news Mitch Fifield, Federal Minister for Communications, has hit out at the Labor Opposition following comments made by Senator Stephen Conroy following an Australian Federal Police (AFP) search at Parliament House on 23 August.
“All of the claims made today by Stephen Conroy regarding the NBN are wrong,” Fifield said, adding that Labor leader Bill Shorten “needs to pull Stephen Conroy into line” over the comments.
Following the raid, Conroy, who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition, said the action had been an “shameful attempt” by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to “hide his incompetent administration of the NBN”.
Further it was an “extraordinary attack on the Parliament and its constitutional duty to hold the government of the day to account”.
Conroy claimed that NBN Co had “initiated” the investigation based on a claim that it is entitled to special protections from disclosure of information about its operations because it is part of the Commonwealth.
Those claims are incorrect, he suggested, hinting the Parliament House raid may not have been lawful.
Saying the rollout of the National Broadband Network “is on track and on budget”, the Minister stated: “Labor continues to question the integrity of the Australian Federal Police. The AFP [Australian Federal Police] act independently of government.”
“The facts are that NBN believed that commercially sensitive material was being stolen from the organisation and they referred the matter to the AFP in December last year. What the AFP investigates is a matter for the AFP,” Fifield continued.
“Far from fully co-operating with police, Labor has been a blocker,” he said. “Labor needs to explain to the public its full involvement in these affairs – something it has failed to do to date.”
The AFP has said that the search was in relation to its investigation into the “alleged unauthorised disclosure of Commonwealth information relating to the NBN Co”.
The Minister went on to say the NBN has met “every rollout and financial target” for nine consecutive quarters, and is now available to three million premises with more than 1.2 million customers now connected.
Further he said NBN is now available to a quarter of the nation – a figure that will rise to 50% by the middle of 2017. The project is expected to be complete by 2020 – “at least two years earlier than the plan Labor took to this year’s election”, he said.
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting