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ASIO secures 'top secret' documents from ABC offices
01 February 2018, 12:44 | Harold Aguilar
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Terry Moran, who was PMC secretary from 2008 to 2011, toldABC's 7.30 the discovery was a "great surprise" and whoever was responsible for disposing of the cabinets "must be found and sacked". Since they came from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the news organization is referring to them as the "Cabinet Files". The documents reported this week were said to delve into the workings of five previous governments over the last decade.
The broadcasting corporation has revealed the documents were passed on to them by confidential sources after they were found locked in filing units sold at a second hand sale of government furniture in the Australian capital of Canberra.
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Chief among the documents' revelations is that Australia's former immigration minister, Scott Morrison - who is now Australia's treasurer - authorized his Immigration Department in 2013 to ask domestic security agency ASIO to delay security checks on asylum-seekers after he was told that 700 people had to be granted permanent protection under Australian law.
Among other things, the ABC's revelations reportedly feature allegations that the "Australian Federal Police (AFP) lost almost 400 national security files in five years" and that former Prime Minister John Howard's National Security Committee (NSC) gave "serious consideration to removing an individual's unfettered right to remain silent when questioned by police".
The AFP has lost more than 400 national security files over 5 years. According to a document in The Cabinet Files, the files should have been destroyed. But the network says there was no leak and that no one broke the law - instead, someone finally got around to drilling out the locks on the two heavy cabinets that had been sold without any matching keys.
But Australian journalists may have found a simpler way - scouring secondhand shops. The classifications include "top secret", "sensitive", "Australian eyes only", and "cabinet-in-confidence". They detail missile upgrades, profiles of suspected militants and Australia's desire in 2010 for more Indonesian cooperation to stop asylum seekers reaching Australian shores in fishing boats, the ABC said.
"Journalism like this relies on courageous confidential sources and we'll protect their privacy at all costs".
Australian Cabinet documents are usually kept secret for 20 years, before they are made public in a heavily redacted form. But thanks to those other, more common cabinets, they're being scrutinized now.
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