Top secret Australian files found in old filing cabinets

Top secret Australian files found in old filing cabinets

Top secret Australian files found in old filing cabinets

The information comes from confidential Cabinet documents that the broadcaster obtained after they were left in filing cabinets and sold in a second-hand furniture shop. "They were purchased for small change and sat unopened for some months until the locks were attacked with a drill".

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has launched legal action against the ABC over its report yesterday that he was warned about "critical risks" of the doomed home insulation scheme before the deaths of four young installers.

The ABC also said the documents "expose repeated security breaches of Australia's most sensitive and classified documents and a seemingly casual attitude of some of those charged with keeping the documents safe".

Early this morning ASIO provided the ABC with a new locked cabinet to secure the documents during the negotiations for their surrender.

"A September 2013 audit of Cabinet records by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet identified a number of Cabinet documents issued to the AFP were not located", the AFP said on Thursday.

Rory Medcalf, head of the Australian National University's National Security College, described the discarded documents as "very weird and embarrassing" from a national security and political perspective.

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

"This has been achieved without compromising the ABC's priority of protecting the integrity of its source and its reporting, while acknowledging the Commonwealth's national security interests", the national broadcaster said in a statement.

When ABC started publishing excerpts from the secret cabinet files they recovered, it triggered mass speculation about a possible leak in the current government led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull since 2015. It was "not so much a Cabinet leak as a leaked cabinet", said Parliament Member Tony Abbott.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has initiated "an urgent investigation".

Australia is scrambling to contain the fallout from the publication of a treasure trove of secret documents that was found in two filing cabinets bought from a second-hand store. The documents reported this week were said to delve into the workings of five previous governments over the last decade.

In an interview on ABC television Wednesday night, Australia's opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten said the situation was "absurd".

The files also reveal that almost 200 top-secret code-word protected and sensitive documents were left in the office of minister Penny Wong when Labor lost the 2013 election.

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