Australian govt's 'secret papers' found in junk shop

Kevin Rudd Is Suing The ABC Over Its Explosive Cabinet Files Report

Kevin Rudd Is Suing The ABC Over Its Explosive Cabinet Files Report

The broadcaster said the files could easily have fallen into the wrong hands as the sale was not limited to Australians and the documents could have been passed on to a foreign agent or government.

The ABC said it chose not to publish documents that could be damaging to the country's national security.

The Australian Broadcast Company (ABC) apparently got hold of the file cabinets and their contents.

"Nearly all the files are classified, some as "top secret" or "AUSTEO", which means they are to be seen by Australian eyes only", the website said.

The documents also reveal that a former finance minister left 195 top-secret papers in her old office when her government was voted out in 2013. According to a government stocktake contained in the secret cabinet files, the documents lost by the AFP belong to the powerful National Security Committee (NSC) of the cabinet. The file cabinets were cheap because they were so heavy that no one wanted to lug them home, plus there was no key to open them.

The documents, spanning at least four administrations and revealing the inner workings of the government, would normally have been kept secret for 20 years.

The Australian government ordered an urgent investigation within an hour after the leak.

ABC reported that ASIO seized hundreds of the documents on Thursday, but it was not immediately clear whether all were retrieved. The broadcaster reported that a man had found them after buying the cabinets and drilling through the locks.

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The filing cabinets were unlocked with a drill months later.

"Obviously some absolutely elementary mistake has been made, presumably by a relatively junior or mid-ranking departmental officer", former prime minister Tony Abbott said, according to the ABC.

The security breach had been noticed by Australia's intelligence sharing partners - Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the U.S. - known as Five-Eyes.

The files discuss multiple different topics, all of which can be found in the ABC's fantastic reporting, which you can find here.

The documents detail a number of security breaches including the results of an audit showing that the Australian federal police lost almost 400 national security files between 2008 and 2013, while Labor was in government.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet launched an urgent investigation on Wednesday after the ABC revealed it had obtained papers covering details of five federal government cabinet meetings over a decade.

The prime minister's office has also refused to comment, simply issuing a statement about the investigation. Those documents were eventually found by security staff, who saw them destroyed.

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