QUESTION TIME CUT AND THRUST:
It was the day on which Parliament's great "who knew what and when?" question was to be answered, and anticipation was high.
National Party leader Simon Bridges broke with his long-standing habit of asking his usual "does the PM stand by all her statements" questions.
The court lawyer was back, hungry for a cross-examination.
Bridges' question was very specific, and aimed at Andrew Little – the Minister of the GCSB – who had David Parker filling in for him.
The reason for the specificity was to ensure the Speaker would not let ministers off the hook by claiming they had not had enough warning to gather the information.
It asked exactly when Little was told by the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) that the agency disagreed with the Treasury's description of premature disclosure of Budget figures as "systematic hacking".
The golden egg would have been the discovery the GCSB had first alerted Little before Finance Minister Grant Robertson's press release went out about 8.15pm on the Tuesday night in question.
Alas, the goose was off the lay.
Parker had the time stamps and revealed the GCSB rang Little's office at 8.43pm – 41 minutes after Treasury's statement had gone out and half an hour after Robertson's statement had gone out.
There was a string of delays and hold-ups, but Robertson was eventually told at 10.25pm by a text from Little.
That was on the Tuesday night.
Then there was a day of silence from those ministers about the GCSB's analysis.
It was not until Thursday that Treasury confirmed police found no evidence of illegal activity.
Bridges turned to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern next to probe the silence of that Wednesday.
His aim now was to show Ardern acted dishonourably by failing to correct the record that day.
He accused her of "sit[ting] on a fundamental mistruth" for a whole day.
He asked why neither she nor Robertson had moved to clarify or retract their earlier statements about "systematic hacking" in relation to the information National had used.
Ardern's first defence was that they did scale back the language they were using to the GCSB's preferred description of it as "unauthorised access".
She put up the weaker and disingenuous defence that the Government had not known at that stage that it was the National Party which had undertaken this "attack", so Bridges should not take it so personally.
She did not acknowledge that one person in that Government either had not got the memo or had ignored it: Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.
For while Ardern and Robertson were pretending not to assume it was anything to do with the National Party, Peters was directly blaming the National Party and accusing it of illegality either by accessing the information itself or receiving it.
Ardern then tried turning the tables in the battle to make her opponent look more dishonourable.
She pointed out Bridges could have been noble by informing Treasury about the hitch in its system without using the information.
Peters chipped in here to help, pointing out it was Bridges who had set up the CERTNZ process – a protocol for people who found flaws in websites to pass it on to the owner of the website.
Ardern's greatest defence was a lot simpler than technicalities around language and timing. It was Bridges himself.
She pointed out that at any time, Bridges could have easily moved to clear his own name by saying how National had secured the material - via the search engine on Treasury's own website.
Instead, Bridges waited until the Thursday morning for his Big Reveal.
Timeline of trouble
Tuesday, May 28
• 10:01am: National issues what it says are Budget 2019 details
• 11:30am: Finance Minister Grant Robertson confirms some items come from the Budget
• Afternoon: National releases more details
• Before 6pm: The Treasury asks the Government Communications Security Bureau how confidential information on its website was accessed. The GCSB says the Treasury's computer network was not compromised, and the matter should be referred to the police
• 6pm: Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf refers the matter to the police
• 7pm to 7:15pm: Makhlouf meets Robertson and tells him he has called in the police. Robertson says that Makhlouf described it as 2000 attempts to "hack" the system.
• 7:20pm: Robertson calls Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
• 8:02pm: Treasury issues a press release saying it has "sufficient evidence" that it had been "deliberately and systematically hacked". It cites the GCSB advice in saying it has been referred to the police.
• 8:19pm: Robertson issues a press release, asking National not to release any further information because "the material is a result of a systematic hack".
• 8:43pm: The GCSB contacts the office of GCSB Minister Andrew Little to say it doesn't believe any systematic hacking took place. Little is in a meeting. The GCSB contacts the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Ardern is told soon afterwards.
• 9:43pm: Little speaks with the GCSB and tries to call Robertson. The call is not answered.
• 9.52pm: Little contacts Ardern's office to pass on the GCSB's concerns.
• 10.25pm: Little texts Robertson about the GCSB's concerns.
Wednesday May 29
• 7:04am: Makhlouf tells media there had been 2000 attempts to access the Treasury's system in 48 hours
• 9am: National leader Simon Bridges denies information it released came into its possession unlawfully, but refuses to say how it was obtained.
• About 6pm: Robertson and Ardern are told that police have advised the Treasury that nothing illegal appears to have happened.
Thursday May 30
• 5am: Treasury releases police advice. State Services Commission, at Makhlouf's invitation, launches inquiry.
• 8:45am: Bridges outlines how National used a simple search function to get the information. He calls for Makhlouf and Robertson to resign for smearing the National Party.
Tuesday June 4
• 4:30pm: State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes announces investigation into whether Makhlouf misled the Government.