CANBERRA -- The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have searched email servers at Parliament House over leaked classified documents showing a cost blow out with the National Broadband Network (NBN).It's forced the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to defend the integrity of the AFP, after one of the alleged subjects of the search, Labor frontbencher Stephen Conroy, declared the AFP was being used to intimidate people.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also stated his view at the National Press Club that the leak "complaint was triggered from within the government."
AFP officers searched the Department of Parliamentary Services in the basement of Parliament House around 11:00 am after a stand-off over filming rights between awaiting media and security.
Journalists, camera crews and photographers were later allowed to film AFP personnel leaving the area.
Sergeant at Arms says this is a "media gathering". Tells us to move on. But we're not filming, just standing.— Frank Keany (@FJKeany) August 24, 2016
Dreyfus slamming the filming restrictions placed on journos during search: This is not a police state, it is a democracy #auspol— Stephanie Anderson (@stephanieando) August 24, 2016
It is the latest stage of the AFP investigation into the leaks which were ordered by NBN Co after classified material was published in several media outlets.
The AFP raided Senator Conroy's parliamentary office in Melbourne and the homes of two staffers during the second week of the federal election campaign.
Wednesday's server search relates to the digital correspondence of Labor staffers.
Here's the search warrant from AFP in Parliament pg1 over NBN leaks pic.twitter.com/39mTAeXaFy— David Lipson (@davidlipson) August 24, 2016
The search warrant indicates the AFP is searching for correspondence relating to several Labor staffers, the NBN, NBN Co, several classified plans and briefings, as well as media organisations including The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, delimiter.com.au and the ABC.
Pg2 of search warrant over NBN leaks pic.twitter.com/AbNEsVrGtH— David Lipson (@davidlipson) August 24, 2016
Labor has claimed parliamentary privilege over the documents seized, so the material will be sealed.
A statement from the AFP confirmed the purpose of the search warrant.
The AFP can confirm a search warrant will be executed today in relation to its investigation into the alleged unauthorised disclosure of Commonwealth information relating to the NBN Co.
Senator Conroy has accused the Turnbull Government of shutting down scrutiny as the NBN leaks call into question Turnbull's management of the project when he was the Communications Minister.
"This is a shameful attempt by Malcolm Turnbull to hide his incompetent administration of the NBN," Conroy said.
"It is an extraordinary attack on the Parliament and its constitutional duty to hold the government of the day to account."
Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has backed up Senator Conroy, saying the Prime Minister was embarrassed state of NBN Co exposed by the leak.
"It is information that NBN Co and Mr Turnbull did not want to be made public," he told reporters in Melbourne.
Dreyfus: "the person who has most to lose from this NBN leaks is [*checks notes*] Mr Turnbull". #auspol— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) August 24, 2016
"Let me be absolutely clear. This is not about the Australian Federal Police. They are doing their job," Dreyfus said.
"The only person whose integrity in question is Mr Turnbull."
The Prime Minister has revealed he was told about the AFP activity on Tuesday night by the Justice Minister Michael Keenan.
Mr Turnbull has called on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to "pull Senator Conroy into line" over his comments, saying it was an "outrageous suggestion" that the AFP was not acting independently of Government.
"He knows absolutely as well as we do that the AFP are thoroughly independent of the Government, there is no political direction at all," he told reporters in Sydney.
"He should know better."
The AFP was referred to the leaks by NBN Co in December.