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

National Party leader Simon Bridges has labelled the latest developments in the Budget saga as the "dirtiest of politics". 

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It comes after claims the GCSB warned the Beehive the Budget leak was not a hack, before the Treasury released its statement. Source: 1 NEWS

Government Ministers are distancing themselves over claims in the NZ Herald the GCSB warned the Beehive before Treasury released a statement on May 28, incorrectly declaring it had been hacked. 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson released a statement shortly after saying the material was "extremely serious and is now a matter for the police". 

Today, Mr Robertson said he did not have the information that Treasury was not hacked at the time. 

"I certainly did not know about it before I put my statement came out... I certainly did not know anything other than what the Treasury had advised me.

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Mr Robertson, the Finance Minister, says he hasn’t misled the public. Source: 1 NEWS

"I acted on the information provided to me by the Secretary to the Treasury."

"I'm disappointed that this was able to happen in the first place and also that Treasury went to police before they had more information about exactly what happened."

NZ Herald claimed the GCSB had called its Minister Andrew Little before the Treasury announced it was hacked.

Mr Little today would not disclose when he was briefed by the GCSB. 

"What I think is important for New Zealand is we get the whole story."

"As the Minister in charge, of course I got a briefing about the various events. Since then, the SSC has started two investigations. I think it's more important the SSC gets all the information, they make the objective findings. I can only know one part of the story." 

Mr Little wanted to wait until the SSC had finished the investigation, and said he would provide his phone and records if the SSC asked. 

"A series of things has happened with the unfortunate event of Budget sensitive information being disclosed before it should have been, it is right there is scrutiny of that, it is right everybody who has been involved in it - their actions are investigated."

Simon Bridges said it was "implausible" that Grant Robertson did not know about the warning from the GCSB. Mr Robertson had denied this. 

"What we thought was here was incompetence, but actually it's the dirtiest of politics."

Mr Bridges said had Andrew Little been aware the Budget leak was not a hack, he had a "duty of care" to inform Grant Robertson. 

"They need to come clean because the longer they don't with the details on this, the longer and worse the cover up."

NZ Herald reported today Treasury was told the GCSB 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.

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.

An investigation into Treasury’s Gabriel Makhlouf to give a "more fulsome picture" around Budget data breach, Jacinda 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.