This was incompetence by Treasury, not a hack. Their own search engine archived 2019 Budget documents from their private website and served up extracts from them.
It is disgraceful that Treasury labelled this a hack let alone referred it to the Police. The Police would be within their rights to charge Treasury with wasting Police time. Anyone with an inch of IT or legal knowledge would know what happened is not a hack, and was not criminal behaviour.
Using Treasury’s public search engine is not a crime!
The decision to describe use of Treasury’s own search engine as 2,000 hack attempts was malicious and false. A public inquiry needs to determine who made that decision, who was consulted, what they knew when they made it, and what discussions were held with Ministers before the decision was made.
Both Grant Robertson and Winston Peters have smeared National. Jacinda Ardern claims to lead a Government of kindness. Does smearing your political opponents as criminals because they used a search engine, fit with that?
Robertson may claim he acted on Treasury advice, but he didn’t. He explicitly linked National’s material to an illegal hack, which goes beyond what Treasury said. But regardless a competent Minister should push back when an agency says “hey boss, we were hacked, it wasn’t incompetence” and ask for at least some basic details of what is alleged. And when Treasury tell you these cunning criminals used Treasury’s public search engine to get details of your Budget, then you should tell them you want resignations.
The very minimum Treasury now needs to do is release immediately all internal documents and communications (including with Ministers) around the “hack” and the decision to refer it to the Police, rather than wait the maximum 20 days under the Official Information Act.