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Home News Always check for secret documents before throwing away old furniture
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DEPARTMENTSAustralian Public Service Commission, Department of Defence
TAGS AGAO, AUSTEO, Australian intelligence agencies, classified, Defence People Group, Defence Security Authority, Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations, Government, Military police, secret
Paper, paper everywhere and almost all of it classified. A recently released investigation report from the Defence Security Agency highlights why one should always look inside a safe or secure filing cabinet before throwing it away.
How do nearly 5000 secret, confidential and restricted documents from two major federal departments end up in a scrap metal recycling yard?
That’s the question the Defence Security Authority was called on to answer, revealed in newly released documents from a series of investigations published on the department’s freedom of information disclosure log.
The DSA investigation found the documents had remained locked inside a “B class” security container until it was busted open by workers at Access Recycling in Fyshwick. The cache of documents — contained in 18 Defence folders and 20 corporate files from the then Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations — were spotted in the open container by a member of the Australian Defence Force Academy Postgraduates and Guard group, who was disposing of other assets.
The discovery was reported to the military police, who recovered the classified material, which included 2402 “restricted” documents, 224 classified as “confidential” and 1158 designated “secret”. There were also another 630 “secret” documents with the additional caveat Australian Government Access Only (AGAO) and 246 more for Australian eyes only (AUSTEO).
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The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.
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