ASIO secures cabinet files at ABC offices in Canberra and Brisbane. Picture: ABC News
ASIO secures cabinet files at ABC offices in Canberra and Brisbane. Picture: ABC News

ASIO officers arrive at ABC offices

ASIO officers have entered the Canberra and Brisbane offices of the ABC in an early morning operation to secure thousands of sensitive government cabinet documents.

The secret files were found in a locked filing cabinet bought from a second-hand shop.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet launched an urgent investigation on Wednesday after the public broadcaster revealed it had obtained papers covering details five federal government cabinet meetings over the last 10 years.

About 1am this morning ASIO officers brought a safe to the ABC's bureaus at Parliament House and Brisbane so the documents could be kept securely.

The trove, some classified "top secret", was sold cheaply at a second-hand shop in Canberra, which stocked ex-government furniture.

The filing cabinets were unlocked with a drill months later. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the person responsible for losing the documents will have serious questions to answer.

 

ASIO secures cabinet files at ABC offices in Canberra and Brisbane. Picture: ABC News
ASIO secures cabinet files at ABC offices in Canberra and Brisbane. Picture: ABC News

"Obviously someone's had a shocker and the investigation will find out exactly how this happened," he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

Cabinet papers are legally supposed to remain secret for 20 years after their production.

"In the process of running a country, there are things which go awry. This is one of them," Mr Joyce said.

The ABC said it had chosen not to publish many of the documents because of their classified nature.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott said he believed a junior or mid-ranking departmental officer was to blame and insisted they "pay a price".

"Not so much a cabinet leak as a leaked cabinet - that seems to be the problem," Mr Abbott told 2GB radio.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ordered an investigation into the cabinet papers leak.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ordered an investigation into the cabinet papers leak.

Terry Moran, a former secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2008, called for the culprit to be identified and fired.

"Whoever was responsible for the selling a couple of the filing cabinets, which I think were locked, which must have been heavy with all the papers in them, without checking what was in the filing cabinets, apart from anything else they ought to be found and sacked," Mr Moran told the ABC's 7.30 program.



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