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Senate committee to investigate AFP raids

AAP logoAAP 31/08/2016 Belinda Merhab

A Senate committee will be asked to investigate whether federal police raids relating to leaked national broadband network documents improperly interfered with the duties of senior Labor senator Stephen Conroy.

Senate President Stephen Parry allowed the matter to be referred to the privileges committee following a request from Senator Conroy on Tuesday.

The committee will be asked to investigate whether the raids on Senator Conroy's office, his staff member's home, or the Department of Parliamentary Services improperly interfered with his duties or whether any contempts were committed.

The Senate privileges committee has also been asked to consider whether documents seized during the raids should remain under lock and key.

Labor argues the documents should be protected by parliamentary privilege and Attorney-General George Brandis said the government agreed it was an appropriate question for the privileges committee to determine.

However, he did object to Labor's assertion that the seized documents, being held in the Senate clerk's safe, not be examined by the committee.

If the committee isn't able to determine the matter without seeing the material, it will have to get the Senate's approval to appoint an independent expert to examine the documents.

Labor says the approach taken was based on the advice of the clerk.

Senator Brandis said that was "poor" advice.

"It seems almost impossible that the privileges committee can competently perform the task referred to it without the inspection of the content of the documents," he said.

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