Clare Curran

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The Honourable
Clare Curran
MP
Clare Curran.jpg
Labour Party photo
16th Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media
In office
26 October 2017 – 7 September 2018
Prime MinisterJacinda Ardern
Preceded bySimon Bridges
(as Minister for Communications)
Succeeded byKris Faafoi
Minister for Government Digital Services
In office
26 October 2017 – 24 August 2018
Prime MinisterJacinda Ardern
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byMegan Woods
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Dunedin South
Assumed office
2008
Preceded byDavid Benson-Pope
Majority8,717
Personal details
Born1960 (age 57–58)
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
Alma materVictoria University of Wellington
ProfessionPublic relations
Websiteclarecurran.org.nz

Clare Elizabeth Curran[1] (born 1960) is a New Zealand politician who has served as a member of the New Zealand Parliament for Dunedin South since 2008. She was the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications, and Digital Media and Associate Minister for the Accident Compensation Corporation in the current Labour-led coalition government.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Curran grew up and was educated in Dunedin; she attended Moreau College where she achieved School Certificate. She has a BA double major in Anthropology and History from the University of Otago, and BA Honours in Anthropology from Victoria University of Wellington.

Career[edit]

Curran worked in communications for Australian unions over a number of years before returning to New Zealand in 2002 with her young family. She continued to work in public relations in Dunedin.[citation needed]

Curran joined the New Zealand Labour Party in 2006. She quickly rose to prominence within the Otago-Southland hierarchy, becoming a member of the Council of the New Zealand Labour Party.[3]

In 2006 Curran presented a paper to the Otago-Southland region of the Labour Party on "capturing the language" on climate change policy.[4]

In May 2006 Curran was appointed to a contractual role within the Ministry for the Environment following a recommendation from Environment Minister David Parker's office to provide communications advice on the Government's climate change strategy. This appointment was the subject of an investigation by the State Services Commission into the appropriateness of Curran's engagement.[5] The report found that the Ministry had failed to adequately identify Curran's conflict of interest with respect to her relationship with Minister Parker.[6] The report found that a staff member in Parker's office had described Curran as Parker's "right-hand woman" and in an email to Environment Ministry Chief Executive Hugh Logan, and recommended that Curran meet with Logan to discuss communications. Logan resigned as Chief Executive of the Ministry hours before the State Services Commission's report into the Curran affair was released.

She is currently a member of many unions and political groups. She is a member of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and the Service & Food Workers Union. She is also a member of Greenpeace. She was also on the Council of the New Zealand Labour Party as Otago-Southland regional representative.[7]

Parliamentary career[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2008–2011 49th Dunedin South 45 Labour
2011–2014 50th Dunedin South 28 Labour
2014–2017 51st Dunedin South none Labour
2017–present 52nd Dunedin South 23 Labour

Fifth National Government, 2008–2017[edit]

In 2007, Curran launched a bid to unseat sitting MP David Benson-Pope as the Labour Party candidate for Dunedin South.[8][9] Curran won the selection contest ahead of Benson-Pope and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union's Don Pryde.[10] Curran won the 2008 election against National's Conway Powell.[11] However, in 2011, National Party candidate, Jo Hayes, reduced Curran's majority from 6449 in 2008[12] to 4175 in 2011,[13] and National gained a majority of the party vote in Dunedin South by 1837 votes.[13] In the 2014 election, Curran was successful against National's Hamish Walker.[14]

In the 49th New Zealand Parliament, she was a member of the Commerce Committee, and was the Labour spokesperson for Communications and Information Technology.

While in Opposition, Curran spoke out against the closure of public broadcaster TVNZ 7,[15] the Government's controversial move to include software in the Patents Bill,[16] KiwiRail job losses,[17] TV coverage of the Paralympics,[18] and the lack of a telecommunications watchdog in New Zealand.[19]

Labour Coalition Government, 2017–present[edit]

Curran was elected as a Cabinet Minister by the Labour Party caucus following Labour's formation of a coalition government with New Zealand First and the Greens.[20] On 26 October, Curran assumed the portfolios of Minister of Broadcasting, Communications, and Digital Media and Minister for Government Digital Services. In addition, Curran was also allocated the associate portfolios for the Accident Compensation Corporation and the State Services Commission.[2]

Curran signing the Digital 7 Charter in February 2018

In November at 2017 NetHui Curran publicly proposed as part of her 100-day plan the formation of a chief technology officer (CTO) role for Government of New Zealand.[21] As of February 2018, no CTO had been selected despite over 60 candidates expressing interest in the role. Curran commented that "after careful consideration she had decided not to make an appointment at this stage and the search for a suitable candidate would be widened."[22]

In late March 2018, Curran became the subject of media attention after it emerged that she had secretly met with Radio New Zealand broadcaster and senior manager Carol Hirschfeld on 5 December 2017 outside of parliamentary business. Curran initially claimed the meeting was coincidental but later admitted it had been pre-arranged. These revelations led to Hirschfeld's resignation from her position as senior manager at Radio NZ. The meeting was related to the Labour-led government's plans to expand public broadcasting through Radio New Zealand. Curran's actions drew criticism from the National Party's broadcasting spokesperson Melissa Lee, who accused Curran of engaging in a cover-up.[23][24]

On 24 August 2018, Prime Minister Ardern dismissed Curran from the Cabinet after Curran acknowledged that she had kept a second meeting off the records. In February, Curran had met with tech entrepreneur Derek Handley at her Beehive office to discuss his interest in the vacant Chief Technology Officer role. Curran had failed to disclose the meeting in her ministerial diary and to inform staff or officials about it. Curran apologized to the Prime Minister for her actions and also resigned from her positions as Minister of Government Digital Services and Minister of Open Government. Curran kept her Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and associate ACC portfolios.[25][26][27]

On 5 September 2018, Curran "appeared flustered" and "stumbled over her answers" when answering questions during question time from opposition National MP Melissa Lee regarding Curran's use of a personal Gmail account for Ministerial use.[28] Two days later, Curran resigned as a Minister.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New Zealand Hansard - Members Sworn [Volume:651;Page:2]". New Zealand Parliament.
  2. ^ a b "Ministerial List". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Clare Curran Biography". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  4. ^ Hosking, Rob (1 December 2007). "Labour Massages the Message". National Business Review. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  5. ^ Rennie, Iain. "Investigation into the Engagement of Clare Curran" (PDF). State Services Commission. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Ministry botched Curran hiring". Dominion Post. 14 November 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  7. ^ "New Zealand Council Members". Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Benson-Pope faces challenge for Dunedin seat". The Dominion Post. 30 October 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  9. ^ "Ousted Benson-Pope to stay loyal". The Dominion Post. 3 February 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Benson-Pope loses hold on Dunedin South". The New Zealand Herald. 2 February 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  11. ^ McLean, Elspeth (28 November 2011). "Curran dismisses commentator's strong criticism". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  12. ^ "Official Count Results -- Dunedin South". Chief Electoral Office. 22 November 2008. Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Official Count Results -- Dunedin South". Electoral Commission. 10 December 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Agony and ecstasy for Dunedin party faithful". Otago Daily Times. 20 September 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  15. ^ "Curran questions Govt's TV funding priorities". 3 News NZ. 7 June 2011.
  16. ^ "Innovation 'crushed' by change to Patents Bill". 3 News NZ. 4 September 2012.
  17. ^ "Kiwirail costs disputed by MP". 3 News NZ. 15 February 2012.
  18. ^ "TV ignoring NZ's Paralympians: Labour". 3 News NZ. 5 September 2012.
  19. ^ "Labour calls for telco watchdog following fines". 3 News NZ. 11 September 2012.
  20. ^ "Who's in? Who's out?". Radio NZ. 20 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  21. ^ "Hon. Clare Curran: CTO proposal in the government's 100-day fast track". CIO New Zealand. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  22. ^ "Government to 'widen' search for chief technology officer after none of 60 candidates convinces". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  23. ^ Walters, Laura; Cooke, Henry (27 March 2018). "Curran's 'informal' meeting with Carol Hirschfeld planned for an hour". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  24. ^ "Carol Hirschfeld resigns over Clare Curran meeting". Otago Daily Times. NZME. 27 March 2018. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  25. ^ "Jacinda Ardern sacks Clare Curran from Cabinet, removes her from two portfolios after second failure to declare a meeting". 1 News. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  26. ^ Hurley, Emma (24 August 2018). "Prime Minister removes Clare Curran from Cabinet". Newshub. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  27. ^ "Clare Curran sacked from Cabinet, PM Jacinda Ardern announces". New Zealand Herald. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  28. ^ "Embattled minister Clare Curran struggles to explain using personal email for Government business". Stuff.co.nz. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  29. ^ Cooke, Henry (7 September 2018). "Clare Curran resigns as minister, citing 'intolerable' pressure". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 7 September 2018.

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
David Benson-Pope
Member of Parliament for Dunedin South
2008–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Simon Bridges
as Minister for Communications
Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media
2017–2018
Succeeded by
Kris Faafoi
New office Minister for Government Digital Service
2017–2018
Succeeded by
Megan Woods