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Robertson blasts Treasury over hasty police action on Budget leak

Thursday 30th May 2019

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Outgoing Treasury secretary Gabriel Makhlouf appears to be on thin ice with his boss, Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

The finance minister says he is "very disappointed" both by the department's poor cyber-security and its hasty referral of Budget leaks that it claimed were "hacking" to the police.

His statement follows two days of political turmoil caused by the National Party discovering Budget secrets on a supposedly secure part of the Treasury website and an early morning press statement from Treasury today saying the police had swiftly determined its website was not hacked, but that parts of it that should have been invisible could be accessed using the website's search engine.

Makhlouf has asked the State Services Commission to investigate and the head of SSC, Peter Hughes, is considering his options.

“I’m very disappointed that confidential Budget information was able to be accessed in this way. I am also very disappointed that the Treasury did not seek to find more information as to how this happened before referring the matter to the police," said Robertson, whose statement stopped short of seeking a resignation.

“I now await the inquiry of the State Services Commissioner into this matter."

Makhlouf's last day as secretary to the Treasury is June 27, when he will return to the Northern Hemisphere after an eight-year stint at the government's lead economic agency to become governor of the Irish central bank.

National Party leader Simon Bridges sought to press home the embarrassment the leaks have caused for the government. He called for the resignations of Robertson and Makhlouf whom he claimed had accused National of engaging in a criminal act when in fact the incident showed evidence of incompetence by the Treasury and government.

Robertson said that today he was "focussed on delivering the Wellbeing Budget, which will start to fix many of the long-term problems facing New Zealand.”

(BusinessDesk)

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