Government Committee MPs save Curran

: National Broadcasting Spokesperson, Melissa Lee
 

National Party MPs were stopped by Government MPs from setting in place a process which could have seen Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran charged with contempt of Parliament.

The grounds arose from a voicemail message she allegedly left Radio New Zealand chair, Richard Griffin.

In a minority report from the Economic Development Select Committee on its annual review of Radio New Zealand,  the National Party MPs, said they had asked that Griffin be recalled to the committee to provide the mesasage.

Griffin said the message asked him not to re-appear at a Committee hearing to clear up his accidental misleading of the committee when he had earlier told it that the meeting between Curran and Hirschfeld was a casual encounter.

It was later found to have been pre-planned and that Hirschfeld had lied to RNZ about it and forced to resign.

National MP, Melissa Lee, asked that Griffin provide the voicemail to the committee.

Griffin refused.

The Committee report says: “The National Party views the Minister’s behaviour as potentially in breach of Standing Order 409 and lists examples of this breach in clause 410 (u) stating that “intimidating, preventing, or hindering a witness from giving evidence, or giving evidence in full, to the House or a committee.”

Standing Order 409 lists grounds for contempt of Parliament.

The report said that Lee’s request was not supported by the Government members of the committee.

“This leaves the matter unclear on the content and tone of the message, whether interference occurred or not.

“The National Members also sought to invite Hon Clare Curran to the committee to give her 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 committee also requested that  RNZ provide copies of all communications including all emails, texts, phone call records, and voice mail between Carol Hirschfeld and Clare Curran from 1 January 2017.

“RNZ has subsequently advised us that, after conducting a thorough review of electronic records, it confirmed that it does not hold any emails, texts, phone call records or voice mail between Carol Hirschfeld and the Minister.

“RNZ has, however, provided us with the billing data of outgoing texts from Carol Hirschfeld's phone to the Minister's phone number.“

the final word from the Committee is that it recommends that its report be noted --- in other words, that it has nothing to say one way or another on whatever it was that happened between Clare Curran and Richard Griffin.

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