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Opposition warns Foreign Minister's blunder w -

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Reporter: Sabra Lane

PETER CAVE: Still in Canberra and the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has accepted responsibility
for accidentally tabling a secret list of bilateral treaty negotiations in Parliament.

The 58-page document details the current status of negotiations with foreign governments covering a
range of issues from significantly boosting uranium exports to China, through to discussions on a
new defence cooperation agreement with Indonesia.

A spokesman for Mr Smith says the document should not have been tabled, and that the Minister
accepts responsibility for the error. But the Opposition describes the blunder as a shocking breach
of security, which will undermine Australia's international reputation.

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: The document isn't classified but, on its front page carries a detailed warning,
written in bold type that's hard to miss.

EXCERPT OF DOCUMENT: Information on bilateral negotiations is potentially sensitive to the foreign
relations of Australia and other nations with which Australia is negotiating.

It is internationally accepted practice, that disclosure of even the fact that negotiations are
taking place, should occur only with the agreement of both parties.

The sections of this schedule dealing with bilateral negotiations should therefore not be tabled in
any parliament, or any committee of the parliament, or otherwise placed on the public record.

SABRA LANE: But that's exactly what happened yesterday. The Foreign Minister Stephen Smith tabled
the confidential document in both houses, along with another benign departmental paper, which is
routinely tabled in Parliament.

The secret 58-page document details all treaties under negotiation or review. It shows Australia is
negotiating with Indonesia for a new defence cooperation agreement, and how both countries will
share and protect classified information. It also details BHP's expansion plans at Olympic Dam in
South Australia, and that it wants to increase its uranium exports to China.

JULIE BISHOP: This is a shocking breach of security that will undermine Australia's international
reputation.

SABRA LANE: The Opposition says it's highly embarrassing for Australia, foreign affairs
spokeswoman, Julie Bishop.

JULIE BISHOP: The Minister for Foreign Affairs has tabled in Parliament, a CD which contained a
full list of confidential bilateral negotiations between the Australian Government departments and
the Governments of other countries.

It contains highly sensitive information about confidential negotiations or matters such as
military cooperation, uranium sales and the like. And it's not just the embarrassment for the
Government but the long term damage to our reputation as a mature and reliable country able to
protect highly confidential information.

SABRA LANE: He says he accepts responsibility for tabling this and it was an error, is that enough?

JULIE BISHOP: Well so he should accept responsibility, but it is a significant error. Australia's
trading partners must question the ability of the Rudd Government to ensure that sensitive and
confidential negotiations are not made public.

I think cracks are starting to show in the Rudd Governments administration. This is yet another
sign that the Government is not coping with the pressure of running this country.

SABRA LANE: Should he be disciplined?

JULIE BISHOP: Well the Minister for Foreign Affairs must explain to the Australian people how this
breakdown in security occurred and must also contact every country whose sensitive and confidential
information has been made public.

The Minister must explain to the Parliament how this shocking breach in security occurred, and he
must apologise to all the other countries whose confidential and sensitive information has now been
made public.

SABRA LANE: Is it a sackable offence?

JULIE BISHOP: The Minister should be given the opportunity to explain to the Parliament how this
breakdown in security occurred.

SABRA LANE: A spokeswoman for Mr Smith says the document shouldn't have been tabled, but that the
Foreign Minister has and does accept responsibility for the error. The Minister's office says the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is in the process of advising each of the relevant
countries that the document was released in error.

Trade Minister Simon Crean says it's embarrassing the document was tabled but says that most
information is already known, and he supports more transparency in line with Labor Party policy.

SIMON CREAN: I don't expect that I will get concerns 'cause I've had a look at the details, I don't
think it will raise concerns. But if there are concerns, we'll deal with them.

PETER CAVE: And that was the Trade Minister Simon Crean, ending that report from Sabra Lane.