‘Idiot’ New Zealand health minister breaks strict lockdown rules TWICE by taking his family to the beach and going mountain biking – but Jacinda Ardern refuses to fire him
- David Clark to remain New Zealand’s health minister despite lockdown breaches
- He was caught mountain biking near his Dunedin home despite a level four alert
- Days later he said he took his family on a coastal walk on the previous weekend
- Jacinda Ardern said she had only kept him in his position because of the crisis
- ‘Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health,’ Ms Ardern said
David Clark will continue as New Zealand’s health minister, despite labelling himself an ‘idiot’ and offering to resign his position for a second blunder during the country’s lockdown.
Days after Dr Clark was caught mountain biking near his Dunedin home in spite of the lockdown, he revealed he also took his family on a coastal walk on the previous weekend.
The first charge breaks the lockdown’s rules as a potentially dangerous activity, the second does so as the walk was not local; it was 20km away.
Scroll down for audio
New Zealand health minister David Clark will remain in his role despite mountain biking and going on a coastal walk 20 kilometres away during the lockdown
Dr Clark said ‘as the Health Minister it’s my responsibly to not only follow the rules but set an example to other New Zealanders’.
‘At a time when we are asking New Zealanders to make historic sacrifices I’ve let the team down,’ he said.
‘I’ve been an idiot, and I understand why people will be angry with me. I’ve apologised to the Prime Minister for my lack of judgement and offered her my resignation.’
However, Jacinda Ardern has kept him in his position owing to the crisis.
‘Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses,’ she said.
‘But right now, my priority is our collective fight against COVID-19. We cannot afford massive disruption in the health sector or to our response. For that reason, and that reason alone, Dr Clark will maintain his role.’
The 20km distance to the beach from Dr Clark’s home is pictured. The walk is not considered local to where he lives in Dunedin’s northern suburbs
Pictured: Doctor’s Point Reserve in Otago on New Zealand’s south island. Dr Clark has been stripped of his associate finance minister role after his trip to the scenic spot
It remains to be seen whether Dr Clark will remain in the position beyond the coronavirus outbreak.
Ms Ardern has punished the 47-year-old by stripping him of his associate finance Minister role.
‘But he does need to pay a price. He broke the rules,’ Ms Ardern said.
‘I expect better, and so does New Zealand.’
Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood resigned earlier this week after she was given a police warning for twice visiting her family’s coastal retreat – about 65km from her home.