Broadcasting minister regrets meeting Carol Hirschfeld

Carol Hirschfeld resigned from Radio NZ today.

Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran now regrets meeting former RNZ head of news Carol Hirschfeld at Astoria café in Wellington last December.

That meeting led to Ms Hirschfeld’s resignation today and political discomfort for Ms Curran.

Ms Hirschfeld resigned after she was forced to admit to RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson that the meeting had been pre-arranged. She had repeatedly told Mr Thompson the meeting had simply been a chance encounter at a café.

Ms Curran says at the time she thought there was nothing wrong with meeting Ms Hirschfeld at the minister's request for an informal catch-up to talk about the news media but realises she was wrong.

"I regret it. It was a mistake."

She says she had initially considered it an informal meeting but had corrected it by placing the meeting in her diary afterward.

At the beginning of March Mr Thompson and RNZ chairman Richard Griffin appeared before Parliament’s economic development, science and innovation select committee and were questioned at length by National MP Melissa Lee about the meeting.

Both men described it as chance encounter when Ms Hirschfeld stopped to buy a coffee at a café.

Ms Curran says that after the select committee hearing her office contacted RNZ twice to correct the information Mr Thompson and Mr Griffin had given to the committee.

A spokesman for RNZ says it was another message from the minister’s office last week that prompted further questioning of Ms Hirschfeld and her belated acknowledgement the meeting had been arranged and that it was not coincidental.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended Ms Curran in Parliament, saying the minister had quickly corrected answers she gave to initial questions from Melissa Lee in February.

At a press conference this afternoon, Ms Curran says she initiated the meeting and they discussed the state of New Zealand media. " It was not a secret meeting," she said

RNZ staff are not permitted to hold meetings with politicians other than for newsgathering purposes.

Mr Thompson said in a statement that it was important he put the record straight about the circumstances of the meeting.

“I am now assessing options for filling the role left vacant by Carol’s resignation.”

“In the meantime, Glen Scanlon as RNZ head of news and digital will take over Carol’s direct reports, effective immediately.”


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49 Comments & Questions

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Fair enough. She's only been an MP since 2008. That's far too short a period for her to learn what is and what isn't dodgy. Any further attacks on Ms Curran's integrity are clearly only motivated by misogyny.

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Good call. I'm sure that's how Scribe will see it anyway.

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Hirschfeld has a history of excellence in her chosen profession.

Curran is a novice, a relatively new flash in the pan on the hill. Perhaps she is perplexed and somewhat disoriented as a result of having observed the spins, twists, convolutions and at times downright misrepresentations of almost a decade of the Key, Joyce, English style of governance.

Both of these ladies deserve no more than to be slapped on the wrist with a wet bus ticket - as has been the nature of some of the 'justice' meted out during the past decade, to creatures who pose a far more ominous threat to New Zealand society.

In the interests of the preserving the dignity of our Parliament, perhaps a wise course would be to let the two ladies in question contemplate their indiscretions, and continue their good work.

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Spinning like that you could get a job on Red Radio.

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So Broadcasting Minister Curran sought the meeting in the first place? And then didn't include it in her diary, and omitted it when responding to written requests?
This is serious. What is the sanction for misleading The House?

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Based on past track record.....nothing.

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Yes, based on the last nine years, absolutely nothing.

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What a loss, Hirschfeld is one of NZ's premier journalists. Perhaps NBR can add her to their 'stable' alongside another excellent journalist Susan Wood

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For what its worth, my vote to this suggestion just evened things up to 4 a piece.. Vote now..Its a thumbs up from me. Lets hear what she has to say, given the Minister is saying little about approaching Carol in the first place. 

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What next ministers blackmailing ministers?

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So Carol is a victim here?

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So the journalist resigned and the minister gets to keep her job ?

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That's how it works round here.

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For now at least . . . watch this space.

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If Ardern doesnt sack Curren then it will prove how weak and spineless she really is. Just another snowflake. Could govern a booze up in a brewery.
Intellect as deep as a supermarket car park puddle. Do I need to go on describing the PM.

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No. Its Shane Jones who deserves the chop. We dont need the creation of any more low skill forestry jobs and the news to former mayor Vicki Mayor and to all those female officers who operate as boosters for the sort of largely useless males who make up the military ranks, is that its about capability for future wars and not skills. it's not about training to be chefs. We'll just use females for that, so we can stop that sort of male whine.
Creation of jobs for the intelligent and talented even TVN7 reborn is far more clever than, Bill English creating jobs for the untalented and his assumption the talented can do it for themselves or just bugger off, like Bill, Good riddance to the worst socialist rubbish.

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First, the sexual assaults at the Labour youth camp. Now, this nonsense of a minister confused about a sensitive media meeting? Did not take too long for this government to fall into a pattern of lying and cover ups.

Must be taking lessons from the DPM, Mr Winston NO Peters?

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Could this be another case, like Shane Jones, trying to influence, what should be, an independent organization?

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or Jonathon Coleman forcing TVNZ to do things they vowed they would not. Such as giving Sky acess to their Freeview channels.

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2 wrongs dont make a right and agree Coleman was out of order.

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I wonder if Clare Curran has got too many plates spinning. She is, among other things, associate minister for ACC. ACC has some 10,100,000 shares in CBL. The amount of potential loss to ACC will, obviously, depend (1) if CBL goes totally down the drain and, if so, (2) how much ACC paid. I believe the initial price was around $1.50 so the loss would be in the region of $15 Million, if they paid the higher price of around $3.00, then they are looking at a loss of around $30 Million plus
Below is part of an e mail that I sent to the ACC Minister and Associate minister on 5 March 2018. Admitted, I got the Miniater’s e mail address wrong and it came back, but the Associate Minister’s was correct as i received the typical computer generated reply.
Mar 5 at 10:14 PM Ins Brook searcher1068@yahoo.com To:galloway@ministers.govt.nz,c.curran@ministers.govt.nz
Dear Sir and Madam, I see from the ACC website that you are the ministers responsible. I also see from CBL's (in liquidation) website that ACC owns 10188219 shares (4.32%) ACCIDENT COMPENSATION CORPORATION - NZCSD 19 Aitken Street, Wellington, 6140 , New Zealand.
I obviously don't know when the shares were bought or how much was paid, I suppose it could have been $1.50 at the initial offering or, as much as $3.00. If it was $1.50, I guess ACC stands to lose around $15 Million if the shares end up worthless.
I have to wonder, and will be really interested to know your thoughts, if, whoever deals with ACC's investments, would have recommended the purchase if he/she/they had known that Peter Harris had committed insurance fraud in America between 2002 and 2005 and had told lies in CBL's Product Disclosure Statement. You may also be interested to know that the RBNZ was aware, back in 2013, of Mr. Harris' "shenanigans," and the FMA was informed back in 2015 of the lies in the Product Disclosure Statement. Both were not interested and did nothing.
It is my humble opinion that, had the Reserve Bank acted back in 2013 to either not issue, or revoke, Contractors Bonding Limited's insurance licence, the Product Disclosure Statement, containing the lies, would never had been produced. The FMA had, in effect, the second bite at the cherry by being made of aware of the lies, but they too chose to do nothing but, if they had (done something) ACC would not be looking at a potential $15 Million loss on its investment.
Here is the replyl
C Curran (MIN) <c.curran@ministers.govt.nz>
To:Ins Brook

Mar 5 at 10:14 PM
Thank you for contacting the Office of Hon Clare Curran MP, Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Minister for Government Digital Services, Associate Minister for ACC and Associate Minister of State Services (Open Government). Your correspondence has been received and the contents noted. Please be aware that our office receives a high volume of correspondence. If your email falls within the portfolios listed above, we will endeavour to respond to you in a timely manner. If the subject of your email falls outside the portfolio responsibilities of Minister Curran, your correspondence may be transferred to the relevant Minister for consideration. Office of Hon Clare Curran MP | Ministerial Email: c.curran@ministers.govt.nz Freepost Private Bag 18041, Parliament Buildings | Wellington 6160 | New Zealand Web: beehive.govt.nz | Statements: beehive.govt.nz/minister/hon-clare-curran
Note the words “If your email falls within the portfolios listed above, we will endeavour to respond to you in a timely manner.” I wonder what constitutes “a timely manner?” Would 22 days constitute a timely manner?
I also wrote twice to Mark Dossor , CFO of ACC, never even got an acknowledgement never mind a reply and nobody at ACC would give me a phone number for the head office. Maybe the ACC Ivory tower is not accessible to mere mortals.
Bye the way, I AM a paid up suscriber to NBR

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From the above. I see that RNZ staff are not permitted to hold meetings with ministers; but there does not seem to be a rule that ministers may not hold such meetings. If that is so, then Hirschfeld is guilty of accepting the invite. Curran would only seem guilty of being a newbie and not knowing.

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I would say Curren can do whatever she likes, as long as she is transparent.

Hirschfeld did not follow her business 'rules', then lied, only to be dropped in it by above, and now suffering.

Not that the schmucks in RNZ will survive at contract time.

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Hirschfeld is a fantastic broadcaster, of note is other news channels pushing this subversive narrative to discredited her

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Absolutely! And it's a disgrace.

There is not a thing wrong with a Labour Party Minister contacting the head of content at the taxpayer-funded and completely independent left-wing State broadcaster, aka Labour Party Radio, with advice and instructions. And, to try and keep the meeting off the radar too.

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It's not called Red Radio for nothing. Place is crawling with lefties and they drum out the propaganda non-stop. Rural shows got turned into thinly-disguised green party messaging and the 'news' is some old hat from hacks like Campbell, Mulligan and Morer.

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Where is the problem here?
They both lied.
They should both resign.
Personally, I would exchange one Carol Hirschfild for 100 Clare Currans, (who is just another lying MP) but that's my bias toward truth.

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How do you reconcile Arderns assertion of better transparency with nondisclosure of her pregnancy? I think she should have resigned over that.

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If the Hon. Clare Curran were true to her title, she would resign. Her position has become untenable.

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Or at the minimum it has become dishonourable.

The "Dishon. Clare Curran"?

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Curran needs to be sacked. She appears to have misled Parliament.
And Hirschfeld has become damaged goods as she would have known she shouldn't have met Curran and she then lied to her bosses.

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Look, at the end of the day sometimes you have to meet a Carol Hirschfeld or a Cam Slater or whomever really. It all depends on what hat you're wearing. At the end of the day it is what it is and I'm pretty comfortable with it.

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Is anybody actually surprised that there are clandestine meetings between Radio Red and Labour party ministers? Radio Red is the Labour Party's propaganda arm after all!

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Except those national leaning bosses throw a spanner in your hypothesis

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With all the problems that this country is facing, there is a row about this.... really. It's a bit of a storm in a tea cup isn't it?

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You could be right. Did Ms Hirschfeld lose her job 'coz she got invited to breakfast with the Minister and her bosses Thompson and Griffin did not?
Petty, very petty.
Both Thompson and Griffin need to go as it has been made clear to them that the Minister of Broadcasting considers Ms Hirschfelds opinion has more value than theirs.

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Scribe have you changed your name to Ivan after jumping the shark yesterday in your ridiculous defence of Winston First?

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Haha - the Right Most Dishonorable DPM is most conspicuous by his absence re the Russian spies in NZ - smart to let Cindy Astern who is dumb enough to take on foreign affairs role to make herself laughing stock.

Meanwhile, Mr ‘money from Owen’ Peters runs with his own policies on Russian trade and Russian thuggery.

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Here is the cabinet manual on ministers and officials having informal talks (s 3.22):

"On a day-to-day basis a Minister will have contact with the senior officials best able to provide the necessary information or advice. Departmental staff and the Minister’s office should keep the chief executive informed, at least in general terms, of any contact between the department and the Minister. This information helps to keep lines of communication and accountability between the Minister and the department clear."

That's for officials. Now we have the head of news of state radio ....

It's inconceivable that Curran didn't appreciate that what she did was wrong. That's why she didn't own up to meeting until caught.

Rodney Hide

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Yes, of course, she knew it was wrong. She would have known that before the meeting took place too. So the question for me then Rodney is why did the meeting take place in the first place and what were the topics discussed? And why could this meeting not have taken place in the Minister's Office following and in accordance with normal protocols?

Am I the only one here who thinks this is, in fact, a sinister breach of our democratic norms and conventions by a Labour Minister of the Crown with a hidden political agenda that requires the cooperation of and in coordination with agents within RNZ?

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Hi Steve

I suspect Curran wanted to know what was "really happening" and took it upon herself to bypass the board and CEO and talk to her mate.

Both of them knew that was wrong and irregular. Hence the cover up.

Hirschfield then clearly -- ahem -- repeatedly misled her bosses. Who then inadvertently misled Parliament.

It would seem that Curran hasn't misled her boss but she did misled Parliament and then quickly apologised for that and claimed naivety.

She's lucky to be still Minister.

She is a great advocate for Open Government. The perfect Head Prefect is someone naughtier than you!

Rodney Hide

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Hi Rodney,

I hope you are right. It's just that with a resurgent and belligerent Russia interfering in the West's democratic institutions and a China that has just taken a sharp turn towards authoritarianism, one can never be too careful or take too much for granted.

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Hi Steve,
For my self, I now know that the meeting was wrong according to the "Cabinet manual, (Thank you Mr Hide) But am I the only baggy arse pleb' that thinks that a Minister should be able to discuss policy direction with a senior respected manager without the CEO and Chairman monitoring what is being said? Seems a bit "Putinish" to me.

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Get with the programme folks.

Comrade Curran was issuing orders to Comrade Hirschfeld around how Red Radio should interview Government Ministers.
Rule#1 Always agree the questions and the answers ahead of the interview.
Rule#2 If in doubt refer to Rule#1.

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The wrong person resigned. Ms Curran is incompetent and wouldn't get a job in a real business outside Parliament. C'mon Jacinda, show us what you are made of? Relentlessly positive...you are sacked Ms. Curran.

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If Bill English didn't have to resign over misleading the NZ public over Barclay then perhaps commenters might extend the same toleration they did then, to Curran. For nine years now everything seems to have been excusable ...what a miraculous turnaround by some here!

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C'mon Mr Frank, Stretching things a bit are you not.
The particular saga that you allude to (Dixon/Barclay) was being played out in Gore whilst Mr English was in Wellington as Minister of Finance.
But don't let that stop you and Jacinda from being "relentlessly positive"

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Frank there is no comparison with the Barclay affair. He was an MP without a Ministerial posting obviously. And he resigned. Look at the weak leadership from the young PM here - Ms Curran is unsuited to the role and made a serious error of judgment. Jacinda appears to be terrified of losing Ministers, so thin are the Coalition ranks in terms of skill and business experience.

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Incorrect - he did not resign. He waited till election time and decided not to stand again, and by doing so received his payout of tens of thousands of dollars. No need to rewrite history.

And Bill did not resign either, despite lying to the NZ public to try to keep things quiet.

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