Labour, Green MPs block holding Curran to account

The Government that promised more openness and transparency has taken another step backwards, with Labour and Green MPs on the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee voting against asking Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran to appear before it to clarify unanswered questions about her meeting with ex-RNZ employee Carol Hirschfeld and her communications with RNZ chairman Richard Griffin.

NZH: National members blocked from getting Clare Curran to appear before committee over meeting with RNZ Carol Hirschfeld

National was blocked from asking Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran to appear at a select committee to clear up unanswered questions around her communications with former RNZ executive Carol Hirschfeld, a report says.

The Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee released its report
today on a briefing in which the committee was inadvertently misled by RNZ chairman Richard Griffin and chief executive Paul Thompson about a meeting between Curran and Hirschfeld last December.

A minority report by the five National Party members of the select committee said questions remained unanswered regarding the appropriateness of communications initiated by Curran, with Hirschfeld and Griffin.

Curran’s behaviour was potentially in breach of parliamentary standing orders covering “intimidating, preventing, or hindering a witness from giving evidence, or giving evidence in full, to the House or a committee”, the National members said.

The National members also sought to invite Curran to the committee to give her the opportunity to clear up the unanswered questions.

“Regretfully, this resolution was not supported by other members of the committee, once again leaving the matter unresolved.”

The National members of the committee – chairman Jonathan Young, Andrew Falloon, Paul Goldsmith, Melissa Lee and Parmjeet Parmar – said they felt Parliament itself had been impugned by the inadvertent misleading of the committee by RNZ and actions of the minister.

The MPs who blocked holding Curran to account:

  • Paul Eagle (Labour, Rongotai)
  • Tamati Coffey (Labour, Waiariki)
  • Michael Wood (Labour, Mt Roskill)
  • Deborah Russell (Labour, New Lynn)
  • Gareth Hughes (Greens, list)

Coffey had a surprise win against Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell in last year’s election.

Eagle, Wood and Russell scored fairly safe Labour electorates – Wood got into Parliament in a by-election in 2016 after Phil Goff resigned, while Eagle and Russell are first term MPs. Russell was rated as a good prospect as an MP, but she is putting party before principles here.

Hughes keeps a low profile in Parliament these days – Greens are also supposed to be strong supporters of open and transparent government and of holding the government to account (going by James Shaw’s comments in handing Parliamentary questions over to National) but joining the blocking of holding Curran to account suggests big talk, walk away from responsibilities.

Tn the whole scheme of things this isn’t a big deal, but it leaves a cloud over Curran’s ambitions to significantly boost RNZ, and she is likely to be reminded of this embarrassment whenever she tries to do anything on open government.

The final commitment in the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement:

20. Strengthen New Zealand’s democracy by increasing public participation, openness, and transparency around official information.

Labour and Greens have weakened democracy through their weasel blocking in the committee.

Newsroom: When ‘open government’ becomes a joke

Curran isn’t just the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media but the Minster of Government Digital Services and Associate Minister for ACC and Open Government (via a State Services portfolio).

Open Government now becomes something of a joke under Curran at a time when we need it to be the very opposite.

What’s important now is RNZ and the many other initiatives Curran is involved with don’t keep on paying the price for her mistake. Curran’s copybook may well be blotted but she presides over portfolios that are far too important for us to allow that stain to spread.

That was on 2 April. Labour and Green MPs on the committee have spread the stain further.

Most of the public won’t know or care about this festering, but it remains hovering over Curran, and it is a confirmation that Labour and the Greens are in Government more for themselves than for integrity.

Leave a comment

16 Comments

  1. alloytoo

     /  April 28, 2018

    Curran, Minister for Propaganda.

    Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 28, 2018

    Useless prats protecting a useless prat.

    Reply
  3. Blazer

     /  April 28, 2018

    ‘much ado about…nothing’.

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  April 28, 2018

      Yep – nothing to see, so lets block anyone from finding out it was a nothing. Because, you know, there was nothing to see, so move along why don’t you.

      Reply
    • nothing to…hide?

      Reply
  4. duperez

     /  April 28, 2018

    So what’s the aim of talking to Curran again? To get Hirschfeld sacked again? To get Curran sacked? To stymie changes to RNZ? Simply cause embarrassment to the Government?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  April 28, 2018

      Simon’s replied to my email. He says “not the first one”.

      Reply
    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  April 28, 2018

      To hold a Minister to account Dupe…. you know, accountability to Parliament? Curran should have no problem fronting up and explain why she ran around established conventions re talking into government agencies to line managers without getting the CEO’s approval first.

      Labour and the Greens in opposition made much of the former Governments methods and lack of transparency. Well here is the Minister from Labour who holds responsibility for making sure that lack of transparency is not repeated under the NZ First lead Governing coalition with Labour…. and look see Labours talk in opposition is all hot air and bs.

      Time to set new standards Dupe, time to be OPEN and HONEST……C’mon Dupe “Lets Do this!!!” Or should that be “Let’s lie and then be dishonest about”?

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  April 28, 2018

        We have a fine tradition about lying and dishonesty from our politicians so that catch-cry wouldn’t be novel.

        Maybe all the way along Curran should have gone all Clinton, “I only had coffee and a muffin with that woman.”

        The whole episode points out that conventions, protocols and niceties are 100% sacrosanct. Well … depending.

        Reply
  5. Trevors_Elbow

     /  April 28, 2018

    Interesting. But what is the record of this type of thing happening? Need context on occurrence rate to judge this incidence…

    But…..

    Frankly the Greens have missed a trick here. They could have reconfirmed their position of giving their Question Time slots to National in order to improve accountability of the government, by instructing Hughes to vote for Curran to appear.

    Would have confirmed their stance on accountability of the governing party/parties and also demonstrate they walk their values…..

    This just means Curran is too scared to face questioning in committee and is avoiding parliaments oversight of the Executives performance. So what does she have to hide? Must be a big problem if she won’t fornt a few friendly faces in select committee and explain what she was doing in her porfolio surely? : )

    Not a good look, though I am sure this type of thing has happened before. But if the media don’t make an issue of it and put it in front of the majority who don’t pay attention to parliaments real work, which occurs in the select committees, then Curran will walk free.

    National need to refer to this in every question time and ask the PM why she has confidence in Curran. Just grind the Labour party with this relentlessly..

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  April 28, 2018

      Yes, just grinding the Labour party with this relentlessly, referring to it in every single question time with multiple questions is the way to go. We need strong, determined, intelligent and enlightened approaches like that.

      Reply
      • Trevors_Elbow

         /  April 28, 2018

        we need this kind of perfidy exposed to a wider audience…. sunlight is the best medicine to dodgy in the shadows stuff like the Hirsch @ Astoria…

        Reply
  6. Strong For Life

     /  April 28, 2018

    Clearly there is something to hide that we are not supposed to know about… yet!

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  April 28, 2018

      That’s one conclusion. Another is that it’s a sideshow and prolonging it is silly.

      Maybe if Richard Griffin had released recordings he had events would have evolved so there’d not be this call now. Maybe that would’ve ended in Curran being booted or resigning. Maybe since releasing the tapes wasn’t likely to have ended in Curran being booted or resigning Griffin deleted the recordings. And we are we where are today.

      It’s politics so cynicism should be expected.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  April 28, 2018

        The committee already blocked the recording being subpoenaed. Greens did what they were told.

        Reply
  1. Labour, Green MPs block holding Curran to account — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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