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Australian state government ministers have accused journalists of hacking in order to get the low-down on transport plans in New South Wales.

The Sydney Morning Herald has mounted a convincing defence against the seemingly tech-illiterate allegations that journalists at the paper attempted to access a restricted website 3,727 times.

Reporters claim they simply acted on a tip to check for information on an unannounced website - nswtransportblueprint.com.au. So the "hacking" by the self-confessed tech-clueless hacks seems to have involved nothing beyond following links on a publicly viewable site and printing off pages of documents.

By contrast, New South Wales Transport Minister Dave Campbell described this activity as "'akin to 3,727 attempts to pick the lock of a secure office and take highly confidential documents" over the course of two days. Ministers have reportedly referred the matter to police, an investigation only likely to expose ministers to ridicule, according to the SMH.

Peter Fray, editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, said: "The information on the NSW public transport blueprint was freely and publicly available on Friday afternoon, February 19. Accessing it did not require a password. You just had to put in the web address."

"The real issue here is that the government's spin machine did not control the release of the information. The Herald spoiled the government's plans for a glossy launch of the information on Sunday." ®

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