Carol Hirschfeld sacked at Radio NZ after caught lying about Curran breakfast

Radio New Zealand head of content Carol Hirschfeld has resigned.

Clare Curran has long maintained that her breakfast meeting with Carol Hirschfeld was mere happenstance.

She tried to cover it up by not including it in her answers to written questions and then in answers in parliament. Hirschfeld also took that approach and her bosses went to a select committee to claim the same.

It now turns out that both Hirschfeld and Curran were lying. The meeting was planned.

Carol Hirschfeld is leaving Radio NZ, effective immediately, after the saga over her meeting with Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran.

Hirschfeld had earlier repeatedly assured RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson a meeting with Curran on December 5 last year was coincidental, after she and the minister had bumped into each other in a Wellington cafe

This assurance led to both Thompson and Radio NZ chairman Richard Griffin inadvertently providing incorrect information to Parliament.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is standing by Curran and her description of her controversial meeting with Hirschfeld as “informal”.

The saga became public after National MP Melissa Lee asked questions about the meeting at a select committee this month.

Lee, National’s broadcasting spokeswoman, said Curran’s relationship with public broadcaster Radio New Zealand had to be transparent.

Lee asked Radio NZ chief executive Paul Thompson about it at a select committee and Thompson said it had been a chance encounter between the pair.

“Carol had been to the gym, she was getting a coffee, they bumped into each other, in a cafe and had a conversation so it was hardly a secret meeting,” Thompson told the select committee. “I don’t have any concern,” he said at the time.

But on Sunday, Hirschfeld told Thompson the meeting had been arranged.

They lied about the meeting, lied about the reason for the meeting and tried to cover it all up. This minister is also the Minister for Open Government.

Hirschfeld had to go. She lied to her bosses who in turn lied to a parliamentary select committee. Her position was untenable.

Now we know that the meeting was a scheduled and official meeting the focus will fall on Clare Curran about what it was they were talking about.

Gossip around Wellington suggests that it was discussions about Hirschfeld’s unofficial proposal to launch Radio NZ’s television channel. That proposal was considered to be an end run around the official plans put forward to the minister… and a direct approach to Clare Curran regarding the millions she promised during the election for expanding public broadcasting.

Under questioning in parliament it seems that Jacinda Ardern and Clare Curran think this is all a storm in a teacup. It isn’t. There is more to come on this.

Clare Curran seems to have escaped any official sanction by correcting her responses to questions, but it does leave one with the distinct impression that Clare Curran is a disaster waiting to happen. Her actions have already cost one person their job. How many more will be blamed for Curran’s failings?


-NZ Herald


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