Sunday, 27 May, 2018

Cabinets containing thousands of top-secret files sold in shop

It wasn’t him It wasn’t him
Lori Graves | 01 February, 2018, 00:42

Yesterday it was revealed that someone bought two locked filing cabinets from a second-hand store in Canberra, only to later find they contained "thousands of pages" of highly classified cabinet documents spanning five governments and almost a decade.

The cabinets were sold by a furniture shop in Canberra at a discounted price because they were locked and no one could find the keys.

The ABC has revealed that the documents related to the loss of nearly 400 national security files over the last five years, a scrapped government plan to rescind welfare payments to under 30s and a home insulation scheme that claimed four lives among other revelations. But the network says there was no leak and that no one broke the law - instead, someone finally got around to drilling out the locks on the two heavy cabinets that had been sold without any matching keys.

The documents, supplied to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), have uncovered a raft of previously unseen information relating to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's sitting government and four previous cabinets.

"They were purchased for small change and sat unopened for some months until the locks were attacked with a drill". But it has used them in recent weeks to report stories that have been embarrassing to the former administrations of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Abbott as well as a number of serving lawmakers.

The cabinet files dump came under fire from security experts, but was made light of on social media.

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Another paper reveals that Tony Abbott ignored legal advice when handing over insulation Royal Commission documents. They detail missile upgrades, profiles of suspected militants and Australia's desire in 2010 for more Indonesian cooperation to stop asylum seekers reaching Australian shores in fishing boats, the ABC said. 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.

The papers also included a document that stated 195 top-secret codeword-protected and sensitive documents had been left in the office of former Labor government minister Penny Wong when Labor lost the 2013 election.

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

Australian Cabinet documents are normally sealed and kept confidential until they are released to the public 20 years later.

One document refers to an audit that revealed that the Australian Federal Police had lost nearly 400 national security files over five years ending 2013.

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