AFP likely to be blocked from accessing seized NBN documents

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AFP likely to be blocked from accessing seized NBN documents

Committee recommends parliamentary privilege.

The Australian Federal Police is unlikely to be able to access NBN Co documents it seized during a raid on Parliament House after a lower house committee said the documents were subject to parliamentary privilege.

The AFP took the documents as part of a raid triggered by the leaking of sensitive internal NBN Co documents late last year.

It conducted two raids: one in May on the office of former Labor MP Stephen Conroy and the house of a staffer employed by Labor MP Jason Clare, and a second in August when it raided the Department of Parliamentary Services, and seized material also belonging to a Clare staffer.

However, Labor made a claim of parliamentary privilege over the documents seized in the DPS raid, meaning the AFP was unable to access the files until parliament voted on whether to keep them sealed.

In its report on the claim, the House of Representatives privileges and members’ interests committee today said it believed the material was in fact subject to parliamentary privilege.

It said the lower house should accept its recommendation that the confidential documents be returned to Clare, and the AFP not be allowed access.

Parliament is currently sitting its last week of the year; it is unclear whether a vote will make it through before the lower house shuts up shop for 2016.

The documents will stay with the clerk of the house until a vote is able to be taken next year if parliament does not vote this week.

"As the NBN falls within the subject matter responsibilities of the communications portfolio, during the critical period defined in the search warrant the member for Blaxland had parliamentary responsibilities in relation to this subject in the usual course of his role as Shadow Minister for Communications," the committee said.

The AFP raids were in response to four separate documents that leaked out of NBN Co since this time last year.

The campaign kicked off in November and December, with separate files revealing NBN Co was considering overbuilding the degraded Optus HFC network - a move it confirmed this past September - and that it is facing a remediation bill for Telstra's copper of ten times more than it expected.

A February leak of an internal progress report revealed the NBN was running behind on its fibre-to-the-node rollout, and a March leak indicated NBN Co's plans for fibre-to-the-distribution point, also confirmed in September

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