Carol Hirschfeld scandal could claim more scalps - commentator

  • 28/03/2018

The fallout from the Carol Hirschfeld scandal looks set to continue, with political commentator Richard Harman saying there is "more to come".

Ms Hirschfeld resigned as a senior manager at Radio New Zealand (RNZ) after misleading management about a controversial meeting with Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran.

Appearing on The AM Show on Wednesday, Mr Harman says the situation is "very odd".

"We can only speculate what they were talking about," he says.

"But it would seem highly likely that they were discussing what Hirschfeld probably argued and Curran believed was a retreat by Radio New Zealand from the Labour Party manifesto promise to create a standalone television channel."

Ms Hirschfeld met with Ms Curran in December, later "assuring repeatedly" RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson that the meeting was coincidental.

As a result of Ms Hischfeld's insistence the meeting came after they bumped into each other at a cafe, Mr Thompson told a select committee the meeting was a coincidence, unintentionally misleading members of Parliament.

As a result, he could be pulled in front of a select committee to correct his misleading statements.

And the damage could continue to spread. While Ms Curran has not resigned, she could face punishment from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Her relationship with RNZ could also be damaged.

"I think she's at risk of at least losing the broadcasting portfolio," Mr Harman says.

"It's going to be very difficult for her to work with Paul Thompson. I think [RNZ board chair] Dick Griffin's term expires at the end of April. It's well known there's little love lost between the pair of them so he's likely to go but Thompson has proved to be a very able CEO at Radio New Zealand.

"That relationship of trust that he needs with the minister is not there at the moment."