Curran’s partial dumping news survives the weekend

The news conference late on Friday afternoon announcing that Clare Curran had been dumped from Cabinet but retained two portfolios has been widely seen in media as a cynical attempt to bury the news in the weekend. This appears to have been unsuccessful.

NZH:  Minister Clare Curran’s forgotten meeting to cost her $46,000 a year in lost salary

By being kicked out of cabinet, by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Curran’s annual salary drops from $296,007, to $249,839, the salary of ministers outside cabinet.

As well as being removed from cabinet, Curran resigned from her government digital services portfolio and her open government responsibilities. She remains Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, and Associate Minister of ACC.

So half the ministerial responsibilities and a bit less pay.

Jonathan Milne:  Public can have no confidence in broadcast minister – and neither can Prime Minister

But still, the Prime Minister retains confidence in her to serve New Zealand as broadcasting minister.

This is surprising, because it is the second time Curran has been caught out failing to disclose meetings with high-profile broadcasters – first Radio NZ’s news boss Carol Hirschfeld, now Sky TV director Derek Handley.

Both meetings came as the Government prepared to take significant decisions affecting those broadcast organisations: whether to fund Radio NZ to set up a new public service TV channel; whether to support Government MP Clayton Mitchell’s private member’s bill guaranteeing New Zealanders free-to-air sports.

So it is not just Curran’s performance in the open government and digital services portfolios that should be called into question, but also her transparency as broadcasting minister.

Curran keeping Broadcasting has raised a number of media eyebrows.

NZ Herald Editorial: Jacinda Ardern has ‘sacked’ her first minister

Now she has been demoted for a second offence of a similar nature. She met businessman Derek Handley to discuss something to do with the Government’s appointment of a chief technology officer. This time the meeting was in her Beehive office at a time, 8pm, when staff were not present and the meeting was not recorded in her diary.

A month later she failed to disclose the meeting in answer to a parliamentary written question from a National MP. The Prime Minister learned of this last Monday and announced Curran’s dismissal from the Cabinet on Friday afternoon.

She made it clear that, once again, Curran’s wrongdoing was not the meeting but the failure to properly record it and report it to Parliament when asked. That, said Ardern, created an “impression and perception that lacks transparency and is not something I will tolerate, particularly from a minister for open government.”

It might be wondered in passing, whether open government was well served by the decision to announce Curran’s fate on Friday afternoon when all attention was going to be on events in Canberra.

Curran remains Minister of Broadcasting and a minister overseeing the Accident Compensation Corporation. Apart from a drop in salary and status, she has not lost very much. If she is not up to task of a Cabinet minister, she should not be a minister.

Ardern needs to do what prime ministers must do when a person they have appointed is not up to job.

Kate Hawkesby: More concerning than a flaky Clare Curran is a soft Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Two token portfolios taken off her – Government Digital Services and Open Government removed from her watch, and getting lumped outside Cabinet.

But she gets to keep her plum roles as Broadcasting and ACC Minister. Why?

Strong leadership is always more desirable than someone willing to offer lots of second chances to a recidivist offender.

I would have thought the fact Derek Handley is on the board of Sky TV is all the ammunition you need to fire your Minister of Broadcasting.

So what are you waiting for Prime Minister?

That last article was republished in the ODT (who covered Curran’s demotion extensively in their Saturday edition as she is a Dunedin MP).  They are running an online poll:

Has Clare Curran paid a fair price for twice failing to properly declare meetings?

  • Yes: 18%
  • No she has been treated to harshly. She should have stayed in Cabinet: 2%
  • No she has not been treated harshly enough. She has stuffed up too many times and should no longer be a Minister: 80%

That is at best only a rough indication of public opinion, but it’s a rough look for Curran on home turf.

I expect that this issue will be raised at this afternoon’s weekly media conference with Ardern.

 

 

9 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  August 27, 2018

    She’ll have to go. 😡

    Who else have they got? 😳

    Alison Mau had a couple of suggestions. 🤔

  2. PDB

     /  August 27, 2018

    Weak leadership has been a feature of Ardern’s tenure thus far – govt MP’s doing and saying whatever they like (in Curran’s case flatly lying to her), going soft on Curran and even her own party keeping her out of the loop over the ‘sexual assault camp’ saga (if you believe that).

    Must be time to wheel the baby out again…

    • Blazer

       /  August 27, 2018

      one word …McCully.

    • duperez

       /  August 27, 2018

      Prioritise PDB: Is it better that a Minister lie to their boss or a PM lies to us?

      • High Flying Duck

         /  August 27, 2018

        Luckily with Jacinda and Curran, we don’t have to choose!

        • Blazer

           /  August 27, 2018

          not as polished as the Nats you reckon…at ‘plausible denial’.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  August 27, 2018

            Or the “veneer of credibility”.

  3. Blazer

     /  August 27, 2018

    its a proportionate reaction.

  4. Trevors_elbow

     /  August 27, 2018

    I love this. Jacinda could have done a Helen. Sacked Curran … waited 3 to 6 months and reappointed her. (How long was the drink/drive minister stood down by Clark?)

    Effectively a nothing punishment. Curran gets to escape the spotlight. Jacinda shows her muscle. The press praise Jacinda. Everyone but political junkies forget whatever the scandal was….

    And nothing really has changed after the stand down has been served.

    Very poor political management and a very weak showing from Adern