Press Gallery doorstop Parliament House, Canberra > Mitch Fifield, Liberal Senator for Victoria

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24-August-2016

TRANSCRIPT

 

Press Gallery doorstop
Parliament House, Canberra

8.25 am

24 August 2016

 Subjects: AFP, NBN.

E & OE

MITCH FIFIELD:

To hear Stephen Conroy, every word coming out of his mouth was wrong. Stephen Conroy has alleged that the NBN is behind schedule and over budget. That’s completely incorrect. NBN released their financial year results last week, which showed that NBN is now available to three million Australians. That’s a quarter of the population. NBN will be complete by 2020.

NBN under Labor was a failed project. Contractors had downed tools in four states. Only 51,000 people had hooked up to the NBN under Stephen Conroy and they’d missed their 2013 rollout targets by one million. Malcolm Turnbull, as Communications Minister, brought order to bear where there was chaos. So the story of the NBN under this government is a good one. Clearly, Stephen Conroy is embarrassed by the comparison between the rollout of the NBN under this government and the rollout of the NBN under his tenure as Minister.

JOURNALIST:

Is the AFP raiding today though?

FIFIELD:

I have no idea if the AFP is conducting operational police activity today. And the reason for that is that the AFP operates independently of Government. What Stephen Conroy has sought to do today is to continue Labor’s smear…

DERRYN HINCH:

I’ve always wanted to do this, break in on somebody else’s press conference.

FIFIELD:

Derryn, how are you?

HINCH:

Morning.

FIFIELD:

Welcome mate.

HINCH:

Thanks Senator.

FIFIELD:

Cheers.

JOURNALIST:

These raids in the Department of Parliamentary Services though, they do seem quite extraordinary, do you agree?

FIFIELD:

As I say, I don’t know if the AFP is undertaking any operational police activity today, because the AFP operates independently of government. But Stephen Conroy and Labor are continuing their smear on the integrity of the Australian Federal Police.

The facts are these: NBN believed that there was commercial in confidence material which was being stolen from the organisation. NBN is perfectly within its rights to refer such allegations to appropriate authorities. As a result, the AFP is undertaking an investigation and they should be allowed to go about their business.

Stephen Conroy has called on the AFP to cease their investigations. That is an extraordinary thing for a Member of Parliament to call upon an independent law enforcement organisation to cease their activities.

JOURNALIST:

Is it your understanding that for the AFP to actually carry out this sort of search, they need to get the permission of the Presiding Officers of both houses to even get into the building?

FIFIELD:

Well look as I say, I’m not aware if there is any operational police activity that is occurring today…

JOURNALIST:

But is that normal Parliamentary practice?

FIFIELD:

…But there are protocols in place which the Presiding Officers have jurisdiction over.

JOURNALIST:

Therefore wouldn’t the Government have been told by the Speaker or the President that they have had this request by the AFP for access to Parliament?

FIFIELD:

As I say, I am unaware if the AFP is or isn’t undertaking any operational police activity today.

Thanks very much.

[ends]