Collette Devlin writes at Stuff:
Ardern has never said she lost confidence in Clark, and on Monday said he would remain in his role as minister, thanks to the success in beating Covid-19.
She gave him some credit for this, saying he had made “a lot of very good decisions” and was the right person to take the lead role in taking on the review’s recommendations.
But as most people will be aware, the person leading the charge against Covid-19 was not Clark. Health Director-General Dr Ashley Bloomfield was the public face of the response and the one actually in Wellington for lockdown.
He stood up day after day and fielded difficult questions from the media. Where was Clark? Where was the minister in charge?
During the last pandemic (swine flu) the Minister of Health fronted twice daily press conferences and fielded the bulk of the questions, with MOH staff in a secondary role.
Here the Minister of Health wasn’t just invisible, but he wasn’t even allowed to be in Wellington!
But Clark’s weakness was not just over lockdown. He often manages to mar what should be strong stories for the Government.
On Sunday the Government announced $92.6m of funding into testing labs, pharmacies, midwives, hospices and call centres to further strengthen their readiness for any future outbreak.
Clark, who was late arriving, took a tour of the SCL Covid-testing lab at Wellington Hospital for the announcement.
He did ask some (simple) questions but looked disinterested.
Perhaps he did not want to be there. It is understood he initially planned to remain in Dunedin and send out a press release instead. Some members of the media were even told he would do embargoed interviews on the Friday ahead of the PR.
But then came the nod from the powers above that he had to make a show in Wellington.
When it finally came to his moment in the limelight, he read from a script and did a very bad job of going off-script to answer questions. Incompetence was shining through.
He was unable to answer questions in much detail, and he should have been across the issues.
For a journalist to label a Minister as incompetent, is unusual, It means things have to be really bad.
Clark did not carry himself like a minister on Sunday. He came across as a first-term MP out of his depth.
The only thing he seemed to be interested in was the Highlanders’ win, the first thing he referred to at the start of what should’ve been an important Government message, and turned into a waffling mess.
After this poor performance, can the public have confidence in him to undertake such an enormous task as reforming the health system?
So we have a Minister of Health who can’t be trusted to manage a health crisis, or even a photo op. A No 4 on Labour’s List who has failed to deliver even 1% of Labour’s two iconic 2017 policies (Kiwibuild and light rail) and a No 2 who isn;’t trusted to hold a press conference be Acting Prime Minister.