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Top secret Australian documents found at secondhand shop

Top secret Australian documents found at secondhand shop

Top secret Australian documents found at secondhand shop

The sale of the furniture in the shop is not limited to Australians, the ABC said, which means the cabinets could have been bought by anyone, and indeed, sold on or given to anyone.

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 reported this week were said to delve into the workings of five previous governments over the last decade.

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.

The files revealed that former Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government had considered denying welfare to people under 30.

Another document uncovers that the Australian Federal Police lost nearly 400 security files during a five-year period that ended in 2013. 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 documents which were left in the office - but not included in the old filing cabinets - included Middle East defence plans, national security briefs, Afghan war updates, intelligence on Australia's neighbours and details of counter-terrorism operations. Those documents were eventually found by security staff, who saw them destroyed.

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"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.

When ABC began publishing some of the news from the documents this week, it triggered speculation about a possible leak in the current government that Turnbull has led since 2015.

Inside, they discovered files that are almost all classified, with some designated "top secret" and others marked "AUSTEO", meaning they were meant to be seen by Australian eyes only. The filing cabinets in question were sold off especially cheaply, because they were clearly full, and no-one could find the keys.

"Journalism like this relies on fearless confidential sources and we'll protect their privacy at all costs".

One of the file stated that Former Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were warned about risks of a home insulation scheme that later claimed four lives. But thanks to those other, more common cabinets, they're being scrutinized now.

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