Hundreds of top-secret and highly classified cabinet documents have been obtained by the ABC following a breach of national security.
According to the national broadcaster, the filing cabinet ended up in a second-hand shop in the capital Canberra where ex-government furniture is often put up for sale.
They were unopened for several months until someone used a drill to get into the drawers, finding a trove of documents detailing nearly a decade of government workings, the ABC said.
The papers' classifications include "top secret", "sensitive", "Australian eyes only", and "Cabinet-in-confidence", the ABC reported. Reporters working on the piece said they've withheld documents if the information they held had already been made public, to protect the privacy of public servants, or if they deemed the content of the document posed a threat to national security.
The files also reveal that former Prime Minister John Howard's National Security (NSC) Committee may have discussed revoking the right of terrorism suspects to remain silent when being questioned by police officials.
"Certainly someone needs to pay a price, there needs to be some effect for what is a monumental lapse", said former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose own administration's foibles were laid bare in the Cabinet Files.
The units came at a discount price because they were locked and no one could find the keys.
In response to The Cabinet Files, Rudd told the ABC any assertion he was warned about safety risks was untrue.
The ABC has not identified the buyer who removed the locks with a drill.
The existence of the documents and their unlikely discovery was revealed by ABC Wednesday in a series of shock articles.
The move comes as former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd launched legal action against the ABC after it published details from a secret cabinet document related to his Labor government's home insulation scheme.
"As a former cabinet minister who participated in national security meetings, a senior member of shadow cabinet and a current member of the PJCIS I always take my responsibilities seriously".
It adds, "The thousands of pages reveal the inner workings of five separate governments and span almost a decade".
Australia's politicians spent the start of the week plagued by damaging stories from the national broadcaster until the ABC revealed the less-than-scandalous source of its information.
"Journalism like this relies on fearless confidential sources and we'll protect their privacy at all costs".