Cunliffe's replacement aims at Joyce
Labour's new economic development spokesperson has wasted no time in getting stuck into the man whose job he wants.
Dunedin North MP David Clark has been an MP for barely even a year, but David Shearer has appointed him to the role vacated by former leadership rival David Cunliffe, who now sits on the back benches.
This morning on Firstline he said Minister of Economic Development Steven Joyce "talks a slick game, but the stats don't back him up".
"He's got a big challenge, and he's actually not delivering," says Dr Clark. "He is talking the talk – there's no doubt that he's a slick politician – but he's left himself a wee bit exposed by not delivering on his promises."
Dr Clark, who has a PhD in existential philosophy, says he has a strong background in business, and is "pretty excited" to be going up against Mr Joyce, a self-made millionaire businessman whose own academic achievements are in zoology, rather than economics.
"We need to lay out a plan, and I guess [Mr Shearer's] going to rely on – in part – my background from my time at the Treasury, and also the fact I've grown up in a family with two business owners. Both my parents were business owners, so business is what we talked at home.
"My last job too was running an NGO, and reporting to a board, and had to turn that organisation around from one that was eking by to one that was sustainable and turning a surplus. So I guess I've had a bit of hands-on experience, I've got a theoretical Treasury background and I come from a family that understands business."
Dr Clark says it's only his first day on the job, but he already has a number of ideas he wants to explore.
"I've got a few ideas and I'm looking to bring some fresh thinking to the table," he says.
"Some of the things are already in Labour's platform, that I think are sensible, pro-growth tax reform – there's no doubt that makes sense. The OECD has already employed pro-growth tax reforms more broadly, just New Zealand's dragging the chain there. Savings policy – so you've got capital depth that's available for businesses. New Zealand procurement policies – you know, those kinds of things are sensible, they're already cornerstones in Labour's policy, but there's more we can do."
He points to ongoing job losses, particularly in the manufacturing sector, as evidence the Government has no plan.
"Seventeen thousand manufacturing jobs lost last year in New Zealand; the last quarter, we saw 23,000 jobs go in New Zealand, and that's just part of a trend; overnight another 100 jobs at Suzanne Grae – it goes on and on and on, and we've seen an economy in decline and a Government that's taken its hands off the wheel… The question is on everyone's lips: where are the jobs, Steven?"