Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott ignored the advice of his own department and the Australian government solicitor when he ordered confidential cabinet documents be handed to a royal commission.
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.
After news of the massive security breach broke, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet provided no more details, releasing a statement saying only that it's looking into "the circumstances around the disposal of two Commonwealth Government filing cabinets that allegedly contained classified material".
It's common for unwanted government furniture to be sold on, and the cabinets were sold cheaply because they lacked keys, according to the ABC.
But Australian journalists may have found a simpler way - scouring secondhand shops.
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.
The Cabinet Files, as the documents have been aptly named, were found in the two filing cabinets sold at an ex-government sale in Canberra - and were bought for "small change" because the keys to unlock them could not be found. 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.
Image The ABC said it had chosen not to report some documents on national security grounds
Experts suggested to AAP the filing cabinets could have only come from one of two departments - Finance and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC).
The documents also revealed that between 2008 and 2013, the Australian Federal Police lost almost 400 national security files.
ABC federal political reporter Caitlyn Gribbin tweeted this morning that officers entered the national broadcaster's officers at Parliament House and Brisbane around 1am today.
One document points to an audit showing the Australian Federal Police lost nearly 400 national security files over five years.
"Negotiations are still underway between the ABC and the department's lawyers". The ABC says those classified records were from "the powerful National Security Committee (NSC) of the cabinet, which controls the country's security, intelligence and defense agenda". The ABC has said they were able to access the information inside when.
Under Australian law, the Cabinet records would have become public only after at least 20 years had passed.
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