news The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has confirmed a raid on Parliament House today in relation to its investigation into the “alleged unauthorised disclosure of Commonwealth information relating to the NBN Co”.
Stating that it had lawfully obtained a warrant for the execution of the search, the AFP said it was conducted by consent with the cooperation of the Department of Parliamentary Services and other involved parties.
The police statement also said that the parties have been contacted and have claimed parliamentary privilege – a legal protection for MPs which grants them certain immunities from prosecution.
The claim was accepted by the AFP on 23 August, it said, adding that all material seized during the search will be “handled in accordance with the provisions and guidelines relating to parliamentary privilege”.
The AFP also said it is satisfied that it is acting lawfully in its search of Parliament House and that it could not comment further a this time.
The Australian Greens have responded to the AFP action, saying they are “deeply troubled by the AFP raids inside Parliament House” and called on NBN Co management to “simply come clean on whatever it is they are trying to hide”.
“It is no secret that the NBN build is in deep trouble, with flawed political decisions by the Abbott/Turnbull Government leading to inevitable cost and time overruns and the selection of substandard technology for what should have been a world-class project,” said the Greens’ Deputy and Communications Spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam.
“Instead of getting its house in order, NBN has escalated to a more extreme and high-risk strategy of invoking Federal Police raids on political staffers and now on the grounds of Parliament itself,” Ludlam said.
Calling the AFP search “troubling in the extreme”, the Senator concluded by saying that the practice of parliamentary privilege evolved to protect legislators and their advisers from actions of the police when in possession of documents provided by “public-interest whistle blowers”.
The search yesterday follows AFP raids of the Melbourne office of former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and the houses of two Labor staffers in May of this year.
The AFP said at the time they were seeking to ascertain the identity of whistleblowers who had leaked key documents from within the NBN company.
The raids were widely criticised and the AFP was forced at the time to deny that they were politically motivated.