PM&C releases review into The Cabinet Files and handling of documents

The department responsible for the loss of The Cabinet Files is now digitally tracking cabinets and implementing new security training for all staff after an external review.

Hundreds of top-secret and highly classified documents were obtained by the ABC and partially published earlier this year, after they were left in a filing cabinet that ended up in a second-hand shop.

The documents revealed secret cabinet deliberations on issues including national security spanning nearly a decade.

Days after the ABC revealed one of the biggest breaches of Cabinet security in Australian history, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet confessed it was the one that lost the documents.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) concluded its own investigation into the breach in March this year, which has not been publicly released. The AFP laid no charges against anyone involved in the security breach.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) also asked former defence secretary Ric Smith to review its security practices.

In releasing that review today, PM&C secretary Martin Parkinson said the AFP had already established the security breach was not motivated by any malicious intent and had called for all staff to be re-trained on security and record keeping.

Mr Parkinson said he “wholeheartedly accepted” all recommendations of the Smith Review and that the department had been working in recent months to implement changes.

Among the issues the PM&C said it was working to improve were:

  • Introducing a system to digitally track the movement, custodianship and disposal of secure cabinets;
  • New security training for new starters, existing staff and managers;
  • Refreshing all policies, guidelines and procedures in accordance with a review of security risk assessment; and:
  • Introducing a program of “cultural change” to embed a strong protective security culture in PM&C.

The Smith Review also called for another review in a year’s time.

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