Curran gutted like a trout by Melissa Lee

Clare Curran was gutted like a trout by Melissa Lee.

7. MELISSA LEE (National) to the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media: Does she believe it is important for State-owned broadcasters to be independent?

Hon CLARE CURRAN (Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media): Yes, Labour campaigned on a stronger public broadcasting service and believes in the importance of independent media.

Melissa Lee: Would the Minister consider a State-owned broadcaster to be acting independently if a ministerial staff member featured as an independent commentator on a Radio New Zealand programme discussing Government policy?

Hon CLARE CURRAN: Could the member repeat the question, please.

It as at this point that Curran looked to be all at sea and very worried. She has mastered the confused-old-cat-lady look very well.

Melissa Lee: Would the Minister consider a State-owned broadcaster to be acting independently if a ministerial staff member featured as an independent commentator on a Radio New Zealand programme discussing Government policy?

Hon CLARE CURRAN: That’s an operational matter for the State-owned—

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, the member will ask the question again.

Melissa Lee: Would the Minister consider a State-owned broadcaster to be acting independently if a ministerial staff member featured as an independent commentator on a Radio New Zealand programme discussing Government policy?

Hon CLARE CURRAN: State-owned broadcasters, as do any other broadcasters, make their own decisions about who they have on their programmes.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a very serious and important question, in fact, and I think that the Minister might want to think again about the answer that’s just been given—perhaps even the question asked again, so the Minister can be quite clear about what has happened here.

Mr SPEAKER: I think we’ve had two cracks at it and I think if we put the two answers together—that it’s an operational matter and that the organisations make their own decisions—the question, if not answered to the member’s satisfaction, has been addressed.

Almost saved by Mallard, looking after his old girlfriend.

Greg O’Connor: What work is the Government currently doing that would strengthen the independence of State-owned broadcasters?

Hon CLARE CURRAN: I recently announced work being done on the potential formation of a public media funding commission, which will be subject to Cabinet approval. The commission is intended to act as an independent, non-political voice for media organisations that are in the inevitable but difficult position of holding to account Governments on which they depend for funding. This policy is in contrast to the former Government’s policy of severely underfunding public media.

Melissa Lee: In light of a previous answer, does the Minister believe a State-owned broadcaster would be acting independently if a ministerial staffer was featured as an independent commentator on a Radio New Zealand programme discussing Government policy, if it wasn’t made clear that they were a political staffer in a ministerial office?

Hon CLARE CURRAN: Media organisations make their own determinations as to who they have on their programmes.

Labour don’t really understand conflict-of-interest issues particularly well.

Melissa Lee: In light of the answer, will the Minister be asking the Prime Minister for an explanation as to why a political staffer in the Prime Minister’s office appeared on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel on 12 February, introduced as a representative of Senate Communications, when she has not actually worked there for several months?

Hon CLARE CURRAN: No.

Why not? If this was National and Wayne Eagleson was masquerading as independent they’d be screaming corruption at the top of their lungs.

Melissa Lee: What will she say about this questionable independence when she catches up with Radio New Zealand head of content, Carol Hirschfeld, at their next informal breakfast meeting?

Hon CLARE CURRAN: Apart from the fact that that’s a ridiculous question, having a meeting alone does not breach the independence of State-owned broadcasters. Editorial independence, which is outlined in section 13 of Radio New Zealand’s Act and section 28 of TVNZ’s, does not preclude responsible Ministers from meeting with the broadcasters informally or formally to stay informed of their progress.

It was not a ridiculous question. It was sloppy from the minister and she got busted. Now she has got another corruption scandal on her hands.

Melissa Lee: As a Minister of broadcasting, she has an interest in what is actually happening at Radio New Zealand. Did she know that there was a staffer from the Prime Minister’s office masquerading as an independent commentator on a Radio New Zealand programme?

Hon CLARE CURRAN: I have no responsibility for that.

Melissa Lee: I seek leave to table a transcript of the opening statements of Radio New Zealand’s The Panel from 12 February 2018.

Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that document being tabled? There appears to be none. It may be tabled.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Melissa Lee: I seek leave to table evidence proving that the RNZ panellist introduced as a consultant from Senate PR is, in fact, a contract staffer at the office of the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Sorry? Is there—and was at the time in question? Was at the time in question?

Melissa Lee: Was?

Mr SPEAKER: I want it to be made clear—

Melissa Lee: She was, I believe.

Mr SPEAKER: On 12 February. Is there any objection to that evidence being tabled—and I want to make it very clear that’s a very high test. Is there any objection to that? There appears to be none.

Evidence, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Melissa Lee is on to a scandal here. Let’s hope National have put some senior people on to the case so that Melissa Lee can prosecute this properly. It may very well see the end of Clare Curran.

 

-Parliament


Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

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.

62%