Investigation Launched After ABC Reveals Dumped Classified Government Files

The ABC has obtained highly classified documents found in second-hand furniture that have been deemed a breach of national security.

The Prime Minister’s office has ordered an “urgent” and “immediate” investigation into the leak on Wednesday after thousands of documents were found in two old cabinets sold to a Canberra shop selling ex-government furniture, the ABC calling them “The Cabinet Files”.

The documents, which span nearly a decade, were found by the buyer of the cabinets who opened them with a drill because no key was available.

Speculated but unconfirmed theories suggest the cabinets belong to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet or bureaucrat handling Freedom of Information requests.

Thousands of pages in the documents revealed the inner workings of the past five governments with almost all of the files classified as either “top secret” or “AUSTEO”, meaning to be seen by Australian eyes only.

The files detail a number of security breaches including the results of an audit that reveal almost 400 lost national security files by the Australian Federal Police between 2008 and 2013.

Other documents also show almost 200 top-secret national security documents were left behind in Labor Senate leader Penny Wong’s office instead of being destroyed, when Labor lost the election in 2013.

The 195 documents included plans to protect the United Arab Emirates from Iranian hostilities, Afghan war updates, national security briefs, intelligence on Australia’s neighbours and information on counter-terrorism operations.

Some of the material dates back to the Howard government, including the National Security Committee of cabinet seriously considering removing individuals’ right to not answer questions from police when facing terrorism charges.

The decision came after Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef was wrongly arrested on terrorism charges.

Draft legislation found in the documents also reveals News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt was consulted when the federal government moved to change section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, after he breached the clause.

Documents showed former immigration minister Scott Morrison in late 2013 agreed that his department should intervene in security checks to prevent some asylum seekers from obtaining protection visas.

The files also resulted in revelations Tony Abbott’s budget committee contemplated removing eligibility of all income support for people under 30 before the 2014 budget.

Other documents showed Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and other Labor ministers were warned about “critical risks” in the home insulation scheme that resulted in the deaths of four installation workers.

Despite the information release, the ABC has not published some of the information as a result of nation security reasons or protection of the privacy of public servants.

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