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The Australian Department of Defence has lost its X-Files.
For decades, Defence officials dutifully investigated an unknown number of UFO sightings that were being reported all over the country.
Intelligence officers attached to the Royal Australian Air Force checked the known movement of aircraft against reported sightings, and politely responded by mail to everyone who claimed they saw floating lights or flat saucers or streaking vapour trails.
Some of the files were marked as classified.
Last year the British Government released a large part of its secret dossier on unidentified flying objects after significant pressure from freedom of information applicants.
More than 4000 pages of defence ministry documents, detailing 800 reported encounters during the 1980s and 1990s, were posted online.
It inspired Fairfax to seek access to the Australian version. But the response was more surprising than what the files might have contained the material has largely gone missing.
The department spent two months searching its offices for files requested by the Fairfax FoI application, which sought a ”schedule of records held by the Department of Defence … which relate to unidentified flying objects”.
But late last month, the department’s FOI assistant director, Natalie Carpenter, delivered a reply that seemed almost designed to set online chat rooms alight with conspiracy chatter.
The only file Defence was able to locate was titled ”Report on UFOs/Strange Occurrences and Phenomena in Woomera” the others had been destroyed.
”We also discovered one [other] file, which had not been destroyed but could not be located,” Ms Carpenter wrote.