The Curran Hirschfeld OIAs

Politik reports:

Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran has “dumped” pages, and pages of emails and other documents in response to an avalanche of Official Information Act requests over the RNZ – Carol Hirschfeld affair.

Most of the documents have been redacted.

Some of the redactions are ridiculous’ a letter written by the RNZ Chair and CEO to the Economic Development Select Committee before their latest appearance has had all its content redacted yet the Committee itself has made the letter public.

Ironically, Curran is also Minister of Open Government.

Other requests have journalists’ names redacted but their signature blocks included (including POLITIK) ; one name has not been redacted at all.

Welcome to Open Government Labour style. They even redact stuff already in the public domain.

On the morning of the appearance by RNC Chair, Richard Griffin and CEO, Paul Thompson, at the Select Committee when Griffin had explained (at times vehemently) that the meeting between Curran and Hirschfeld was a casual encounter with Hirschfeld still in her gym gear, Curran’s office phoned RNZ at 1142 shortly after Griffin left the Select Committee.

A note of the calls reads: “To confirm what RNZ had said to the Select Committee and as a result advise that it was not a chance meeting, as it was in the Minister’s diary. Incorrect information had been given to the Select Committee.”

RNZ called back at 1500: “To advise RNZ had checked again with Carol who maintained her story that it was a chance meeting.”

Then on the 22nd of March — three weeks later — Curran’s office phoned RNZ again: To advise RNZ again that the meeting was not a chance meeting and that it had been in the diary since 23 November.”

Why did Curran’s office do nothing for three weeks. They told Radio NZ it was a planned meeting and Radio NZ reported back that Hirschfeld was still saying it was coincidental. Her office knew that Hirschfeld was lying to Radio NZ, but left the matter for three weeks.

But Griffin was privately furious that he had been misled not just by Hirschfeld, but he felt, by Curran’s tardiness in confirming the facts of the meeting, which had led him and Thompson to mislead a Select Committee.

His relationship with Curran had begun to break down.

It was a far cry from November 8 last year when he met the Minister, and a released email quotes him thanking her for the courteous and constructive discussion she had with him over the future of RNZ that day.

“And I want to thank you also for supporting my continued leadership of the board through the introductory stage of what promises to be the most innovative programme of change to the organisation in decades,” he wrote.

What he didn’t know was that five days before, on March 3, Curran had texted  Hirschfeld suggesting they meet, in effect, behind Griffin’s back..

Ministers don’t meet with staff in private meetings that their CEOs and Chairs know nothing about. Any MP or Minister should know this.

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