Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Treasury owes us answers

Writing in The Spinoff, Danyl Mclauchlan argues that Treasury should tell us what actually happened. He's right. Budget data is supposed to be some of the most secure information held by the government. One way or another, it has been released to the public early. And there needs to be some accountability for that. It doesn't matter whether Treasury staff were total muppets, or if it was a real hack - either way there has been a failure on their part to safeguard crucial information. The only question is the degree of incompetence.

But conveniently, by referring the matter to the police Treasury has ensured that they can never do that. It might prejudice the police investigation, you see. OIA requests can be refused to avoid prejudice to the maintenance of the law, and anyone who actually tells anyone anything can be prosecuted. Accountability of course goes out the window - but neither Treasury nor their Minister has any interest in that (Ministers are rarely interested in incompetence in their own agencies, because it makes them look bad for allowing it). As for us, the public, we're the loser, stuck with an incompetent, arse-covering public agency which has just failed on one of its most important tasks.

Still, it could be worse: at least they haven't killed anyone. Unlike some other government failures.