May 20, 2018

ASIO takes custody of secret cabinet documents, obtained by the ABC

03 February 2018, 01:42 | Rufus Hill

TommL via Getty Images

TommL via Getty Images

Thousands of pages of Australian government documents, many of them top secret, were locked in two file cabinets that somehow ended up at a used furniture shop in the country's capital city Canberra, according to the ABC.

The prime minister's office has also refused to comment, simply issuing a statement about the investigation.

ABC has not said when the documents were found.

The move comes as former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd launched legal action against the ABC after it published details from a secret cabinet document related to his Labor government's home insulation scheme.

According to a file among the recovered documents, the Australian Police lost 400 security documents between 2008 and 2013, of which the whereabouts of a large part remain unknown.

One of the stories revealed a plan from a former immigration minister to delay security checks on refugees so they would miss the deadline to apply for residency in Australia. The documents also revealed that between 2008 and 2013, the Australian Federal Police lost almost 400 national security files.

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

John Howard's National Security Committee (NSC) nearly removed the right to remain silent.

He said those documents had already been examined by a royal commission inquiry. Those documents were eventually found by security staff, who saw them destroyed.

The ABC still has access to the documents, now kept in the safes, and negotiations are still underway between lawyers for the ABC and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).

The filing cabinets sat unopened for some months in the home of the buyer who eventually made a decision to drill them open.

Bolt denies he was consulted on changes to the act.

Media organisations argued the new legislation would make publishing and reporting on such documents illegal. Since they came from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the news organization is referring to them as the "Cabinet Files". The options included cutting off under-30s from income support entirely, cutting off under-30s in areas with employment opportunities and limiting income support to young people with a work history.

The ABC pointed out that "it does not specify whether any of these were safety concerns and carried a response from Rudd saying any assertion he was warned about safety risks was untrue".

Rudd told a royal commission into the programme the roll-out would have been delayed had cabinet been warned of the safety risks.

"First, the cabinet document referred to by the ABC was given to and considered by the royal commission into the home insulation program by the Abbott government in 2014".

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