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Govt backs Labor bid over AFP raids

AAP logoAAP 30/08/2016 Belinda Merhab

The federal government will back Labor's bid to have a Senate committee investigate whether leaked national broadband network documents seized by federal police should remain under lock and key.

Attorney-General George Brandis says the government will support Labor's motion on Wednesday to refer the matter to the privileges committee.

Labor wants to prevent the AFP from using the seized documents in its investigation by claiming parliamentary privilege over them.

The documents were seized during raids on the Melbourne office of senior Labor senator Stephen Conroy and the home of his staff member during the federal election.

More were seized last week during raids at Parliament House.

Senator Conroy said what was at stake was bigger than the prime minister's legacy as a communications minister overseeing the NBN.

It was about the constitutional right of the people, through the parliament, to hold the government to account without fear of recrimination, he said.

"This is not about the cut and thrust of politics," he told parliament on Tuesday.

"What this is about is the proper functioning of the parliament and our democratic system."

The raids were an "extraordinary attack on the parliament and its constitutional duty to hold the government of the day to account", he said.

They had been distressing for all involved but he was heartened by the support of parliamentary colleagues from all sides who had expressed concerns about the events, he said.

Senator Brandis said referring the matter to the privileges committee was the appropriate course of action.

It raised important principles, like the ancient privilege of the Senate, he said.

"It will be for the privileges committee to determine the facts of the case, to determine the appropriate course, to determine what steps if any the Senate should now take," he said.

Senate president Stephen Parry said the seized documents remained in the Senate clerk's safe.

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