- Date published:
7:00 am, June 4th, 2019 - 119 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, making shit up, paula bennett, Politics, public services, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, treasury - Tags: attack politics, Budget 2019, cynical politics, Gabriel Makhlouf, opposition, political victimhood, state services commission
It seems that National’s aim was to control the narrative and cause maximal embarrassment to Treasury and the Government with Budgetgate. The Budget has been publically released and we now all know what is in it and what is not. Yet, a foul taste, a bad smell lingers.
The National Party portrays itself as a victim and wants to clear its name. As if. Like a cornered wild beast, they decided that attack is the best way of achieving this. Alternatively, they smell blood and sense weakness and are going for the kill. Irrespective of their motives, they were and still are not acting in the interest of the New Zealand public.
The Deputy Leader of the National Party has written a letter to the State Services Commissioner (SSC) requesting that he widen his enquiry into Budgetgate.
The two-page letter is written in the first person singular “I” except for the very last sentence where it suddenly becomes “we”. I assume this means the Leader and Deputy Leader of the
Opposition National Party together. Oh, how they laughed.
The other interesting thing to observe is that the National Party is not once mentioned in the letter and it only refers to the Opposition. I assume this includes both ACT and the single independent MP for Botany. I also assume they endorse the letter but more likely, they were never asked for their opinion, which would be typical of National’s arrogance.
The writer of the letter is riding her high horse and rather sanctimoniously claims that, by inference, the Secretary to the Treasury “alleged illegal activity by the Opposition” [my italic] and that this raised “constitutional issues if [my bold] the matter was referred [by the Secretary to the Treasury] to the New Zealand Police without clear evidence to back up these allegations.” I am not aware of the Secretary alleging “illegal activity by the Opposition” so indeed this is a big “if” and thus a leading question without any evidential support to back it up. Nice one. As far as I know, the Secretary called (in) the Police because he suspected hacking activity but was completely ignorant of the possible source.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also makes a big song and dance about the involvement of the GCSB. Given that Treasury suspected having been hacked, it did the right thing and contacted the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) for advice on Tuesday evening, which falls within the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). They ascertained that Treasury’s computer network was not compromised and suggested that the matter be referred to the Police.
A Treasury staff member described the incident to an NCSC responder and asked if it was a matter for the NCSC or police, the spokeswoman said.
“Given the incident did not involve a compromise of the Treasury computer network and was therefore not the type of incident the NCSC would normally respond to it was recommended that the matter be referred to police for their assessment.”
The other points raised in the letter are something between a fishing expedition and a witch-hunt for the Treasury Secretary. The guy has already accepted a job at the other side of the world so why explicitly state that “[i]t would be unacceptable for this enquiry [by SSC] to be used to delay the removal of the Secretary from his role”? So, guilty till presumed innocent by the SSC?
You’d wonder what National is after or what else they know. The last bulletised question in the letter fascinates me. All previous bullets are about Treasury and/or its Secretary. The last one is about the Minister of Finance and the PM:
It is completely separate from the previous points and stands in almost complete isolation of the overall contents of the letter. The letter does, however, implicate the Minister of Finance in misleading the public in a way that suggests (undue) political influence of the neutral public service.
The letter also whinges that the Opposition never received an apology (what for?) and continued to be “disparage[d] … in an entirely inappropriate way” (by whom and why?). It seems a demand for natural justice but they have not once asked for it explicitly; it must be an alien concept to them.
So, there we have it. National (not the Opposition) is trying to play it both ways. It claims innocence saying that they “had acted entirely appropriately” and that they are the innocent victim of some kind of political slander or smear campaign by Treasury and the Minister of Finance without evidence to back it up. This allows them to take the moral high ground and keep a foot in the door concerning the SSC inquiry.
“We’ve got a Beehive where it’s amateur hour, and the reality is they are incredibly embarrassed, they’re not in control of what they are doing, and so they’re lashing out and they are having a witch hunt on the National Party.”
On the other hand, National accuses the Government of being amateurs but fail to mention that they, National, were the aggressor, the instigator and cause of the whole debacle in the first place and responsible for the pre-emptive
strike release of parts of the Budget. And they are continuing their attack.
I fail to see how these shenanigans are for the public good. National has turned the Budget circus into a charade. Is this to hide that they are bereft of any counter-ideas? Is this trying to distract from the positives of and in the Budget (there were a few)? Is any of these attack-politics helping New Zealanders ahead and giving them a ‘brighter future’? No, of course not. It is a sad sideshow of cynical politics.