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.