news Delimiter has reportedly been named in a search warrant issued by the Australian Federal Police authorising raids on a number of premises to seek documents related to a spate of damaging leaks which have come from within the NBN company over the past year.
Late last night AFP officers raided the Melbourne office of former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, and the house of at least one Labor staffer working for Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare, in an apparent attempt 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 AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin this morning, after it was revealed by Labor last night.
This morning The Guardian wrote online that it had seen a “copy of the warrant”.
“Having now seen a copy of the warrant, it’s clear the raid last night was seeking documents and email accounts of the staffers – and it also names five media outlets, the ABC, The Australian, AFR, SMH and Delimiter.”
The two Labor staff members named have been reported to include Ryan Hamilton, normally an advisor to Clare, who is currently working in Labor’s campaign headquarters, and Andy Byrne, a specialist staff member in Clare’s office who has long acted as Labor’s main policy advisor on telecommunications matters.
It is being speculated this morning that the AFP also plans to raid the offices of media outlets regarding the matter.
Colvin confirmed in a press conference this morning that a claim of parliamentary privilege had been made over the documents seized from Labor, meaning that the AFP will not have access to the documents until Parliament is reformed after the Federal Election.
This has the possibility to increase the likelihood of raids on media outlets, due to the limited information that the AFP would have been able to garner from the overnight raids.
It is also possible that journalists’ metadata has been accessed with regard to the NBN leaks. Speaking to media this morning, AFP Commissioner Colvin would not confirm whether this had taken place.
There is no requirement to make journalists aware of their metadata having been accessed, under last year’s Data Retention legislation, although government-appointed public interest advocates would have the chance to argue privately against such access, if they chose.
The AFP has not been in contact with Delimiter over the raids. If the AFP does establish contact, Delimiter will inform readers of that contact, and then seek legal advice as to what next steps we should take.
The AFP investigation came about as a result of a referral from the NBN company itself in December last year.
The Opposition and a number of media outlets have published a number of sensitive NBN documents over the past year.
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. The NBN company has consistently questioned the authenticity of the leaked documents.