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Secret Australian files 'left at second-hand shop'

01 February, 2018, 00:41 | Author: Lydia Fleming
  • Australia: Journalists find top-secret government documents in furniture shop

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said Wednesday it had "initiated an urgent investigation" into how the filing cabinets were disposed.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has launched an "urgent investigation" into the matter but didn't comment further.

In the report, the state-owned broadcaster explained how they obtained the documents, which were inside filing cabinets sold at a Canberra furniture store.

Another startling document shows that the government's National Security Committee discussed the possibility of altering suspects' legal right to remain silent under police interrogation.

It has also declined to say who found the documents or handed them over to the broadcaster.

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.

"Negotiations are still underway between the ABC and the department's lawyers".

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


The documents reveal embarrassing blunders by the Australian Federal Police and the office of a former Minister - as well as Government deliberations usually kept secret for decades.

Hundreds of top-secret documents, which can embarrass multiple Australian governments of the recent past, have been found in a second-hand furniture shop in Canberra.

Cabinet documents are not normally released until 20 years after publication.

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. "The files were secured in a government safe that the ABC has access to", she Tweeted.

Mr Joyce said the person responsible for losing the documents would have serious questions to answer. They did not reveal when the cabinets were sold or when the documents were discovered.

"We think it would be highly undesirable (and legally confounding) if the Commonwealth were to simply produce cabinet-related documents to the royal commission on the basis of a purported waiver of public interest immunity", read the advice from Tom Howe QC, chief counsel at the Australian Government Solicitor.

Chief among the documents' revelations is that Australia's former immigration minister, Scott Morrison - who is now Australia's treasurer - authorized his Immigration Department in 2013 to ask domestic security agency ASIO to delay security checks on asylum-seekers after he was told that 700 people had to be granted permanent protection under Australian law.

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