It was described as the biggest national security breach in Australia’s history.
But after an investigation into the loss of hundreds of sensitive cabinet documents, it’s been decided that no charges will be laid.
Late last week, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed that they had finished investigating the issue.
An AFP spokesman told Fairfax media that:
‘The AFP conducted a thorough investigation into this matter, which is now concluded, and we will be taking no further action.’
Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, is still under pressure regarding how the documents disappeared from within his department, inside a locked cabinet.
A cabinet that was later sold at a second-hand furniture sale in Canberra, ultimately ending up in hands of ABC journalists.
Losing the documents, including many ‘top secret’ files, has cast Parkinson’s department in a poor light, which reflects poorly on the entire public service. He has launched an internal review of the department’s security processes and culture.
Commonwealth officers are criminally liable if they disclose secret government information without permission from an authority.
The separate review launched by Parkinson is yet to be released. But the Secretary has labelled the findings as having ramifications for the whole public service.
The nature of the AFP’s findings are still a mystery, including the exact timing of the files disappearance.
Both the department of Prime Minister and the Australian Cabinet confirmed receiving the report before considering a response. But refused to say how long it has been sitting on the report. Fairfax Media reportedly understands the investigation wrapped up more than two weeks ago.
Despite his high hopes for the investigation, Mr Turnbull had this to say:
‘The idea that Public servants entrusted with highly confidential documents would put them in a safe. Lock the safe, lose the keys and then sell the safe without checking what was in it — it beggars belief.’
The ABC has agreed to hand over the sensitive documents to the government after striking a deal to protect its source.