Malcolm Turnbull

Minister Cash defended over union scandal

Senior government ministers are standing by Michaelia Cash, as Labor calls on her to resign. (AAP)

The prime minister and senior colleagues are standing by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash as Labor calls on her to resign over evidence to a Senate committee.

Malcolm Turnbull is standing by his employment minister, despite calls for her to step aside over her office's role in tipping off media about police raids on the Australian Workers' Union.

Michaelia Cash says she hasn't considered resigning after admitting to giving wrong evidence to a Senate committee.

Senator Cash told the estimates committee on Wednesday on five occasions neither she nor her office had anything to do the media tipoff.

She also personally told the prime minister she had not been the leaker.

But on Wednesday evening she announced her senior media adviser had resigned after revealing he had informed journalists of the raids on the AWU's Sydney and Melbourne offices.

The minister refused to say whether quitting had been canvassed in a meeting with Mr Turnbull on Thursday morning.

"I will not be going into the ins and outs of the discussions I had with the prime minister," she told an estimates hearing.

Mr Turnbull stood by his minister following Labor calls for her to be sacked.

"Is it now the position of the government that staff can mislead their ministers, ministers can mislead the parliament and the minister will remain entirely unaccountable?" Labor leader Bill Shorten asked.

"How are your ministers meant to be running the country when they can't even run their office?"

Mr Turnbull said the minister had been misled by her senior media adviser's "wrongful conduct".

"Once her staffer told her the truth and made the admission that he had done the wrong thing, she corrected the record. She acted entirely properly," Mr Turnbull told parliament.

Labor unsuccessfully brought on a motion in parliament calling on the prime minister to sack the minister.

It was revealed on Thursday that Justice Minister Michael Keenan's office was advised by federal police just before the search warrants were executed on Tuesday.

Mr Keenan said it was usual practice for such advice to be received.

"The AFP advised my office of the intention to execute search warrants immediately prior to them being executed, as is usual practice," Mr Keenan told AAP.

The minister was briefed shortly afterwards, as was Mr Turnbull's office.

The comment came as Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin rejected claims his officers had been used as political pawns.

AFP officers executed the warrants which had been sought by the Registered Organisations Commission to ensure documents weren't tampered with or destroyed.

The ROC told the estimates hearing on Wednesday night the AWU had refused to hand over all the documents it had requested.

The commission is investigating $200,000 in donations made by the AWU, including $100,000 given to activist group GetUp in the 2005/06 financial year while Bill Shorten was the union's secretary.

"The AFP makes all its operational decisions independently, based on experience, operational priorities and the law," Mr Colvin said in a statement.

"The AFP prides itself on its independence and integrity, and has a proven track record of these values while operating under the remit of eight individual prime ministers and their governments since it was founded in 1979."

The AWU has lodged a freedom of information request with Senator Cash's office to try and determine exactly when she learned about the raids.

The union has requested any correspondence between the senator, her office and the ROC in addition to any correspondence between the minister and relevant staff members, including text messages, emails and phone lists.

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