New Zealand

Clare Curran's final speech takes aim at news media and 'sick' political system

Warning: This story deals with the topic of suicide.

Outgoing Labour MP Clare Curran described the political system as “sick” in her final speech to Parliament, and directly criticised the media.

The former broadcasting minister said politicians deserved to be held to account but not treated as “prey” by reporters who acted as if they were unaccountable themselves.

“You are not unaccountable though you act like you are. You are neither judge nor jury. To be credible you must turn the mirror on yourself.”

READ MORE:
* Labour MP Clare Curran worried a politician will kill themselves before news media examines itself
* Labour MP Raymond Huo retiring from politics at election
* Politics has become too brutal, which is a major issue
* Clare Curran: 'Traumatic time for myself and my family'

She said that at one point during her fall from power in 2018 she felt suicidal, but instead sought mental health support.

Curran is retiring at the election following her resignation as a minister earlier in the term.

Clare Curran looks up at the parliamentary press gallery while criticising them in her final speech to Parliament.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Clare Curran looks up at the parliamentary press gallery while criticising them in her final speech to Parliament.

She was dismissed from Cabinet by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after failing to declare two meetings with people involved in her portfolios. She then resigned as a minister citing “relentless pressure” following a rough Question Time appearance over her use of a personal email account.

Curran’s speech acknowledged that she had made some mistakes over her 12 years in Parliament, which had seen her “demoted and promoted too many times to count.”

“I spoke my mind. Occasionally I spoke out of turn, and sometimes I spoke harshly and wrongly, and I apologise for that,” Curran said.

”Mine has not been an easy ride...I made mistakes, I paid a price, I was targeted.”

Curran said the wider political system was “sick” and suggested the news media had a large role to play in this.

“Our political system is sick, and we all know it,” Curran said.

”Politicians and the news media focus on conflict. The objective is to catch people out and take them down.”

”Politicians should be held accountable, but we are not prey.”

Curran said this was not a view held only by politicians, and the public was also disgusted by the news media.

She suggested that the state-funded RNZ had “lost its way” and was no longer holding the rest of the news media to a higher standard.

Last week following National MP Sarah Dowie’s valedictory speech, which also criticised the news media, Curran said she feared a politican would kill themselves before journalists “took a look in the mirror.”

Clare Curran gives her valedictory statement in the House.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Clare Curran gives her valedictory statement in the House.

Curran, who was the Minister for Government Digital Services, also used her speech to urge that the public sector use its $4b information technology budget to build local talent.

Her valedictory speech followed valedictory speeches by fellow Labour MPs Iain Lees-Galloway and Raymond Huo, as well as Green MP Gareth Hughes.

Lees-Galloway apologised to his family for the affair that caused him to resign, and recounted achievements from his time as a minister.

Hughes, as he did in an exit interview with Stuff, bemoaned the fact that his career had mostly been focused on “ambulance at the bottom of the cliff” solutions, instead of fixing the root cause of neoliberal economics.

Huo said “sweeping generalisations” about China were poisoning the political debate.

“Many Kiwi-Chinese people not even interested in geopolitics, so please leave them alone.”

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