Jacinda Arden demotes embattled Health Minister

Jacinda Arden demotes embattled Health Minister

Dr David Clark loses Associate Finance Minister portfolio

Venkat Raman, April 7, 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden with Health Minister Dr David Clark (Photo Courtesy: Getty Images (Picture by Hagen Hopkins)

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has proved yet again that she is a tough boss by demoting Health Minister Dr David Clark to the bottom rank of her Cabinet, after the latter revealed that he had breached the ‘Stay at Home’ rule more than once.

“In normal circumstances, I would have sacked him. But we are in the midst of fighting Covid-19. He is the Minister of Health and hence is an important part of our efforts. For that reason and that reason alone, he will maintain this role. However, he has to pay a price. Therefore, as of today, I have stripped him of the Associate Finance Minister portfolio and demoted him in the cabinet ranking,” she told a media conference in Wellington.


New Associate Finance Minister

She said that she has handed over the Associate Finance portfolio to Attorney General and Trade and Export Minister David Clark.

Dr Clark was under fire for having driven about two kilometres from his house in Dunedin and going on a bicycle as a part of his exercise.

Since then, there have been rising public criticism and demands on Ms Ardern to sack him.

Initially, she reprimanded him and told the media having done so on Sunday.

However, he told the Prime Minister yesterday (Monday) that on the first weekend of Alert 4, he drove with his family about 20 kilometres from his house in Dunedin to Doctor’s Point Beach for a walk. That admission was clearly inadmissible.

Leading by example

Ms Ardern leads by example and does not tolerate any of her ministers going against any of the laws in force, especially those relating to Covid-19.

“I expect better, and so does New Zealand,” she said.

Dr Clark said that he realised his responsibility to follow the rules and set an example.

“At a time when we are asking New Zealanders to make historic sacrifices I have let the team down. I have been an idiot, and I understand why people will be angry with me. I have apologised to the Prime Minister for my lack of judgement and offered her my resignation,” he said.


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