Kevin Rudd: Ex-PM sues Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Kevin Rudd has denied reports he was warned about ‘a large number of critical risks’ of a home insulation scheme before the deaths of four young men

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - Australian secret service officers seized hundreds of classified documents from Australian Broadcasting Corp. bureaus in three cities on Thursday as part of a probe into how top-secret government papers were mistakenly sold along with two discarded filing cabinets through a secondhand furniture shop, officials said.

State-funded broadcaster ABC News released some of these documents on Wednesday, calling it "one of the biggest breaches of Cabinet security in Australian history".

"You shouldn't be able to find information out because someone didn't check a set of filing cabinets, then they sold it at a second hand government furniture sale".

They were unopened for several months until someone used a drill to get into the drawers, finding a trove of documents detailing nearly a decade of government workings, the ABC said.

Cabinet papers are legally supposed to remain secret for 20 years after their production. The classifications include "top secret", "sensitive", "Australian eyes only" and "cabinet-in-confidence".

Security staff found almost 200 top secret, code-word protected and sensitive documents in a senator's office after their party lost national elections in 2013.

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A Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet spokesperson said the secretary had initiated an urgent investigation into the disposal of the filing cabinets. These documents reveal how key decisions have been made. 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". But it has used them in recent weeks to report stories that have been embarrassing to the former administrations of Kevin Rudd and Abbott, as well as a number of serving lawmakers.

The Australian government ordered an urgent investigation within an hour after the leak. It said the files had been found in filing cabinets purchased by an unidentified person from the shop where ex-government furniture is sold cheaply.

The prime minister's office has also refused to comment, simply issuing a statement about the investigation.

One document refers to an audit that revealed the Australian Federal Police had lost nearly 400 national security files over five years ending 2013. Those documents were eventually found by security staff, who saw them destroyed.

Among the revelations contained in the documents were details on former immigration minister Scott Morrison's treatment of asylum seekers' visa applications, former PM Tony Abbott's proposed welfare cuts and claims that Rudd and his successor (and predecessor) Julia Gillard knew of critical risks to the insulation scheme that killed four installers.

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