Who would have thought building a nation-wide, high speed broadband network would be so tumultuous? OK, OK, given the ludicrous state of Australian politics, we probably all could have guessed that. No surprise then that for drama lovers, this week’s instalment has delivered in spades, with the Australian Federal Police conducting raids on the offices/homes of Stephen Conroy and Jason Clare. Now the focus is on who knew about the raids… or more accurately, who didn’t.
An article out of the Associated Press (via SBS) wonders how Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull was not informed of the raids and why Communications Minister Mitch Fifield failed to disclose this particular fact to the PM.
The story mentions that Fifield “knew about the referral” of the matter to the AFP by NBN Co for “several months”, but in that time had not shared the information with the PM or “any other ministers”.
As you might expect, this has ruffled the feathers of the opposition with Labor leader Bill Shorten firing off the following:
Labor say it’s inconceivable and implausible the senior minister would not have advised the prime minister’s office of the investigation.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the “explosive revelations” by Senator Fifield showed the government’s attempt to run from the matter had “hit the fan”.
“It is either gross incompetence or far worse and we are not being told the truth,” he told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.
Of course, it’s hard to ignore the fact that raids were conducted heading into an election, but the PM insists the AFP “acted independently”.
The benefits of the raid are also under question, with the AAP pointing out that the contents of the documents could fall under “parliamentary privilege”, a form of legal immunity and if this is determined to be the case by the Senate, there’s not much the AFP can do with them.