful behaviour. Police seem to be interpreting behaviour sensibly in most cases, and I see people every day that must be outside their 'local area but well within their bubble, and bubble confinement adherence is the primary objective (I move about a bit day and night, essential service). National will never forget.

  20. rod 20

    So who was it that dobbed him in? come on be a sport, Waiting

  21. barry 21

    It is a teachable moment. If Clark were sacked (whether he deserved it or not) it could send a message that the government was serious about the lockdown.

    I go out for bike rides and sometimes I might go a bit further than is really proper. I saw on TV a young man in Kaitai who drives into town for a bit of a social life. Some people are still taking children to the dairy for icecream. People sit on benches in parks without thinking about who might have sat there before them.

    If we want to get out of lockdown and eliminate the virus then we need to minimise the possibilities for human interaction and virus transfer. Otherwise we might as well not bother, and just build more crematoria for when they are needed.

  22. Jimmy 22

    I don't agree with all the articles you write Bill, but I think you're right on the money with this one.

    In fact I'm a bit surprised it was allowed on here as Open Mike yesterday got quite heated on this topic with plenty of abuse.

    [lprent: Abuse within limits is merely robust debate. At the very least if you engage in abuse you have to engage with other people – something that you appear to either do not understand nor are willing to be advised on. You simply ignore what other people say and don’t deal with it. Instead you just make disparaging comments.

    Dimwitted trolls like you who don’t listen to moderators gently chastising them about their behaviour tend to get a different handling from people who are capable of engaging in robust debate.

    Ok – you have been warned enough, and as far as I can see have neither responded to any of the warnings nor engaged with any of the objections to your statements by others. Pointless to have some kind of lump of narcissistic self-centred selfish cement troll around here. We really don’t need garden gnomes with no ability to engage or argue.

    Banned until December 12th on the general basis that then no moderator has to deal with you between now and any election. ]

  23. Ad 23

    David Clark should focus on confirming the design scope and budget for the Dunedin hospital. That's the way to get several hundred people off the dole queue and working in Dunedin, in short order.

    Instead he's just getting pushed around by his mentor Pete Hodgson, and everyone in the industry can see it.

    • McFlock 23.1

      Assuming that's true, doesn't that mean that the guy in charge of the hospital rebuild has free rein? So… yay?

      • Ad 23.1.1

        No Hodgson is in charge of the project. Hodgson is the problem.

        So … no.

        • McFlock

          So what's the actual issue? Wasn't site demolition supposed to be going ahead about now?

          • Pete George

            Preparation for demolition had started recently (but is probably now on hold).

            But there's another hold up.

            The hospital’s site master plan, due for Cabinet consideration last month, had already been delayed and is unlikely to receive immediate attention once it is signed off due to the ongoing health emergency.

            However, there was no question of the hospital project not going ahead, Dr Clark, in whose electorate the hospital stands, said.

            "The Government’s commitment to the new Dunedin Hospital is rock solid," he said.

            "The lockdown will disrupt the demolition in the short term but the design team is continuing their work and I want to avoid any substantial delay in progressing the project."

            The new hospital was originally envisaged as an eight or nine-storey main inpatient building with a smaller six-storey outpatient and day surgery building alongside.

            However, the final details of the buildings remain up in the air after the discovery that ground conditions meant piling and foundation work would be considerably more expensive.


            What's not so rock solid is what the final configuration will be, nor when it will be complete – the actual hospital block could be many a long time coming and pruned back.

  24. After all this is done and dusted my guess is that the next cabinet reshuffle wiil see him gone.

  25. Clive Macann 25

    A Pathetic reason to post a thread.

    Move on.

    • Grafton Gully 25.1

      A cabinet minister, the minister of health, deliberately flouts advice for personal reasons during a public health crisis. This shows poor judgement or a more visceral "fuck the rules, who gives a shit, could get away with it, MP status. Fuck the lot of them I'm me and me is all".

  26. We're still getting different messages.

    In the Health Order issued by the Director-General of Health yesterday (I can open the PDF now) it states:

    For the purposes of clause 1 of this order the following are permitted as essential personal movement:

    Limited recreation arrangements
    e. a person leaving their residence for the purpose of recreation or exercise if-
    iii. it does not involve swimming, water based activities (for example, surfing or boating), hunting, tramping, or other activities of a kind that expose participants to danger or may require search and rescue services.

    But in the Covid-19 newsletter emailed out this afternoon it is a bit different:

    Q. Can I go surfing, boating or tramping?

    A. Rescue services do not want to be out rescuing people who get into trouble. Don’t go tramping, hunting, fishing, surfing, swimming, or boating, mountain biking or for long drives or long runs/bike rides, or any other non-essential activity where you might need to force rescue service personnel out of their own isolation, or take up valuable health service resources if you have an accident.

    Remember, you can’t ever guarantee that you won’t get into trouble. The Police will determine what enforcement measures to take.

    The newsletter includes "mountain biking or for long drives or long runs/bike rides" and also fishing which aren't specified in the Order.

    The should be able to get on the same message on this.

    • Barfly 26.1

      These current times are bloody serious and dam dangerous…why the hell don't you go find some piece of lint on your furniture to obsess about Pete?

    • Muttonbird 26.2

      When was the last time you went surfing, Pete?

      And I don't mean web surfing.

    • weka 26.3

      "The newsletter includes "mountain biking or for long drives or long runs/bike rides" and also fishing which aren't specified in the Order."

      I think it's the difference between the Order (which needs to be written very precisely) and a newsletter, which can be a bit looser. They can't name each activity in the Order, but they can clarify more specifically in other communications.

      In the Order this phrase "or other activities of a kind that expose participants to danger or may require search and rescue services" covers mountain biking, long drives/runs/hikes.

      The *intention is still clear though, right?

      • weka 26.3.1

        I'll also note that the boundary will be a big fuzzy rather than hard and fast, depending on the location and the people. It's being left up to local police to 'police' that, and for much of the country that will work just fine. The places where it doesn't, will need addressing in other ways.

        I know people want hard and fast rules but short of a curfew, which would create all sorts of other problems, I think they're doing pretty well here finding the balance between legislated rules, helping people adjust to the new situation, and not making it so draconian that people can't cope.

      • KJT 26.3.2

        "That exposes participants to danger or may make a rescue service callout necessary".

        Despite what the Herald said, I don't think that makes a couple paddle boarding 20m off a flat water beach, which our local Facebook page is obsessing about, or wading in knee deep water, illegal. Neither fits the above definition.

        • weka

          I agree. My neighbour working with a chainsaw this week is relatively low risk because of experience. Someone who is new to working with a chainsaw maybe not so much. It's about the individual and their situation. But public health can't accommodate that, so does its best with broad strokes. I'm guessing the ban on swimming is because so many people are still swimming and of them there will be people who aren't cautious enough. Too hard to write a list of swim in this way is ok but swim in that way isn't.

          I've given up activity pleasures, I don't think it's out of the bounds for us all to do this, but how would the police judge that the person paddle boarding really needs to do that vs the one that's just doing it because they like it and are used to doing it? At the least, there's an opportunity here to diversify and make more resilient how we exercise and maintain mental well being.

  27. Rob 27

    Who gives a fuck should I go outside my house and check all the dog walkers, pram pushers and people on bicycles if they live only 500 meters away or just ring up stuff so they can drive out here to shame them getting exercise which naively I thought was ok!

    just asking for a friend

  28. happynz 28

    Clark on a bike? That's it! I'm voting National…

    …said no one.

  29. Corey Humm 29

    I said some mean things about the govt last week in my cabin fever

    But I'm labour through and through, still , this guys a plonker if the nats did this wed we up in arms about this, but labour supporters are acting like football supporters,Fafoi is useless and Clark has "flouted" the rules, time to go! After the crisis of course, right now yeah would be crazy, he's dog Tucker though,I really hope the pm uses the time after lockdown to get rid of her entire front bench bar Robertson and little before the election, a new young team, the incumbents are a bunch of hopeless automotons being carried by the PM, political non entities who not only do the public not know who they are, the ministers themselves couldn't tell you who they were they have no identity,the front bench of labour shows exactly why we were out of office for 9 years, it's infuriating as there is so much talent in the 2017 class of labour it's sad that they won't get any leadership roles until we're in opposition. Which will be another nine years out of office because of the power vacuume the pm will leave

    Imagine what this pm could achieve with competent ministers.

  30. Tiger Mountain 30

    Well, while there are more pressing matters for political blog commenters–how about pushing for return to full public ownership of Power Generation and Supply?

    Given the employers have been gifted billions already…the least the working class could expect is the return of some of their stolen property.

    Still, Mr Parker is a plonker of the first order, and that is not yet a sackable offence. Would removal be a fitting punishment for his crime of a van assisted cycle ride? Not really in normal circumstances, but symbolically he has done the Govt. no favours. Some people are cooped up with kids in confined spaces and no van or bike escape, and likely get a talking to from cops if they go out and about.

    “Do as I say not as I do” is the exact opposite of the messaging the Govt. needs during the Pandemic when they require genuine mass buy in. Parker if he had any self reflective sense or gumption, would have offered his resignation even if Ms Arden ultimately did not accept it. It is petty on one level, but incredibly important on the ideological level to take kiwis with the Govt. on this. So on balance I support Bill.

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