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Friday, 6 December 1985
Page: 3238

(Question No. 547)

Senator Reynolds asked the Minister representing the Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services, upon notice, on 17 September 1985:

(1) To what extent are confidential records of government departments being destroyed by burial at public rubbish dumps.

(2) Is it a breach of the Australian Archives Act for confidential records to be buried.

(3) When will proper facilities be available in all Commonwealth Offices for the adequate destruction of confidential documents.

Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) I am unable to respond on behalf of all departments as my Department is responsible for only destruction of its own confidential records. Those records are destroyed only in accordance with methods recommended by the Australian Archives Office i.e. by shredding, pulping or burning. Burial of such material at rubbish dumps is not an acceptable method of disposal.

(2) Records may be destroyed only if authorised under the Archives Act (1983); but the Act does not specify the means of destruction. The destruction of classified records by burial is, however, a breach of the Protective Security Manual.

(3) My Department is adequately supplied with shredders and other required facilities for proper destruction of confidential documents. Again I cannot answer on behalf of other departments, although in some locations we would make these facilities available for use by other departments.