National’s Ongoing Budget-Grade Shenanigans – When Is It Appropriate To Lose One’s Head?


So here’s a funny thing. Right now, the National Party is demanding the resignation of Finance Minister Grant Robertson, after Treasury inadvertently made partial summaries of some parts of today’s Budget semi-available two days early.

Yet back in 2012, when the Ministry of Social Development made a whole swathe of highly sensitive information about its clients and operations (including case-notes, personal details of at-risk children, medical records, legal paperwork etc. etc etc.) available to literally anyone who walked off the street into a WINZ office and used a self-service kiosk, I don’t think I recalled Paula Bennett appearing behind the National Leader of the day to demand that the minister in question responsible resign forthwith?

Possibly because said Minister was, in point of fact, Paula Bennett.

Who had earlier turned the rather more directly targeted unethical disclosure of private information about beneficiaries into something of an art form – endeavouring to use it to silence two critics of hers when it came to the abolishment of a training allowance which Bennett had, herself, taken advantage of some years earlier while a beneficiary.

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Now, thankfully, Bennett cannot be demanded to resign from a Ministerial role (whether presiding over MSD, or any other) … as the results of the last Election mean she’s no longer on the Treasury Benches. (She was shuffled out of MSD, to take over portfolios including as Minister of State Services – which curiously, was also the portfolio area that *another* “leak” of private and personal information for apparently psephological gain took place from, pertaining to one Winston Peters and his pension payments, in the run-up to the last Election. Not that I’m suggesting the pattern indicates *direct* intent here, you understand)

Yet it does seem a bit peculiar that National was prepared to tolerate not just repeated, but *outright and downright intentional* disclosures of private information never intended for the public sphere and which had clearly and manifestly detrimental impacts for the vulnerable parties involved …

… but is now baying for blood and a Scalp over the inadvertent partial-summary release of information which was to become public knowledge *anyway* a mere three days later.

Perhaps the argument is that the Treasury head serang who insinuated, upon GCSB advising, that a “hack” was to blame for the release, is a man lacking in judgement and therefore that whomsoever appointed him is thusly likewise – and therefore should go? In which case, I can only point out that Maklouf was first appointed, and then re-appointed, under the previous National Government.

Still, while I yesterday sought to argue that National’s whipping up of a furore over this issue had all the inconsistency of rancid milk purporting to be cream, there is nevertheless at least *one* point on which I have to concede they’ve been stable in their relative stances:

That part around “baying for blood” over a “release of information which was to become public knowledge *anyway*” a mere few days later. It’s exactly, as you may recall, what Simon Bridges sought to do after his rather high transport expenses were ‘leaked’ to the Media a few days prior to their official disclosure was scheduled to occur.

Of course, funny thing – he didn’t seem *quite* so keen to defend the weaponized use of the [accurate, as it happened] information thusly obtained *that time*, did he.