Summary of the David Clark bike ride

The Minister of Health David Clark was in the news for going for a mountain bike ride between conference calls on Friday. See: Minister of Health Clark drove to bike park for a ride under lockdown

Here’s a summary of what I have seen about this.

Yes, it actually is permitted to (say) drive five minutes to a local mountain bike park where there are few other riders, and then ride up and down a gentle, well-groomed trail at a reasonable speed. It may not be politick or wise to do so if you are the Minister of Health, but for the rest of us “the rules” do allow for it.

  • But it was against the repeated advice of the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and both she and Grant Robertson (“We don’t want the minister of health out mountain biking” said Clark had apologised, and they both said he shouldn’t have gone for the bike ride as it was too risky.

Robertson: “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.”

Ardern: “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.”

  • Clark and others have played down the mountain biking by saying ‘The Big Easy’ was a relatively low risk mountain bike trail. But it is on the side of a hill, and Clark was not “available to front anytime” as Robertson claimed.

““He’s available to front anytime … He has a young family, and we all have to understand at this time we’re operating in a very different world. He’s involved in every single cabinet and cabinet committee meeting.”

  • Demands for the Minister to resign or be sacked were little more than the usual knee jerk automatic response from political opponents and appeasing radio stirrers.
  • Criticism of Clark wasn’t confined to those from the right. See David Clark at The Standard:

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.

The Government has acknowledged the error (bad PR and politics at least) but otherwise not demonstrated much seriousness, certainly not Ardern in this interview:

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

This will,probably blow over now with Clark still in his job as Minister of Health, working from home in Dunedin. In a Government where optics are carefully managed as much as possible sacking a supposedly key Minister in the middle of a health crisis would be ‘bad optics’.

But it has highlighted two things.

This is the biggest health issue New Zealand has faced in a century and one of the biggest situations faced by a Minister of Health, but Clark is working from home a long way from the epicentre of the handling of the crisis, Wellington.

Why is Clark absent (in person from the main decision making loop? See Dominant Ministry of Health, weak Minister – and weak Government

Also, a comment from The Standard:

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…

Muttonbird had been defending Clark’s bike ride at The Standard a day earlier.

And maui:

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

I pointed that out in a prior thread at The Standard and was criticised for it.

stunned mullet:

Minister Clark has completely abrogated responsibility to Ashley and the ministry who are now running the show.

And possibly related to that, the general competence of Clark as Minister of Health has been highlighted – quite a lot in fact at the normally defensive of Labour The Standard.

stunned mullet:

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.

adam:

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.

The last word is from Corey Humm:

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.

It’s notable enough that comments like this are coming from The Standard, but at least as notable is the fact that they are barely criticised or challenged, and no one has supported Clark’s performance as Minister of Health, nor defended him.

The problems are twofold – the bad optics of replacing a key Minister in the middle of an unprecedented crisis, and also (and possibly more critical), who would replace him? Clark is also an ordained minister with little background in the health field prior to taking this job on. He is a symptom of a lack of experience and talent in the incoming Labour crop of MPs in 2017.

Someone like Liz Craig looks well qualified based on her health background, but she was a new MP in 2017 and the first term would be a huge challenge for one of the most difficult portfolios.

It seems likely that Ardern and Robertson will have to keep covering for Clark for the rest of this term – and unfortunately, probably the worst of the Covid-19 virus.

If Labour retain power after the September election Clark will probably be moved to less demanding roles. While he simply doesn’t seem to be up to the job few people can manage the Health portfolio without difficulties.

 

Leave a comment

47 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  5th April 2020

    Demands for the Minister to resign or be sacked were little more than the usual knee jerk automatic response from political opponents and appeasing radio stirrers.

    Oi ! I’m not one of those. And even I think he should’ve been gone by dinner time the next day.

    At the very least he should’ve been stood down for a period of penance & an Associate Minister of Health appointed Acting Minister of Health.

    A telling off by Jacinda Ardern – who seemed on Seven Sharp to have meant to do it quietly – isn’t much of a lesson for Clark, or any other Ministers who misbehave.

    Reply
    • Her laughing and avoiding directly addressing Clark then pivoting to giving the rest of us another lecture about not doing what we shouldn’t be doing (ie what Clark did) was poor messaging .

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  5th April 2020

        I didn’t hear the message, I just saw the transcript…it’s very poor if the PM thinks it’s a big joke.

        I still think that the whole thing’s been blown out of all proportion, though. It didn’t seem to be illegal…then.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  5th April 2020

          The announcement that covid patients will not be resuscitated is to me a much more serious issue than a 2km drive and a bike ride.

          Ambulance drivers are being asked to sentence people to death.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  5th April 2020

            Where did you see that …doesnt make sense , the Hospitals are at 50% capacity here, there is a 50 bed Covid only building at Aucklands North Shore Hospital with no patients.
            Ambulances used to triage even visiting patients during busy times up til now ,Im sure they have empty vehicles waiting for calls now.

            God knows how empty it is in other parts of the country

            Reply
  2. PartisanZ

     /  5th April 2020

    A minor diversion to capture the undivided attention of OLD Righties for several days on end?

    OLD = Obsessive Leftie Disorder.

    Some may never recover ….

    – PartisanZ

    Reply
  3. artcroft

     /  5th April 2020

    Clark is a complete non-entity. At the big CV19 strategy meetings I imagine he takes the orders for tea and coffee, then makes himself invisible in a corner and fades into the background, possibly pondering where his next bike ride will be while others make the decisions.

    Despite this he’s still a B+ performer in this Labour cabinet.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  5th April 2020

      Yeah, he probably has a mountain bike with a carbon fibre frame; 27 speed Shimano running gear and a Sram Red 22 crank. The best OUR money can buy, Arty.😒

      Reply
  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  5th April 2020

    I have no time or respect for the PM or her cabinet, but really think that this has been blown out of all proportion.

    He didn’t break any law. We were told that travelling short distances for exercise was not yet verboten. I imagine that he had his phone with him.

    Meanwhile people are killing themselves because they can’t take the stress of the lockdown. Where are all the protests about these ? If I have heard of two, how many more have there been ?

    Reply
    • lurcher1948

       /  5th April 2020

      Wow finally a righty who can give me an answer,Kitty who would be better running this crisis? Take your time thinking,no pressure.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  5th April 2020

        I am not really a righty in the sense that you mean, Lurch.

        The PM seems to be bumbling about and making it up as she goes along. Almost anyone would be better. Her predicted number of 80,000 deaths in NZ was ? times more than the total for the world so far and would mean that every person in NZ would have the virus (more than every person, given the survival rate)

        The isolation and lockdown are likely to cause more problems than they solve. I see that the spokeswoman for women’s refuges is telling victims to ignore the lockdown if they are in danger and leave the house.

        Reply
      • Corky

         /  5th April 2020

        Lurchy, have you got cabin fever? Kitty, a Righty! I would hand my membership card in if that was the case . True Righties have certain qualities that set them apart from the masses.
        I see none of those qualities reflected in Kitty’s comments.

        Now for my hint of the day – buy Sunlight Soap.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  5th April 2020

          You appear to confuse right wing with extremism, racism, nationalism and totalitarianism.

          There is no party called the Right. There are degrees of right wing thought.

          I was one of the founder members of ACT, who believe in treating people like adults capable of making up their own minds.

          I am not a righty in the sense that you are, very few people are, thank goodness. I don’t advocate extermination of racial groups, for example. That’s abhorrent to me and most people.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  5th April 2020

            ” don’t advocate extermination of racial groups, for example. That’s abhorrent to me and most people.”
            Act is about letting them have guns so others can do so on whim, a pogrom in other words with 51 dead in Christchurch

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  5th April 2020

              I think you are in la la land. Remind me about ACTS gun policy?

            • Duker

               /  5th April 2020

              Only 1 vote against the prohibition on semi auto, lever or bolt action rifle so with more than 10 bullet magazine
              ACT
              There , reminded on what they did vote against, the massmurders control law.

            • Corky

               /  5th April 2020

              They voted against knee -jerk legislation…you know, what we have at present.

        • Corky

           /  5th April 2020

          See above.

          ”I was one of the founder members of ACT.”

          Sounds very far fetched…but remotely possible.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  5th April 2020

            ACT is a magnet for washed up politicians and discredited ,ideologists.

            Even Mat Rata’s wife Nelly was/is a member.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  5th April 2020

              Well, the bad news for you is they are on a roll thanks to Dave.

              I would call them pretenders to the Libertarian throne. From your perspective you may say they are socialists without a heart or deep pockets.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  5th April 2020

            My late husband was with ACT from the beginning. It may seem odd to you that people tell the truth, but most do. Nobody calls David Seymour ‘Dave’, by the way. Please do him the courtesy of using his real name.

            The idea that ACT supporters don’t have deep pockets is ridiculous. No, I am not going to name names. These are well-known, successful people, you wouldn’t have heard of them.

            The objection to the new gun laws were that they had been done in too much haste and not thought through. At no time did anyone advocate the free use of any kind of gun so that others could commit mass murder; that is an absolute lie and distortion of David Seymour’s views.

            Corky has often advocated exterminating groups like gang members; exterminate can only mean one thing. That sort of attitude may be acceptable in some countries; it isn’t here.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  5th April 2020

              No, I haven’t. You obviously don’t understand what I have said…and what Parti is suggesting. It’s called a choice…before extermination. There is a difference.

  5. David

     /  5th April 2020

    I would like to be able to buy hand sanitizer and face masks perhaps the health minister could find someone local with no work to get busy, other countries have encouraged domestic supplies of such things perhaps he could take some time off from hanging out with his family and bike riding and do something to help.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  5th April 2020

      There was an item on 1News @ 6 last nite about a university chemist who decided in view of the shortage of hand sanitiser to make some of his own at their lab. At first it was just for his department, but it’s caught on big, they said – so he’s shared the formula & now other universities – here & overseas – are making up bulk supplies.

      For their own use – not for the public. He said he felt it was a way of paying back & helping out in the current emergency. They hope that by making enuf for their unis they can do their bit towards helping make more stocks of commercial sanitiser available for the public.

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  5th April 2020

        I just prefer to use the trusty old ‘oatmeal soap’ & water from the tap.. likely much cheaper & more available & it doesnt clog up the sewers; like these sanitizer wipes, I keep hearing about… “DON’T PANIC Mr Mainwaring !!”

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  5th April 2020

          The wipes aren’t actually sanitising for the most part.

          Hand sanitiser is very useful when no soap and water is available. And it’s now back in the chemists.

          The problem with DIY (and there are untold recipes around for it) hand sanitiser is that one has to buy the ingredients in the first place…how ?

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  5th April 2020

            Sanitiser ?
            It’s called soap and water

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  5th April 2020

              No, what is called ‘hand sanitiser’ is alcohol based liquid. It’s quite different to soap and water and is a useful substitute when it’s not possible to use them.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  5th April 2020

      Be fair, David, he’s working from home now that Parliament has been evacuated. The orders from above are for everyone to work from home if they can.

      Reply
  6. Duker

     /  5th April 2020

    “And possibly related to that, the general competence of Clark as Minister of Health has been highlighted – quite a lot in fact at the normally defensive of Labour The Standard.”

    Some of the authors are defensive of Labour , especially when they are Chair of the Auckland region labour party which is the mickeysavage handle.
    To cherry pick negative comments , a lot of whom are non labour supporters , and are more hard left or left wing Green supporters and somehow make out they are ‘generally supportive’ is misleading .
    The only party the commentators are generally supportive ( blindly) of is the Greens

    The only thing that unites them is anti national , Act and NZF and neo liberalism in general

    Reply
  7. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  5th April 2020

    Anyone seen that TV ad put out by our Government that says we can only use our vehicles to access essential services?

    If Clark can’t follow a simple directive like that, and one that had been repeated by the PM and the Director of CDEM, then he really doesn’t understand what this Pandemic National Emergency is all about.

    Thank Goodness, he’s not the man-in-charge.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  5th April 2020

      How about the one where some silly moo tells us to take a shopping list ?

      Or the fools who are so damned chirpy and jolly hockeysticks about what fun it is to be in lockdown ?

      Reply
  8. Zedd

     /  5th April 2020

    sounds like Dr Clark has a stain on his reputation.. BUT it is hardly a ‘news of the world’ issue.
    >more likely just the ‘right’ playing politics (as per usual); ‘barking at cars’ again & AGAIN !

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  5th April 2020

      I’m not a rightie & I think he seems as thick as 2 short planks, Zedd. Gives me no confidence in him at all as a Minister of Health. How in god’s name could Helen have left that party in so parlous a bloody state when it comes to people with some intellectual grunt, common sense, & steel.

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  5th April 2020

        I agree that a ‘Minister of the crown’ should follow the ruleZ they put out..
        >BUT Id rather judge them on the ‘performance in the house’.. rather than the issues, the media blow up.. to make ‘sensational news item of the day’

        btw Gezza.. I have never labeled you, on either side of the political debate 🙂 ChrZ

        Reply
    • Corky

       /  5th April 2020

      You hint at a good point, Zedd – agendas. So many going on at th moment. Political, economic and personal. While most are in survival mode, the outliers are scheming .
      Just look at Parti. His wet dream is unfolding before his eyes. I bet his jackboots are
      shined to perfection ; ready to be worn at a moments notice when the collective calls.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  5th April 2020

        Jackboots were worn by extremist righties as they carried out genocide, which you have called for when you want to exterminate gang members.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  5th April 2020

          Jackboots are also worn by several other military, on the left & right sides of the political spectrum. Seen plenty of them worn in marchpasts. The Red Army used to wear them when parading in Red square. Maybe not so common in hot climates.

          Reply
        • Corky

           /  5th April 2020

          ”Jackboots were worn by extremist righties as they carried out genocide, which you have called for when you want to exterminate gang members.”

          More romancing..and straight out bs.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  5th April 2020

            You have often expressed a wish to exterminate gang members.Exterminate was your word, not mine.

            You even wished that they would all get covid and die.

            The Nazis wore jackboots; look at photos of them. Even Hitler did. There are plenty of photos extant to prove that this is true.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  5th April 2020

              ”You have often expressed a wish to exterminate gang members.Exterminate was your word, not mine.”

              Wrong. You aren’t providing the context to those remarks.

              ”You even wished that they would all get covid and die.”

              A blatant lie. again you provide no context.

              ”The Nazis wore jackboots; look at photos of them. Even Hitler did. There are plenty of photos extant to prove that this is true.”

              No shit, Sherlock.

  9. Gerrit

     /  5th April 2020

    For me the biggest fail of character and lack of integrity by Dr David Clarke is to not have tender his resignation before the apology.

    I guess he didn’t so he would not force Ardern to have to make an actual decision? Much like any minister in her cabinet (Fafoi, Curren, Jones, etc., etc., etc.). don’t offer resignations when done wrong.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  5th April 2020

      generally politicians only offer to resign if they are sure…their offer will be…rejected.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  5th April 2020

        In New Zealand – and maybe Aussie too.

        In the UK, even relatively minor misdemeanors seem to result in the swift departure of the Office holder – either a resignation is submitted & accepted or the miscreant is summoned to No 10 & given their marching orders.

        Here, I think wet bus tickets are pretty standard, depending on how weak the Cabinet is for replacements, or how dependent the PM is on support of other parties.

        I seem to remember both Helen Clark, & John Key, at least standing Ministers down, pending investigations.

        Did Helen banish any to the back benches?
        Even seems to happen at times at Whitehall.

        Reply

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