AFP raids Labor Senator’s office in search for source of NBN leaks

Shadow attorney-general describes raids during a federal election campaign as “unprecedented”

The Australian Federal Police has confirmed it carried out a raid on the office of Labor Senator Stephen Conroy yesterday evening.

The AFP said it executed search warrants in East Melbourne and Brunswick as part of a search for the source of a number of internal NBN documents that have been released by Labor.

Labor has seized on the contents of a number of leaked documents to argue that the National Broadband Network rollout has been derailed by the government’s shift to a ‘multi-technology mix’ model for the NBN.

Conroy, communications minister in the former Labor government, has used the contents to probe NBN executives at meetings of the Senate’s NBN inquiry and in Senate Estimates hearings. The documents have been used by Labor’s broadband spokesperson, Jason Clare, to attack the MTM rollout.

In addition to the raid on Conroy’s office, a raid is understood to have been conducted on the home of Andy Byrne, who works for Clare.

“I understand these searches are in relation to documents relating to NBN Co,” shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said.

“I have no further information about these documents.

“But what we do know about NBN Co is that Malcolm Turnbull was responsible for massive cost blow outs and serious delays – he wrecked the NBN.”

“There is no doubt there would be many, many documents that would be of major embarrassment to Malcolm Turnbull,” Dreyfus said.

Read more: Telco coalition calls for govt to write off portion of NBN cost

Dreyfus said the raids, conducted during a federal election campaign, were “unprecedented”.

I think like most Australians, I was shocked to learn that these events were occurring in the second week of an election campaign,” Dreyfus told ABC’s Lateline yesterday.

“And I would repeat: these are extraordinary and unprecedented events and the government has a great deal of explaining to do, a great many questions that the government has to answer.”

The Labor MP said that other “serious” leaks from the government have not resulted in AFP raids.

There've been more than 20 serious national security-related leaks under this Abbott-Turnbull government and not one of them has resulted in an AFP investigation, still less raids conducted in this manner,” Dreyfus said.

The AFP said in a statement that it “can confirm that it executed two search warrants in Melbourne yesterday evening as part of an investigation concerning allegations of the unauthorised disclosure of Commonwealth information.”

The AFP sad that NBN had referred the leaks to it on 9 December.

The timing means that NBN referred the leaks to the AFP shortly after a document revealed a blowout in the cost of copper remediation for fibre to the node and another leak revealing the parlous state of the Optus HFC assets.

“This investigation has been undertaken independent of government, and decisions regarding yesterday’s activity were made by the AFP alone,” the AFP said.

“Search warrants conducted in East Melbourne and Brunswick are part of a phased approach that the AFP has undertaken regarding this investigation. The next phase of this investigation involves the examination and analysis of material collected during these search warrants.”

NBN is assisting the AFP, including facilitating interviews with a number of its employees.

“NBN can confirm it is assisting the Australian Federal Police with an ongoing investigation,” a spokesperson for the organisation said.

“As this investigation is ongoing, it is not appropriate to comment any further.”

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p

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Tags national broadband networkNational Broadband Network (NBN)

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Rohan Pearce

Rohan Pearce

Computerworld
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