Well believe that and I've got a nice harbour bridge to sell you !
What can be said is no one who has done so has been caught and smacked with a penalty, currently $4440.
The email below was received from National Archives Australia on 28 September 2022- it took seven months to get an answer.
Section 24 Archives Act (text below)- creates an offence and confers power to impose a penalty for unauthorised 'Disposal, destruction etc. of Commonwealth records' and its been on the books for 39 years!
According to Archives, no penalties as provided in Section 24 have ever been imposed on a minister, former minister, staff member or public servant.
I'm still waiting to hear anything about investigations that obviously didn't lead to any penalty.
Dear Mr Timmins,
Thank you for your enquiry to the National Archives of Australia dated 14 February 2022. Please accept my apologies for the delayed reply.
Our response to each question is noted below:
Details of the reference inquiry:
How many infringement notices have been issued under Section 24 of the Archives Act to a minister, former minister, staff member or public servant ?
The National Archives has not issued any infringement notices to a minister, former minister, staff member or public servant under Section 24 of the Archives Act 1983.
If notices have been issued, what are the dates of the latest notices and the names of the persons in each of those categories?
If any issued notices resulted in court proceedings, what are the names of parties?
If no notices have been issued, how many investigations of possible breaches of Section 24 have been undertaken, and when was the most recent investigation?
In order to provide you with an accurate response to this question, the National Archives is recalling paper records which have not been digitised. This will take the National Archives sometime to provide you with a response to this particular question. The National Archives is endeavouring to answer this question as soon as possible.
Archives Act 1983
(1) Subject to this Part, a person must not engage in conduct that results in:
(a) the destruction or other disposal of a Commonwealth record; or
(b) the transfer of the custody or ownership of a Commonwealth record; or
(c) damage to or alteration of a Commonwealth record.
Penalty: 20 penalty units.
(1A) For the purposes of an offence against subsection (1), strict liability applies to the physical element of circumstance of the offence, that the record is a Commonwealth record.
Note: For strict liability, see section 6.1 of the Criminal Code.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to anything done:
(a) as required by any law;
(b) with the permission of the Archives or in accordance with a practice or procedure approved by the Archives;
(c) in accordance with a normal administrative practice, other than a practice of a Department or authority of the Commonwealth of which the Archives has notified the Department or authority that it disapproves; or
(d) for the purpose of placing Commonwealth records that are not in the custody of the Commonwealth or of a Commonwealth institution in the custody of the Commonwealth or of a Commonwealth institution that is entitled to custody of the records.
(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to the destruction of a Commonwealth record, being a record to which subsection 47(1), 70(1) or 107(1) of the Copyright Act 1968 applies, where the Director‑General has declined to consent to the delivery of the record to the Archives.
(4) This section does not authorize the Archives to permit the destruction or other disposal of a Commonwealth record that is in the possession of, or has been transferred to the care of the Archives by, a Commonwealth institution, without the consent of that institution or of a Commonwealth institution that has succeeded to the relevant functions of that institution.
(5) For the purposes of the application of subsection (1) to a record of a kind used by means of any mechanical or electronic device or equipment, including a computer, any treatment or modification of the record that would prevent the obtaining from the record of information or matter that could previously have been obtained from the record shall be deemed to be destruction of the record.