The ABC did not say who purchased the cabinets or explain how it came to possess the documents, but the story sent shockwaves through Canberra, with many poking fun at the decidedly lo-fi way the broadcaster obtained the papers. The cabinets were locked and sold without keys, it added.
Meanwhile the department has already launched an urgent investigation into the massive national security breach.
The documents were contained in two cabinets that were sold locked and without matching keys at an ex-government furniture shop in Canberra.
Inside, they discovered files that are almost all classified, with some designated "top secret" and others marked "AUSTEO", meaning they were meant to be seen by Australian eyes only.
Whoever bought them used a drill to force the locks, though, and discovered a huge trove of classified documents the government certainly did not intend for people to see for a long, long time.
Abbott was replaced in 2015 by the current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Over the past few days, the ABC has been breaking some pretty huge news stories based on documents apparently leaked from federal cabinet.
"Journalism like this relies on courageous confidential sources and we'll protect their privacy at all costs".
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On Wednesday the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) announced an urgent investigation.
ABC chose to publish some of the files, containing information regarding Australia's counterterrorism strategies, missile upgrades and terror suspect profiles, because "national security and the inner workings of our governments affect the lives of all Australians".
The papers also included a document that stated 195 top-secret codeword-protected and sensitive documents had been left in the office of former Labor government minister Penny Wong when Labor lost the 2013 election.
According to a file among the recovered documents, the Australian Police lost 400 security documents between 2008 and 2013, of which the whereabouts of a large part remain unknown.
As a justification to why they have chosen to publish some of the files, the ABC said that national security and the inner workings of our government affect the lives of all Australians.
Australian Cabinet documents are normally sealed and kept confidential until they are released to the public 20 years later.
It also mentioned that former Prime Minister John Howard's administration had debated removing the right of people to remain silent under police questioning.
"This is not catastrophically damaging for national security in the sense that that something like the Snowden revelations must have been", Medcalf said, referring to the former US National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden who leaked classified information in 2013.