The extraordinary nature of the ABC's journalistic failure on the so-called "Cabinet Files" cache of sensitive documents has been revealed in answers to Senate Estimates Questions on Notice. The broadcaster has admitted the files totalled "hundreds of documents consisting of thousands of individual pages".

The ABC claims to have obtained the documents from a rural New South Wales resident who accidentally acquired the documents when he bought locked cabinets from a Canberra ex-government furniture store, and subsequently contacted journalist Michael McKinnon. The broadcaster handed the documents back to the government after publishing only a small number of stories about them, including stories riddled with errors and misinterpretation. One of them, about Kevin Rudd and the Housing Insulation Program, had to be retracted and was the subject of an apology to the former prime minister.