He is suggesting he may have disagreed with a decision by the Economic Development Select Committee not to further investigate alleged attempts by Broadcasting Minister, Clare Curran, to stop Radio New Zealand chair, Richard Griffin from appearing before the committee.
The Government used its majority on the committee to end the investigation.
The worst case for scenario for Curran, if the Committee had continued its investigations, may have been that she was found in contempt of Parliament which would have placed her Ministerial appointment at jeopardy.
Mallard’s comments in a letter to a National MP and in an interview with POLITIK cast doubt on Curran’s claims that she has been cleared by the Economic Development Select Committee and the implication that she has been exonerated.
Mallard clearly believes that the National MPs on the Committee were correct when they said there were still unanswered questions.
The decision not to take the matter any further was made by the three Labour MPs and one Green and one NZ First MP on the Committee over the objections of the five National MPs.
So the Greens voted to prevent the investigation.
Mallard replied that the way to get to the bottom of the matter was through further questioning of those involved.
“On the evidence presented it is not clear that there was any attempt to intimidate, prevent or hinder the chairperson of Radio New Zealand,” he said in his reply to Lee.
“Therefore I find that no question of privilege is involved.”
In an email to POLITIK Curran has argued that his decision has “cleared” her.
But that may not be the way Mallard sees it.
In his letter to Lee, he makes it clear that he believes the Committee had not exhausted its potential investigation into the matter.
What he doesn’t say – but which he has previously told POLITIK —- is that the Committee has the power to refer the request for the voicemail message to him.
Any refusal by Griffin to then provide it could also potentially be a Contempt of Parliament, possibly punishable by a fine.
But the Government used its majority on the committee to not refer the matter to Mallard, thereby protecting Curran.
Mallard was surprised by this decision.
“I had expected and had prepared for the committee asking me to send for a copy of the recording,” he told POLITIK.
”I thought that was a way to make absolutely clear which of the incompatible versions was correct.
“if I had had a request I would have taken action to require Mr Griffin to provide the message, as far as possible, because it had been deleted, but if it was possible that it could be recovered and that way make it clear what had occurred, and I was surprised that the committee did not ask for that to happen.”
So the Speaker is saying he would have backed a select committee request for the recording to be turned over. But thanks to the Greens and NZ First, the truth will now never be known.