Barry Soper on Curran’s little problem with the Cabinet Manual

Barry Soper has highlighted a little problem Clare Curran has with the rules governing the behaviour of ministers, contained within the Cabinet Manual.

He writes:

What a pity there wasn’t a tape left running on the table where Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran had the clandestine meeting with the former Radio New Zealand head of content Carol Hirschfeld.

She lied to her bosses for four months about the meeting, claiming it happened by chance when she dropped into a prominent Wellington coffee shop on her way back from the gym.

That certainly was the appearance she wanted to create, turning up in her gym gear. But it was pure theatre, the meeting had been sought by Curran.

A storm in a coffee cup?

Well that’s certainly what some would say, and without knowing what the pair met for, and what was said at the meeting, it makes drawing a conclusion difficult.

End of quote.

There is no way it was chance, or only high level. The meeting was held two days before an important board meeting.

Barry Soper continues:

But here’s a company that looks set to get the lion’s share of $38 million of taxpayers’ money to set up a television channel – and the minister seeks a meeting with the most experienced middle manager on television at the state broadcaster.

They were hardly talking about pilates.

End of quote:

No, they weren’t.

The article continues:

Curran’s boss Jacinda Ardern’s backing her minister, essentially saying everyone makes mistakes but acknowledging she should have been more transparent.

A bit of an irony for the associate Minister for Open Government!

Ardern used the ministerial behaviour bible to reinforce her support for her sheepish minister, the Cabinet Manual, that sets out the line that must be toed when interacting with the bureaucracy.

There’s one clause in the manual that could make the Prime Minister’s claim that the rules weren’t breached highly debatable.

It says “if an employee wishes to communicate privately with a Minister about a matter concerning the agency by which he or she is employed, the Minister should ensure that the employee has first raised the matter with the agency’s chief executive.”

The fact that the minister sought the meeting – without first informing the RNZ boss – just makes matters worse.

End of quote:

Hirschfeld has gone, but Curran should go too.

Ardern is protecting her because Labour’s thinking is that a scalp this early in government would send a bad message to voters. I’m buggered if I know why it is a better option to cling on to an embattled minister who is desperately thick and getting beaten up daily in the house by Melissa Lee. They might have nixed her sacking, but Labour have sent the message to voters that Ardern is weak, vacillating and ineffectual. Ministers just ignore her tellings off.

Helen Clark would have had Curran shot at dawn and the body fed to the pigs by now.


-NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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