The Attack of the Snowflakes

Written By: - 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: , , , , , ,

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:

  • A complete review of all communications with an between the Minister of Finance or his office, and the Prime Minister’s’ office under the ‘no surprises’ approach

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.

“The Government has botched both the handling and content of this Budget.”

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.

119 comments on “The Attack of the Snowflakes”

  1. Sam 1

    Being bereft of ideas is actually a National Party strength, it's a good thing for them. If National actually had to implement an idea of there own like Rogernomics, with out looking at the cheat sheets (cabinet recommendations) they’d fall over straight away and start sacking their own Prime Minster and then their own Foreign Minister. That's what happens when National Party MPs get ideas.

  2. …Grant Robertson chose to issue statements implying National carried out a 'systematic hack'," Bennett said in a statement.

    I notice Stuff's corrected "Opposition" to "National" in their paraphrasing.  Also, given that Robertson implied no such thing, you can only assume it's Bennett's guilty conscience speaking.  

    I too would like the SSC to investigate what happened very closely, including making recommendations on whether it really should be legal for people to find and exploit organisations' cyber-security errors to obtain unauthorised access to confidential data. It could start with demanding all internal National Party correspondence relating to the data theft. 

    It would also be worthwhile for them to define “systematic hack,” which should actually include what National did.

  3. Ed1 3

    There have been suggestions that it was a parliamentary staffer, rather than a Nationa; Party adviser that "discovered" the material. It would be concerning if a person supposed to be independent would not draw a security breach to the attention of the relevant department; although I am less clear as to whether, having discovered material, it was reasonable that it be disclosed to Simon Bridges. Some newspapers are also still claiming that it took 2000 attempts to make the "simple search' – in fairness to the staff member that should be determined as well,

    • solkta 3.1

      Just because someone is employed by Parliament that does not make them independent. All MPs have executive assistants and electorate MPs have electorate secretaries as well. There are also researchers and other staff who work for parties. These people are paid by Parliamentary Service but work directly for the MP/party concerned.  

      • Ed1 3.1.1

        Thanks. I had thought that staff members of Parliamentary Services were supposed to be politically neutral in din their job, and htat both they and indeed MPs were supposed to act in the interests of all New Zealand and of orderly and effective government. In theory it should be possible (and has been in many instances) for staff to serve successive governments with no problems for anyone. In reality a change of major party in government does tend to result in some staff moving with their parliamentarians. Parliamentary service employees should be be aware of what things they can and cannot do; one thing in this instance that I think would have been desirable would be that a staffer realising that a government website had a security deficiency would very quickly advise the relevant department (or the head of parliamentary services) so that in the interests of New Zealand, that breach could be fixed. I go further and think that such an obligation should also apply as a reasonable expectation from any MP. I am less clear on whether it is reasonable for an MP or parliamentary staff working for him to download anything of interest to themselves first; that possibly depends on the nature of the breach. In this case there was clearly little real public interest in the material they downloaded; respect for privacy and the conventions of parliament should have been enough for any MP to have decided that it should not be published, but I could not blame an Opposition MP from looking at the material as preparation for a speech in the House – sadly it does not seem to have been used for that purpose.  I would be interested in the "Rules of Engagement" for parliamentary services staff in MPs offices, and in whether by abusing such commitments there is any effective penalty on a "rogue MP"

    • mauī 3.2

      Thank you Ed.

  4. Chris T 4

    Not being funny, but the continued bitching about National's admittedly immature dealing with the issue, is getting a bit tired.

    At the end of the day Treasury under Labour leaked the thing by accident onto a public web site. Over reacted to the max by calling in the police, when their own uselessness was discovered, and they were frantically arse covering.

    Grant Robertson fell for it like an utter chump with zero actual getting some reliable evidence and implied National broke the law.

    Do the Nats deserve an apology? Well no. They politicised it and Bridges behaved like a 4 year old who just discovered Disneyland

    Should Robertson have offered his resignation and then Ardern say "No Grant. I forgive you".

    Yes. He wouldn't look like such and idiot, and Labour should have just manned up, taken it on the chin, and said "well we were a bit stupid there, but there we go. this is the Budget!!"

     

    • marty mars 4.1

      Well maybe asking your deputy opposition members to not write silly letters – showering herself with plastic confetti she is – destructive and killing dolphins – nice one paula benefit.

      Everyone I know think the gnats are idiots and it was a dick move trying to get simon to be the big man with his form. Now paula is wading in – classic – at least judith is less thick and watching from the trees.

    • peterh 4.2

      Very few people care about this issue, of those that do just under 40% think that the govt stuffed up big time. and just over 60% think that the Nats And Bridges  are a slimey bunch of pricks, so if my figures are right there would have been more damage to the Nats

    • Rapunzel 4.3

      That certainly justifies the snowflake description "not being funny" never means not being funny, what it means is I am "trying" to be funny.

    • Over reacted to the max by calling in the police…

      That's what an organisation does when it finds that a mistake by a staff member has allowed data thieves to exploit that mistake.  And good luck to the IT Security manager or CIO who says "Yeah, thieves gained unauthorised access to confidential data, but it was our mistake that let them in so no need to call in the coppers, right?"

    • lprent 4.5

      Personally, I'm just waiting to get the details about exactly who was doing the accessing. As far as I can see this falls within the "dishonest purpose" of section 249 of the Crimes Act. The amount of effort required to weedle out the information from the small extracts was considerable. I'd like to see the reasoning of the police on why this does not constitute "dishonest purpose".

      As far as I can see there is no significiant difference between this and that reported for the attack on Cameron Slater's computer by 'rawshark', except that rawshark apparently did some damage to the website before leaving. 

      The difference here is that the attempted damage wasn't to a simple website and its author(s), it was potentially a crime against the whole of the public. 

      Now for the inevitable idiots who don't read the statute – that something is in public view by accident or computer errors does not constitute permission to use it for dishonest purpose.

      http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/latest/DLM330422.html

      So far no-one has satisfied me that whoever did this wasn’t doing it for advantage or gain, did not cause damage to others, and had any claim of right to be accessing that information.

      As such, in my opinion, whoever did this act should be personally charged. It simply doesn’t matter if they were a parliamentary staffer, a staffer for the National party, or their superiors ordered them to do so.

      That section of the Crimes Act is there to protect computer systems from idiots. It is worded in the way that it is because the intent of the section was to provide for the same kind of protection that property in an unlocked house has. It isn’t there to protect idiots who want to claim that they can steal anything that isn’t nailed down.

      Similarly the police and other arms of the state do not have exclusive rights to prosecute or recommend criminal idiots for prosecution. That is also available from personal prosecutions.

      Now these haven’t had too good run through the courts recently – mostly because it has only been the vindictive and the fools who have used them. I’ve been on the receiving end of one myself – from Dermot Nottingham the same genius legal adviser who ‘helped’ Cameron Slater.

      I think that it’d be be useful to bring the question of dishonest purpose in s249 to the courts for a clear ruling, while also providing an example of how to use this facility when the police appear to be too constrained to do so.

      When it comes to computer ‘crimes’, one thing has become apparent over the years. That is that it pays to have the interests of the National Party at heart when the legal ambiguity gives them wiggle room before the police are willing to action or inaction.

      • Sacha 4.5.1

        I believe there is more public interest in prosecuting this to clarify the law, no matter the outcome, than there ever was in the initial activity.

        • Dukeofurl 4.5.1.1

          yes . I agree on the clarification part.

          After all just using the 'public facing'  part of  website and 'inspired guesswork' applies to passwords too.

          The intent to obtain  information,  which they knew was highly confidential and the  systematic way they went about it. A judge could well rule its a 'computer breach'

          I personally think some in national have known for some years about the Treasury search function and  had used it on the quiet as  giving them a head start on  budget day . But this year Bridges is sitting so low on polls he  has to do something.

          Plus is there a poll out soon covering the budget period?

          • Sacha 4.5.1.1.1

            Noticed afterwards that @lprent has similar sentiments about the case law value below: /the-attack-of-the-snowflakes/#comment-1624455

            • Sam 4.5.1.1.1.1

              So it seems you believe that what Simon Bridges did with the budget was some how illegal. Enjoy your hostilities my friend.

              [lprent: Banned for 1 month for trolling.

              Trying to state what someone else has said by creating a complete lie isn’t conducive to robust debate. Somehow it feels more like intellectual rape by a robotic dildo powered by a Z80 chip – which is what you read like most of the time.

              I think we could all use a rest from this level of stupid trolling. I’ve just read all of your comments for today – and there is simply nothing in there of any value to anyone else reading it. ]

          • alwyn 4.5.1.1.2

            At 4.8, just below here I have listed a very long list of people who released what you like to call " highly confidential" information. Are you calling for all these leakers to be prosecuted as well?

      • Ed1 4.5.2

        There is a good commentary at: http://www.medialawjournal.co.nz/?p=717

        I have commented above (3 and 3.1.1) on the aspect of a "duty of care" that I believe MPs and Parliamentary staff may (or should) have for the interests of government and the people of New Zealand.

        On RNZ this morning I heard a review of the book about the attack on Blomfield, in which a comment was made that by publishing in a book, there may be fewer safeguards against civil prosecution than there would be for a newspaper journalist, which may be another related issue. I would welcome clarification first from the SSC –  and if there is an obligation on either or both MPs or Parliamentary Services staff , what the penalties are for ignoring them.

        • lprent 4.5.2.1

          about the attack on Blomfield, in which a comment was made that by publishing in a book, there may be fewer safeguards against civil prosecution than there would be for a newspaper journalist

          That would most likely to be correct. That was the attempted defence that Cameron Slater made  for 'journalist' protection in defending against a defamation civil action from Matthew Blomfield (there is no prosecution in civil law).  He actually gained recognition of being a journalist in the High Court by Asher. However that protection is limited. Asher also essentially said that in that particular case, that there was no obvious public interest in the Cameron's posts – even if all of Cameron's accusations were proved true.

          However I've read the book. I have been looking at this case and the posts closely since 2013. The writing is excellent because amongst everything else, it is really really hard to point to anything that isn't supported by documentary evidence. Where there is, then it is clearly expressed as being opinion by someone or another, and the factors and evidence that led to that opinion are clearly described. 

          I doubt that there is any duty of care from parliamentary services employees (including MPs) to the public that is more than is owed by any other person in their various relationships and to the public.

          There is in whatever the contractual relationships are between parliament and their employees, and whatever criminal law requires.

    • Gabby 4.6

      Game o' 2 halves going forward christy, shame Slick Britches couldn't find his public spiritedness hat and approach treasury with his concerns, the little publicity whore.

      • Marcus Morris 4.6.1

        Totally agree.  This is a case of pure Opportunism with nothing "honourable" about it. Actually there is little that is honourable about the National Party and this latest charade is straight out of the Crosby Textor handbook. It is known as  "attack" politics – sometimes it works  – ask the Aussie Coalition Parties and the Tories in the the UK, that have all used the "combo"- despicable politics where any means justifies the ends.

    • Ed1 4.7

      My reading of it said that Robertson made no such implication – he did not know how Bridges came by the material, but he was concerned that it should not have been published, which is quite a different issue. 

    • alwyn 4.8

      The person presenting this topic says

      "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".

      You say

      "Treasury under Labour leaked the thing by accident onto a public web site".

      I decided to have a look at who were the original leakers of the material in the Budget. This would of course have to be anyone who had access to the material that was going to be in the Budget released on 30 May and who burst out in the public domain with the information, mostly just to try and impress their friends that they were in the know..

      Well here is a partial list. All these people, often on a large number of occasions leaked the supposedly "confidential" information. It was quite easy to obtain. I just looked at the Government Press Releases and found ones where people released information that apparently they shouldn't have.

      Jacinda Ardern, Tracey Martin, Julie Anne Genter, Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, Grant Robertson, Jenny Salesa, Winston Peters, David Clark, Jan Logie, Shane Jones, Iain Lees-Galloway, Chris Hipkins, Phil Twyford, Kelvin Davis, Carmel Sepuloni, Peeni Henare, Stuart Nash, James Shaw, Ron Mark ……….

      And that is just the releases in May. God knows how many other leaks they indulged in in different forums and at earlier dates.

      If it is indeed some sort of heinous crime to release Budget information prior to Budget Day, why have any of this rabble been allowed to retain their warrants as Ministers? They should all have been sacked.

      https://www.beehive.govt.nz/releases

      Just search for the word "Budget". Yes the Government do provide a very simple way to see the information. Now where have I heard that before?

      • Psycho Milt 4.8.1

        If you don't know the difference between authorised and unauthorised access to information (and release of it), try not posting on the subject – always better to remain silent and only be thought a fool, etc.

        • alwyn 4.8.1.1

          In Britain, from which our Political Conventions mostly arose, a politician who leaked anything at all about the Budget would have resigned. Hugh Dalton, Labour Chancellor in 1947, did precisely that. That is the concept of Budget Confidentiality. Any leak at all of the material in the Budget before it is presented in the House is taken very seriously. The current New Zealand Government clearly take not the slightest interest in the idea.

          https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/mar/20/budget-leak-uncanny-echo-dalton

          The 2013 case referred to in this story was a paper releasing a story created by using an embargoed copy of the Budget. They are given it only after they agree that they would honour the Embargo.

          New Zealand obviously takes no notice at all of the old-fashioned idea of "Budget Confidentiality" If the Government doesn't keep the Budget confidential why should they expect anyone else to? I suppose you are a fan of Helen Clark who notoriously claimed "By definition I cannot leak"

          https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10125099

          • marty mars 4.8.1.1.1

            maybe read this 10 times "try not posting on the subject"

            • alwyn 4.8.1.1.1.1

              Maybe read this 10 times marty.

              "Don't read things that upset you when you find your heroes are fools"

          • Psycho Milt 4.8.1.1.2

            My interest is in data security and the many ways hackers breach it, not the history of budgets in Westminster democracies.  Bottom line is that the owners of the confidential data have the right to release whatever parts of it they like, whenever they like.  People who aren't the owners of the data don't have the right to even access the data, let alone release it.  There's no "Oh but they made a mistake so it's their fault," there's no "But that's not hacking if I found the mistake via a search engine," there's  just "don't have the right."  This needs testing in court.

          • Dukeofurl 4.8.1.1.3

            Dalton , personally made brief comments to a journalist, before entering the Commons.  While he made a pro forma resignation offer , it was accepted because  of internal ructions amoung  Atlees top ministers. Nowdays they do it more formally with the 'lockup' which makes sure the media cant publish till the Budget speech is finished

            Its not quite the comparison to modern budgets, as Britain still had a lot of central control  of the economy and indeed labour was going to nationalise certain sectors.

             

            Didnt we have leaks from the Budget Lockup  from a national party  tweet

            https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/80553821/national-party-budget-breach-that-wouldnt-be-good–john-key

            The National Party staffer who tweeted access details to budget documents before they were officially released, will surely "cease and desist", says the Prime Minister. 

            He appeared to brush off questions over a National Party tweet, which included a picture of the secure wi-fi network on which journalists were able to access the full budget documents while in the four-hour lockup.

             

  5. Gristle 5

    And from the provinces…..,

    Last weekend I asked 15 people about their perceptions of the budget leak.  Answers ranged from "what budget leak," through to "its a storm in a tea cup." Nobody was that concerned by it.

    I think that the biggest impact of the budget leak is in the media reducing it's analysis of the budget and focusing on the froth surrounding it.

    Sure it's a cock up to structure your information on servers that are publicly accessible.  And I think that it is right that employees should be disciplined.  Maybe the MoF should tender his resignation, but I don't expect there to be any political pressure to ensure that such a resignation is accepted.

    If it hasn't happened already there will be a question to the House along the lines of "does the PM have confidence in the MoF?"  And some more posturing will go on.  

     

    • WeTheBleeple 5.1

      Thank you Gristle. It is boring trivial news and the average person wouldn't give a flying fig.

  6. The whole incident is too obvious and contrived in an effort to embarrass the government. So probably National knew what was going on to start with. It is typical of the way John Key et al used to behave with his 'beaver boys.' Trigger an incident that directly impacts on the other party, feign all knowledge of the incident, then accuse that other party of carrying out the said incident. Embarrassing for the innocent victim to say the least, especially when they are blindsided and know nothing about how the 'occurrence' happened. I suppose the beaver boys are still around? Actually I've seen 1 around a few times. They may also work with the less obvious police recruits – the 'undergrounders', the ones that live in the dark, or perhaps Thomson and Clark? any other agencies that could have easily carried out this attack and make it look like someone else was messing with it? Then Hooton plays his part on twitter, stirring the pot to make the impact of the action more pronounced. I think I've heard this all before. Somewhere, some other time. Ha and now we've got Bennett doing her blah, blah blah I'm so angry act. I think they've been mucking with the CIA overthrow a govt rulebook for far too long.

    • Sanctuary 6.1

      "…The whole incident is too obvious and contrived in an effort to embarrass the government…"

      There is no need for a conspiracy. National were in government for nine years, dutring which time they thoroughly blurred the line between the civil service, the National party and the government to the point that government agencies from customs to the SIS to WINZ began behaving as if opposition to the National party was tantamount to treason. 

      The type of quasi-third world attitudes the Key administrations contempt of the public service and the norms of behaviour for these institutions encouraged was best summed up by a work colleague of mine, a new migrant from India who lives in Botany and who was absolutely wild eyed the day after it was announced Labour would form the government. He was livid that nine years of glad handing and influence peddling within the Botany National Party now meant nothing for his plans to get things done on the nod and wink with the government.

      Within that atmosphere, having a tax-payer funded staffer who both a) knows after nine years how the Treasury machinery functions at a detailed level and b) considers loyalty to the National party as synonymous with loyalty to the rightful government aggressively try and find embargoed information should not be a surprise.

      • Rangimarie 6.1.1

        you know conspiracy theory was weaponised by the CIA to prevent alternative narratives to the mainstream media being heard and given credence. So anyone who decries something as a conspiracy is obviously not willing to open their minds.

      • Anne 6.1.2

        "There is no need for a conspiracy. National were in government for nine years, during which time they thoroughly blurred the line between the civil service, the National party and the government to the point that government agencies from Customs to the SIS to WINZ began behaving as if opposition to the National party was tantamount to treason."

        That attitude has been in practice for decades. A personal example:

        In 1989 -1992 a particular government service I worked for was rorting another government service. There were other unacceptable practices including bullying and harassment which made the situation untenable. For the first and only time in my life I became a whistle-blower.

        I was charged by my immediate manager with having committed treason and he and other senior figures embarked on a campaign to get rid of me. They had me placed under surveillance both within the workplace and beyond. There was clear evidence of eavesdropping on my home phone. The intimidation was terrifying. 

        Not long after I left, that workplace was closed down and  two regional managers were fired. A year later, I heard the senior management in Wellington were largely replaced. No-one enlightened me as to the reason, but I presume it was at least in part due to the rort. I never got an apology of course.

        So, nothing changes under the sun!

  7. Peter 7

    Paula Bennett is a very caring person. That's why she'd do anything in her power to see that no-one could be slurred by accusations and implications.  She wants no more than some sort of ethics and morality.

    Okay Paula, that stuff that came out about Winston Peters before the election. You know the stuff Bill English and you and Anne Tolley had (but shouldn't have had) that was to be the big scandal to sink NZF and became the big story.

    Was it just you three? Was there a conspiracy mounted with a 'no tracks' mantra to get the information out?

    Bennett is like someone who's crapped their pants and is complaining about the smell.

  8. Lucy 8

    Heard one news story that it was a staffer from Chris Bishop's office then that fell off the radar. Who ever it was managed to conflate a something from nothing. There were no numbers, not much that we hadn't heard just a 'gotcha' thing. If this is opposition politics then this is the only lasting legacy of John Key, the spiteful art of try to get something on the other side. After 9 years of politics based on the trading floor National has to raise their game or NZ will end up an incredibly damaged by the lack of humanity this causes.

  9. SPC 9

    The search of the Treasury site was motivated first by historic form for the Minister to offer to resign if the information is leaked and second to force the government into an investigation of staff (undermine morale). 

    National's claim they had received a leak was designed to mislead (they had gathered the information themselves) to realise the second goal. 

    Total hypocrisy after their criticism of Mallard for placing parliamentary staff under suspicion. 

    One wonders whether the Crown Law, Attorney General etc has provided any opinion on the legality of seeking to access hidden pages on government department servers? 

    • SPC 9.1

      National has done 4 sharp things.

      1. Opening day of parliament standoff over the Speaker nomination

      2. The effort to catch a minister having a meeting not in theirdiary. 

      3. Numerous questions to Ministers to slow down their orientation/workoverload.  

      4. The search on the Treasury site. 

      • Rapunzel 9.1.1

        Most people are told as "kids" to "be careful you might cut yourself" so sharp they may be but more and more NZers see it that as a waste of time and nothing about NZ only re-election chances for the National Party.

        I bet plenty of people see it as an insult to their intelligence that the National Party thinks that that behaviour is enough to be a governing party any more.

      • Stuart Munro. 9.1.2

        And none of them pass either the public interest test, or the "do the public give a toss" test.

  10. michelle 10

    I see  all this nonsense as 'soimons last stand' bring in the next mug 

  11. Gosman 11

    There are people here who still think the National party did commit a crime in relation to the Budget leak. In which case why don't you call their bluff and take a private prosecution against them? I know Lprent is going to take his time before making a move but surely others can move this along a bit faster?

    • Stuart Munro. 11.1

      Why use the courts? They're infested with similar scoundrels and they cost the earth.

      In the court of public opinion, stealing public secrets and publicizing them for short term political gain (however illusory) establishes the Gnats firmly as a bunch of malefactors long overdue for what Trurl describes as "a good shellacking".

      • Gosman 11.1.1

        If this was actually damaging to the National party from a political polling point of view you will see a very rapid change in approach from them. The fact they haven't to date suggests to me that they still see political opportunity in running with thelines they have.

        • Stuart Munro. 11.1.1.1

          Well if you're going to bean count, the alleged govt embarrassment won't spruik the Gnat's polls noticeably either. Net effect is anyone's guess, but the literature on negative campaigning suggests it makes a better short than long term strategy. 

      • lprent 11.1.2

        The courts work exceedingly slowly and expensively. However they usually wind up with decisions that conform to the underlying laws as written down.

        The police are generally pretty good, in the absence of legal ambiguity, at dealing with crime. 

        These sections were put into the Crimes act in 2003 

        http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2003/0039/latest/DLM199766.html

        The problem over the last decade has been that there have been increasing instances of computer access that appear to violate the sections. But there have been very few cases going through to the courts and on appeals to clarify exactly what they mean in terms of law enforcement.

        This case appears to be ideal. It is balanced on the border between public and private access to computers. The people who did the act are obviously well known (the police decided not to charge them virtually immediately – so they must have talked to them). And the potential damage from the access is high enough to make it a case worthy of public concern.

    • In my case, I think what they did should be a crime but the Police declining to prosecute suggests that it currently isn't. That being the case, I'd prefer the coalition to have a good look at the relevant sections of the Crimes Act and tighten them up, rather than waste shitloads of my cash confirming that the cops' assessment was accurate.

    • mpledger 11.3

      I'm willing to supply some money to a crowd fund to do it but I don't have the expertise to do it myself or fund it all myself.

  12. Kat 12

    National are just trying to make themselves look relevant. Fair enough, they have some hungry mouths on the benches and only eighteen months before a fair chunk are gone.

  13. JustMe 13

    Michelle Boag recently mentioned that those with a mental illness so love playing the victim.  This could well apply for the NPD NZ National Party of which one Michelle Boag is a supporter..

    They are so busy crying foul and portraying themselves as being a  vicitm of perhaps some vendetta by Labour that it,  their squealing and whining, has become tiresome.

    I am so over the NZ National Party and its MPs.  They possess absolutely no morals or even credibility.  Their actions last week in regards to the "budget" leak is the straw that has broken the camels' back(s). They have proven themselves to be totally untrustworthy.

    If they are depending upon votes at next  years' general election then it's time they behaved like responsible and mature adults.  Right now they do not merit any votes.

    Go away National because no-one wants people like you as their representatives, MPs or government.  If you were so eager to drop that 'gem' of information to the public and media then I ask what would you be capable of doing to ordinary NZers if you get into government?

     

     

    • Peter 13.1

      If Michelle Boag said that those with a mental illness so love playing the victim she's even lower that I'd thought. 

      • Anne 13.1.1

        Sorry Peter but I don't think you and JustMe are correct re- Michelle Boag. We don't know in what context she made that statement. I'm inclined to suspect it was in relation to a specific individual.

        Whatever, it is a statement of fact. People with certain personality disorders are very good at playing the role of victim and often cause a huge amount of trouble because of it.  Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of one, or knows any such individuals will tell you as much.

        I have no truck with Boag's politics or the way she sometimes operates, but she cannot be criticised for speaking a truth. 

        • Rosemary McDonald 13.1.1.1

          And lookee here….

          Michele (that Dreadful Apology for a Human Being) Boag on those women who stood up to serial groper Key….

          Former National Party president Michelle Boag has accused female opposition MPs of "parading their victimhood" after they stood up in Parliament to talk about their experiences of sexual assault.

          https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/74006095/

           

           

           

           

          • Anne 13.1.1.1.1

            I said I didn't like the way she sometimes operated. In that case she wrongly conflated the truth of some with mental health issues… with the experiences of some real victims of sexual crime.

            That of course was quite a few years ago and I bet she earned no brownie points from anyone. 

            Nor will she do so over her twitter remark

            Doesn't alter the fact that her comment as repeated by JustMe is true. A link to the context would have been appreciated.

            She's reacting against Jacinda Ardern of course. For someone her age she should have outgrown such puerile jealousy.

            • veutoviper 13.1.1.1.1.1

              Anne, here is a link to the context of Michelle Boag's comments – one of the most "memorable" sessions of The Panel last Friday that I have ever heard in all the years of that  five days a week RNZ National programme.   The Panel that day was Michelle Boag and David Cormack hosted by Wallace Chapman. 

              This is the 26 minute segment in which they "discuss" the mental health and other provisions etc in the 2019 Budget – sorry, don't have time right now to relisten to find the exact time of the mental health stuff.

              https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/thepanel/audio/2018697693/the-panel-with-david-cormack-and-michelle-boag-part-2

              However, the whole programme last Friday was so jaw dropping and hilarious that I archived the whole thing!  Wallace actually stood up to be counted for a change and challenged Boag; and the interactions between her and Cormack were spark raising.  LOL.     

              Here is a link to the various segments of the whole programme from pre-Panel from 3.45pm through until 5pm for anyone interested in hearing the lead up to the above link and what followed after it.

              https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/thepanel/20190531

              Note:  The full Part 2 audio link above seems to have also been broken down into its various subjects in the 3 separate audio links immediately under the Part 2 link in this link, but I cannot remember which part the mental health comments were in.  The 'Uber feeds' bit was also hilarious!   Chuckling as I write this in memory – must find the time to relisten to the whole programme … 

               

              • Anne

                Thanks for that heads up vv.

                Had I known the context of Boag's comment my response to JustMe would have been different. I think I understand what she was trying to say and there is probably a small element of truth to it. The difference between most of us and Boag is: there is around 10% of individuals who will rort a system if given the chance… we consider it to be a small price to pay for the betterment  of life for the other 80%. 

                I got out of the habit of listening to the Panel because I was so sick of Jim Mora always sitting on the fence and letting some panelists get away with murder. Wallace Chapman is a huge improvement so I might start listening again.

        • Rosemary McDonald 13.1.1.2

          and….

          and….

  14. Paul Campbell 14

    The thing is that we're still waiting for National to present their  alternative budget – instead we got what started as some weird stuff about tanks which then morphed in a gotcha bit of playground dick-waggling about hacking.

    The government meanwhile, while all this was happening, actually published a budget.

    Really the Nats are still in denial about being in opposition and don't really understand how to do it 

  15. I'm stayin' out of this !

    Got me some Jim Beam Black Label … and all this argy bargy is gettin' peculiar,… so many angles. Could do with a few meat pies, however. Its good to be a simple man sometimes.

    Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man – YouTube



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  16. CHCoff 16

    It's a quirk that the strident 'free marketers' of society live and breathe so much tabloidism in their market efficiencies of supply and demand.

  17. mpledger 17

    Even if there access was legal (and Felix Geiringer's pretty much summed up my viewpoint on that**),  what they did with the information was incredibly stupid. 

    1) Releasing the information could have caused harm – it could have caused a run on the dollar etc.

    2) They didn't check whether the information was correct – the pages could have been dummies or out dated information that could have misinformed people into making bad decisions

    3) The arguments they used (poor teachers not getting any money) were just ridiculous because National had never given the teachers any money. 

    So,  it was incredibly bad judgement from the get-go.   It seemed like noone in National stopped and thought through what they were doing.

    ~
    **
    Meanwhile Wellington barrister Felix Geiringer said the unauthorised information gathering from Treasury's website was a criminal offence and required further investigation.

    "There seems to be a mistaken belief that there has to be some sort of overcoming of a security barrier," Geiringer said.

    If someone knew they did not have authority to access information on the internet but accessed it regardless, and continued to do that more than 2000 times, as Treasury claims, then that was against the law, he said.

    "The circumstances of it are highly suspicious in terms of criminal activity," Geiringer said.

    "If you're doing something you know you're not allowed to do then it doesn't matter how easy it is to do, it's against the law."

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/113111605/nationals-budget-leaks-go-against-security-agencys-advice-and-treasury-breach-was-unlawful-lawyers-say

  18. soddenleaf 18

    Was it really leaked? I heard there was nothing new. 

    Is it more likely Bridges is just oh so predictable that it helps Labour, those who are benefiting don't care, and those who it's irrevalent get a drooling opposition leaders slurry slurp.

    Bridges has nothing to say, so shouts nonsense. 

  19. Sacha 19

    Specific SSC investigation announced: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/391209/investigation-launched-into-treasury-secretary-gabriel-makhlouf

    A statement from Commissioner Peter Hughes this afternoon said the investigation would establish the facts about Mr Makhlouf's public statements about the unauthorised access to Budget documents, his advice to the Finance Minister, his basis for them and his decision to refer the matter to police.

    The questions raised were a "matter of considerable public interest and should be addressed," Mr Hughes said.

    "Mr Makhlouf believes that at all times he acted in good faith. Nonetheless, he and I agree that it is in everyone's interests that the facts are established before he leaves his role on 27 June if possible."

    • Anne 19.1

      I ask people to step back and let this process be completed.

      Fat chance of that happening with Soil-man and Paula baby running the Oppo. show. angry

  20. Sacha 20

    Solid explanation of what happened: https://www.theunderstatesmen.com/2019/06/03/the-2019-nz-budget-leak-what-actually-happened/

    The Treasury data breach has been a shitshow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger disconnect between the experts and the pundits, and I don’t say that lightly. I’m not a security guy, for what it’s worth: I’m a writer at a tech firm, but I’m fascinated by security and over the last few days I’ve been talking to people who actually know their stuff. Almost unanimously they’re calling this a breach. Almost unanimously, the pundits are off shouting that it’s “not a hack!”.

    It’s not “just a search”: it’s using a leaked search index to perform 2000 searches, to take advantage of an exploit that pulled small pieces of content from a staging server, then stitching that content together in post. It’s not something Johnny Q Public could do by accident. It’s not an “open door” at all.

    Metaphors about the door being unlocked do us no favours, unless we really want pundits to be better-equipped to twist the actual events. Whether or not it’s a “hack” doesn’t really matter: it’s an intentional attempt to gain access to private data. It utilised an exploit to pull content that wasn’t meant to be public. It’s a breach. More than that, there are established protocols for what happens if somebody finds an exploit in government software. These rules were written by the National Party in 2014, and National failed to follow them.

     

     

    • Gosman 20.1

      In which case will you be pushing for a private prosecution?

      • Sacha 20.1.1

        I've agreed with @lprent it seems an obvious case to prosecute to generate some case law. I would expect the public agencies to do that.

        • Gosman 20.1.1.1

          Why public agencies and not you and people who agree with you?

          • Sacha 20.1.1.1.1

            Resources. Mandate.

            • Gosman 20.1.1.1.1.1

              People have taken successful private prosecutions before. It doesn't have to cost that much. Regardless the cost is reduced per person if many people are involved. Are you claiming that you won't be able to convince many people to take up a private prosecution? Why do you need a mandate for this?

              • Sacha

                I'm really not that interested in this line of questioning.

                • Gosman

                  No because you aren't really interested in the legality of this. You just want to be able to feel like the National party is in the wrong as that gives you a smug sense of satisfaction.

              • solkta

                With the need to set a precedent it could only cost heaps. You need to convince the judge to interpret the law in a particular way rather than how other judges have done in the past.

                • Gosman

                  Don't you believe establishing an important principle around data security is worth a little time and money to get sorted?

                  • solkta

                    Yes i do, that is why i agree with Sacha that Crown agencies should do it.

                    • Gosman

                      But they are plainly not going to do that. To achieve your goal you will have to do it yourself.

                    • McFlock

                      Well, I'll take "they are plainly not going to do that" with the same value as your quickly-abandoned "It doesn't have to cost that much."

                      We'll see how fixed the decision is after the reviews and any input they get from specialists. There are processes still to go through before leaping at the "do it yourself" line.

                    • Gosman

                      The Police took less than 24 hours to decide there was no case to answer here. Are you stating they are incompetent?

                    • McFlock

                      Not for sure, but it wouldn't be the first time they incorrectly decided there was nothing to prosecute.

          • Psycho Milt 20.1.1.1.2

            Why public agencies and not you and people who agree with you?

            Because there are reasons we have public agencies, and one of those reasons is so that individuals don't have to use up their own time and resources on things their society should be taking care of.

            • Gosman 20.1.1.1.2.1

              There is also a reason we have the ability to take a private prosecution and that is when the public agencies don't do what you expect them to do.

  21. Gosman 21

    This is Stephen Mills and Matthew Hooton's views on the "Hacking" scandal. 

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018698017

    Mills doesn't seem to think National has done anything wrong here and thinks Labour would have done something similar if they had been in the same situation.

  22. Observer Tokoroa 22

    Simon not Looking very Good

    I feel I should assist Nationals Leader – Simon Bridges. He is undergoing even more Trauma than usual.

    He has to stay as Leader. Because there is no one else in the National Caucus, who can do his Job.

    He released advanced Information on the 2019 Budget, Without Permission.  He distributed it.  He was a very naughty Boy.  And he has made Mrs Bennett write a strange letter about. As if she hasn't got enough to do.

    In the normal world, if a person takes what is not theirs – he/she has committed Theft.

    I imagine that at nightfall Simon has spoken with Mrs Bridges. Explained his terrible dishonesty. And asked her forgiveness. Unfortunately Mrs Bennett is now also caught up in Simon's Mess.

    Mrs Bennett could try and get the stolen Papers back – and have them returned to the owners. Simon might feel a little bit better then.

    Someone in Simon's office will have to defray the wages of the persons who selected the documents, and write up the amount of Dollars used by Equipment.

     

     

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