Australian Cabinet docs reveal political misdemeanours

Howard TerryFeb 01, 2018

Hundreds of top-secret and highly classified documents from the Australian government have been found in a second-hand filing cabinet, according to local media.

The ABC has refused to reveal who bought the cabinets and found the trove of documents, insisting they would "protect their privacy at all costs".

The documents were in two locked filing cabinets sold at an ex-government sale in Canberra.

The cabinets were sold by a Canberra furniture shop at a discount price because they were locked and no one could find keys, Australian Broadcasting Corp reported.

Cabinet documents are supposed to remain secret for at least 20 years so senior ministers can speak openly and frankly within the cabinet room. The classifications include "top secret", "sensitive", "Australian eyes only", and "cabinet-in-confidence".

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

Some of the files divulge that former Australian Finance Minister Penny Wong left behind around 200 classified documents detailing Middle East defense plans and updates of the Afghanistan war in her old office when her Australian Labor Party was defeated by the Liberal/National coalition in the 2013 federal election.

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 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.

"They were purchased for small change and sat unopened for some months until the locks were attacked with a drill".

The existence of the documents and their unlikely discovery was revealed by ABC Wednesday in a series of shock articles.

The documents cover Australia's intelligence priorities and counterterrorism planning.

"The secretary of the department. has initiated an urgent investigation into the circumstances around the disposal of two Commonwealth government filing cabinets that alleged contained classified material", a spokesperson for Turnbull told the Sydney Morning Herald.

One file revealed that Tony Abbott, the...

The dramatic raids came as the government announced a major shake-up of Australia's treason laws to limit interference in the county's political system.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the person responsible for losing the documents will have serious questions to answer.

Head of the Australian National University's National Security College Rory Medcalf told AP that although the incident is "very weird and embarrassing", allies like the United States should not be anxious about the leak.

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