Missing 2003 Cabinet Iraq records arrive at NAA

The National Archives of Australia has confirmed it has received Cabinet records from 2003 that include decisions on the Iraq war. The records were discovered to have been incorrectly left behind at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).

An Independent review organised by the Federal Government concluded the “PM&C’s failure to provide the NAA with a complete set of 2003 Cabinet records was a result of administrative error arising from both the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and from systemic shortcomings. Any suggestion of political interference of influence is without foundation.”

According to a statement from the NAA, between 31 December 2023 and 5 January 2024, 82 additional documents were transferred from PM&C, including 13 National Security Committee records that relate directly to the Iraq War. One additional record briefly refers to the Iraq War.

“These 14 records have been examined as a priority in consultation with relevant agencies. National Archives has now finalised access decisions and the records will be available to view online via RecordSearch from Thursday 14 March, the NAA statement said.

“Of the 14 records, 12 are Open and 2 are Open with Exception (OWE), meaning some information has been withheld.

Under the Archives Act 1983, National Archives is required to release as much information as possible. However, under the Act, certain information is exempt from public access. National Archives is legally bound to withhold information that could impact upon Australia’s security or put any person in danger.

The remaining 68 records are currently being examined and will be progressively made available online over the coming months. These records relate to other matters, including aviation and maritime security, terrorism/counter terrorism, fuel excise and foreign affairs.

Records released on Thursday 14 March belong to series A14371.