MPs’ ties boost for Dunedin

Clare Curran
Clare Curran
Dunedin has two new Labour Cabinet ministers and two others in Cabinet with close ties to the city, something which is seen as an advantage by former Cabinet minister Stan Rodger.

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran and Dunedin North MP David Clark were both elected as Labour Party Cabinet ministers to serve in the new Jacinda Ardern-led Government.

David Parker, who has family and work ties to Dunedin, is sure to get a top role in the new Government and likely finance minister Grant Robertson is a big fan of the city where he grew up.

Mr Rodger, a former Dunedin North MP and minister of labour, said  he believed having four MPs with close ties to the city would benefit Dunedin enormously.

"There is a lot of informal dialogue between ministers and having an  understanding of needs for an area ... It helps to have the support."

When Mr Rodger was a Cabinet minister, it was at the same time as Sir Michael Cullen was MP for St Kilda and the finance minister.

Dr Clark said from Wellington  he was delighted to become a minister and be in a government wanting to enact "meaningful change" and bring benefits to the people Labour represented.

"We have an ambitious programme for change which will require a lot of work around the country, not just from the MPs but from the teams around of people throughout New Zealand," Dr Clark said.

"I am chuffed to represent Dunedin North and I am hugely proud to be able to do both jobs. It will take some juggling between ministerial responsibilities and being an electorate MP but I know that."

Dr Clark is being touted as the incoming health minister, a job which comes with huge expectations.

David Clark
David Clark
When asked about his ambitions, Dr Clark said he expected to speak with incoming prime minister Jacinda Ardern during the long weekend. He remained keen to be involved in health but  regardless of his responsibilities, he would be pushing the Dunedin Hospital rebuild as a "necessity", Dr Clark said.

Labour promised work would start on the hospital within its first term, something New Zealand First leader Winston Peters also promoted during his last visit to Dunedin before the election.

An excited and proud Ms Curran said the situation seemed "slightly unreal" when contacted.

"It has been such a fast-moving 24 hours. It went from not knowing what was happening to things moving quickly. I feel so proud right now," Ms Curran said.

Having two ministers from the city would be good for Dunedin and  Dr Clark and her being elected to Cabinet was a reward for the hard work  put in by all of the Labour team and supporters, Ms Curran said.Asked about her preferences for a portfolio, Ms Curran said she had not yet talked to Ms Ardern.

However, it was well known her areas of interest were the digital economy, public broadcasting and ICT, she said.

Labour will have 16 Cabinet ministers and New Zealand First  four. The New Zealand First ministers are likely to be leader Winston Peters, deputy leader Ron Mark, Tracey Martin and former Labour minister Shane Jones.

The Greens have three ministers outside Cabinet and they will be named next week. It is likely the Greens will pick up environmental roles. Mr Peters was understood to be interested in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, particularly around exports and forestry.

Ms Ardern said there was immense interest in  regional economic development.

"I want to spend a bit of time making sure I get alignment in those portfolios."

Asked about Labour’s 100-day plan, she said it would broadly stay the same.

Transport was another portfolio that could be split, but she again said it was something she would look at in coming days.

"We are retaining our policy on the tax cuts and our policy on the families package," Ms Ardern said.

That meant dumping National’s plans and replacing them with Labour’s package, which was substantially more generous  to lower-income families, she said.

The new government is expected to be sworn in on Thursday.

Ms Ardern (37) will be New Zealand’s second-youngest prime minister after  Edward Stafford, who took office on June 2, 1856, aged 37 years and 40 days. 



(In alphabetical order): Jacinda Ardern, David Clark, Clare Curran, Kelvin Davis, Chris Hipkins, Iain Lees-Galloway, Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, Stuart Nash, Damien O’Connor, David Parker, Grant Robertson, Jenny Salesa, Carmel Sepuloni, Phil Twyford, Megan Woods. Outside of Cabinet (in alphabetical order): Kris Faafoi, Peeni Henare, Willie Jackson, Aupito William Sio, Meka Whaitiri.

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