World reacts as Clark resigns

David Clark
David Clark
Former Health Minister David Clark's very public failings as New Zealand battled Covid-19 were reported around the globe and now worldwide media have reacted to his resignation, with one country seemingly desperate to retain his services.

Clark's series of blunders earned him the ire of many New Zealanders and global media eagerly reported his mistakes as a counterpoint to our team of five million's successes in fighting the virus.

Clark announced his resignation yesterday, saying that he had become a distraction but denying that he was forced into stepping down.

"The decision was mine," he said.

During lockdown alert level 4, Clark went mountain biking at a popular trail despite ministry guidelines urging Kiwis to only go outside for essential trips.

He followed that by making a 20km trip to a beach during lockdown, against the advice of his family.

The final nail in the coffin was Clark's ham-fisted treatment of the much-beloved Ashley Bloomfield, throwing the director general of health under the bus as he stood directly behind him.

Associated Press

Global news giant AP reported that Clark "has been widely ridiculed" after his failings became public.

"David Clark had earlier described himself as an 'idiot' for breaking the nation's lockdown measures and then last week appeared to blame a beloved health official for border lapses, generating an angry response from the public."

The Guardian

The left-wing British outlet's New Zealand correspondent Eleanor Ainge Roy said that Clark was "viewed as an ineffectual minister who has struggled to make an impact during his term" and noted that he was at the helm of the Health Ministry through the border bundles saga.

AAP

The Australian Associated Press noted that Clark had "overseen a string of problems at New Zealand's border controls" and said the former Minister of Health had "infuriated" Kiwis with his lockdown breaches.

The New York Times

The venerable US publication described Clark as "a blemish on what health experts say has otherwise been one of the world's most successful responses to the outbreak".

But it was readers of the Times who put Clark's failings in a distinctly different context.

On Twitter, readers noted that Clark might still be a better performer that their own politicians in the fight against Covid-19.

"So you're saying he's available? Asking for America," wrote one man, while another noted that at least Clark had "honour" for stepping down.

"Wouldn't it be great if Terrible Trump followed his example and did the same thing. OK, back to our nightmarish reality," wrote another.

"Can he come here n help us out?? We're the worldwide leader in missed steps," one desperate American noted.

A new broom

David Clark won't be getting his job back in September if Labour is re-elected, the Prime Minister revealed yesterday.

Jacinda Ardern said she had "frank discussions" late last week with Clark about how the primary focus should be the Government's response to Covid-19 and there were "some issues" getting in the way of that

"He reached the conclusion that his ongoing presence in the health role was causing too much distraction from the Government's ongoing response to Covid-19. An assessment I agree with."

But she hasn't closed the door for Clark being given any other portfolios after the election, but it wouldn't be health.

"I will leave that door open."

Chris Hipkins, who is Minister of Education, State Services and the Leader of the House, is standing in as Health Minister until the election, when it will be re-assessed if Labour is re-elected.

Hipkins said he would be "giving it my all" until the election and will sit down with the health team and work through the response to Covid-19.

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