Fiery, emotional farewell speech

Outgoing Dunedin South MP Clare Curran has revealed the extreme emotional toll politics has taken on her, telling Parliament yesterday she had once contemplated suicide.

"Yes, there was a moment when I counted the number of sleeping pills I had," Ms Curran said.

"Thankfully, I sought help instead."

In a fiery, emotional and often funny valedictory speech, Ms Curran talked both of the toll which politics had taken on herself and her family, but also of her pride in representing Dunedin South.

"I made a public spectacle of myself in this House which was portrayed in a way that is the stuff of our worst nightmares," Ms Curran said.

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran with phone, files, paper and coffee. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Dunedin South MP Clare Curran. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

"I made mistakes, I paid a price. I was targeted. I’ve discussed the impact that this had on me ... It is with pain and relief I stand to give my final speech."

Speaking on the eighth anniversary of the death of her father, Kinney, Ms Curran paid tribute to her friends and family for their support, and her sons Callum and Riley for thriving despite having to share their mother with politics.

"It was bloody hard being mum and a politician. I know you all relate to that.

"Especially when your relationship breaks up and you have to make parenting work ... At the time I was elected my boys were 8.

"I used to duck out of the chamber in the evening into that little meeting room and read them a story each over the phone. Captain Underpants featured a lot and Alex Rider books."

Ms Curran — formerly minister of broadcasting and digital services — sternly criticised the media for the way it covered politics, and challenged journalists to do better.

"Politicians should be held accountable, but we are not prey," Ms Curran said.

"You are not unaccountable, though you act as though you are.

"Your mandate derives from the citizens of this country. Please use it wisely and maturely. You are neither judge nor jury."

Ms Curran also urged the next Government to deliver on the IT reforms she and other MPs had initiated, and to progress other passions of hers such as a review of the Official Information Act and an increase in open government.

Ms Curran highlighted two major issues in her electorate during her time as MP: climate change and the future of the Hillside workshops.

"In 2015, I filled sandbags alongside others to fight back a terrible flood in South Dunedin sparking an intense debate about how climate change affects a densely populated, low income, low-lying community," she said.

"From 2009 until 2012 I fought to keep the Hillside rail workshops open. I never gave up.

"Today they are being refurbished, apprentices are back and staff numbers growing."

Need help?

Need to talk? 1737, free 24/7 phone and text number
Healthline: 0800 611-116
Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543-354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828-865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Samaritans: 0800 726-666
Alcohol Drug Helpline: 0800 787-797
General mental health inquiries: 0800 443-366
The Depression Helpline: 0800 111-757

Youthline: 0800 376-633, txt 234 or talk@youthline.co.nz
What’s Up (for 5-18 year olds; 1pm-11pm): 0800 942-8787
Kidsline (aimed at children up to age 14; 4pm-6pm weekdays): 0800 54-37-54 (0800 kidsline)

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

Comments

From the heart, very brave. Chapeau! All the best.

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