Australia probes sale of secret papers in sold filing cabinets

Nichole Vega
February 1, 2018

It's common for unwanted government furniture to be sold on, and the cabinets were sold cheaply because they lacked keys, according to the ABC.

The files reportedly originated at the highest levels of the Australian government, and include a number of damaging revelations concerning current and former ministers and prime ministers.

Australia's national broadcaster has obtained relating to national security, immigration, welfare, communications and controversial racial discrimination laws after someone purchased two government filing cabinets at a secondhand store.

Dubbing the documents the Cabinet Files, the network calls it "one of the biggest breaches of cabinet security in Australian history", adding that "the story of their release is as gripping as it is alarming and revealing".

Responding to the earlier ABC stories on Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull commented, "I don't know how it emerged from the ABC ..."

Experts said the filing cabinets most likely came from Finance or the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Terry Moran, who was PMC secretary from 2008 to 2011, told ABC's 7.30 the discovery was a "great surprise" and whoever was responsible for disposing of the cabinets "must be found and sacked".

Papers also included sensitive documents left in the office of Penny Wong when Labor lost the 2013 election. The materials dealt with topics ranging from details of counterterrorism operations to how to defend the United Arab Emirates from Iran.

Almost 400 national security files went missing from the Australian Federal Police over the course of five years, from 2008-2013. The documents lost by the AFP were from the cabinet's national security committee, which controls Australia's security, intelligence and defence agenda as well as deploying the military.

Top-secret Australian govt files "sold at second-hand shop" Canberra has launched an investigation into how hundreds of top-secret documents spanning five governments and dubbed The Cabinet Files ended up being sold at a second-hand furniture shop in the Australian capital.

The cabinets and their contents were bought "for small change" in a sale that could have been made to anyone, the network says.

As a justification to why they have chosen to publish some of the files, the ABC said that national security and the inner workings of our government affect the lives of all Australians. Nearly all of them were classified, including some as "top secret" or "AUSTEO" - for Australian eyes only.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said Wednesday it had "initiated an urgent investigation" into how the filing cabinets were disposed.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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