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If Paula Bennett is to have any chance of restoring the public’s faith in her Ministry she needs to launch an urgent independent inquiry into the security lapse uncovered yesterday, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.
“I have already received a number of messages from people desperately worried that they may have had their privacy breached.
“While the matter has been referred to the privacy commissioner by Keith Ng, the freelance journalist who discovered it, Ms Bennett also needs to act and with urgency.
“Nothing short of an independent inquiry will even begin to restore New Zealanders’ faith in her department’s practices.
“It is the most serious breach of privacy I have seen. Unfortunately it joins a list of other departmental breaches that should never have happened.
“In this case the information wasn’t accidently sent to an individual, but was freely accessible to anyone who chose to walk into a Work and Income office and use one of its computer kiosks.
“John Key claimed in a television interview this morning that this information could only be accessed by someone who knew what they were doing. That is simply not the case.
“This was information that could be found by anyone who knew how to click a mouse a few times. In fact a beneficiary advocacy group had previously raised the issue with the department.
“The severity of this demands a swift response, and it demands accountability from Ms Bennett,” said Jacinda Ardern.