Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told media in Sydney the raids were “an extraordinary development”. Photo: Andrew Meares Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull answers questions about the raids. Photo: Sky News

Up to ten plain-clothes officers raided a Brunswick house believed to be the home of a Labor staffer. Photo: Sky News

AFP officers outside the house. Photo: Sky News

Former communications minister, Labor senator Stephen Conroy is believed to be one of the people being raided. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Shadow finance spokesman Tony Burke said the raids were in relation to allegations about documents which revealed that the NBN was slower and more expensive under the Coalition than under Labor.

Dreyfus hits out at ‘extraordinary and unprecedented’ raids

The Australian Federal Police have raided Labor Party offices in Melbourne over the alleged leak of documents from the National Broadband Network.

In an explosive development in the middle of a federal election campaign, officers searched the Treasury Place office of former communications minister Stephen Conroy.

Shortly after 11pm, up to ten plain-clothes officers raided a Brunswick house believed to be the home of a Labor staffer.

Two staffers for Labor’s communications spokesman Jason Clare, one of whom is a former staffer to Senator Conroy, are believed to be targeted by the raids. One of the staffers is a key operative in Labor Party campaign headquarters.

Labor confirmed the raids on Thursday, with shadow finance spokesman Tony Burke saying they were in relation to allegations about documents which revealed that the NBN roll-out was slower and more expensive under the Coalition than under Labor.

Mr Burke said the revelations about the NBN had caused “immense damage” to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as former communications minister and questioned the timing of the raids.

It’s also understood that up to 20 NBN Co employees have been interviewed by the AFP over the leak.

Mr Turnbull said he couldn’t comment on the raids.

“It’s entirely a matter for the AFP,” he said. “As you know they operate entirely independently of the government so this is a matter for the AFP. The Labor Party know that as well as you and I do.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it was “an extraordinary development” and related to Mr Turnbull’s embarrassment over NBN revelations.

“It relates to his embarrassment over the fact that there was a massive blow out of costs of billions and billions of dollars, and of course huge delays in the roll out of the NBN,” Mr Shorten said.

In a statement, the NBN Co confirmed it is assisting the Australian Federal Police with an “ongoing investigation”.

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

A story published by Fairfax Media in February that outlined the National Broadband Network was facing mounting delays and rising costs, based on documents marked “commercial in confidence” and “for official use only”, is believed to have triggered the raid.

The Coalition had pledged that its roll-out of the NBN would be more affordable and delivered faster than Labor’s NBN plan.

A government source said the NBN Co was responsible for referring the leak to federal police and distanced the Coalition from the raid.

“The first we heard about it was when the raids started to take place. By convention, the AFP chief has to call the Justice Minister when a politically sensitive raid takes place”.

“It is the case that those raids are happening,” Mr Burke told ABC’s 7.30.

“The thing that I also know with this, is during the life of this Parliament, on 23 different occasions we’ve asked about leaks from all parts of this government, right through to the national security committee of cabinet. The night before the budget government staffers were handing out cabinet in confidence documents around the press gallery.

“I know how many of those inquiries have resulted in police raids. I don’t know how many times they’ve been referred to the AFP.”

The Labor MP added that he was making no criticism of the federal police.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the government had a great deal of explaining to do.

Mr Dreyfus said that AFP guidelines recommended that police brief the government when searching parliamentarians and investigating politically sensitive matters.

He said the government should declare when it found out about the raids and whether it thought it appropriate for the AFP to conduct them during the election campaign.

He said Labor would defend any staffers and politicians involved in the investigation: “The ALP looks after its staff just as we look after our fellow parliamentarians.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann who also appeared on 7.30 said he was not aware of the raids and that the AFP was an “entirely independent organisation. It makes its own judgements on these things.”

“The AFP can confirm it is conducting operational activity in Melbourne this evening,” an AFP spokesperson said. “As this activity is related to an ongoing investigation, it is not appropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

with Larissa Ham, Latika Bourke, Michael Koziol

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