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National Party in possible lock-up breach

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/05/2016

The National Party may have fallen foul of the budget lock-up rules - putting a photo on social media before the embargo was lifted.

A photo of Treasury's budget lock-up in the Beehive was posted on the National Party's Facebook page on Thursday, before the 2pm embargo was lifted, The NBR reports.

The photo - which showed journalists and others seated at desks, as well as a screen displaying the budget wifi password - was taken down shortly after it was posted online.

In a statement, a National Party spokesman said the photo was posted by a staff member on the basis that it didn't include any budget content.

"This was an oversight which we accept should not have occurred under the embargoed conditions and it was rectified shortly afterward," the spokesman said.

Treasury is looking into what happened and will decide whether any follow-up action is needed.

One other organisation is also under scrutiny, a Treasury spokeswoman said.

Journalists, analysts and others inside the lock-up are given early access to the budget documents, but they must not transmit or release any information until 2pm.

Prime Minister John Key wasn't too concerned.

"It's the information that's embargoed, not the location," he told reporters.

However, Mr Key accepted it "wouldn't be good" if someone in the vicinity of the lock-up had seen the photo and the wifi password, and accessed the network.

Asked if anyone in the National Party would be reprimanded, Mr Key said: "I'm sure they'll cease and desist from taking such graphic scenes in future".

Earlier this year, the Reserve Bank scrapped its lock-ups for media and analysts after a Newshub reporter leaked March's cut to the Official Cash Rate before the embargo was lifted.

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