The attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has written to Scott Morrison to warn the former prime minister against any “further disclosures” that “undermine national security and the integrity of the cabinet process”.
In a letter to Morrison that was tabled during a Senate hearing on Monday, Dreyfus raised concern at “the apparent extensive disclosures of cabinet information” in the recently published book Plagued: Australia’s two years of hell.
The book, which was promoted as giving the “inside story” of the Morrison government’s handling of the pandemic, was written by Simon Benson and Geoff Chambers of the Australian newspaper.
Its publication triggered political fallout because of revelations Morrison had secretly appointed himself to multiple ministries, starting with health and Treasury – but it also contained previously unknown details of deliberations of Australia’s national security committee of cabinet.
Dreyfus, the cabinet secretary in the Albanese government, said in the tabled letter that the book was “granular in its description of cabinet and cabinet committee deliberations”.
“I understand that the authors were informed by interviews conducted contemporaneously over the 2020-2022 period, including deliberations of the National Security Committee of Cabinet,” Dreyfus wrote.
Dreyfus wrote that several disclosures “appear to have been made in contravention of the expectation of discretion regarding sensitive Cabinet discussions, including the disclosure that the then secretary of your department briefed cabinet on planning on Chinese economic coercion”.
Dreyfus also cited disclosures “that the national security implications of Covid-19 were further discussed at the National Security Committee of Cabinet … which includes alleged quotes from you and paraphrases discussions allegedly from those meetings”.
Dreyfus wrote that references to a ‘secret intelligence briefing’ from the Office of National Intelligence “would appear to be Contrary to the confidentiality of information from the intelligence and security agencies”.
Dreyfus’ letter did not make any