The Australian Federal Police will conduct a raid of offices at Parliament House today as part of an investigation into leaked NBN Co documents, senior Labor shadow minister Stephen Conroy has revealed.
Conroy, the shadow special minister of state and former communications minister, said he’d been told by police that the raid would take place this morning to access the emails of Labor staff members.
The minister called the situation “an absolute abuse of process” and accused NBN Co of illegally calling in the police to conduct the investigation.
"Our obligation to the people of Australia is to expose waste and mismanagement by the government and what we are seeing here is an attempt to intimidate people to not actually do their parliamentary duties," he told ABC’s AM program this morning.
Conroy claimed the whole affair was an attempt to help prime minister Malcolm Turnbull “hide the embarrassment” of the cost and schedule blowouts in the delivery of the NBN.
“The AFP are simply acting on the request of the NBN Co with Malcolm Turnbull’s mates on the board who are desperate to provide cover for him as the costs and the rollout schedule of the NBN have blown out,” Conroy said.
“This whole investigation is about covering up Malcolm Turnbull’s incompetent administration of the NBN.”
The AFP are investigating leaks of a number of NBN documents that were circulated to journalists and used by Labor to attack the state of the National Broadband Network rollout.
A documents revealed details of the cost of copper remediation for fibre to the node, problems sourcing power for FTTN, and that some of the Optus HFC assets acquired by NBN were in poor shape.
The investigation led to a raid of Conroy’s electoral office in Melbourne during the election campaign.
Conroy claimed parliamentary privilege on the leaked documents, meaning they cannot be seized by the police until the claim of privilege has been voted on in parliament.
The minister said he was trying to protect whistleblowers at NBN Co. Two NBN staffers have been ‘stood aside’ by the company while the investigation is ongoing.
“So what is at stake here is the ability of members of parliament to protect the whistleblowers who come to them and give them information that demonstrates that the government of the day is not actually achieving what it’s claiming in public.” he said.
“Malcolm Turnbull once made his name protecting whistleblowers. Well now he’s setting the police on them.”
In July, Senator Mitch Fifield, minister for communications, said the AFP acts independently of the government which had no hand in the May raids.
"I didn't raid Stephen's office, the Australian Federal Police did,” Fifield told ABC Radio National's Drive show. “The referral from the NBN to the AFP was a matter for NBN. And the AFP determined what is and is not within their jurisdiction. I'm someone who has confidence in the integrity of the AFP, it's something that been called into question by the Australian Labor Party."
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