Health Minister David Clark demoted by PM after trip to beach, mountain bike ride during lockdown

Source: 1News

Health Minister David Clark has been demoted to the bottom of the Government's Cabinet rankings and stripped of his Associate Finance portfolio after a trip to the beach and a mountain bike trail during the Covid-19 level four lockdown.

“Yesterday evening the Health Minister advised me of his trip to a beach during the lockdown and offered his resignation,” Prime Minister  Jacinda Ardern said in a statement today.

"Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. 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.

"I expect better, and so does New Zealand."

It comes after Dr Clark also breached lockdown measures by going to a mountain bike trail last week.

Dr Clark's Toyota Hiace van with his face painted on the side was photographed at Dunedin's Signal Hill mountain bike trail over 2kms from his home.

In a separate statement, Dr Clark said he'd "been an idiot".

Last night, the minister provided Ms Ardern with a full picture of his activity during the lockdown which included the family trip to the beach, about 20 kilometres to Doctor's Point Beach from his Dunedin home.

"This trip was a clear breach of the lockdown principles of staying local and not driving long distances to reach recreation spots," he said.

It was also revealed he drove his family to a walking track about two kilometres from his home for a walk. Other than those instances, he said he had gone for occasional runs, all of which were local and within the rules.

"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. I’ve been an idiot and I understand why people will be angry with me."