How quaint it all seems now.
In 1986, as a junior press secretary to then-Finance Minister Roger Douglas, I carefully planned to put the Budget in the hands of a few dozen 'opinion-formers' ahead of the document's release to Parliament at 7pm.
For reasons unclear to me even now, nobody tried to stop me and somehow it had eluded me that, of the endless stream of confidential documents flowing through the Finance Minister's office, the Budget was unusually secret.
Told that the courier packs for everyone from Council of Trade Unions head Ken Douglas to industrialist Ron Trotter would only arrive about three hours before the Budget was read, my shamefully airy response, still ringing in my ears to this day, was: "I can live with that."
Among those on the list was the then editor of the Herald , Peter Scherer, which led to the story unravelling some weeks later. Scherer's inclusion on the list was particularly absurd. He would have received a copy anyway at 7pm from the local Post Office because, in the days before the internet, physical copies of the Budget were shipped around the country under lock and key for newspapers.
The document was also a best-seller at the Government Print Bookshop, which stayed open late specially. Those were the days.
I finally realised how much trouble I was in when the phone rang one day and it was Trotter, then the head of Fletcher Challenge, who wanted me to know that maybe he'd "got one of these things too".
Evidence at the inevitable inquiry by the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Gerald Hensley, added insult to injury. Many captains of industry had never opened their Budget secrets.
However, the incident was serious enough for Douglas to offer to resign. Had the offer been made two years later, then Prime Minister David Lange would have leapt at the chance. By then, that government was imploding because of the internecine battle over Douglas's 1987 flat tax package.
But in 1986, Douglas was still, in Lange's words, a "national treasure", and he declined the offer.
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That Budget leak was sheer incompetence from an enthusiastic newbie. Douglas had no idea what I was up to but the blunder occurred in his office and the resignation offer was necessary.
Yet, while this week's Budget leaks are far more serious and have created political damage before rather than long after the Budget's delivery, talk of Finance Minister Grant Robertson resigning is as fanciful as the suggestion that so should National Party leader Simon Bridges.
The Treasury is Robertson's department, but it is an absurd standard to require the minister to fall on his sword because of what is thought to be a concerted cyber-attack on the Treasury.
If anyone should be considering a ritual departure, it would surely be Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf, who has just weeks to run before leaving to become governor of the Irish central bank anyway.
The department's head of cyber-security should also be feeling uncomfortable. If the release of Budget materials via the Treasury was caused by hackers, there should have been warning signs. The Treasury's cyber-defences should be among the most advanced of any government agency.
As for Bridges, there has never been a standard requiring the resignation of an Opposition politician who uses leaked, accurate information.
The resignation calls are Beltway politics, writ large. The public will judge Bridges on the integrity of exploiting rather than reporting what appears to be information illegally obtained. Some will see a smug spoil-sport, others the Opposition doing its job.
Likewise, the public will judge Robertson on the quality of the Budget he produces.
After all, today's reality, even more than in 1986, is that the Budget's secrecy is political rather than necessary. Vast chunks of this year's Budget policy have been announced already for PR purposes, and it is a rare Budget that includes information sensitive enough to move financial markets.
The Reserve Bank's six-weekly monetary policy updates, where it can move benchmark interest rates, remain far more sensitive events than the Budget, where the purpose of secrecy is to preserve political impact.
Bridges has taken that wind out of the government's sails ahead of a Budget that is attracting international attention for its attempt to write well-being into the public policy reporting framework as much as the traditional economic and fiscal forecasts.
But the swift realisation that the leaks appear to have come from the Treasury may cause some relief in the Beehive, since it suggests the string of leaks exploited by National this year is unlikely to be coming either from ministers' offices or from a single source. Fears of either would be corrosive and justifiable sources of paranoia.
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