Parliament House Doorstop

Subject/s: AFP raids; China extradition treaty










Subject/s: AFP raids; China extradition treaty

MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Morning. Yesterday with the report of the Senate privileges committee, we’ve seen a sorry end to a dreadful event that occurred during last year’s election campaign in the second week. That was the raid by the Federal Police, at the instigation of NBNCo, on both Senator Conroy’s office and the home of a Labor staffer. We’ve already had the report of the House of Representatives Privileges Committee, which said of course, vindicating Labor’s position in May last year, that the documents seized from the Labor staffer were privileged, and an interference with the work of Parliament. Now we have the Senate privileges committee saying that not only the documents seized from Senator Conroy’s office are privileged but this was an improper interference with Parliament. I make no criticism of the Australian Federal Police – I make a very direct criticism of NBNCo and its executives. And of the government, because NBNCo is of course owned by the people of Australia, it’s a publicly owned corporation. For it to be engaged in assisting the government to cover up the botched NBNCo, the botched NBN program of Malcolm Turnbull is a disgrace. For them to be interfering with the work of Parliament is a disgrace. I would call on Malcolm Turnbull to say exactly what it is that he was involved in here, what did he know of this raid on Senator Conroy’s office and a Labor staffer’s home. What was his involvement, and while I’m about it, has he spoken to the NBNCo executive Ziggy Switkowski and explained to them that they cannot go about interfering with the work of this Parliament. But the primary problem here is that this was NBNCo assisting the government to cover up the appalling state of the NBN, the roll-out of the NBN, Malcolm Turnbull’s NBN the cost of which has blown out to $50 billion, you will remember of course Malcolm Turnbull promised that NBN would be delivered to every Australian household by the end of 2016, 7 million Australian households are still waiting. We can recall of course also that Australian internet speeds have dropped from 30th in the world to 60th in the world on the watch of Malcolm Turnbull. That’s why these raids were conducted during the election campaign, to distract from the appalling mishandling of the NBN. Malcolm Turnbull’s got to come clean about what he knew about these raids and he’s got to make sure that NBNCo starts behaving as a publicly-owned instrumentality, as it should. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Plenty of commentary around this morning on the fall-out from the failure on the China extradition treaty – how would you characterise the Turnbull government’s handling of the process?

DREYFUS: Botched, you would have to say. The government seems to be in complete disarray with massive disagreements on their side about this and you would have thought that they would have sorted out what was happening in their own party room before proceeding in the way that they have.

JOURNALIST: How much responsibility though is Labor willing to wear for the process?

DREYFUS: We’re not in any sense responsible for the “process” as you put it. The government is in charge of the process, it was the government that decided to ratify the Treaty and proceed with the process. It’s the government that’s decided to pull out from that process. Labor’s position was first expressed by Labor backbenchers in a dissenting report on the Treaties Committee in December last year. That position expressed then is a position adopted now by the Labor shadow cabinet and endorsed by the caucus. Labor’s been very clear that we want to see a complete and full review of the Extradition Act before proceeding further to look at ratification of the China treaty.

JOURNALIST: What communication has Labor had with Chinese officials following the fall-out of this treaty, and how do you propose to work now with the Turnbull government to bring it up to an acceptable standard for the opposition?

DREYFUS: Well we’ve said that we leave open the possibility that at some time this treaty can be ratified, we’re calling on the government to undertake, as we’ve called for, the full review of the Extradition Act which was passed in 1988.

JOURNALIST: So we shouldn’t expect progress anytime soon?

DREYFUS: That’s a question you really need to direct to the government which is in charge of this matter.