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Shadow minister criticises government and accuses it of authorising raid on adviser's home.

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PETER CAVE: The federal opposition maintains that the government had to have approved the police investigation and the scope of it. Labor has complained to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Neil Andrew, and to the Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Palmer, that Saturday’s raid on the home of an adviser breached parliamentary privilege.


The Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Laurie Brereton, spoke to Fiona Reynolds.


FIONA REYNOLDS: Mr Brereton, you have accused the government of harassment and intimidation but what evidence do you have that ministers had a direct involvement in the police action and knew about the raids?


LAURIE BRERETON: It would be absolutely unprecedented for this to occur without the government knowing. It was the government who initiated the inquiry, and it was Mr Downer himself who bragged about how the government was getting close to the leakers. Late last year he said this: he said, ‘I think we are pretty much tracking down where the material is coming from now.’ So it is no good him denying that he and his colleagues do not have their fingerprints all over the outrageous events of last Saturday morning; it is the action of an arrogant Howard government.


FIONA REYNOLDS: If someone did leak up to 79 secret and top secret documents, shouldn’t they be caught?


LAURIE BRERETON: It would be a matter of concern. It would be a matter of concern but the fact is not one of these documents was found or in any way identified in the search that occurred in my staffer’s home last Saturday, and that is why this is such an abuse of process. Because rather than the documents, what was turned up were my parliamentary records, my draft parliamentary questions, my draft shadow Cabinet minutes, my working papers, draft press releases and the like. This infringes directly, not on national security, but on my rights to do my job that are guaranteed by act of parliament.


FIONA REYNOLDS: You say that none of these documents were found in the home of your adviser, Philip Dorling, but did he receive any of the leaked documents?


LAURIE BRERETON: Look, let me make this very clear—we have a great respect for national security and it is tremendously important that the lives of Australian servicemen and women are never placed at risk as a result of leaked documents. But the reality is here—there was no such thing in place. What was on the line here is embarrassment to the government; a government that saw it revealed, through the leaking of these documents and their appearance in the paper, that they knew a great deal of the orchestration of the militia in East Timor by the Indonesian military, in the lead-up to last year’s ballot, at the very same time that Alexander Downer and his colleagues were denying it and saying that it was just the work of rogue elements. It is embarrassment that is on the line here not national security.


FIONA REYNOLDS: Did Dr Dorling receive any of these leaked documents?


LAURIE BRERETON: ...Dorling is in receipt of no such document, and no such document was found in this outrageous exercise of the search warrant last Saturday.


PETER CAVE: The Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Laurie Brereton.