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A Christian upbringing has instilled a strong sense of social justice in Dunedin North MP David Clark, who yesterday pledged to fight for greater equality for New Zealanders.
Delivering his maiden speech in Parliament, Dr Clark, also a Presbyterian minister, said his motives for becoming a member of Parliament were partly based on creating greater equality.
"Sadly, New Zealand has rushed towards greater inequality over the last 30 years.
The truly wealthy have grabbed a disproportionately large slice of the economic growth pie - at the expense of other New Zealanders.
"We need a broad-based and progressive taxation system that preserves the Kiwi dream of a country where a little talent and much hard work provide real opportunities to better one's lot."
Disparities in wealth created strange distortions and inefficiencies, he said.
That some people had many opportunities while others had few did not feel right to him.
"For me, this is a gut level response rooted in firmly held values."
In his speech, Dr Clark acknowledged he had been elected to a life of public service. The service to which he had been elected was leadership, which involved listening, discerning, assisting and decision-making but should never be confused with servility.
Politicians ought not to hide behind the term "service" awaiting a mandate of majority support on every issue, forgetting, or never realising, the public had elected the politicians to do a job in good faith on their behalf.
Politicians did not exist to rubber-stamp what the electorate had already decided but to articulate and share a vision of a better society.
While acknowledging the country's dependence upon the primary sector, Dunedin's technology firms also received a mention in the speech - including Taylormade and Scott Technology.
However, there were other "weightless exporters" locally which illustrated the potential to commercialise science developed at the University of Otago.
"We need more of this if we are going to prosper as a country."