David Clark should consider himself sacked as Health Minister - because he will be gone soon enough.
It is clear from the Prime Minister's statement that he cannot last in the job.
She is clearly going to dump him once we are out of the national emergency, or he will find it intolerable to remain in the job before then.
• Covid 19 coronavirus lockdown: Health Minister David Clark demoted after driving 20km to beach, breaking lockdown rules
• Coronavirus Covid 19: David Clark apologises to PM for flouting his own Government's lockdown advice
• Covid-19 Coronavirus: Health Minister David Clark announces North Shore Hospital converts building to treat virus patients
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Health Minister David Clark flouts his own Government's lockdown advice
Of all the sackings, resignations and near-misses of ministers that Jacinda Ardern has had to contend with, this is the one that may well have left her incandescent with fury.
It puts her in a no-win position: She either has to sack the Health Minister in the middle of a health crisis - which would chew up precious time and effort for Ministry of Health officials which accompanies a change of minister - or look weak for not sacking him.
She has chosen the option that will preserve the time expended upon him, but which causes most damage to his and her reputation. It would have been easy to sack him, but not in the best interests of resolving the health crisis.
To suggest Clark has been "an idiot" - as he described his action - is far too generous.
That Ardern has to be dealing with such a political crisis in the middle of an emergency because of his actions is unforgivable on many levels.
Audrey Young: Where is the global response to Covid-19?
Audrey Young: PM has been brilliant but Govt must be tolerant of criticism
Audrey Young: New type of leadership needed from Ardern
He took his family on a 20km drive to Doctors Point beach for a walk on day three of the lockdown – which probably took up half a day - and then expects the country to believe he only remembered that yesterday.
It is not credible.
He has admitted that his wife questioned their actions on the day of the drive (March 28) but then after being sprung last Friday for driving to a mountain bike track in Dunedin, he supposedly forget the longer drive until Monday while preparing for his select committee appearance today.
Ardern was as frank as she has even been, saying in a statement that under normal condition she would sack Clark.
That gives her options.
In the very unlikely event of him regaining his credibility, he could keep his job until the election.
In the meantime she has demoted him to the bottom of Cabinet and stripped him of the coveted job of Associate Finance Minister.
When things return to anything like normal, he will have to go. It is not tenable to have a Health Minister with such poor judgment and performance.
If his position becomes utterly intolerable before then, Ardern or Finance Minister Grant Robertson could take over the portfolio themselves as a short-term bridging position.
There has been some suggestion that the rules were not clear at the time Clark took his family to the beach. While rules have been clarified as time has gone on, this is what the head of the All of Government group, John Ombler, was saying on the very same day.
"This weekend is very different from usual. It's important for everyone to stay home and save lives, New Zealanders and visitors alike. You might be tempted to leave the house, but you can only leave home for essential reasons and for physical exercise by yourself or with the other people in your house.
"Stick to your bubble. By all means, go for a short walk or run in your neighbourhood, but don't go to playgrounds or drive to a beach or park outside your neighbourhood. Stay local. Avoid going distances — tramping, fishing, hunting, surfing, swimming, and other activities at a distance from home."