File old cab­i­nets un­der ‘not for sale’


THE fed­eral gov­ern­ment has been urged to de­stroy old fil­ing cab­i­nets, rather than auc­tion them, and to con­duct ran­dom se­cu­rity checks.

An Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice in­quiry into one of the worst na­tional se­cu­rity breaches in the na­tion’s his­tory, in which thou­sands of doc­u­ments were bought from a sec­ond­hand shop in Can­berra, blamed “hu­man er­rors in the record-keep­ing, move­ment, clear­ance and dis­posal of doc­u­ment stor­age con­tain­ers”.

The AFP found there was no crim­i­nal­ity or mal­ice in­volved in the loss of the files, some clas­si­fied “top se­cret”, which were passed on to an ABC jour­nal­ist af­ter be­ing sold at an auc­tion of ex-gov­ern­ment fur­ni­ture.

The Depart­ment of Prime Min­is­ter and Cab­i­net has also re­vealed it has sanc­tioned staff for their roles in the se­cu­rity breach. The depart­ment’s sec­re­tary, Dr Martin Parkin­son, said he was “deeply con­cerned such an ex­tra­or­di­nary lapse of se­cu­rity could oc­cur”.

“I am com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that such an unau­tho­rised dis­clo­sure does not hap­pen again and that the lessons from this are dis­sem­i­nated and ab­sorbed across the en­tire Aus­tralian pub­lic ser­vice,” he said.

The re­view, which was con­ducted by for­mer de­fence depart­ment sec­re­tary Ric Smith, has urged that a de­tailed pro­to­col be fol­lowed when mov­ing se­cure cab­i­nets.

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