Classified Australian files ‘accidentally sold’

Hundreds of high-level government documents ‘bought at second-hand shop’

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launches investigation into secret files
(Image credit: Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Thousands of Australian government files, some of them marked “top secret”, have been discovered in a pair of discarded filing cabinets purchased at a second-hand shop in Canberra.

ABC News reports that the locked filing cabinets were purchased for “small change” at the store in the Australian capital. Since there were no keys for the cabinet, the new owners, who have not been identified, used a drill to remove the locks - and discovered the files inside.

Almost all of the documents were classified, with some designated “top secret” and others marked “AUSTEO”, meaning they were meant to be seen by Australian eyes only.

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The files reportedly originated at the highest levels of the Australian government, and include a number of damaging revelations concerning state agencies and political figures.

Among other things, the files are alleged to show that former PM Tony Abbott’s government considered denying welfare to people aged under 30; that ex-PM Kevin Rudd and his deputy, Julia Gillard, were warned about risks in a home insulation scheme that later claimed four lives; and that former PM John Howard’s administration debated removing the right of people to remain silent under police questioning. According to media reports, the documents also include data showing that the Australian Federal Police lost almost 400 national security files in five years.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ordered an “urgent investigation” into how the filing cabinets were mistakenly sold, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

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