news Australian Federal Police officers have raided the Melbourne office of former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and the houses of two Labor staffers seeking to ascertain the identity of whistleblowers who have leaked a series of key documents from within the NBN company.
The extraordinary move was confirmed by Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus in a statement tonight.
“I can confirm the office of Labor Senator Stephen Conroy has this evening been searched by the AFP. I understand two Labor staff members have also been named in warrants relating to this matter,” Dreyfus said in a statement.
“I understand these searches are in relation to documents relating to NBN Co. I have no further information about these documents.”
The AFP has not as yet issued a statement in relation to the raids, however, NBN executive general manager of corporate affairs, Karina Keisler, confirmed on Twitter tonight that the AFP had taken action in response to a referral from the NBN company itself.
yep @bengrubb we take leaks very seriously as any business would.
— karina keisler (@karinakeisler) May 19, 2016
“We take leaks very seriously as any business would,” Keisler said. The AFP has been reported by Fairfax Media to have interviewed around 20 NBN company staff as part of its investigation.
Dreyfus said it was clear that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull — who as Communications Minister enforced a controversial change of technological direction on the NBN company — was responsible for “massive cost blowouts and serious delays”.
“He wrecked the NBN,” said Dreyfus. “There is no doubt there would be many, many documents that would be of major embarrassment to Malcolm Turnbull.”
“What we also know is that there have been many other serious leaks out of Government – including relating to national security, defence, and the Federal Budget – and none of them have resulted in Federal police raids.”
“Tonight’s events are unprecedented – we have never witnessed such an extraordinary action during a Federal election campaign.”
The Opposition and a number of media outlets have published a number of sensitive NBN documents over the past nine months.
The documents have outlined a range of problems with the Coalition’s version of the NBN, including cost blow-outs, delays to the NBN rollout schedule, concerns about the quality of legacy networks the NBN company is acquiring from Telstra and Optus, and more.
Fairfax Media reported tonight that Turnbull himself said he couldn’t comment on the raids.
“It’s entirely a matter for the AFP,” he said. “As you know they operate entirely independently of the government so this is a matter for the AFP. The Labor Party know that as well as you and I do.”
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting