Inquiry into leak of Bridges’ expenses

I’m not sure whether most of the public will care much about the leaking of Simon Bridges’ expenses, but it seems to have been a big deal for Bridges, for the Speaker, and for political journalists who have given it a lot of coverage.

RNZ:  Inquiry launched into leak on Simon Bridges’ expenses

Parliament’s speaker, Trevor Mallard, said a Queen’s Counsel would lead the inquiry with the help of an employment lawyer and also someone with forensic IT skills.

Mr Mallard said he spoke to Mr Bridges and they agreed there was an issue about the security of information, which could potentially be quite serious.

“The inquiry will look at who forwarded [the information] to whom, and also who else had access to the data which was very specific data at a very specific point in time and who did access it and for what purpose,” Mr Mallard said.

“The general manager of the Parliamentary Service has used his authority to give full access to all of the core Parliamentary Service computers for that purpose, so there is not a question of having to ask people’s permission.

“As far as [MPs] are concerned there are matters of privilege and consent or a waiver will be necessary.”

Mr Mallard said he would ask Mr Bridges to make sure all his MPs signed the waiver allowing access to their computers.

“I’m not putting a start date or a finish date on this inquiry – it might well be the fact that the level of expertise that is coming into it causes someome to put their hand up, because unless they have incredible expertise – they will be identified.”

Asked whether all of the National MPs would sign the access waiver, shadow leader of the House Gerry Brownlee said “yes they will – we’re pretty hot under the collar about it”.

If it turns out an MP has leaked the information – their identity will be made public, but if it is a Parliamentary Service staff member Mr Mallard said that would be an employment matter.

RNZ – Simon Bridges spending leak: Consensus over need for inquiry

Not even Mr Mallard was free of the waiver – although he said it was already on the record that neither he nor his office received the travel expenses electronically, which was how they were leaked to media.

Mr Mallard said there was no escaping cyber experts.

“The inquiry will look at who forwarded [the information] to whom, and also who else had access to the data which was very specific data at a very specific point in time,” Mr Mallard said.

“The general manager of the Parliamentary Service has used his authority to give full access to all of the core Parliamentary Service computers for that purpose, so there is not a question of having to ask people’s permission.”

Mr Brownlee welcomed the investigation and said National had no issues with any of the inquiry’s waiver requirements because they were all “hot under the collar” about the leak.

“Anything that goes into a server stays there no matter what you do with it.”

A Queen’s Counsel will lead the inquiry with the help of an employment lawyer and a forensic information technology expert.

I don’t remember seeing this level of cooperation and determination to identify a leaker.

It’s interesting that Bridges is making such a big deal of it, as his big spending was the focus of the leak.

It would be embarrassing if the culprit turns out to be a National MP, and will ignite inevitable claims of disunity – but if that’s the case Bridges may benefit in the longer term if an enemy within his caucus is outed.

Funnily Newshub – who published the leaked Bridges expenses, yesterday published expense details of all National MPs, but that seems to have been largely ignored. Most attention was given to the leak inquiry.


Newsroom: Will ‘Limogate’ investigation reach top gear?

(I think -gate labels like this are dated and stupid, especially when used for relatively trivial issues).

After all, this was not classified or confidential information: it was already due to be released as part of a wider disclosure regime, with the leaker simply jumping the gun by a few days.

There’s no suggestion that Bridges has been misusing taxpayer money by taking his Crown car on personal joyrides.

After all, this was not classified or confidential information: it was already due to be released as part of a wider disclosure regime, with the leaker simply jumping the gun by a few days.

As for National leader Simon Bridges’ spending, as highlighted by Newshub – the organisation which received the leak – that’s also less than thrilling.

There’s no suggestion that Bridges has been misusing taxpayer money by taking his Crown car on personal joyrides.

It’s not the “what”, but the “who” and “why” which is most intriguing.

Why leak something which is going to be released all and sundry anyway? It seems a high risk, low reward move, given the likely punishment if they’re caught.

The Speaker seems intent on making it a big deal, presumably to warn off other would be leakers.

If someone is caught they may become a major scapegoat for what has been a common part of politics.

10 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  August 16, 2018

    “Asked whether all of the National MPs would sign the access waiver, shadow leader of the House Gerry Brownlee said “yes they will – we’re pretty hot under the collar about it”.”
    I’ll bet they are! Goodness knows what else will be exposed to the light of day; it’ll be like breaking open rat’s nests!!

    • Ray

       /  August 16, 2018

      It is really interesting that even the Speaker is prepared to be investigated on this.
      In the past the Labour Party leaked like a sieve and the there was quite a belief it was Trevor Mallard.
      So good on him leading the way.
      Also interesting that Newshub who lead the beat up (and it was when even left wing commentators say that) is now on the back foot and might end up with egg on their face for taking such a silly position.

      • Blazer

         /  August 16, 2018

        ‘ there was quite a belief it was Trevor Mallard.’-translation…Ray thought it was…Trev.

  2. PartisanZ

     /  August 16, 2018

    Will ‘Limogate’ immolate the Bridges …?

    The control of information is arguably the most important aspect of a ‘managed democracy’ and dictatorship by persuasion …

  3. lurcher1948

     /  August 16, 2018

    A delicate petal is our tempory leader of the opposition, Mr Bridges spends heaps travelling and when its revealed he spent heaps,spends more heaps of money to find out who informed the world that he spent heaps by paying a QC and a committee heaps,

    • High Flying Duck

       /  August 16, 2018

      The issue is not what was leaked. It is the integrity of parliamentary services, who are very much in the gun over this.
      If it is a Nat who leaked, they will be outed. But the inquiry is warranted – or Trevor wouldn’t have put it in place.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  August 16, 2018

        I can’t see why someone risked their job to do this leak; the info would be public soon anyway.He was not joyriding, it was parliamentary business and quite legitimate, as are the travel expanses of all MPs.

        Duck, you and I seem to be among the few who see that the leak itself isn’t the issue, it’s the integrity of all involved in this unlawful revealing of information.

  4. Blazer

     /  August 16, 2018

    over kill…all legitimate own it Mr Bridges…prepare to shoot yourself in the foot.

  5. Gezza

     /  August 16, 2018

    If it turns out an MP has leaked the information – their identity will be made public, but if it is a Parliamentary Service staff member Mr Mallard said that would be an employment matter.

    If it turns out it was a Parkiamentary Service staff member, I don’t see why their identity shouldn’t be made public, regardless that it would also be an employment matter? That is massive breach of trust & confidentiality obligations.

    • Gezza

       /  August 16, 2018

      *Parliamentary

      (Though it IS a bit of a Fun Park)