Labor asserts parliamentary privilege over AFP on NBN leaks

AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin.

The Australian Federal Police no longer have access to seized documents after the Labor party claimed parliamentary privilege.

AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin confirmed that the documents seized have now been sealed, and can’t be accessed until the matter goes before the Senate.

With parliament now dissolved until after the election, the AFP will have to wait until it comes back before the matter can be decided.

He also confirmed that no one in the government knew about the investigations which had been operating since December 2015 and that the government was first informed after the raids.

“In fact, the Government first became aware of this investigation shortly after the commencement of the operational activity yesterday,” Colvin said.

“Shortly after that, I spoke to the Opposition Leader as a matter of courtesy to advise him that the AFP was conducting operational activity.”

When questioned on why this particular case was acted upon and other government leaks were not, Colvin said the matter was given no more or no less precedence than any other and was investigated with the exact same importance.

He also said that the timing of the raids in the early hours of the morning were due to factors out of the AFP’s control.

“Often they relate to the intentions and wishes of the occupiers as to legal advice and process,” he said.

“A lot of that is out of our control.”

NBN staff were also present at the raids, with Colvin saying a staff member was present at both the Brunswick location and at the Commonwealth parliamentary office.

“That is a normal operational consideration for police when we are conducting search warrants,” he said.

“Those people do not search. What they are there for is to be shown documents we believe might be relevant and provide expertise as to the authenticity and origin of those documents.”

The AFP raided the Melbourne office of senior Labor MP and former communications minister Stephen Conroy over suspected leaks to journalists about the NBN last night.

Labor has described the raids as “unprecedented” and said two party staff members were also named in related warrants.

The AFP said this morning that the raids were in relation to a referral from the NBN Co on December 9, 2015.

Addresses raided included shadow defence minister Conroy’s CPO office at Treasury Place and the home of a staffer of shadow communications minister Jason Clare.

Labor frontbencher Tony Burke spoke about the raids as they were underway during an interview on ABC TV’s 7.30 program last night.

“There are allegations floating around about documents that were leaked from the NBN. There’s no doubt the leaks that came from the NBN caused immense damage, immense damage to Malcolm Turnbull when they showed the cost blowout of the NBN, the fact it was slower and going to be delayed,” Burke said.

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