According to the ABC, papers covering five federal government cabinet meetings over a decade had been unwittingly sold with two secondhand filing cabinets to a used furniture shop in Canberra, the Guardian reported.
The prime minister’s department has admitted that it lost the confidential files which normally remain secret for 20 years after their production.
“It is now reasonably evident that the cabinets and documents which are the subject of the AFP (Australian Federal Police) investigation, came from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,” department chief Martin Parkinson said.
He added that the mistake “casts the department in a poor light and this failure has implications for the rest of the Australian public service.”
The papers’ classifications include “top secret,” “sensitive,” “Australian eyes only,” and “Cabinet-in-confidence,” the ABC reported.
The broadcaster has agreed to return the sensitive said it had chosen not to publish many of them due to their classified nature.