Former prime minister Tony Abbott may be accused of “leaking” classified documents, in an effort to wrangle Malcolm Turnbull’s defence policy.
Earlier this week, Mr Abbott spoke with The Australian about Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to delay a new submarine fleet until 2030.
The Australian quoted several sections of a classified draft defence paper, which suggested that submarines should be built this year, and “begin entering service in the late 2020s”.
Under our new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull though, this fleet has been pushed back. The first submarine will not be built until at least 2026.
Mr Abbott told The Australian he was unhappy with Turnbull’s delay. “I’m not just disappointed, I’m flabbergasted at this decision”, Mr Abbott said.
However, Abbott’s willingness to be quoted by The Australian has meant he might now be accused of leaking those very same defence drafts.
The Federal Police have begun an investigation, with Malcolm Turnbull telling parliament yesterday: “The Secretary of the Department of Defence (Dennis Richardson) has advised me that he has initiated an investigation”.
“(This) will obviously be conducted by the Australian Federal Police into the apparent leak of these classified documents that were referred to in the newspaper”, Mr Turnbull added.
Both Abbott and Turnbull have been accused of using national defence as a way to score political points. As QC Mark Dreyfus observed:
“There are few things more important than national security and it is utterly disgraceful it’s been used as a political football for Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull to settle old scores”.