WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s Treasury chief said on Wednesday that the Treasury website was attacked 2,000 times in two days by hackers seeking access to budget details, a day after the country’s opposition party leaked details of the economic plan.
“We identified multiple and persistent attempts to gain unauthorised access to our systems, and specifically budget related information,” Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf told Radio New Zealand.
He did not say where those attacks came from, but said they were deliberate and occurred “not once, not twice but in fact over 2000 times.”
The leak of the budget information has sparked a furore around the much-anticipated budget – due on Thursday – that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised would overhaul the approach to the nation’s accounts.
The attacks are being investigated by police.
The opposition National Party on Tuesday revealed what it said were details from the budget, using them to attack the plan and deriding it as “all spin and no substance” – a move National Party leader Simon Bridges furiously defended on Wednesday.
“You read my lips: The National Party has acted entirely appropriately,” Bridges told reporters in Wellington.
“We have done nothing illegal. There has been no hacking to obtain the information we’ve obtained.”
Bridges had said on Tuesday that the budget would see rises in defence, forestry and international aid spending, which he said fell outside the “wellbeing” initiatives Ardern had indicated she would focus on in the plan.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has said some of Bridges’ details were incorrect, without specifying which ones, and that he had asked the National Party to stop releasing details ahead of time.
Bridges bristled at his implication that National had been involved in any hacking and called for Robertson to quit – though he still refused to say how he obtained the budget details.
“I’m not going to say anything that discloses where the information comes from,” Bridges said. “(There was) no hacking or indeed obtaining this by hacking under any definition.”
Robertson’s office had no immediate comment.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon in WELLINGTON; Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY; Editing by Sandra Maler)