The only thing worse than having a secret government document leaked, is accidentally leaking ANOTHER secret document while talking about the first leaked secret document.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull found this out the hard way this morning in Canberra, flashing a paper with a giant red CLASSIFIED stamp while speaking to media about ABC program Lateline obtaining a copy of a sensitive document detailing proposed changes to Australia's immigration program.
Jared Owens, a journalist for The Australian newspaper, noticed the slip from the normally unflappable Turnbull on Friday morning. The PM had been giving a radio interview at a studio inside Parliament House, and was bailed up by journalists outside to talk about the leaked cabinet document which proposes drastic reform to Australia's humanitarian resettlement program, which will increase security monitoring of new arrivals and possibly make it harder to obtain permanent residency.
"Ideally these thing do not get leaked, if you like, but it happens from time to time," Turnbull told journalists.
"I haven't yet had an opportunity to discuss it with the [Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton]. So if in fact it is - if in fact the leak did occur as you describe and if the document is in the terms that it's been referred to on 'Lateline', then no doubt the Minister will be looking into it."
"My understanding is that he hasn't seen it, it he hasn't got to him, anyway."
All the while, the PM was holding a bundle of documents (and his trusty, ever-present iPhone), with a red CONFIDENTIAL stamp prominent over the top of his phone. The document was a brief for the daily question time session, giving prepared answers for when the PM might be asked about the Labor Party's plans to cut costs.
A close-up of the accidentally (?) leaked document
"The Member for McMahon is crowing like a bantam rooster," the document says in part. The Member for McMahon is Labor frontbencher and shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen.
While it is not standard procedure to leak your own secret documents, some on Twitter have suggested the sharing of the CONFIDENTIAL document was intentional -- to provoke the writing of news pieces such as this one.
(This, by the way, is what a bantam rooster looks like)
No matter whether intentional or accidental; to borrow a line from the Prime Minister himself, there's never been a better time to be a secret document in Canberra.