On 1 January each year, the National Archives releases the Cabinet records as they reach the open period.
A special briefing in early December is provided to the media on the Cabinet records due for release. At the briefing, to help place the records in context, a consultant historian gives journalists an overview of the major issues that affected Australia at the time. We encourage journalists to prepare for the briefing by researching, perhaps through their own media outlets, the events and issues that were making the news at that time.
As part of the briefing, we issue a media kit to journalists that includes copies of key Cabinet papers to be released. In previous years, former prime ministers and Cabinet Office officials have been on hand to give their personal perspective on the issues and events highlighted in the Cabinet records.
During the remainder of December, the Archives allows the media access to the records in our Canberra reading room to help them prepare in-depth articles for publication on 1 January. Access to the records is provided on the conditions that the:
To date we have released Cabinet records from 1965 to 1989, including:
Many of the records have been wholly digitised, so you can view them online in our collection database, RecordSearch. We also hold hardcopy indexes to the Cabinet records in the Canberra reading room.
Cabinet notebooks are released to the public after 41 years (in 2015) gradually reducing to 30 years. We have released Cabinet notebooks from 1950 to 1974.