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The Federal Government has missed by more than a week Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s stated deadline for the “independent review” to report on the “missing” Iraq War cabinet papers.

Fronting media on January 3, as the nation reeled from the scandal, which is tied to former Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Albanese said the investigation would “report within the next two weeks”.

That was Wednesday last week.

The “delay” of the review — being conducted by a man who was a party to the dozens of secret meetings to which the “missing” cabinet papers pertain — comes as the scandal has taken yet another turn.

On January 15 The Klaxon revealed the National Archives’ 2022-23 annual report was “missing” from public records despite Coalition-appointed Archives boss Simon Froude having been required to file it by October 15.

The National Archives has said it was granted an “extension” and that it filed its annual report to its responsible minister, Arts Minister Tony Burke, on November 30.

Yet the document still remains hidden from the public.

It can now be revealed National Archives failed to meet the October 15 deadline due to action by its auditor, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), which is overseen by the Auditor-General.

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“Delays” in “finalising” financial statements with the ANAO. Source: National Archives


The ANAO must sign off on the annual financial statements of Federal agencies — and declare whether they are “free from material misstatement” whether “due to fraud or error”.

If financial statements do not meet legal requirements, it can cause delays, sometimes of several weeks, as negotiations between the agency and the ANAO play out.

In their annual reports, agencies are required by law to include “performance statements” regarding their operations and the details of “significant” events that impacted them during the reporting period.

During the reporting period — which includes the date up until the report is completed and filed — National Archives was embroiled in the unprecedented scandal of “missing” cabinet documents.

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Morrison’s Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet had, it emerged on January 1, failed to hand over to National Archives certain cabinet papers from 2003.

On January 1 each year National Archives releases certain cabinet papers from 20 years earlier, having obtained them from PM&C around three years earlier.

In 2003 Australia joined the US-led invasion of Iraq and many of the “missing” documents relate to deliberations of the top-secret National Security Committee, which dealt with the decision.

The reasons for joining the war have never been properly explained to the Australian public.

Shelving inside the National Archives Preservation Facility. Source: National Archives/John Gollings



Official correspondence obtained by The Klaxon shows the reason National Archives gave for failing to file its annual report by October 15 was due to issues “finalising” its “annual financial statements” with the ANAO.

The disclosure is made in an October 3 letter from Froude to Arts Minister Tony Burke, who is responsible for National Archives.

In the letter, Froude writes the agency is “unable” to meet the October 15 legal deadline, and seeks an extension from Burke.

“National Archives is unable to meet this timing because of delays in finalising the Annual Financial Statements with the Australian National Audit Office,” writes Froude.

“These matters are not within the control of National Archives”.

“These matters are not within the control of National Archives”

“National Archives expects to provide you its annual report by the end of November,” Froude writes.

The Klaxon’s January 15 expose. Source: The Klaxon


Three weeks later, on October 24, Burke responded, granting an extension.

Agency heads are required to complete annual reports, have them audited by the ANAO, and file them with their responsible minister by October 15 each year.

Ministers then have a week to approve (or reject) the annual report — the process usually takes a few days at most — before it is tabled in parliament.

Yet although Burke was given the audited report on November 30, it has still not been tabled in parliament and so remains hidden from the public.

There is no requirement for parliament to be sitting for annual reports, or other government documents, to be formally tabled.

Burke has repeatedly refused to respond when contacted by The Klaxon.



Jan 1 – PM&C reveals “missing” cabinet papers

Jan 3 – Albanese says report “within two weeks

Jan 17 — The two week deadline

Jan 23 — Morrison announces resignation as MP


The Federal Government has been accused of a cover-up over the “missing” cabinet documents affair.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) revealed the scandal in a brief statement on January 1.

The cabinet papers for the year 2003 had been transferred to National Archives in 2020, yet not all the documents had been transferred over as they should have.

(It was the “normal process” for the documents to be transferred about three years in advance).

The was “due to apparent administrative oversights”, PM&C said, citing “Covid-19 disruptions at the time”.

Both PMC and Albanese, who fronted the media on January 3, suggested the matter had only become known in the days before Christmas.

“The additional records were located by the Department on 19 December 2023,” said the January 1 PM&C statement.

PM&C and National Archives had “jointly inspected the records on 22 December 2023” and they had “now been transferred to the Archives”.

Yet, as previously revealed, National Archives has indicated it has been aware of the “missing’ documents for up to a year — possibly as far back as 2022.

The Klaxon’s January 16 article. Source: The Klaxon


Since January 1 The Klaxon has been unsuccessfully seeking a response from PM&C as to when it first became aware of the matter.

In the January 1 statement PM&C said its Secretary Glyn Dyer had appointed a “Mr Dennis Richardson” to conduct an “independent review”.

Richardson would “undertake an independent review of the 2020 transfer process” and “confirm that all relevant records have been transferred to the Archives”.

Federal Greens Senator David Shoebridge responds to The Klaxon’s expose. Source: Twitter/x


Richardson is a former senior public servant and has been engaged as a private citizen.

From 1996 to 2005 Richardson was Director-General of intelligence agency ASIO.

As previously revealed, this meant he was present at all the 2003 National Security Committee meetings.


Dennis Richardson

1996–2005: ASIO Director-General

2005-2010: Australian Ambassador to US

Jan 2010-Oct 2012: Secretary of DFAT

Oct 2012-May 2017: Secretary of Department of Defence


Since departing the public service in 2017, Richardson has been given over $1 million in Federal contracts, including a three-month, $40,000-a-month, contract by PM&C in August.

In a terse statement on January 1, in which it revealed the scandal, PM&C said Richardson would complete his review by “the end of January 2024”.

Yet on January 3, Albanese provided substantially more information about the saga, and said Richardson “report within the next two weeks” , which was Wednesday, January 17.

The Klaxon’s January 9 report. Source: The Klaxon


Albanese and his office refused to respond to questions put to them on January 19 about the report, and whether it was completed.

They also refused to respond to similar questions put to them Tuesday.

On Monday PM&C appeared to directly contradict Albanese’s deadline, instead pointing to its earlier statement.

“We refer you to our previous public statement which states that Mr Richardson will complete his review by the end of January 2024,” PM&C said on a statement to The Klaxon.

The latest revelations in the scandal come as Morrison, who was ousted as Prime Minister when the Coalition lost the May 2022 federal election, on Tuesday announced his resignation from Parliament.

It had long been expected he would depart, yet has for many months reportedly struggled to find an employer.

The Coalition, in power from 2013 to 2022, was one of, if not the most, corrupt governments in Australian history.

According to Transparency International, between 2012 and 2022, Australia fell faster toward corruption than any other OECD nation, except for Hungary, with which it tied.

“This is the worst result Australia has ever received since Transparency International’s new methodology began in 2012,” the group said in January 2022.

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Anthony Klan

Editor, The Klaxon

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