1974 – Whitlam government

The second Whitlam ministry, 1972–74
The second Whitlam ministry, 1972–74 (NAA: A6180, 21/12/72/1)

The 1974 Cabinet records

The second Whitlam ministry, formed on 19 December 1972, was replaced on 12 June 1974 by the third Whitlam ministry, which remained in place until 11 November 1975. As the Whitlam Government was returned in 1974 with only one change to the ministry, the numbering sequence for submissions and decisions was continued.

Submissions

Most Cabinet business was conducted on the basis of formal submissions (which are also known as memoranda, minutes or agenda). As far as possible, submissions were circulated to all ministers prior to meetings.

After receiving Cabinet submissions, the Cabinet Office registered them and allocated a unique number. In general, the first submission received by the Cabinet Office during its term was registered as number 1, with subsequent submissions being allocated consecutive running numbers. However, the third Whitlam ministry gave emphasis to the continuity of office with the preceding second Whitlam ministry, by continuing the same numbering sequence for both submissions and decisions. The last submission considered by the second Whitlam ministry was submission 1017, while the first considered by the third Whitlam ministry was 1018.

Submissions normally consist of the departmental submission and briefing notes placed before the Cabinet by sponsoring ministers, as well as Cabinet’s decision on the submission. Each submission is filed in numerical sequence with its decision.

Once lodge, submissions could be withdrawn by their originating department or minister. This could happen because:

  • in the waiting period they were overtaken by events (including a forthcoming election); or
  • the length of time that had elapsed since lodgement without being listed for consideration indicated that the matter was not a priority; or
  • the Cabinet Office returned them as they did not comply with technical requirements (for example, there had been inadequate consultation).

In such cases all copies, other than a master copy retained by the Cabinet Office, were required to be returned to the originating department. Withdrawn submissions are not always found in the folders of submissions but can usually be found in the relevant Cabinet Office 'CL' file.

The Whitlam ministry considered 626 submissions in 1974. Not all submissions were considered. Eighty-five (85) were withdrawn before being considered by Cabinet, while 14 were withdrawn after  a decision was reached. The title of the submission will indicate if a submission was withdrawn. Some of these submissions are not included in the submission series A5915. This is indicated by the words 'Not included' after the title. In addition, some submission numbers were not used, or were allocated but the submission was not received. This is indicated by the words 'not used' or 'not received' in place of the submission title.

Decisions

The Whitlam ministry made a total of 1264 decisions in 1974, of which 505 were made without submission.

Cabinet decisions were also allocated a unique number in sequence. However, the decision number is not the same as the submission number to which it relates. This is because decisions are not made in order of receipt of submissions and many decisions were made 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. In such cases, Cabinet decisions are the only formal record of such deliberations and are termed ‘decisions without submission’.

Cabinet Office files

Further information about submissions can be found in the Cabinet Office files. There is a file in this series for most submissions.

Collection references

Viewing the records

Digital copies of 1974 submissions and decisions are available on this website via RecordSearch. Folders containing copies of 1974 submissions and decisions from these ministries are also available for public access in the National Archives' Canberra reading room.

Cabinet notebooks

In 1974 the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (Sir Edward John Bunting), the Deputy Secretary (Peter Bailey), the First Assistant Secretary, Cabinet and Legislative Programming Division (Robert Linford) or the Assistant Secretary, Cabinet (Michael Wilson and later George Brouwer) attended most Cabinet meetings as minute takers.

In general, three secretaries attended full Cabinet meetings, while two attended Cabinet committee 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 are not available to the public until 50 years have lapsed since their creation, unlike other Commonwealth records that are released after 30 years.

Departmental records

The detailed background papers and earlier drafts of the Cabinet papers can be found on the files of the department that sponsored each Cabinet submission. These papers reveal the detailed deliberations of the Public Service on the topic and often include the opinions and guidance of the responsible Minister. These files can be identified through Archives’ finding aids, in particular our online database RecordSearch.

Personal records

The Archives also holds collections of personal records deposited by people who have been closely associated with the Commonwealth Government in an official capacity, such as governors-general, prime ministers and ministers. These records may include official Commonwealth records as well as private, or personal, records. Commonwealth records in these collections are subject to the usual access conditions of the Archives Act 1983 and are available 30 years from the date of creation, subject to the exemption of material of continuing sensitivity. Access to non-Commonwealth records in personal records collections is determined by the depositor. Please consult the Archives about the access conditions that apply to personal records you wish to access.

Personal records of Gough Whitlam

The National Archives holds an extensive collection of Gough Whitlam’s personal records. It comprises almost 100 series of records covering the period 1952–78. Most of them were created by Mr Whitlam as Prime Minister and as a Member of Parliament. The records include subject and correspondence files, media releases and speeches, Labor Party material, photographs, audio tapes, films, invitations and press clippings. Some relate to Whitlam’s activities after he retired from politics.

Although the official records in this collection are not available until 30 years after they were created, access to non-Commonwealth material within the collection may be requested 25 years from the date of creation.

Further details about Whitlam’s personal records can also be found in our collection database RecordSearch. Enter Whitlam’s Commonwealth person number (CP 99) into the field for ‘Reference numbers’, then select from the ‘Search’ drop-down menu to search ‘Series’.

Other sources of information include:

  • Australia's Prime Ministers website, which introduces the careers of Gough and Margaret Whitlam, and is illustrated with unique records and photographs from our collection. It includes a complete list of the elections Whitlam contested and a one-page ‘Fast Facts’ with dates, portfolios and little known quiz facts.
  • The Whitlam fact sheet offers an overview of personal, departmental and photographic records relating to Gough and Margaret Whitlam held by the Archives.

Members and committees of the 1974 Cabinet

Second and third Whitlam Cabinets

The second Whitlam ministry, which commenced on 19 December 1972, remained in place until a general election on 18 May 1974. The Whitlam ministry was returned to office with only one change (the addition of The Hon. John Murray Wheeldon) and a reduced majority. The third Whitlam ministry commenced its term on 12 June 1974 and remained in place until dismissed by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, on 11 November 1975.

The third Whitlam ministry continued the practice that existed before 1956 with all members of the ministry sitting as members of Cabinet. The allocation of portfolios in 1974 is indicated below.

MinisterPortfolio

Whitlam, The Hon. Edward Gough, QC

Prime Minister

Barnard, The Hon. Lance Herbert

Deputy Prime Minister (to 12 June 1974)
Minister for Defence

Cairns, The Hon. James Ford

Deputy Prime Minister (from 12 June 1974)
Minister for Overseas Trade (to 11 December 1974)
Treasurer (from 11 December 1974)

Hayden, The Hon. William George

Minister for Social Security

Crean, The Hon. Frank

Treasurer (to 11 December 1974)
Minister for Overseas Trade (from 11 December 1974)

Murphy, Senator the Hon. Lionel Keith, QC

Attorney-General
Minister for Customs and Excise
Leader of the Government in the Senate

Willesee, Senator the Hon. Donald Robert

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Wheeldon, The Hon. John Murray

Minister for Repatriation and Compensation (from 12 June 1974)

McClelland, Senator the Hon. Douglas

Minister for the Media
Manager of Government Business in the Senate (from 9 July 1974)

Patterson, The Hon. Rex Alan

Minister for Northern Development
Minister for the Northern Territory

Bishop, Senator the Hon. Reginald

Minister for Repatriation (to 12 June 1974)
Minister assisting the Minister for Defence
Postmaster-General (from 12 June 1974)

Daly, The Hon. Frederick Michael

Minister for Services and Property
Leader of the House

Cameron, The Hon. Clyde Robert

Minister for Labour (to 12 June 1974)
Minister for Labour and Immigration (from 12 June 1974)

Uren, The Hon. Thomas

Minister for Urban and Regional Development

Jones, The Hon. Charles Keith

Minister for Transport

Beazley, The Hon. Kim Edward

Minister for Education

Stewart, The Hon. Francis Eugene

Minister for Tourism and Recreation
Minister assisting the Treasurer
Vice-President of the Executive Council

Cavanagh, Senator the Hon. James Luke

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

Wriedt, Senator the Hon. Kenneth Shaw

Minister for Primary Industry (to 12 June 1974)
Minister for Agriculture (from 12 June 1974)

Bryant, The Hon. Gordon Munro, ED

Minister for the Capital Territory

Connor, The Hon. Reginald Francis Xavier

Minister for Minerals and Energy

Grassby, The Hon. Albert Jaime

Minister for Immigration (to 12 June 1974)

Enderby, The Hon. Keppel Earl, QC

Minister for Manufacturing Industry (to 12 June 1974)

Bowen, The Hon. Lionel Frost

Postmaster-General (to 12 June 1974)
Special Minister of State
Minister assisting the Prime Minister (to 12 June 1974)

Everingham, The Hon. Douglas Nixon

Minister for Health

Cass, The Hon. Moses Henry

Minister for the Environment and Conservation

Morrison, The Hon. William Lawrence

Minister for Science
Minister assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs in matters relating to Papua New Guinea
Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence (from 12 June 1974)

Cabinet 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
  • relieving Cabinet of much business of lesser importance.

The 1974 committees of the Whitlam Cabinet were:

Cabinet committeeAbbreviation

Ad Hoc Committees

Ad Hoc

Economic Committee

EC

Expenditures Review Committee

ERC

Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee

FAD

Legislation Committee

LEG

Urban and Regional Development Committee

URD

Welfare Committee

WEL

Decisions made by a committee are indicated by the addition of the committee abbreviation to the decision number.

Key political figures

Some of the political figures in Australia in 1974 who are listed below are still active in the community. The roles and titles ascribed to them are those they held in 1974.

Government Ministers

Beazley, The Hon. Kim Edward

MHR for Fremantle, WA
Minister for Education

Bowen, The Hon. Lionel Frost

MHR for Kingsford-Smith, NSW
Postmaster-General (to 12 June 1974)
Special Minister of State
Minister assisting the Prime Minister (to 12 June 1974)

Cameron, The Hon. Clyde Robert

MHR for Hindmarsh, SA
Minister for Labour (to 12 June 1974)
Minister for Labour and Immigration (from 12 June 1974)

Cass, The Hon. Moses Henry

MHR for Maribyrnong, Vic
Minister for the Environment and Conservation

Crean, The Hon. Frank

MHR for Melbourne Ports, Vic
Treasurer (to 11 December 1974)
Minister for Overseas Trade (from 11 December 1974)

Enderby, The Hon. Keppel Earl, QC

MHR for the Australian Capital Territory
Minister for Manufacturing Industry (to 12 June 1974)

Grassby, The Hon. Albert Jaime

MHR for Riverina, NSW
Minister for Immigration (to 12 June 1974)

Hayden, The Hon. William George

MHR for Oxley, Qld
Minister for Social Security

McClelland, Senator the Hon. Douglas

Senator for New South Wales
Minister for the Media
Manager of Government Business in the Senate (from 9 July 1974)

Patterson, The Hon. Rex Alan

MHR for Dawson, QLD
Minister for Northern Development
Minister for the Northern Territory

Uren, The Hon. Thomas

MHR for Reid, NSW
Minister for Urban and Regional Development

Whitlam, The Hon. Edward Gough, QC

MHR for Werriwa, NSW
Prime Minister

Wriedt, Senator the Hon. Kenneth Shaw

Senator for Tasmania
Minister for Primary Industry (to 12 June 1974)
Minister for Agriculture (from 12 June 1974)

Government members of Parliament

Berinson, Joseph Max

MHR for Perth, WA

Cohen, Barry

MHR for Robertson, NSW

Cross, Manfred Douglas

MHR for Brisbane, QLD

Hurford, Christopher John

MHR for Adelaide, SA

Keating, Paul John

MHR for Blaxland, NSW

Kerin, John

MHR for Macarthur, NSW

Lamb, Anthony Hamilton

MHR for La Trobe, Vic

Scholes, The Hon. Gordon Glen Denton

MHR for Corio, Vic

Opposition members of Parliament

Anthony, The Rt Hon. John Douglas, PC

MHR for Richmond, NSW

Chipp, The Hon. Donald Leslie

MHR for Hotham, Vic

Cotton, Senator the Hon. Robert Carrington

Senator for New South Wales

Fraser, The Hon. John Malcolm

MHR for Wannon, Vic

Guilfoyle, Margaret Georgina Constance

Senator for Victoria

Hunt, The Hon. Ralph James Dunnet

MHR for Gwydir, NSW

Killen, The Hon. Denis James

MHR for Moreton, Qld

MacKellar, Michael John Randal

MHR for Warringah, NSW

Nixon, The Hon. Peter James

MHR for Gippsland, Vic

Peacock, The Hon. Andrew Sharp

MHR for Kooyong, Vic

Rae, Peter Elliot

Senator for Tasmania

Sinclair, The Hon. Ian McCahon

MHR for New England, NSW

Withers, Reginald Greive

Senator for Western Australia

Senior public servants

Bailey, Peter Hamilton

Deputy Secretary, Prime Minister and Cabinet

Brouwer, George Eugene

Assistant Secretary, Cabinet

Hewitt, Sir Cyrus Lenox, OBE

Secretary, Department of Minerals and Energy

Lawler, Peter, OBE

Secretary, Department of the Special Minister of State

Menadue, John

Secretary, Prime Minister and Cabinet

Spigelman, Hon. James

Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister

Stone, John

Deputy Secretary (Economic), Treasury

Wilson, Michael John

Assistant Secretary, Cabinet

Selected documents

Cabinet

The documents included in this section have been selected by Ian Hancock, the National Archives historical consultant for the 1974 Cabinet records release. Ian Hancock is a Visiting Fellow at the Dictionary of Biography, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University.

These documents have been selected to illustrate the major topics discussed by Cabinet during 1974. The documents are arranged by topic, with divisions within the topic as appropriate. Introductory notes to each subject division, prepared by Ian Hancock, highlight some of the major issues discussed by Cabinet and outline why these documents are pertinent to that topic.

The documents have been selected from the 1974 Cabinet submissions (A5915), Cabinet decisions (A5925) and related Cabinet files (A5931). The record from which the document was selected is indicated in square brackets after the document title. For example:

Letter from Prime Minister Whitlam to the Hon. J Bjelke-Petersen, 20 October 1974 [A5931, CL380; ff. 130–129]

The above document was selected from the Cabinet file ‘A5931, CL380’ and is located at folios 130–129 of this record. Additional relevant documents may be held in this file.

The documents have been copied from original archival documents. Every attempt has been made to reproduce the best possible quality image, however, sometimes the result may not be fully legible due to the poor quality of the original document. The original documents can be accessed through the Canberra reading room. Click on an image to view an enlargement, or use links in the right-hand column to download the key documents in PDF (portable document format). To view PDFs, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

SubjectPDF
Aboriginal affairs1974–75 Budget
Transfer of function from State governments
Child care
Cyclone Tracy
DefenceAustralian Defence Force Academy
Defence Budget
EconomyPre-Budget discussions with interested parties
Inflation – July
Inflation – August
The Budget
Measures to combat inflation and unemployment
Environment protection
MedibankImplementing Medibank
Advertising and naming
Urban and regional development

Key people

The following table lists the key people referred to in the selected documents. Others may be identified by consulting the Australian Government Directory 1974 (Australian Government Printing Service, 1974) and the Australian Parliamentary Handbook, 19th edition (AGPS, 1975).

Barnard, The Hon. Lance Herbert, MP

Deputy Prime Minister (to 12 June 1974)
Minister for Defence

Beazley, The Hon. Kim Edward, MP

Minister for Education

Bjelke-Petersen, The Hon. Johannes (Joh)

Premier of Queensland

Bunting, Sir John, CBE

Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

Cairns, The Hon. James (Jim) Ford, MP

Minister for Overseas Trade (to 11 December 1974)
Treasurer (from 11 December 1974)
Acting Prime Minister (14 December 1974 – 21 January 1975)

Cameron, The Hon. Clyde Robert, MP

Minister for Labour and Immigration

Cass, The Hon. Henry Moses (Moss), MP

Minister for the Environment and Conservation

Castles, Mr Ian

First Assistant Secretary (Economic Division), Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

Cavanagh, Senator the Hon. James Luke

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

Cole, Mr RW (Bill)

First Assistant Secretary (General Financial and Economic Policy Division, Treasury)

Coombs, Dr Herbert Cole (Nugget)

Consultant to the Prime Minister

Crean, The Hon. Frank, MP

Treasurer (to 11 December 1974)

Fraser, The Hon. John Malcolm

Former Minister for Defence (1969–71)

Hayden, The Hon. William (Bill) George, MP

Minister for Social Security
Acting Treasurer

Hawke, The Hon. Robert (Bob) James Lee

President, Australian Council of Trade Unions
President, National Executive of the Labor Party

Holmes, Mr Austin

Director (Priorities Review Staff), Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet/Special Minister of State

Johnson, The Hon. Leslie Royston, MP

Minister for Housing and Construction

Martin, Sir Leslie

Professor of Physics and Dean, Faculty of Military Studies (University of NSW), Royal Military College Duntroon.

McMahon, The Rt Hon. William, CH, MP

Prime Minister of Australia from 1971 to 1972

Menadue, Mr John

Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Morosi, Ms Junie

Private Secretary to the Hon. Jim Cairns

Munro, Mr Donald Jasper

Deputy Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Murphy, Senator the Hon. Lionel Keith, QC

Leader of the Government in the Senate
Attorney-General
Minister for Customs and Excise

Patterson, The Hon. Rex Alan, MP

Minister for Northern Development
Minister for the Northern Territory

Phillips, Sir John, KBE

Chairman, Reserve Bank of Australia

Reid, Ms Elizabeth

Adviser to the Prime Minister

Spigelman, Mr James (Jim)

Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister

Stone, Mr John

Deputy Secretary (Economic), Treasury

Stretton, Major-General Sir Allan, CBE, AO

Director-General, National Disasters Organisation

Tange, Sir Arthur, CBE

Secretary, Department of Defence

Uren, The Hon. Tom, MP

Minister for Urban and Regional Development

Whitlam, The Hon. Edward Gough, QC, MP

Prime Minister of Australia

Treasury

The documents included in this section were selected by Ian Hancock, from records of the Department of the Treasury that relate to the event commonly referred to as the ‘Loans Affair’.

The documents were drawn from the following Department of Treasury files:

A571, 1974/96 Part 1

Middle East loan offer to the Department of Minerals and Energy, Part 1; 9–12 December 1974.

A571, 1974/96 Part 2

Middle East loan offer to the Department of Minerals and Energy, Part 2; 13–16 December 1974.

A571, 1974/96 Part 3

Middle East loan offer to the Department of Minerals and Energy, Part 3; 17–20 December 1974–75.

A571, 1974/96 Part 4

Middle East loan offer to the Department of Minerals and Energy, Part 4; 21 December 1974–75.

A571, 1975/38 Part 1

Unsolicited loan offer – G [George] Harris, 1974–75

The record from which the document was selected is indicated in square brackets after the document title. For example: 

'Letter from Sir Lenox Hewitt to Mr Tiraty Hassaram Khemlani', 12 November 1974 [A571, 1974/96 Part 1; f. 89]

The above document was selected from the Treasury file ‘A571, 1974/96 Part 1’ and is located at folio 89 of the record. Additional relevant documents may be held in this file.

Other Commonwealth Government departments, including the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, may also hold additional relevant records.

The documents have been copied from original archival documents. Every attempt has been made to reproduce the best possible quality image from these documents. However, sometimes the result may not be fully legible due to the poor quality of the original document.

Click on an image to view an enlargement or use the links in the right-hand column to download the key documents in PDF (portable document format). To view PDFs, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

SubjectPDF
The Loans Affair: The Treasury filesTreasury warnings and the Federal Executive Council Minute
Treasury triumphant
Straws in the wind

Key people

The following table lists the key people referred to in the selected documents. Others may be identified by consulting the Australian Government Directory 1974 (Australian Government Printing Service, 1974) and the Australian Parliamentary Handbook, 19th edition (AGPS, 1975).

Bailey, Mr AP

Assistant Secretary (Revenue, Loans and Investment Division), Treasury, and

Acting First Secretary, (Revenue, Loans and Investment Division), Treasury

Cairns, The Hon. James (Jim) Ford, MP

Minister for Overseas Trade (to 11 December 1974)

Treasurer (from 11 December 1974)

Acting Prime Minister (14 December 1974 – 21 January 1975)

Cameron, The Hon. Clyde Robert, MP

Minister for Labour and Immigration

Connor, The Hon. Reginald (Rex), MP

Minister for Minerals and Energy

Crean, The Hon. Frank, MP

Treasurer (to 11 December 1974)

Daniel, Mr R

Deputy Secretary (Supply and General), Treasury

Dean, Mr RH

Minister for Finance, British Government, United Kingdom

Freney, Mr RQ

Private Secretary to the Treasurer

Hardman, Mr RJ

Chief Finance Officer (Revenue, Loans and Investment Division, Special Projects Section), Treasury

Hay, Mr I

Chief Finance Officer (Revenue, Loans and Investment Division, Loans Section), Treasury

Hewitt, Sir Cyrus Lenox, OBE

Secretary, Department of Minerals and Energy

Johnson, Mr HB

Clerk, Treasury

Kerr, The Hon. Sir John, AK, GCMG, GCVO, QC

Governor-General of Australia

Khemlani, Mr Tiraty Hassaram

Manager, Dalamal and Sons (Commodities) Ltd (firm of overseas agents and merchants based in London, UK)

Lynch, The Hon. Phillip Reginald, MP

Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Mallyon, Mr James Stuart

Chief Manager (Banking and Finance Department), Reserve Bank of Australia

Moore, Mr AG

Acting Assistant Secretary (Revenue, Loans and Investment Division), Treasury

Moore, Mr JD

First Assistant Secretary (Financial Institutions Division), Treasury

Murphy, Senator the Hon. Lionel Keith, QC

Leader of the Government in the Senate

Attorney-General

Minister for Customs and Excise

Phillips, Sir John, KBE

Chairman, Reserve Bank of Australia

Prowse, Mr ARG

First Assistant Secretary (Revenue Loans and Investment Division), Treasury

Rose, Mr Denis

Senior Assistant Secretary (Advisings Division), Attorney-General’s Department

Selby, Miss Julia

Clerk, Treasury

Stone, Mr John

Deputy Secretary (Economic), Treasury

Townsend, Mr RN

Deputy Secretary, Department of Minerals and Energy and

Acting Secretary, Department of Minerals and Energy

Wheeler, Sir Frederick, CBE

Secretary, Treasury

Whitlam, The Hon. Edward Gough, QC, MP

Prime Minister of Australia

Wilson, Sir Roland

Chairman, Commonwealth Banking Corporation

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