COMMENT:

The public's trust in the competency and integrity of the public service is an essential element of any democracy. If citizens think that those running government departments are foolish, dishonest, or dodgy, then the whole system can start to fall apart. We see the results of such distrust in plenty of other countries. Here in New Zealand the public generally has faith in government departments.

It would not be surprising if this faith is slightly eroded as a result of the fiasco over how Treasury handled the so-called Budget "hack" – when the Police were called in, and a

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