The ABC has defended its reporting and actions around the leak of top-secret cabinet documents, saying it chose not to do a "WikiLeaks".
The public broadcaster broke a series of stories from documents found in a cabinet file at second-hand shop before it returned the files to the government earlier this year.
ASIO took possession of the thousands of sensitive government files in February after the ABC and the department agreed on their return.
"We knew the government would not surprisingly come calling for their documents once they were aware that we had them," the ABC's head of editorial policy Alan Sunderland told a Senate committee in Canberra on Wednesday.
He insisted the broadcaster assessed the documents to prove they were real and then found the stories in them that were in the national interest.
Once it was satisfied it had done "all (its) journalism" it was a "sensible and obvious thing to do" to return them.
Mr Sunderland acknowledged the papers were significant, but described them as routine documents that noted discussions and decisions made by cabinet.
Some documented discussions that resulted in policies that were subsequently made public and therefore were not of interest.
"This was not a Pentagon Papers-type leak from a whistleblower designed to uncover a scandalous activity," he said.
The nine stories written met the test of a public interest story, as decided by the ABC.
"You can do two things with these documents - you can take the WikiLeaks approach that it all just belongs on the public record regardless of whether there is any merit to it," Mr Sunderland said.
The other approach was thinking they weren't theirs and they should give them back.
"Or you can take the journalistic path a responsible media organisation would take to assess those documents and report every single story that met our criteria," he said.
"That is what we did."
The ABC looked over the documents for about four months from last September before publishing.
Mr Sunderland joked the broadcaster would be happy to receive another cabinet file of documents.
"We would be very pleased to go through them," he told senators.