All the words. It feels like they've all been written now. Every word that could have been put down on paper about the Budget "hack" has been done.
Except for the outcome: Who won? Who lost? Who cares?
Boy does Treasury look silly. It seems that someone put some documents not for public consumption in a place the public could consume them. The rights and wrongs of whether you should then go and get those documents have been covered endlessly, but there's no doubt that Treasury made a boo boo.
If your organisation made a boo boo and you're the head of that organisation and then you try and make people think the boo boo was nefarious skulduggery and not a boo boo then you've come out badly. If it then emerges you may have misled your minister about what happened then you're going to come out of it even worse. If it emerges that you engaged in some deep state conspiracy with the government to protect them or yourself from embarrassment then wowee. When all of these options remain possibilities, then yeah, you've lost bigly.
The Wellbeing Budget was supposed to be a centrepiece of The Government of Kindness™. It was going to be this Government's demonstration on how it did things differently to those previous governments that were unkind. There'd be saturation media coverage of all the kind things in the Budget and we'd all feel warm and loved. Except instead we got breathless coverage of "systematic hacks" and "smears on the opposition" and other such hyperbole.
The key players from the Government have hardly covered themselves in glory, with new stories emerging at unfortunate moments just as the story was dying down. Mealy-mouthed responses to questions have meant that there's been a lingering sense of incompetence across the whole issue - and this is bad news for the Government.
When a word cloud of what people think of you shows "untrustworthy" as the most popular descriptor, and when people think of you as smug and slimy, then you should try and not be those things. Try and look prime ministerial. Don't go and do something sneaky and then be smug about it.
Bridges' behaviour over Budget week wasn't great. He didn't enamour himself to people. He could have had Paula Bennett deliver the reveal - she's definitely leading the charge on "uncovering" any conspiracy now. He could have stayed above the fray and still made the Government look incompetent. Instead he got down in the mud and sloshed around. I don't think it's made anyone go "hey, that's the guy I want to be Prime Minister of my country".
'Hacking of Budget' inquiry won't probe ministers' behaviour
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Budget Bungle: Govt was told there was no hacking but kept tight-lipped
As one Tauranga resident put it "he only does it so he can get his face out there, which we don't want to see anyway". He may have been better off continuing to intermittently yell "SLUSHIES".
For two big reasons. First, the Budget dictates how our country is going to be run for the next 12 months. Political coverage should have been almost wholly focused on that. Instead we got a bunch of "he said, she said" nonsense that provided noise and distraction and just makes us think worse of politicians as a whole. This may be a deliberate strategy of National's, a low dispirited turnout does tend to favour them. Or it may just be that politicians genuinely do suck.
The other reason we lost is that document security on public sector websites is actually a really serious issue. If outside actors are able to get to things they shouldn't, then we need a serious sit down and chat with the people maintaining those websites. Instead we didn't get to have that chat, because a bunch of politicians started sniping at each other over who knew what and when they knew it and the actual issue of the whole mess was not conveyed well.
Aw geez. I dunno if there were any. Maybe Judith Collins, since she stayed out of all the muckiness?
Political pundits who don't like numbers so they got to write about something relating to Budget week without having to read the budget? The Black Caps are doing well at the Cricket World Cup, so them?