Australian Police Raid Labor Party Offices Amid Leak Probe

  • Labor says raid is unprecedented during an election campaign
  • Police investigating National Broadband Network document leaks
Photographer: James Braund/ Bloomberg

Australian Federal Police investigating the alleged leak of government documents raided offices of the main opposition Labor Party, triggering a political furor in the second week of the election campaign.

Labor said the searches conducted overnight in Melbourne were unprecedented during an election and demanded Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government reveal what it knew of the police operation. The government denied any prior knowledge of the raids and said Labor was trying to politicize the issue.

Officers searched two premises amid an investigation “concerning allegations of the unauthorized disclosure of Commonwealth information,” the AFP said in a statement. The probe was launched following a complaint by the state-owned National Broadband Network Co., which is building a multi-billion dollar fiber optic network.

Labor leader Bill Shorten told reporters the events related to Turnbull’s time in charge of the NBN as communications minister and the “cost blowouts and delays” afflicting the project. Labor officials including transport spokesman Anthony Albanese took to the airwaves questioning the timing of the raids during an election campaign, and noting government offices hadn’t been searched by police following recent leaks of Cabinet decisions.

Turnbull said the issue was entirely a matter for the police.

“This investigation has been undertaken independent of government, and decisions regarding yesterday’s activity were made by the AFP alone,” police said in the statement.

A Newspoll published by the Australian on May 9 gave Labor a 51 percent to 49 percent lead over the coalition on a two-party preferred basis. The opposition would need to gain a uniform swing of about 4 percent to win enough seats to form government in the July 2 election.

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