Why wasn't Clare Curran stripped of all her portfolios?

  • 25/08/2018

There are questions why former Cabinet minister Clare Curran didn't face a harsher punishment.

She has been stripped of her Government Digital Services and Open Government portfolios and dumped from Cabinet after not properly declaring a meeting for a second time.

"She has failed my expectations. This is a significant demotion," Ms Ardern announced on Friday.

But not everyone agrees. National Party MP and shadow House leader Gerry Brownlee said it was the "most limp-wristed, wet bus ticket thing" Ms Ardern could do.

He wants her stripped of the broadcasting portfolio as well.

"It's undergoing a huge amount of change at the moment, and you need a minister that's pretty active and onto it to make sure that broadcasting legislation is going to be the best for the sort of information and entertainment services that New Zealanders expect."

Victoria University political analyst Bryce Edwards says the Prime Minister could have been tougher, but was perhaps wise not to fire her completely.

"It would be much more controversial and I think it would blemish this Government," he told Newshub.

"What's happened to Clare Curran is definitely a harsh measure. It's a case of the Prime Minister wanting to give some sort of sanction, some punishment."

Clare Curran.
Clare Curran. Photo credit: Newshub.

He did have issues with the timing of the announcement, calling it a classic PR move.

"I think it's quite disturbing the Government has announced the firing on a Friday at 4pm."

Dr Edwards says the clear objective was to bury the news beneath the political turmoil in Australia and the Simon Bridges expenses leak developments.

Newshub's 6pm bulletin led with Ms Curran's demotion, followed by the leak story and then the new Australian Prime Minister.

"To say to someone, You have misled Parliament effectively and you've done it for the second time - you can continue to be a minister but… keep all the stuff you that really liked,' I don't think that's much at all," said Mr Brownlee.

What she did

Ms Curran failed to record a meeting she held at her Beehive office in February with Derek Handley in relation to the vacant role of Chief Technology Officer.

It was not recorded in her diary, nor were her staff or any officials made aware of it. It was also left out of a written answer to a parliamentary question.

In a statement, Ms Curran said she "simply forgot" about the meeting when she was addressing the recent parliamentary question.

"I take full responsibility for not following proper process. The meeting with Mr Handley should have been in the diary and my staff should have been informed."

Earlier this year, a meeting between Ms Curran and RNZ journalist Carol Hirschfeld landed Ms Curran in hot water.