Yesterday Ed posted this comment. I thought it summed up National’s current budgetgate problems perfectly and deserved a post of its own.
I was surprised to hear on the news (Radio NZ) that there is still discussion of a purported accusation by Grant Robertson that National had hacked information. There was an article and discussion on The Standard that analysed the various statements and showed that this was not true.
I look at it this way. The first we knew of anything was Simon Bridges releasing some information. At that time he refused to say where it came from, but implied that he may have more; there was predictable speculation that it had been leaked by Treasury staff or someone else; that is was a deliberate sting to identify a leaker, or that someone had hacked a system. Nobody knew who had given Bridges the information or how they had got it. Robertson asked National not to release any more information, and about that time also said that Treasury had identified that their system may have been hacked – again no knowledge of by who, or implication that it may be anyone in particular but they had referred it to police.
GCSB became involved and determined that the system had been entered through a parliamentary services computer, presumably by someone authorised, and that there were 2000 entries over 20 hours. Still no implication of anyone in particular. Note that National were connected to the leak however by having the information, and deciding to publish it.
Then Simon Bridges came clean that it was a staffer in a National party office, which implies that he had been protesting about a non-existent implication of something that was, known only to National, true!
That leaves whether it was a hack or not. Simple search, says Simon, but then we learn that it took at least 20 hours and 2000 specific searches (not using Google), which to most people looked and smelled like hacking. This was not a simple download – it was hard work over quite some time – plenty of time to think through the ethics and to have advised Parliamentary Services or Treasury.
So was it a hack? Most people would think so – it was using a fault to access information that they knew they should not have access to, spending a lot of time and effort getting little bits at a time. The tree was not cut with a single stroke, it took 2000 hacks to get as much as they could or wanted to get. It was obtaining information without authorisation – to most New Zealanders that is a hack – but what’s in a name?
The real decision of concern was Bridge’s decision to publish the information to embarrass the government / public sector. He did not need to do that, but could have used the time to prepare for his speech on the budget. I don’t know why he is not being called on the false accusation that the government accused National of doing something illegal (they didn’t), and is not being criticised for releasing material that he said should not have been made public. Double standards and woolly thinking are being used to obfuscate and divert attention from the nastiness of Bridge’s decision to publish. Bridges needs to be called on throwing out false accusations to divert from his own shameful behaviour.
And Shouty Simon is back:
Good on Suzy Ferguson for trying to get Bridges to answer questions rather than trotting out his attack lines and avoiding questions about his leadership and support.
Bridges is in a difficult situation. I wonder how it will end?