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Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Page: 6267

Mr Melham asked the Prime Minister, in writing, on 4 June 2008:

(1)   According to the Cabinet Handbook, are hard copies of any Cabinet documents held by vacating Ministers (and their staff) required to be returned to the Cabinet Secretariat  or destroyed under the provisions of the Protective Security Manual.

(2)   In respect of the disposal of Cabinet submissions, memoranda, corrigenda and minutes: is a record of the status of each one (including the copy number) maintained for records management purposes.

(3)   Is he able to confirm that, after the November 2007 general election, every Cabinet document held by all outgoing Ministerial staff was returned or destroyed in accordance with the requirements of the Cabinet Handbook and the Protective Security Manual.

(4)   Is he able to confirm whether any former Ministers have not returned or destroyed all Cabinet documents held by them or their former Office.

Mr Rudd (Prime Minister) —I am advised that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   Cabinet documents are required to be destroyed by vacating ministers’ staff in accordance with the provisions of the Protective Security Manual.

(2)   Yes.

(3)   I am advised that immediately following the 2007 election, the Cabinet Secretariat wrote to all outgoing ministers and parliamentary secretaries advising that all Cabinet documents were to be destroyed and providing guidance on the appropriate procedures for destroying any hardcopy Cabinet documents. Assurances were also requested to be provided to the Secretariat once destruction had occurred. The Cabinet Secretariat subsequently followed-up with phone calls to all ministers’ and parliamentary secretaries’ offices. The Cabinet Secretariat received written and/or verbal confirmation from 90 per cent of all outgoing ministers and parliamentary secretaries that they no longer held any documents.

(4)   I am advised that, to the best of its knowledge, the Cabinet Secretariat is confident that ministers and parliamentary secretaries followed correct procedures and destroyed all Cabinet documents allocated to them.