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Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf should have offered his resignation following the early release of Budget information, and at the very least should apologise for how he handled it, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Paula Bennett says.

“Mr Makhlouf had a responsibility to keep Budget information confidential. It is disappointing that he has taken no responsibility for the incompetency he has shown.

“It is clear the State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes felt he should offer his resignation. If Mr Makhlouf wasn’t already leaving, his position would be untenable.

“He will now likely leave the country, having collected a remuneration package of at least $640,000 a year, without any public apology for overseeing one of the biggest blunders in the Treasury’s history. The New Zealand public deserve better.

“Questions now need to be asked of Finance Minister Grant Robertson. He is ultimately responsible for the Treasury and the Budget, and the buck stops with him. It’s clear he did not ask the right questions of Mr Makhlouf and only heard what he wanted to hear – which was that the National Party was engaged in systematic hacking. He was happy to sit on that lie for more than 36 hours. He has never corrected his false statement.

“Mr Robertson is the one who publically linked the National Party to a false hacking claim. Given Mr Hughes felt it appropriate for a resignation to be offered by Mr Makhlouf, the Prime Minister should expect the same level of accountability from her Finance Minister.

“At the very least, Mr Robertson owes an apology to all New Zealanders, not just the National Party.

“The handling of this by the Treasury and the Minister has been incompetent. New Zealanders deserve better from what is arguably this country’s most important and influential Ministry.”

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