Published: Thu, February 01, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Cory Rios

Cabinets containing thousands of top-secret files sold in shop

Cabinets containing thousands of top-secret files sold in shop

Dubbing it "The Cabinet files", The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) exposed the controversy on Wednesday (January 31), calling it "one of the biggest breaches of cabinet security in Australian history".

"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 papers left in the office - but not included with the sold filing cabinets - included Middle East defense plans, national security briefs, Afghan war updates, intelligence on Australia's neighbors and details of counterterrorism operations.

An urgent investigation has been launched into the extraordinary events that led to the sale of two filing cabinets full of sensitive Commonwealth Government documents at a second-hand furniture store in Canberra. The were subsequenrly obtained by the ABC.

Another document uncovers that the Australian Federal Police lost nearly 400 security files during a five-year period that ended in 2013.

The documents were found inside old filing cabinets sold at a secondhand shop in Canberra.

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.

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The loss of the documents, which had been through the national security committee of cabinet between 2008 and 2013, was uncovered in an audit by the DPMC.

Senior minister Penny Wong left almost 200 top-secret "code word protected and sensitive documents" in her office after her Labor Party lost the 2013 election, documents showed. "Given that the investigation is underway, it is not appropriate for the department to comment further at this time".

The ABC described it as "one of the biggest breaches of Cabinet security in Australian history", saying the filing cabinets contained hundreds of documents- a lot of them classified.

Australian cabinet papers are usually not released to the public until two decades after they were created.

It is understood the issue of the documents, held in a locked safe, was never raised with Senator Wong or her staff since the 2013 change in government.

When ABC began publishing some of the news from the documents this week, it triggered speculation about a possible leak in the current government that Turnbull has led since 2015.

A report in the Cabinet Files also says that the former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and two senior Labor ministers were warned about "critical risks" of the home insulation scheme before the deaths of four young installers.

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