SSC launches investigation of Treasury Secretary

Radio NZ reports:

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.

It is good there is an independent investigation. There seems no doubt that the public were misled, and Ministers may have been misled also.

However it might be that the fault doesn’t lie so much with Malhlouf, but with those who advised him. The inquiry needs to establish who knew what when.

There is another aspect to this which also needs some clarity. That is when were Ministers informed that the information put out by was incorrect?

We now know that the GCSB did not regard Treasury as having been hacked. When Treasury then put out a release saying they had been hacked, surely GCSB informed one or more Ministers (or at least DPMC) that this information was incorrect.

Could you imagine the GCSB saying nothing for 48 hours while stories around the world were proclaiming the NZ Treasury had been hacked?

Treasury did not correct the record until 5 am Thursday. But when did Ministers get informed the statement was incorrect, and why did they allow the misinformation to persist?

Politik tells us:

This whole affair now centres on one critical meeting or conversation; between Makhlouf, Robertson and Ardern’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Press Secretary around 7.00 p.m. last Tuesday night.
After that meeting, Makhlouf issued a statement saying that Treasury had been subject to a systematic and deliberate hack and then 17 minutes later, Robertson went one step further and linked the National Party to the hack.

What was said in this meeting. Did Robertson and the PMO really ask no questions about the basis for the claim of being hacked? And when did Ministers learn there was no hack? It almost certainly was well before 5 am Thursday. It may have even been Tuesday evening. Yet they said nothing.

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