1969 – Gorton government

Mr John Gorton addresses the National Press Club in Canberra, October 1969
Mr John Gorton addresses the National Press Club in Canberra, October 1969 (NAA: A1200, L84029)

The 1969 Cabinet records

The 1969 Cabinet records comprise more than 370 submissions with related decisions and 254 decisions without submission. A further 49 submissions were withdrawn before being considered by Cabinet.

Submissions, decisions and files

Cabinet submissions were registered on receipt by Cabinet Office and allocated a unique number. Over 40 submissions without decisions were considered in 1969. Many of these were withdrawn when the election was called. Others did not get listed for attention at a Cabinet meeting for some weeks or months due to the pressure of business and reworking of priorities.

Cabinet decisions were also allocated a unique number but there is no correlation between the number of a decision and the number of the submission to which it relates. It is possible for a Cabinet decision to have been taken without a submission. Although much Cabinet business was conducted on the basis of submissions, the prime minister could decide to raise, or allow a colleague to raise, a matter without submission. The Cabinet decision itself is the only formal record of such deliberations.

The Cabinet Office ‘CO’ files and Prime Minister’s Department ‘C’ files contain a copy of the submission, briefing papers and relevant decisions. They also contain departmental advice and exchanges between officials and ministers not included in the formal Cabinet papers. Withdrawn submissions can also be found in the relevant ‘C’ or ‘CO’ file.

Collection references

Cabinet notebooks

Officials of the Cabinet Office were usually present for meetings of Cabinet and Cabinet Committees. In 1969, the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary to Cabinet attended most Cabinet meetings. Their role included the recording of proceedings so that minutes accurately reflecting the decisions made or conclusions reached could be prepared. These records of proceedings are referred to as Cabinet notebooks.

Under section 22A of the Archives Act 1983, Cabinet notebooks (unlike other Commonwealth records) are not available to the public until fifty years have lapsed since their creation.

Viewing the records

The above series and items have been entered into RecordSearch. Digital copies of submissions and decisions can be viewed through RecordSearch also. The original records can be requested and viewed in the National Archives' Canberra reading room.

Folders containing copies of lists of the 1969 submissions and decisions are available for public access in the Canberra reading room.

Members and committees of the 1969 Cabinet

There were two Gorton ministries and Cabinets in 1969, known as the second and third Gorton Cabinets.  (The first Gorton Cabinet was in place until February 1968).

Second Gorton Cabinet

The second Gorton ministry commenced on 28 February 1968 and continued until 12 November 1969. The following 12 Ministers made up the second Gorton Cabinet.

MinisterPortfolio

Gorton, The Right Hon John Grey

Prime Minister

McEwen, The Right Hon John

Minister for Trade and Industry

McMahon, The Right Hon William

Treasurer

Hasluck, The Right Hon Paul (to 11 Feb 1969)
succeeded by Freeth, The Hon Gordon (from 11 Feb 1969)

Minister for External Affairs

Fairhall, The Hon Allen

Minister for Defence

Anthony, The Hon John Douglas

Minister for Primary Industry

Hulme, The Hon Alan Shallcross

Postmaster-General and Vice-President of the Executive Council

Fairbairn, The Hon David Eric, DFC

Minister for National Development

Bury, The Hon Leslie Harry Ernest

Minister for Labour and National Service

Sinclair, The Hon Ian McCahon

Minister for Shipping and Transport and Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry

Anderson, Senator the Hon Kenneth McColl

Minister for Supply

Fraser, The Hon John Malcolm

Minister for Education and Science

Third Gorton Cabinet

At the 25 October 1969 federal election, the Gorton government was returned with its majority reduced from 39 to just seven. Despite being challenged by McMahon and Fairbairn, Gorton retained leadership and put in place a reshuffled third Ministry.

The third Gorton Ministry was in place from 12 November 1969 to 10 March 1971 and its Cabinet consisted of the following 13 Ministers.

MinisterPortfolio

Gorton, The Right Hon John Grey

Prime Minister

McEwen, The Right Hon John

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry

McMahon, The Right Hon William

Minister for External Affairs

Anthony, The Hon John Douglas

Minister for Primary Industry

Hulme, The Hon Alan Shallcross

Postmaster-General and
Vice-President of the Executive Council

Bury, The Hon Leslie Harry Ernest

Treasurer

Sinclair, The Hon Ian McCahon

Minister for Shipping and Transport and Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry

Anderson, Senator the Hon Kenneth McColl

Minister for Supply

Fraser, The Hon John Malcolm

Minister for Defence

Swartz, The Hon Reginald William Colin, MBE ED

Minister for National Development

Snedden, The Hon Billie Mackie, QC

Minister for Labour and National Service

Bowen, The Hon Nigel Hubert, QC

Minister for Education and Science

Nixon, The Hon Peter James

Minister for the Interior

During 1969 Parliamentary sittings, Cabinet meetings were usually held twice weekely and lasted for around four hours.

Committees of Cabinet

In 1969 the committees of Cabinet included the following:

CommitteeAbbreviation

Ad Hoc Committee

AD HOC

Economic Committee

EC

Ex Servicemen’s Committee

EX

Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee

FAD

General Administrative Committee

GA

Government Purchasing Policy Committee

PP

Legislation Committee

LEG

Ministry

M

Taxation Committee

TAX

Welfare Committee

WEL

The committee abbreviation is added to the decision number to identify its decisions.

Role of Committees

Cabinet Committees were first formally established, by Prime Minister Menzies, in 1950. Their role was to assist Cabinet to:

  • make decisions more expeditiously and efficiently by having a Committee of Ministers sift through the issues and the facts and present Cabinet with a clear recommendation for action; and
  • relieve Cabinet of much business of lesser importance.

Key political figures

Some of the political figures in Australia in 1969 are listed below. The roles and titles ascribed to them are those they held in 1969.

Government Ministers

Anthony, The Hon John Douglas

MHR for Richmond, NSW
Minister for Primary Industry

Chipp, The Hon Donald Leslie

MHR for Higinbotham, Vic (to 25 Oct 1969)
MHR for Hotham, Vic (from 25 Oct 1969)
Minister for Customs and Excise (from 12 Nov 1969)

Fraser, The Hon John Malcolm

MHR for Wannon, Vic
Minister for Education and Science (to 12 Nov 1969)
Minister for Defence (from 12 Nov 1969)

Gorton, The Right Hon John Grey

MHR for Higgins, Vic
Prime Minister

Hughes, The Hon Thomas Eyre, QC

MHR for Parkes, NSW (to 25 Oct 1969)
MHR for Berowra, NSW (from 25 Oct 1969)
Attorney-General (from 12 Nov 1969)

Killen, The Hon Denis James

MHR for Moreton, Qld
Minister for the Navy (from 12 Nov 1969)

Peacock, The Hon Andrew Sharp

MHR for Kooyong, Vic
Minister for the Army and Minister assisting the Prime Minister (from 12 Nov 1969)

Sinclair, The Hon Ian McCahon

MHR for New England, NSW
Minister for Shipping and Transport and Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry

Wentworth, The Hon William Charles

MHR for Mackellar, NSW
Minister for Social Services and
Minister in charge of Aboriginal Affairs

Government Members of Parliament

Street, Anthony Austin

MHR for Corangamite, Vic

Withers, Reginald Grieve

Senator for WA

Opposition Members of Parliament

Beazley, Kim Edward

MHR for Fremantle, WA

Cairns, James Ford

MHR for Yarra, Vic (to 25 Oct 1969)
MHR for Lalor, Vic (from 25 Oct 1969)

Cameron, Clyde Robert

MHR for Hindmarsh, SA

Cohen, Barry

MHR for Robertson, NSW

Grassby, Albert Jaime

MHR for Riverina, NSW

Hayden, William George

MHR for Oxley, Qld

Keating, Paul John

MHR for Blaxland, NSW

Scholes, Gordon Glen Denton

MHR for Corio, Vic

Uren, Thomas

MHR for Reid, NSW

Whitlam, Edward Gough, QC

MHR for Werriwa, NSW
Leader of the Opposition

Senior Public Servants

Bailey, Peter

First Assistant Secretary (Committee Secretary), Cabinet Office

Hewitt, Cyrus Lenox Simson

Secretary, Prime Minister’s Department

Lawler, Peter, OBE

Deputy Secretary, Cabinet Office

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017