Clare Curran's resignation: 'This pressure has become intolerable'

  • Politics
  • September 7, 2018
  • Radio New Zealand
Clare Curran's resignation: 'This pressure has become intolerable'

Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran has resigned as a Minister, saying the "pressure has become intolerable".

Ms Curran said she advised the Prime Minister last night that she would resign.

"I have come to the conclusion the current heat being placed on me is unlikely to go away. This pressure has become intolerable. For the benefit of the Government, and my personal well-being, I believe that resignation is the best course of action," said Ms Curran.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she accepted Ms Curran's resignation.

"Clare has come to the view the issues currently surrounding her are causing an unacceptable distraction for the Government and immense pressure on her personally.

"I agree with her assessment that resigning is the best course of action for the Government and for her," said Ms Ardern.

Kris Faafoi will become the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, remaining outside of Cabinet, and Peeni Henare will become the Associate Minister for ACC.

Ms Curran first came into Parliament in 2008 and has held the Dunedin South seat since then - meaning if she was to throw in the towel completely her departure would result in a by-election.

For now she remains an MP but the pressure of her ministerial portfolios, a loss of confidence from the Prime Minister in her ability to be a Cabinet Minister and one of her worst performances in the House this week left her no choice but to call it quits on her ministerial responsibilities.

Ms Curran's ability to do the job has been in question almost since the beginning of her appointment to Cabinet - her loyalty to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (the pair used to share a flat together) has probably helped protect her to date.

The first fall

Her troubles first began back in March after it was revealed she failed to disclose a breakfast meeting with then-RNZ head of news Carol Hirschfeld in response to parliamentary questions last December.

She corrected her response but later told Parliament it was not declared as she viewed it as an informal discussion.

Ms Hirschfeld went on to resign from her position after she had repeatedly assured RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson her meeting with Ms Curran was coincidental and that she and the minister had talked after bumping into each other in a Wellington cafe.

Ms Hirschfeld later backtracked and told Mr Thompson the meeting had been pre-arranged.

Ms Ardern publicly backed Ms Curran when the truth of the meeting became public and didn't ask for her resignation, nor did Ms Curran offer it.

The demotion

Fast-forward to August and Ms Ardern was left with no choice but to demote Ms Curran from Cabinet and strip her of her Government Digital Services portfolio and Open Government responsibilities, following a second failure to properly declare a meeting.

In February Ms Curran met with Derek Handley at her Beehive office to discuss his interest in the vacant Chief Technology Officer role.

She failed to record the meeting in her diary after she had used her personal Gmail account to arrange the catch-up.

She subsequently failed to record it in a written parliamentary question.

Ms Curran kept her roles in broadcasting and ACC - both outside of Cabinet - and her other roles were given to her colleagues Megan Woods and Chris Hipkins.

The final straw

Yesterday Ms Curran failed to show up at Parliament after a dismal performance during Question Time on Wednesday.

Ms Curran requested personal leave yesterday morning and her colleague, Megan Woods, was left to front questions on her behalf about what government business Ms Curran had been conducting using her personal Gmail account.

Given how little information Ms Woods had to hand, she had little choice but to ask National MP Melissa Lee to put her questions in writing.

This story originally appeared on Radio New Zealand.

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