by George Nott

Conroy demands on air apology from Fifield for AFP raids

Jul 06, 2016
GovernmentGovernment ITSecurity

Senator Stephen Conroy demanded an on air apology from Senator Mitch Fifield last night for the AFP’s raids on his office. The AFP raided Conroy’s office in May in search of the source of a number of internal NBN documents that have been released by Labor.

Conroy, speaking on ABC Radio National’s RN Drive show, said he had sought legal advice and requested the AFP to end their ‘ludicrous’ investigation.

He also called for the resignation of Ziggy Switkowski.

“I’ve written to the [Australian] Federal Police on Friday, asking them to end their ludicrous investigation into leaks from the NBN on the basis of legal advice that says NBN Co have incorrectly called the police in, they are not Commonwealth offices and I’m seeking and demanding an end to the investigation, an apology from Ziggy Switkowski, an apology from Mitch Fifield who has overseen this, and that Ziggy Switkowski resign over it,” Conroy told listeners.

Senator Fifield, minister for communications, who was also on the show, responded: “I didn’t raid Stephen’s office, the Australian Federal Police did. The referral from the NBN to the AFP was a matter for NBN. And the AFP determined what is and is not within their jurisdiction. I’m someone who has confidence in the integrity of the AFP, it’s something that been called into question by the Australian Labor Party.”

Conroy then pressed Fifield in the heated exchange, asking him if he was ’embarrassed’ for raiding his office.

“I didn’t, I did not, I didn’t raid your office Stephen,” Fifield said.

Conroy said he had not yet received any response to his letter when asked by RN Drive host Patricia Karvelas, and that he’d asked for other material relating to the investigation to be covered by parliamentary privilege.

“I’ve got all of the documents that they took from my office on the night at the senate with the clerk, I’ve written to them and asked for all of the other information that they’ve gathered that might have been uncovered by listening in on phone calls or by looking at other people’s emails, I’ve asked for that to be covered by parliamentary privilege and I’ve asked for that to be given to the clerk.

“I’ve received no response whatsoever to that and now I’ve written again to them saying that NBN Co have illegally authorised them to conduct this investigation and their raid on my office is illegal.”

After Conroy repeated his calls for an apology Fifield replied: “Well I can tell you I won’t be apologising to Stephen. The referral to the Australian Federal Police was from the NBN as they are entitled to do when there’s documents and intellectual property that is being stolen. NBN as an organisation is perfectly entitled, and it’s very reasonable, to call the AFP to investigate.”

Conroy responded but was cut off by the host: “I used to be the minister, this is just complete and utter [unclear audio].”