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Jacinda Ardern 'withholding any judgement' on Budget saga after latest claims

The Prime Minister says she is "withholding any judgment" on the latest allegations around the Budget saga, after claims surfaced that the GCSB tried to warn the Beehive prior to the Treasury incorrectly saying it was hacked.

The New Zealand Herald reported today that Treasury was told by the GCSB the agency did not believe it was hacked, before Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf released a statement claiming it was "deliberately and systematically hacked". Treasury then backtracked on the claim, after it was found a search bar tool was used on its website. 

The State Services Commission (SSC) is investigating Mr Makhlouf's actions and statements around Budget material that was released early by the National Party last week.

Jacinda Ardern would not answer this morning when asked about if and when she was told about GCSB concerns.

"What will be most helpful here is we allow the SSC to pull together some of those timelines and information," Ms Ardern said. 

"I'm withholding any judgment until that work is finished by the SSC." 

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The so-called “wellbeing budget” was meant to be an attention grabbing world first, but it has been overshadowed by controversy. Source: 1 NEWS

She said Finance Minister Grant Robertson's position was "absolutely not" up in the air. 

"I've set out timelines in the debating chamber in Parliament already when questioned on this, but now I think, actually, we should leave the SSC to do their job," she said, "rather than relying on he-said she-said". 

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

A GCSB spokesperson would not comment on the Herald story claiming the GCSB had called its Minister Andrew Little before the Treasury announced it was hacked.

"The questions you’ve raised are matters for the SSC investigation."

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Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf told John Campbell about the ‘systematic’ hacking of its systems. Source: Breakfast

Timeline of events

Treasury said in a statement on May 28 it had gathered enough evidence that its systems had been "deliberately and systematically hacked", after National released parts of the Budget that day.

The Finance Minister then released a statement saying the release of the material was "extremely serious and is now a matter for the police", as well as urging the National Party to not release any more of the information.

On May 30, the day of the official Budget release, Treasury confirmed a feature in its website search tool was exploited by an unknown person or persons, and police concluded this did not break the law.

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The State Services Commission launched an investigation into the outgoing Treasury secretary on June 4. Source: 1 NEWS

National Party leader Simon Bridges told RNZ the situation was either "bungling incompetence, and I think we can all believe that could well be the situation, or you have some broad form of deceit and... dirty politics".

Mr Robertson said Mr Makhlouf told him on Tuesday night (May 28) he had already referred the matter to the police and "described it in a way that has been publicly reported, so I certainly reject the latter part of Mr Bridges' accusations".

Mr Robertson also said he was 100 per cent confident of the timeline of events, he would "fully cooperate" with the investigation and it was "entirely a matter" for the SSC if Mr Maklhouf should stand down while the investigation was taking place.

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The PM responded to claims this morning that the GCSB tried to warn the Beehive prior to the Treasury incorrectly saying it was hacked. Source: 1 NEWS


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