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03 February 2018, 01:44 | Kara Nash
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Top-secret Australian govt files "sold at second-hand shop" Canberra has launched an investigation into how hundreds of top-secret documents spanning five governments and dubbed The Cabinet Files ended up being sold at a second-hand furniture shop in the Australian capital.
The ABC has called the discovery of the papers "one of the biggest breaches of cabinet security in Australian history".
The broadcaster said the files could easily have fallen into the wrong hands as the sale was not limited to Australians and the documents could have been passed on to a foreign agent or government.
The filing cabinets were unlocked with a drill months later.
All discussions inside Cabinet are considered confidential and documents on Australian Cabinet decisions are supposed to remain confidential for at least to 20 years.
"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.
The documents also reveal that a former finance minister left 195 top-secret papers in her old office when her government was voted out in 2013.
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ABC has not identified the buyer of the cabinets, who removed the locks with a drill and found classified papers spanning nearly a decade and four prime ministers, the most recent being Tony Abbott.
"The deals can be even cheaper when the items in question are two heavy filing cabinets to which no-one can find the keys", the ABC said in its news report. The documents reported this week were said to delve into the workings of five previous governments over the last decade.
The Prime Minister's department confirmed the documents were "secured" in the early hours of Thursday morning, but stressed the delivery of the safes at 1 a.m.
The prime minister's office has also refused to comment, simply issuing a statement about the investigation. When they were finally cracked open, it was discovered that they contained a massive stack of classified documents.
"The report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).is a lie".
Refusing to release any names or details about the person or people who bought the filing cabinets, or how it learned about them, ABC said that it will protect their privacy "at all costs".
Meanwhile, former prime minister Kevin Rudd has launched legal action against ABC after it published details from one of the document related to his government's home insulation scheme. The documents came from the cabinet's national security committee, which controls security, intelligence and the defense agenda in the country.
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