Judith Collins calls David Clark the 'Phil Twyford of this year'

Judith Collins has hit David Clark with perhaps the most damaging insult she can come up with, calling the Health Minister "the Phil Twyford of this year". 

Dr Clark has been under fire for twice breaching the alert level 4 lockdown rules and pushing the envelope by moving house under level 3, the day before we went into level 4. 

The first revelation - that he drove a few kilometres to go mountain-biking - made headlines, with the official advice from his own ministry telling Kiwis to avoid dangerous activities. The second - that he took his family to a beach 20km from his house - saw him offer his resignation, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern rejected. 

Then earlier this week it emerged Dr Clark moved house on March 25. New Zealand was under level 3 at the time, so it wasn't technically against the rules - level 4 didn't begin until 11:59pm that night. He used the old residence - just down the road - as an office, and took a few boxes with him home each evening - also not against the rules, but in light of his other breaches, not the best look.

Collins told The AM Show on Friday morning Dr Clark was now in "permanent apology" mode, and compared him to another high-ranking Labour MP whose struggles to get the KiwiBuild programme  off the ground over the past two years regularly made headlines.

"He's the Phil Twyford of this year." 

Twyford eventually lost responsibility for KiwiBuild to Megan Woods. Dr Clark has thus far avoided losing his job.

"Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health," Ardern said after Dr Clark's beach trip became public knowledge. 

"What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses. 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."

Labour MP Willie Jackson, appearing on The AM Show with Collins, told host Duncan Garner to "stop picking on David Clark".

"He's doing the business absolutely now. He's apologised for what happened in the past. We've got to move on. If you want to go down that track, you've got the National Party leader travelling 500km a day. Was Simon Bridges breaking the rules? No he wasn't. And nor has our man David Clark. 

"He's getting on with it, he's doing a good job, give him a break."

He then accused the host of targeting Dr Clark because the Government was doing a good job, and there was little else to criticise them for. 

 The problem you've got is you don't have a lot to go to, because this Government's work is being lauded everywhere... this Health Minister's going to step up too."

Collins begged to differ, saying while the health outcomes have been "very good", the Government could be doing more to help small- and medium-sized businesses.

"There was money for Air New Zealand, money for the media, but actually not that much for the small businesses who don't have any money to pay their ongoing costs, other than a contribution towards wages." 

She suggested following Australia and giving out packages of up to $100,000 for "ongoing costs" such as rent, leases and franchise costs. 

"Many of them mortgaged their homes to get into these businesses. They're looking at business failures not caused by themselves but actually imposed on them. Australia I thought was far more active towards keeping people employed rather than saying 'we're going to pick up the pieces later'."

Clark, Twyford and Collins.
Clark, Twyford and Collins. Photo credit: Getty

Jackson said more help for small and medium-sized businesses would be unveiled "over the next week", and congratulated the Government - of which he's a part - for its efforts so far. 

"New Zealand has been recognised all around the world, and our Prime Minister in particular has been heralded as one of the great leaders in terms of this crisis. Well done New Zealand, and well done Government." 

 

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