New National leader says he would've fired David Clark over breaking lockdown rules

Source: 1News

New National Party leader Todd Muller says he’d have fired the Health Minister over his lockdown rule blunders had he been Prime Minister.

When 1 NEWS today asked Mr Muller whether he would’ve fired David Clark, he replied: “Yes.

“I thought it was quite extraordinary how he could acknowledge that he had failed on a number of accounts to meet the standards that were expected.”

As the tourism industry continues to face the consequences of Covid-19, he also had some words for Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis. He said Mr Davis “doesn’t seem to be present both physically or … mentally” in regards to his priorities “at a time of great crisis”. 

“So he will expect continued attack from us next week."

Mr Muller also expressed he was keen for the border to be re-opened.

“I think it needs to be an absolute priority,” he said.

“Number one Australia. Number two, in my view, China is an absolutely critical market.

David Clark came under fire last month during Alert Level 4 restrictions after it emerged he drove 20 kilometres to the beach for a walk, then on a separate occasion drove his family to a walking track. He was also spotted visiting a mountain bike trail. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern demoted the Dunedin North MP from his Associate Finance portfolio and placed him at the bottom of her Cabinet’s rankings.

She said that under normal circumstances, she would have sacked him. 

"Right now, my priority is our collective fight against Covid-19," Ms Ardern said. 

"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."

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis wished "good luck" to anyone wanting to set up a tourism business during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Minister told TVNZ 1's Marae earlier this month it was the wrong time to be talking about tourism businesses opening in response to iwi Ngāi Tahu wanting concession cost relief and support to open new ventures inside its tribal area.

"To be perfectly honest, you need to have tourists arriving," he said.

"I would say that those sorts of decisions need to be held off until there are more visitor numbers."

The Minister’s advice was that the industry needed to "pivot away from international marketing to the domestic market".

Mr Muller took over as National Party leader on Friday, replacing Simon Bridges.