Federal police have raided the Department of Home Affairs office in Canberra, as officers investigate a leak related to the au pair saga.
A parliamentary inquiry in September heard that the leaking of emails showing Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton overruled the advice of border authorities to allow a French au pair into the country had been referred the AFP to investigate.
A police vehicle was seen outside the Canberra office on Thursday.
The ABC reported that federal police officers entered one of the department’s buildings, apparently seeking to secure evidence on computer systems. A warrant was reportedly executed inside the building.
An AFP spokesman said it had received the Home Affairs leak referral on August 30.
“The matter has been accepted for investigation,” the spokesman said.
“The AFP has undertaken enquiries and conducted a number of activities in relation to this investigation.”
Nine News reported the federal police had agreed to hand over seized documents to the Clerk of the Senate, after a request from Labor.
Labor justice spokeswoman Clare O’Neil said Mr Dutton had serious questions to answer over the au pair issue.
“He told us that he didn’t have any connection with the two families for whom he gave an au pair arrangement and we know that that ultimately wasn’t the case,” she said.
“What I don’t want to see here is … the Home Affairs Minister taking action against people who are divulging information that’s probably in the public interest, when it’s him that has a case to answer.”
Emails between Mr Dutton’s office, Home Affairs staff and others were leaked to Labor in September. They revealing ministerial intervention to prevent the deportation of a French woman in 2015.
Alexandra Deuwel, 27, was planning to work as a nanny for Adelaide pastoralists Callum and Skye MacLachlan at their Barossa Valley farm in breach of her tourist visa.
Mr MacLachlan is a cousin of AFL boss Gillon McLachlan.
Mr Dutton was also accused of helping former Queensland Police colleague Russell Keag to secure the release of an Italian woman who had come to work as an au pair.
He has denied acting inappropriately in both instances.
Liberal MP Michael Sukkar said the leak inquiry was important.
“Whether it is a Liberal government or a Labor government, they need to have confidence that public servants are treating information appropriately and it is very important that if there are breaches of those rules that they are followed up,” Mr Sukkar told Sky News.
Former Australian Border Force chief Roman Quaedvlieg questioned the ad hoc basis of such investigations.
“Over the course of the government’s long investigation into allegations against me, I have referred multiple leaks to the AFP … [and] I’ve no current advice on their acceptance, status or progress,” he tweeted.