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Media statement

Decision following Wall Street Journal breach of Treasury Budget lock-up embargo

Issue date: 
Tuesday, 5 July 2022
Status: 
Current
Corporate author: 
View point: 

The following statement can be attributed to Struan Little, Deputy Chief Executive and Deputy Secretary, Budget and Public Investment.

“The Treasury takes any breach of New Zealand Budget information security extremely seriously. We communicate this very clearly to all attendees of the Budget restricted briefing. As stated in the briefing’s terms and conditions, ‘any individual or organisation that breaches the lock-up terms and conditions may be refused permission to attend future restricted briefings.”

The Treasury will not allow the WSJ to attend future Budget, Financial Statements of the Government, Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update and Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update restricted briefings up to Budget 2025.

“On 19 May, a journalist from the Wall Street Journal transmitted information from the Budget 2022 restricted briefing venue to WSJ an hour before the 2:00pm embargo, which breaches the briefing terms and conditions that all attendees agree to comply with. The terms and conditions are very clear that no sending or receiving of any information in any form is permitted outside of the briefing venue before the 2:00pm embargo.

“The journalist proactively alerted Treasury officials inside the Budget 22 lock-up of the situation soon after the embargo breach.

“The Treasury promptly contacted WSJ requesting a full explanation of how this embargo breach happened. WSJ has told us that a failsafe against accidental transmission, that was installed in the journalist’s usual work laptop, was not installed in the laptop they had taken into the Budget 2022 lock-up. It stated that the journalist also left their mobile hotspot running, which allowed the story to be transmitted to WSJ’s publishing desk.

“WSJ also told us the editor handling the story skipped one of the protocols that would have provided a failsafe against accidental publication, and despite the story being marked with a 2:00pm embargo it was published on the Dow Jones website at approximately 1:00pm.

“Having considered the circumstances and degree of seriousness of this embargo breach, the Treasury will not allow WSJ and the specific reporter – even if the reporter is working for a different organisation – to attend future Budget, Financial Statements of the Government, Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update and Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update restricted briefings up to Budget 2025.

“The Budget 2025 restricted briefing will be the first that WSJ and the specific reporter will be allowed back to be a participant. The Treasury currently plans on hosting nine restricted briefing events between now and Budget 2025.

“These consequences for WSJ and the specific journalist are proportionate with the degree of seriousness of the embargo breach and the need to reinforce to everyone the importance of compliance with the lock-up protocols.”

 

Enquiries

Bryan McDaniel, Principal Communications Advisor
Telephone: 021 817 207
Email: [email protected]

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 5 July 2022