David Clark seals his spot as an MP

By Amelia Romanos

Dunedin Labour MP David Clark. Photo / APN
Dunedin Labour MP David Clark. Photo / APN

While three Davids in the Labour Party have had the lion's share of the spotlight this week, a fourth is quietly preparing to move into Parliament.

On Saturday, David Clark sealed his spot as an MP by winning the safe Labour seat of Dunedin North by 3304 votes.

With David Parker, David Shearer and David Cunliffe as contenders to replace Phil Goff as the party's leader, it seemed fair to ask whether Dr Clark would also be putting up his hand.

"I thought Clark was going to be the more amusing thing in that regard," he said, after offering assurance that, despite his name, he was not seeking the top job just yet.

Dr Clark, who, incidentally, is not a relation of former Labour prime minister Helen Clark, is a Presbyterian minister, and has worked in a variety of areas, including as a Treasury analyst and warden at an Otago University hostel.

He celebrated his election win at the Alhambra rugby clubrooms in Dunedin, although the occasion was tarnished slightly by Labour's poor result - the 27 per cent of the party vote its worst result since the 1920s.

Another disappointment for Dr Clark, although expected, was his brother Ben's failure to claim an MP's spot too.

Facing National candidate Maggie Barry for Auckland's traditionally blue North Shore seat, and at number 69 on the party's list, a ticket into Parliament was always unlikely for Ben Clark, but "It would have been fun", his brother said.

Following his win, Dr Clark did not have much time to relax, heading to Wellington for his first caucus just two days later.

The Tuesday meeting included the announcement of the resignations of Mr Goff and deputy leader Annette King, as well as a show of hands for who wanted to replace them, so Dr Clark's description of his first day as "pretty lively" was understandable.

"I enjoyed it actually, it was full of free and frank discussion," he said.

Dr Clark is one of four new Labour MPs, but is far from lacking friends in the caucus.

As well as having acted as an adviser to Mr Parker in Parliament in 2006 and 2007, Dr Clark was the celebrant at Grant Robertson's civil union in 2009, and helped coach Trevor Mallard for the Lake Taupo cycle challenge several years ago.

Dr Clark said that going into Parliament, a major focus was on stopping the growing gap between rich and poor. The tax system was influential and he was interested in picking up the revenue portfolio.

"I was quite pleased with Labour's first $5000 tax-free policy that it ran on, because that's the start of something. I would want to see us go further in that regard."

He also had particular interests in the tertiary education and energy portfolios.

Dr Clark and his wife Katrina have a 1-year-old son, and the new MP said he was all too aware of the pressures his Parliament career could have on the young family.

While he would be based in Dunedin, Dr Clark acknowledged the long hours he would be spending in the capital, and said he hoped his family would join him there some of the time.

- APNZ

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