ASIO reacts to Cabinetgate

The ABC report that they have received a classified cabinet brought from a second hand dealer by persons unamed and that the cabinet contained classified documents from the Prime Ministers Office of at least five governments.

ASIO reacts and moves to secure classified cabinet files held in ABC offices in early morning operation

ABC says Decision to publish ‘in national interest’.  No! 

Publishing the fact that the filing cabinet filled with classified papers was sold is in the interests of the national interest.  Publishing what the papers actually were and what they were about is not.

But then the ABC don’t have a track record of acting in the ‘national interest’ rather they act in the interests of anyone or anything that denigrates conservative side of politics

The ABC then exacerbates the security leak by reporting;

Hundreds of top-secret and highly classified cabinet documents have been obtained by the ABC. Now they’re yours to explore.

and provide links!

Hey, the documents are, in your own words, Top Secret and highly classified. It’s in the ‘national interest’ for you to give them over to the authorities’

Not publish the bloody details.






  • I agree with you wholeheartedly Kev, stopped watching everything but pommy comedy on the ALPBC years ago. The documents go back years and are probably largely irrelevant nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that this leftist channel can’t make a big thing out of nothing.
    Similarly, in Canberra a private notebook containing sensitive material was mislaid by the owner, whose name was probably attached somewhere, but rather than hand it back to the owner, the grub that found it handed it to the Canberra Times!
    Hope they got their 15 seconds of fame, and a giggle over a latte.

  • Surprise, surprise, Kev.
    I don’t agree with you.
    The ABC handled this very responsibly.
    Even Rupert’s rag (the Fart of the Nation) gave the ABC a wrap in the weekend Oz.
    The ABC screened the material over a period of months and embargoed anything that was a threat to national security.
    The material released put no-one at risk.
    The only harm done was to the reputations of senior pollies (on both sides of the divide), and senior public servants in the Dept of PM and Cabinet.
    As a taxpayer, I’m happy to have the right to know when the people whose salaries I pay stuff up.
    The media has a vital role in a democracy.
    Go see “The Post” for a demonstration of a courageous fourth estate in action.
    Here’s a review –

    • You obviously don’t understand the principal of confidentiality. It is not the ABC’s right to embargo or release anything from these papers. It is not their right to even read them.

      As a taxpayer you are not entitled to read what Cabinet discusses whilst it is current.

      The entire episode is suspect

  • I understand the principle (not principal) of confidentially very well.
    As a school principal (not principle) for eighteen years, I had access to all kinds of confidential information about the children with disabilities and their families in my schools.
    I can assure you I know how it works, and anyone disclosing this information unlawfully should be prosecuted.
    The principle of confidentiality does not apply in this cabinet papers situation –
    What we’re talking about here, is not patient/doctor or student/teacher confidentiality, but cabinet confidentiality.
    They are very different things.
    There are laws in place prohibiting the disclosure of the former (in Queensland Information Privacy Act 2009) –
    As far as the latter is concerned, the Commonwealth Crimes Act 1914 makes cabinet leaks by public servants actionable, but seen in the context of frequent intentional leaks which show the cabinet in good light, or when one member of cabinet leaks on another, for whatever reason, this legislation is rarely, if ever used.
    In additional. legal precedent has been established that the dual defenses of “public interest disclosure” on the one hand and “no harm” on the other would make it extremely difficult to secure a successful prosecution.
    This article by Dr Mark Rodrigues (Politics and Public Administration Section – Parliamentary Library) sheds light on the subject –
    In summary –
    1. The principle of confidentiality does not apply here – cabinet confidentiality does.
    2. Historically, cabinet leaks like a sieve and always has.
    3. No prosecutions have been entered into for cabinet leaks.
    4. The ABC (and this is obviously the thrust of your post – to discredit the ABC) has behaved in exactly the same way as any media organisation would behave in the same circumstances.
    We have a free media in this country.
    I was led to believe when I was in the army, that freedom of the press was one of the principles (not principals) I was fighting for.
    I wonder if American GIs had the same belief during the period covered by the Pentagon papers? –

    • The thrust of the post is not to discredit the ABC. It is to point out that the ABC has discredited itself and that the story is suspect.

      Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to disclose the contents of confidential documents to people not entitled to read them.

      A Confidential document is just that. It isn’t “Confidential unless it denigrates any political party or ideology I dislike and then everyone can read it”

      The ABC were wrong to hold the documents, read them and disclose them and if you disagree then the country should be thankful that you never held a Senior bureaucratic or diplomatic position.

      Thank God for small mercies!

  • “Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to disclose the contents of confidential documents to people not entitled to read them.”
    What does it mean?

    • Pretty well everything else I guess. without getting into a boring dissertation about specific cases.

      Confidential documents are still confident and can only be released or downgraded by the originator, not some left wing media service.

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