The mystery over Derek Handley’s appointment as the government’s Chief Technology Officer, and then its abrupt revocation, has deepened.
Handley’s own revelation of his email exchanges with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shown at best she was “economical with the truth” (as commentators like Bryce Edwards put it) in her answers to Parliament. Did she just have a lapse of memory (something which seems to afflict Winston Peters more frequently these days), about those emails?
Then there is the plainly shabby treatment of Handley over the revocation of the Cabinet decision to put him in the job, for which he returned with his family from New York. Clare Curran was wrapped up in her own misery over the appointment and her successor, Megan Woods, got around to apologising to Handley only after he had published his side of the story in the New Zealand Herald. The newspaper front-paged it with lines like
” … the [Handley] family arrived back in the country days before finding out his contract was scrapped.” Continue reading “Fallout from the CTO fiasco spreads from Clare Curran to – oh, look! – the PM” →
The most open thing done by Clare Curran, the former Minister for Open Government, was resign, commentator Kate Hawkesby wryly observed in a newspaper column.
Indeed, Curran’s apparent fondness for clandestine meetings and her struggle to explain the extent of her use of a private email account for public business did bring her grasp of the open government portfolio into serious question.
The government’s understandable concern to show it does believe in transparency was reflected today in a decision announced by State Services Minister Chris Hipkins. Continue reading “The de-Claring of more openness – Govt to release Cabinet papers (but with some exceptions)” →
The government had little option but to kill off the process of appointing a Chief Technology Officer. It had not only blown away the political career of Clare Curran but has severely damaged the credibility of the government, not least the prime minister’s.
For National it has been a gift which keeps on giving. There’s almost certain to be some more unpleasant revelations to come from the emails between Curran and the PM’s “friend”, Derek Handley. Though they may take some time to emerge into daylight, these will prolong what is a disgraceful saga, one which has few parallels in the history of state-sector appointments.
Megan Woods drew the short straw to make the latest announcement on the debacle, which of course was made on Friday, just before the weekend. This continues the not-so-subtle technique being played out in recent weeks as the government tries to minimise in terms of publicity the damage it has been doing to itself. Continue reading “CTO appointment process ends with a payout and a review of the need for such a post” →
The Curran affair has ended with the Dunedin South MP confessing she could not stand the “intolerable pressure” she had been placed under. Voters may not care much about either her departure from the Ardern ministry, nor the causes which lay behind it.
But her resignation has altered the dynamics within the current government. Some of the gloss has washed off the coalition and – more particularly – has washed off PM Jacinda Ardern (although she can claim the choice of Clare Curran as a minister was made by the Labour caucus, not by herself).
There may be a degree of sympathy for Curran who – some say – had good instincts for the issues within her portfolios. But then there’s the old saying, if you can’t stand the heat…. Continue reading “More fallout from the Curran affair could follow inspection of her G-mail account” →
Does the Ardern government have a ticking time-bomb inside its ranks?
PM Jacinda Ardern’s first priority on her return from Nauru would be an all-out effort to find out and defuse it.
Her government may even have called for officials from its intelligence agencies to do some cyber checks.
The problem emerged in Parliament when Clare Curran, already stripped of her Cabinet ranking for failing to disclose sensitive meetings on issues related to her portfolios, put in another abysmal performance at question time on Wednesday. Continue reading “Cyber security is another consideration as the Curran controversy continues” →
The current Parliamentary session has yielded few events, or speeches, which linger in the memory for more than a few minutes. The Opposition, despite its strength in numbers at least, has landed few hits on the government.
That is until this week when it called for, and was granted, a snap debate on the demotion of Clare Curran from Cabinet and her resignation from two portfolios.
Perhaps surprisingly, one of the most effective speeches from the Opposition benches came from veteran MP Nick Smith. Some of the newcomers within the Opposition could take it as a model of its kind, marshalling the facts before the house and then building to a powerful climax.
Here’s how Smith made his case: Continue reading “Clare’s secret meetings: second blunder leaves Nick Smith “gobsmacked”” →
We were minded at Point of Order to bring Oscar Wilde into considerations, on learning of the latest upheaval in the Ardern Cabinet: “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
Then we set about trying to ascertain who had done what to whom in circumstances that warranted Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri standing aside from her portfolio while an investigation into “staffing matters” in her ministerial office is carried out.
The PM’s announcement of Whaitiri’s demotion came just six days after she removed Minister Clare Curran from Cabinet for failing to disclose a meeting she had in relation to the Government’s Chief Technology Officer role.
The PM won’t reveal more information for privacy reasons. Continue reading “But without shouting, what will become of robust political debate?” →
Why would a PM want to retain as a minister someone who has committed a cardinal mistake not once but twice? It’s a question with no immediately transparent answers.
Losing a seat in Cabinet and some portfolios may seem a severe setback, if not a mortal blow, to a political career — but if you keep the two portfolios you really covet it’s not too much of a hardship.
The financial penalty isn’t too severe either – a Cabinet minister’s annual salary is $296,007. This drops to $249,839 for ministers outside cabinet. Continue reading “Among the questions about Curran – can she make a Cabinet comeback?” →
We learn today of two Cabinet ministers attending a dinner hosted by Google’s top lawyer under secretive “Chatham House” rules, but they made no notes of what was discussed.
According to a report at Stuff, Google’s chief counsel, Kent Walker, hosted the dinner at the capital’s Wellington Club. Among the guests were Justice Minister Andrew Little, Open Government Minister Clare Curran and top public servants and lawyers.
In response to requests under the Official Information Act, Little and Curran both said they kept no notes or memos from the event.
National’s spokesman for open government, Nick Smith, accordingly is complaining of Continue reading “Psst! If you want to keep a secret, put it in Clare Curran’s custody” →