As new details emerge of Budget leak timeline, Simon Bridges accuses PM of 'fundamental mistruth'

New details have emerged about who knew what and when in the Budget saga.

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Jacinda Ardern denied Mr Bridges’ accusation, saying the National leader himself could have “enlightened” the public. Source: 1 NEWS

The Government has consistently refused to answer questions about the Budget saga timeline as the State Service Commission investigates, but it started releasing details yesterday, with more coming out in the debating chamber today.

GCSB raised concerned about Treasury using the term "deliberate and systematic hacking" in a statement, released on the evening May 28. Government ministers distanced themselves over the claims.

Under questioning by National in the debating chamber this afternoon, we now have the timetable of how that played out.

Read: Simon Bridges claims latest developments in Budget saga 'the dirtiest of politics'

Tuesday, May 28

8.02pm: Treasury boss Gabriel Makhlouf releases a statement claiming "deliberate and systematic hacking" of its website more than 2000 times.

8.19pm: Finance Minister Grant Robertson puts out a statement asking National not to release any more information.

8.43pm: GCSB officials speak with its Minister Andrew Little's office to relay concerns about using the word hacking.

9.43pm: GCSB officials speak to Mr Little himself about its concerns.

9.52pm: Mr Little contacts the Prime Minister's office.

10.25pm: Andrew Little sends a text to Grant Robertson after he was unable to contact him by phone because he was in a meeting.

Budget Day - Thursday, May 29

5am: Treasury releases information saying there was no hack and no police investigation.

Today, National claimed this timetable showed the Government knew there was no Treasury hack for more than 24 hours before that was made public.

Opposition Leader Simon Bridges asked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, "Didn't her Government sit on a fundamental mis-truth all of Wednesday?"

"Why didn’t she do the right thing and publicly make clear there was no criminal hacking?"

However, Ms Ardern turned it around, saying Mr Bridges could have "enlightened" the public himself, as he knew it was not a hack. 

The Prime Minister revealed on Breakfast this morning the GCSB raised concerns at 9pm on Tuesday night, about an hour after the Treasury statement came out.

Mr Bridges maintained the head of Treasury, Mr Makhlouf, should resign. Mr Makhlouf is due to leave the job at the end of the month to take up a new role in Ireland.

The State Services Commission is currently investigating the issue.

Mr Bridges said he would not be attending the farewell party of Mr Makhlouf and he was not invited.


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.

An investigation into Mr Makhlouf would give a "more fulsome picture" around the Budget data breach, Ms Ardern said.

Mr 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.