1992 and 1993 – Keating government

PM Paul Keating speaking during Question time.
PM Paul Keating speaking during Question time. (NAA: A13966, 920297)

Paul Keating was sworn in as Australia's 24th Prime Minister on 20 December 1991 after narrowly defeating Bob Hawke in a Labor Caucus ballot for party leadership. He held office until 11 March 1996.

The first Keating Ministry served until the general election on 13 March 1993. Following a win, the second Keating Ministry was sworn in on 24 March 1993.

1992–93 Cabinet records

Submissions

Most Cabinet business is conducted on the basis of formal submissions. As far as possible, submissions are circulated to all ministers before meetings.

Cabinet submissions once lodged may be withdrawn by their originating department or Minister. This could happen because:

  • they were overtaken by events (such as a forthcoming election)
  • the length of time that had elapsed since lodgment 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 Withdrawn submissions are not always found in the folders of submissions but can usually be found in the relevant Cabinet Office file.

During 1992 and 1993, the Keating Cabinet considered 673 submissions.

This series is registered by the National Archives as A14217.

Memoranda

Cabinet memoranda provided a means – other than a formal Cabinet submission – by which a minister could, with the prior consent of the Prime Minister, place a matter before Cabinet.

Cabinet was concerned that the submission should remain the main vehicle by which matters were placed before it. Cabinet memoranda, though, would allow for the presentation to Cabinet of supplementary or other factual information not contained in an original submission, or additional information on a matter specifically called for by Cabinet.

Memoranda were in a format specifically prepared for presentation to Cabinet, and included recommendations, making it more straightforward for Cabinet to reach a decision. They were registered and copies retained by the Cabinet Office. Where a memorandum resulted in a decision by Cabinet, a copy of the decision is attached to the memorandum.

Memoranda considered by the first Keating ministry are held with submissions in series A14217.

During 1992 and 1993 the Keating Cabinet considered 629 memoranda.

Decisions

Cabinet decisions are the essential documented output of the Cabinet process and record the course of action to be taken on a matter following deliberation by Cabinet.

Although much Cabinet business was conducted on the basis of submissions or memoranda, the Prime Minister could decide to raise, or allow a colleague to raise, a matter without formal documentation. In such cases, the Cabinet decision is the only formal record of such deliberations. Even after the introduction of the Cabinet memoranda process many decisions continued to be made with no supporting documentation.

As with submissions and memoranda, Cabinet decisions were allocated a unique number in sequence. Where a decision was made as a result of Cabinet deliberation on a submission or memorandum, a copy of the decision is held with this document.

However, it was not uncommon for decisions to be made with no supporting documentation and these are referred to as 'decisions without submission'.

During 1992 and 1993 the Keating Cabinet made 945 decisions without submission or memorandum.

Cabinet decisions are the outcomes of the deliberations of Cabinet. The series of decisions of the Keating Cabinet (A14218) contain both the decisions made on a submission or memorandum and those made without a submission or memorandum.

Cabinet Office files

Cabinet Office files contain the originals of the submissions, memoranda and related decisions. They also contain departmental advice and exchanges between officials and ministers not included in the formal Cabinet papers. There is a Cabinet Office file for most submissions and memoranda.

Files for the Keating Cabinets in 1992 and 1993, which are held in series A11117, have numbers beginning with the prefix 'KCA'.

Cabinet files of interest from 1992 and 1993 can be identified through the Archives' collection database, RecordSearch, where an application for access can also be submitted online.

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. Records can be identified through RecordSearch.

Collection references

Background to 1992 and 1993

The Archives' media briefing on the 1992–1993 Cabinet records featured two speakers, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs in the Keating (and Hawke) governments, the Hon Robert Tickner and Archives' Cabinet historian, Professor Nicholas Brown. They provided context and insights into the issues, events and personalities of 1992 and 1993.

Robert Tickner

Robert Tickner served as Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs from 1990 to 1996 – in the Hawke and Keating governments. He is the longest-serving Minister in this portfolio in the history of the Australian Government.

Before his election to the Federal parliament as Member for Hughes in 1984, Robert Tickner held various positions. He was a lecturer in the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Business Studies at the NSW Institute of Technology and principal solicitor to the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service.  From 1977 to 1984, he served as a councillor on the Sydney City Council, including a brief period as acting Lord Mayor.

After leaving parliament in 1996, he worked as CEO of Job Futures and CEO and Secretary-General for the Australian Red Cross. He also acted twice as Under Secretary for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Federation.

Mr Tickner was a founding CEO of the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities that won a major United Nations award in 2015. He is now the Roundtable's ambassador, a voluntary position.

He is also currently the Chair of the Board of the CHS Alliance based in Geneva which is a membership-based non-government organisation promoting a new core humanitarian standard for delivering international humanitarian relief. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement recently appointed him as the independent Monitor of the MOU between the Palestine Red Crescent and the MDA of Israel. Both roles are undertaken in a voluntary capacity.

Professor Nicholas Brown

Nicholas Brown is a professor in the School of History, College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University.

He has published extensively in Australian political, environmental and social history, including, most recently, A history of Canberra (Cambridge, 2014) and, with Susan Boden, A way through: The life of Rick Farley (NewSouth, 2012). He has chapters in The Cambridge History of Australia (2013) and A Companion to the Australian Media (ASP, 2014).

In 2002 to 2004 he was Keith Cameron Professor of Australian History at University College Dublin, and prior to that worked in the departments of Defence and Foreign Affairs and Trade. He is currently Head of the School of History and collaborating in an Australian Research Council supported biographical study of the Australian economist Sir John Crawford.

Cabinet members and committees

Cabinet ministers

Members of the Keating Cabinets in 1992 and 1993 are listed below. A number of these Cabinet ministers has transferred collections of personal records to the National Archives.  Further details about the records collections held by the Archives can be found by selecting the links in the following lists.

NameRole
Keating, The Hon Paul JohnPrime Minister
Howe, The Hon Rev Brian LeslieDeputy Prime Minister
Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services
Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Social Justice
Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Commonwealth-State Relations
Button, Senator the Hon John NormanMinister for Industry, Technology and Commerce
Evans, Senator the Hon Gareth John, QCMinister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Blewett, The Hon Dr NealMinister for Trade and Overseas Development (to 27 December 1991)
Minister for Social Security (from 27 December 1991)
Minister assisting the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce
Minister assisting the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy (to 27 December 1991)
Willis, The Hon RalphTreasurer (to 27 December 1991). Minister for Finance (from 27 December 1991)
Vice-President of the Executive Council (from 27 May 1992)
Duffy, The Hon Michael JohnAttorney-General
Dawkins, The Hon John SydneyMinister for Employment, Education and Training (to 27 December 1991)
Treasurer (from 27 December 1991)
Beazley, The Hon Kim ChristianMinister for Finance (to 27 December 1991)
Minister for Employment, Education and Training (from 27 December 1991
Kerin, The Hon John CharlesMinister for Transport and Communications (to 27 December 1991)
Minister for Trade and Overseas Development (from 27 December 1991)
Richardson, Senator the Hon Graham FrederickMinister for Social Security (to 27 December 1991)
Minister for Transport and Communications (27 December 1991 to 18 May 1992)
Vice-President of the Executive Council (to 18 May 1992)
Ray, Senator the Hon Robert FrancisMinister for Defence
Hand, The Hon Gerard (Gerry) LeslieMinister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs
Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Multicultural Affairs
Kelly, The Hon Roslyn (Ros) JoanMinister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories (to 27 December 1991)
Minister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment and Territories (from 27 December 1991)
Cook, Senator the Hon Peter Francis SalmonMinister for Industrial Relations
Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Public Service Matters
Minister for Shipping and Aviation Support (from 27 May 1992)
Bolkus, Senator the Hon NickMinister for Administrative Services
Crean, The Hon Simon FindlayMinister for Primary Industries and Energy
Griffiths, The Hon Alan GordonMinister for Resources
Minister for Tourism (from 27 December 1991) (in Cabinet from 27 December 1991)
Humphreys, The Hon Benjamin Charles AMMinister for Veterans' Affairs (in Cabinet from 27 May 1992)
Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Northern Australia (from 27 May 1992)
Collins, Senator the Hon Robert Lindsay AOMinister for Shipping and Aviation (27 December 1991 – 27 May 1992)
Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Northern Australia (to 27 May 1992)
Minister for Transport and Communications (from 27 May 1992) (in Cabinet from 27 December 1991)
McMullan, Senator the Hon Robert FrancisParliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer (1990-1993)
Manager of Government Business in the Senate (1991-1993)
Minister for the Arts and Administrative Services (1993-1994)
Brereton, The Hon Laurence JohnParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (1991 to 1993)
Minister for Industrial Relations from (1993 – 1996)
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Public Service Matters 1993
Minister for Transport from (1993 – 1996)
Lavarch, The Hon Michael HughFederal Attorney-General (1993-1996)
Lee, The Hon Michael JohnMinister for Resources (to 23 December 1993)
Minister for Tourism to 11 March 1996, Minister for Communications
Tate, The Hon Michael CarterMinister for Justice and Consumer Affairs (to 27 May 1992)
Minister for Justice (from 27 May 1992)
Staples, The Hon Peter RichardMinister for Aged, Family and Health Services
Brown, The Hon Robert James AMMinister for Land Transport
Simmons, The Hon David William OAMMinister for Arts, Tourism and Territories (to 27 December 1991)
Minister for Family Support
Minister for Local Government (from 27 December 1991)
Baldwin, The Hon Peter JeremyMinister for Higher Education and Employment Services
Beddall, The Hon David PeterMinister for Small Business and Customs (to 27 December 1991)
Minister for Small Business, Construction and Customs (from 27 December 1991)
Bilney, The Hon Gordon NeilMinister for Defence Science and Personnel
Fatin, The Hon Wendy FrancesMinister for Local Government (to 27 December 1991)
Minister for Arts and Territories (from 27 December 1991)
Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women
Tickner, The Hon Robert EdwardMinister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Reconciliation
Free, The Hon Ross VincentMinister for Science and Technology
Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Science and Minister assisting the Treasurer (to 27 December 1991)
Minister assisting the Prime Minister (from 27 December 1991)
McHugh, The Hon JeannetteMinister for Consumer Affairs (from 27 May 1992)

Cabinet committees

The following Cabinet committees were active in 1992 and 1993. The abbreviation for a particular committee may follow a decision number, which occurs in the list of submissions, memoranda and decisions, indicating the committee of Cabinet that made the decision.

Cabinet committeeAbbreviation
Ad Hoc CommitteeAd Hoc
Expenditure ReviewER
General Policy CommitteeGPC
Native Title CommitteeNTC
Parliamentary Business CommitteePB
Republic CommitteeRC
Revenue CommitteeREV
Structural Adjustment and Trade CommitteeSATC
Social Policy CommitteeSP
White Paper Ad Hoc committeeWP AD

It was usual for decisions made by an Ad Hoc Committee to bear the suffix 'Ad Hoc'.

Cabinet records selection

A list of key Cabinet records selected by media representatives, the Archives' Cabinet historian and the Archives is available in Related links. The documents have been selected from the submissions and memoranda of the Keating Cabinet (series A14217) and are grouped alphabetically under subject headings.

The complete list of submissions and  memoranda (A14217), decisions (A14218), as well as the related Cabinet Office files for the Keating Cabinet (series A11117), can be identified using RecordSearch. Where a record is not already available for public access an application for access can be submitted online.

Cabinet records withheld from public access

Under the Archives Act 1983, Commonwealth records are available for public access when they reach the open access period unless they contain information that falls into certain exemption categories defined in section 33 of the Act. Before the Archives releases records for public access they are examined, sometimes in consultation with other government agencies, to ensure they do not contain information requiring exemption.

The 246 Cabinet records selected by the Archives' Cabinet historian and the media have been examined by the Archives. Most – 211 records – have been wholly released for public access.

Four Cabinet records have been wholly withheld from public access. These records are noted as 'CLOSED' in the table below.

Some information in a further 31 Cabinet records has been withheld from public access. These items are noted as 'OWE' – open with exception.

The reasons for exemption of information from public access under the various categories of section 33 of the Archives Act 1983 is also noted in the table below. Information has been exempted because its disclosure:

  • would damage Australia's security, defence or international relations – s33(1)(a)
  • would be a breach of confidence – 33(1)(d)
  • would unreasonably disclose information about the personal affairs of a person – 33(1)(g)
  • would or could reasonably be expected to have an adverse effect on a person's lawful business or professional affairs or on the business, commercial or financial affairs of an organisation – 33(j)
  • would be privileged from production in legal proceedings on the ground of legal professional privilege and its disclosure would be contrary to the public interest – 33(2)(a)(b)
  • would release information which is prohibited from disclosure under a Commonwealth, State or Territory taxation law – 33(3)

Arts and Culture

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number and control symbolReason for exemption from public access under the Archives Act
Submission - Bundanon and associated properties and art collection - gift to the nation - Decision 14921992A14217, 945OWE 33(3)

Asia-Pacific Region

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number and control symbolReason for exemption from public access under the Archives Act
Memorandum - Report on Australia's relations with Papua New Guinea - Decision 23751993A14217, 1366OWE 33(1)(a)

Budget

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number and control symbolReason for exemption from public access under the Archives Act
Memorandum - Overview of new policy and savings proposals for the 1992-1993 Budget - Decision 383/ER1992A14217, 280OWE 33(1)(a)
Memorandum - New policy and savings proposals for the 1992-1993 Budget - a report on preliminary consideration by the Prime Minister, Treasurer and Minister of Finance - Decisions 384/ER, 407/ER, 408/ER, 408/ER(Amended) and 429/ER1992A14217, 313OWE 33(1)(a)

Communications

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number and control symbolReason for exemption from public access under the Archives Act
Submission - Selection of the third public mobile telecommunications carrier - Decision 14581992A14217, 943OWE 33(1)(d)(j)
Submission - Mobile telephone service interception - Decisions 1844/SEC, 2013/ER and 20771993A14217, 1095OWE 33(1)(a)

Defence

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number and control symbolReason for exemption from public access under the Archives Act
Memorandum - Progress report on the Anzac ship project to 31 December 1991 - Decision 2541992A14217, 140OWE 33(1)(j)
Memorandum - Report to Ministers on progress in implementing the recommendations of the Working Group on the Gulf Crisis            - Decision 1329/SEC1992A14217, 763OWE 33(1)(a)
Submission - Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (ADSCS) Geraldton - approval for digital signals upgrade and supplementation to the Defence vote - No Decision1992A14217, 906OWE 33(1)(a)
Submission - Claims against the Commonwealth by Voyager survivors - Decision 16851993A14217, 1016OWE 33(2)(a)(b)

Foreign affairs

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number and control symbolReason for exemption from public access under the Archives Act
Submission - Australia/Indonesia Nuclear Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement - Decisions 283 and 12061992A14217, 176OWE 33(1)(a)
Submission - Australia - Taiwan relations - Decision 4901992A14217, 319OWE 33(1)(a)
Submission - Payment of compensation for attack on the Iranian Embassy in Canberra - Decision 12521992A14217, 775OWE 33(1)(a),(g), 33(2)(a)(b)
Submission - Guidelines for the denial of a diplomatic visa to or declaring persona non grata or unacceptable a member or proposed member of an Iranian diplomatic mission or consular post in Australia for engaging in activities prejudicial to security - Decision 1457/SEC1992A14217, 907OWE 33(1)(a)

Immigration

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number and control symbolReason for exemption from public access under the Archives Act
Submission - Review of refugee determination system - Decisions 78 and 78(Amended)1992A14217, 57OWE 33(1)(a)

Indigenous affairs

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number and control symbolReason for exemption from public access under the Archives Act
Memorandum - High Court case: Mabo v Queensland - summary of decision and implications for the Commonwealth - Decision 4841992A14217, 349OWE 33(2)(a)(b)
Memorandum - The Wik claim - options for Commonwealth action - Decisions 2210(Amended) and 22161993A14217, 1298OWE 33(2)(a)(b)
Memorandum - Mabo - responses to the outline of legislation – update - Decisions 2289 and 22911993A14217, 1322OWE 33(2)(a)(b)
Memorandum - Mabo - responses to the outline of legislation - further update - No Decision1993A14217, 1330OWE 33(2)(a)(b)

Law Enforcement and legal issues

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number and control symbolReason for exemption from public access under the Archives Act
Submission - Racial vilification - Decision 7691992A14217, 546OWE 33(2)(a)(b)
Submission - Constitution, Section 90 - Commonwealth/State taxation powers - Decision 16081993A14217, 980OWE 33(2)(a)(b)

Security and intelligence

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number and control symbolReason for exemption from public access under the Archives Act
Memorandum - Changes to rules on foreign signals intelligence and Australian persons - Decision 9/SEC1992A14217, 11OWE 33(1)(a)
Memorandum - SCIS [Secretaries Committee on Intelligence and Security] report on the Australian intelligence and security agencies budgets and forward estimates for the period 1992-1993 to 1995-1996 - Decisions 652/SEC and 652/SEC(Amended)1992A14217, 491OWE 33(1)(a)
Submission - Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS): new policy proposals for the 1992-1993 Budget - Decision 654/SEC1992A14217, 493OWE 33(1)(a)
Submission - Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) - 1992-1993 Budget - new policy proposals - Decisions 683/ER and 9531992A14217, 536OWE 33(1)(a)
Memorandum - SCIS [Secretaries Committee on Intelligence and Security] report on the Finance Report on the Australian Intelligence and Security Agencies Budgets and Forward Estimates for the Period 1993-1994 to 1996-1997 - Decision 1841/SEC1993A14217, 1097OWE 33(1)(a)
Submission - ASIO's [Australian Security Intelligence Organization] reorganisation, targeting strategy and priorities, 1993-1994 - Decision 1839/SEC1993A14217, 1098OWE 33(1)(a)
Memorandum - SCIS [Secretaries Committee on Intelligence and Security] Report to Ministers on the Report by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) on Rules on Foreign Signals Intelligence and Australian Persons - Decision 1846/SEC1993A14217, 1099OWE 33(1)(a)
Memorandum - SCIS [Secretaries Committee on Intelligence and Security] report to Ministers on terms of reference for a review of the long-term cost-effectiveness of telecommunications interception - Decision 2005/SEC1993A14217, 1250OWE 33(1)(a)
Memorandum - SCIS report to Ministers on the activities of the Intelligence and Security Agencies 1992-1993 - Decision 2411/SEC1993A14217, 1360OWE 33(1)(a)
Memorandum - The threat to Australian government communications - Decision 2412/SEC1993A14217, 1361OWE 33(1)(a)

Wholly withheld

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number and control symbolReason for exemption from public access under the Archives Act
Submission - Australia-New Zealand - common border - Decision 16801993A14217, 1006CLOSED 33(1)(a)
Memorandum - SCIS [Secretaries Committee on Intelligence and Security] report to Ministers on the activities of the intelligence and security agencies 1990-1991 - Decision 8/SEC1992A14217, 9CLOSED 33(1)(a)
Memorandum - National foreign intelligence assessment priorities - Decision 541/SEC1992A14217, 334CLOSED 33(1)(a)
Memorandum - Secretaries Committee on Intelligence and Security (SCIS) report to Ministers on interception of GSM mobile telephone service - overseas experience and likely benefits to Australia - Decisions 2013/ER and 20771993A14217, 1249CLOSED 33(1)(a)

Further information

Personal records

The Archives also holds collections of personal records deposited by people who have been closely associated with the Australian 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 access provisions of the Archives Act 1983. From 1 January 2017 records created in 1992 and 1993 will enter the open access period. Access to non-Commonwealth records in personal records collections is determined by the depositor.

The Archives holds personal records collections deposited by Paul Keating, as well as other members of Cabinet. Further details about the personal records collections of Keating government ministers can be found by selecting the links in the lists of Cabinet ministers from 1992 and 1993.

The Archives' Australia's Prime Ministers website also provides information about the careers of Australia's prime ministers and is illustrated with unique records and photographs from the Archives' collection.

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