PM defends decisions on Curran, Whaitiri and business confidence

by RNZ / 11 September, 2018
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is defending her stance on a number of issues that have come to the forefront over the past two weeks, including the decision not to preemptively release former minister Clare Curran's private emails.

Ms Ardern has faced a list of controversies over the past two few weeks including the resignation of Clare Curran and allegations that minister Meka Whaitiri man-handled her press secretary. Ms Ardern defended her stance on these issues on Morning Report.

Clare Curran's resignation and private emails

National Party leader Simon Bridges is calling for former Cabinet minister Clare Curran's private Gmail account emails to be released and told Morning Report on Monday that he wants to see proof the government would be the most open and transparent ever.

Ms Ardern said the emails would not be released by the government but people are able to make Official Information Act requests to discover them. She said any form of email, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, or Facebook messages are all forms of communications that people use with MPs.

"All of them, if they include work that's done in a ministerial capacity, are covered by the Official Information Act, they're discoverable no matter what form."

She said in order to make sure these are discoverable under OIA, Ms Curran will be transferring anything that was conducted in a ministerial capacity to the archivist.

Labour MP Greg O'Connor has openly criticised Ms Ardern's handling of Ms Curran's resignation, appearing confused about whether Ms Curran resigned or was fired.

"There is absolutely no confusion, Clare Curran resigned," Ms Ardern said.

She said Mr O'Connor said something that he shouldn't have and she had to speak to him on the phone to put him into line.

"He's under no illusion of my view on the issue."

The investigation into Meka Whaitiri

Sidelined minister Meka Whaitiri is under investigation over a staffing matter and is accused of "man-handling" her newly employed press secretary while in Gisborne.

Ms Ardern said she was given an early indication from Ministerial Services that the investigation would take two to three weeks.

"I'm not going to preempt that report, I'm waiting to see the final conclusion that Ministerial Services find."

Business confidence

A number of businesses say the government isn't listening to their concerns on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill.

Ms Ardern said it is simply a case of having a difference in view.

"We won't always agree."

She said government have made some changes already, including the approach to 90-day trials.

"These reforms aren't new, essentially what in many cases we are restoring is the law that existed right up until 2015, in some cases 2011, these are laws that are familiar and didn't cause the issues that have been claimed to have been caused."

She said she doesn't believe business confidence will be taking another hit.

Integrating te reo into the curriculum.

Ms Ardern has defended the decision not to make te reo Māori a compulsory subject in schools, instead integrating into the curriculum in early childhood and primary schools.

"Our goal is to have that complete by 2025."

She said the government has not put in place a policy around compulsory te reo in schools because it needs to make sure professional development is provided.

"What we need to do is provide that professional development, that support for our teachers in those areas in order to make sure we can fulfil that commitment."

She said the government is not talking about integrating te reo into secondary level and in early childhood and primary there is really no such thing as core subjects, only the core curriculum.

"I think that there is an acceptance now that learning a language enhances education and what better language to learn than the indigenous language of New Zealand."

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