Curran's career in perspective

Clare Curran will stay on as Dunedin South MP until the next election. Photo: ODT files
Clare Curran will stay on as Dunedin South MP until the next election. Photo: ODT files
Nisha Vijayan is a well-liked and highly-skilled theatre nurse at Dunedin Hospital.


With a loving husband and beautiful daughter, the couple were settled after migrating to New Zealand and looked destined to live long and fulfilled lives here.

That was until February 2, when Hareesh Gangadharan, Nisha Vijayan's husband, suddenly, shockingly collapsed and died in the middle of a club cricket game.

It made not just national but international news.

At a terrible time such as that you need your mum and dad; after following Hindu custom and taking Mr Hareesh home to Kerala for burial, rather than cremation, Vijayan and Sarasamma Vijayan accompanied their daughter back to Dunedin.

At this point Dunedin South MP Clare Curran, who had not known the family previously, enters the story.

Immigration visas are one of the main topics MPs get lobbied on, and someone appealed to Ms Curran to help the Vijayans.

Touched by their story, Ms Curran approached the Associate Immigration Minister, and recently the Vijayans received residency, subject to final checks.

The family were lucky enough to be accepted just before that avenue was blocked; the Government is currently reviewing the parent category visa and if its policy settings are appropriate.

With news this week that Ms Curran has decided to step down at the next election, the various lowlights of her career have been recycled for further consumption.

But for every inappropriate off-diary meeting story, there is a Nisha Vijayan story.

The former story will continue to be repeated, the latter will not, but there are enough people in the latter category for an assessment of Ms Curran's career to not be as cut and dried as some might have you believe.

Ms Curran will stay on as Dunedin South MP until the next election.

Quite apart from helping the next Nisha Vijayan who comes through her electorate office door - and the Dunedin South office front-line team have a full book of constituents receiving help with health, housing and immigration issues at the moment - Ms Curran still has political goals she wants to kick.

First and foremost, Ms Curran wants to see heavy rail engineering work return to the KiwiRail workshop at Hillside ... just along the road from her electorate office.

Climate change adaptation and mitigation - vital for low-lying South Dunedin and the Taieri but an important Dunedin-wide issue - putting Dunedin high on the priority list for state housing assistance and reviving her interest in open government are also on Ms Curran's checklist.

David Clark.
David Clark.
In addition, Ms Curran now sits on the Justice and Electoral select committee, and is keen to play her part in shaping the legal framework for the election of her successor in Dunedin South in 2020.

Who's in charge?

Embarrassing slip for Dunedin North MP David Clark on Wednesday, as he led off Labour's charge in the General Debate.

Dr Clark inadvertently started to refer to the Government as the "Jacinda Ardern-led Labour, National, ah ..." before quickly switching to "Labour, New Zealand First, Green" Government.

Hopefully no such Minties moments tomorrow, when Dr Clark stands alongside the Prime Minister to announce the Government's long-awaited cancer plan.

Call, and raise

Dunedin National list MP Michael Woodhouse's fascination for district health board deficits has often been mentioned in this column.

Having successfully nailed his prediction that they were a combined half a billion dollars, Mr Woodhouse doubled down in Wednesday's Estimates debate.

Michael Woodhouse
Michael Woodhouse
"Let me make a prediction about where the actual deficits are going to end up in the 2018-19 year," he told Parliament. "It'll be a billion dollars."

Sadly for Health Minister Dr Clark, the odds are short that Mr Woodhouse will be proven right.

Otago pride

Mr Woodhouse stated a personal interest in the ongoing reform of polytechnics in Thursday's first reading of the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill.

"I have a daughter who is studying midwifery at the Otago polytech right now," he said.

"She will graduate, hopefully, at the end of next year, with a bachelor of midwifery.

"She said to me, `Dad, I want the Otago brand on my bachelor certificate. I don't want to have a certificate from an organisation that sounds like the degree was downloaded from the internet'."

That's one stakeholder Education Minister Chris Hipkins may find it a challenge to reassure about the benefits his reforms may bring.

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