Sam Sachdeva at Newsroom writes:
The news that the Government Communications Security Bureau had made representations to ministers about Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf’s use of the term “hack” came not through any proactive disclosure by the Government, but a story broken by the NZ Herald last Friday, over a week after the Budget itself had been put to bed.
Even then, further details have been only begrudgingly handed out: it took until Monday afternoon for Ardern to state Finance Minister Grant Robertson had not known about the GCSB advice when he issued a media release supporting the Treasury’s claims, and a further 24 hours for the Government to provide a detailed timeline of who was told what, when.
While the new information would seem to clear Robertson of conspiring with Makhlouf to smear National, it doesn’t address why he, Ardern and other ministers failed to set the record straight sooner.
They let the lie remain there for another day and a bit.
Radio NZ also report:
Why the prime minister and Mr Robertson didn’t correct Treasury’s statement alleging a systematic and deliberate hack after the GCSB contacted the Beehive to say no such thing had occured, is one burning question.
And linked to that is this:
However, why Mr Makhlouf then went on Morning Report on Wednesday and carefully and meticilously detailed the seriousness of the hacking in such spectacular fashion is also unanswered.
“Imagine you’ve got a room in which you’ve placed important documents that you feel are secure, which you’ve bolted down, lock and key,” Mr Makhlouf told Morning Report’s Susie Ferguson.
“But unknown to you one of those bolts has a weakness and someone who attacks that bolt, deliberately, persistently, repeatedly, finds that it breaks and they can enter access those papers. That’s what’s happened here.
“It wasn’t an instance of someone stumbling into the room accidentally; it wasn’t an instance of someone attacking the bolt and finding that it broke immediately. It wasn’t someone who tried not once, not twice but in fact over 2000 times to attack that bolt.”
As far as crimes against Treasury go it sounded like a fairly major one from Mr Makhlouf’s account.
But why was he not set straight when the GCSB had already contacted government ministers the night before?
According to the timeline released yesterday, Jacinda Ardern and Mr Robertson were advised roughly 9.50pm and 10.25pm.
It was Mr Robertson who initially agreed to do the RNZ interview after putting out his statement at 8.22pm, but during the course of the night that changed and instead it was suggested Mr Makhlouf front media.
There seem to be only two possible versions of events here.
- Robertson did not tell his Treasury Secretary about the GCSB advice, and set Makhlouf up to fail by insisting he does the media, but withheld the GCSB advice from him.
- Robertson did tell Makhlouf about the GCSB advice, and Makhlouf ignored it