1951 – Menzies government

The 1951 notebooks

Cabinet discussions in 1951 are recorded in seven Cabinet notebooks. Four of these notebooks record Cabinet meetings held only in 1951, while the remaining three notebooks record meetings held in 1951 and 1952.

A small amount of text on page 13 of Cabinet notebook 1/11 has been withheld from public access on the basis that its release may damage Australia's security and international relations. A statement setting out the reasons for this exemption is included with the digital copy of the record and with the original record. All other text of the 1951 Cabinet notebooks is available for full public access.

Digitised copies of the original Cabinet notebooks can be viewed online in our collection database RecordSearch. The links in the table below will take you to the item description page in RecordSearch for each notebook. Once there, click on the ‘View digital copy’ icon to browse the notebook.

Submissions, decisions and other records

Submissions

Cabinet considered more than 250 submissions in 1951. The submissions and related decisions for the fourth Menzies ministry are held in record series A4639, while those for the fifth Menzies ministry are held in series A4905.

Decisions

Cabinet made more than 100 decisions without submission in 1951. The decisions without submission are held in series A4931 for the fourth Menzies ministry and A4909 for the fifth Menzies ministry.

Cabinet committee papers

Various Cabinet Committees considered more routine matters, which relieved Cabinet of business of lesser importance and assisted Cabinet in making decisions more expeditiously.

Cabinet Committee papers from 1951 are not incorporated into the sequence of records of the full Cabinet as occurs later. Both the fourth and fifth Menzies ministry committee papers are held in series A4933.

Cabinet Secretariat files

Files created by the Cabinet Secretariat, known as 'C' files, are also available for access. These files contain the original submissions, briefing papers, decisions, and background papers such as departmental advice, and exchanges between officials and Ministers not included in the formal Cabinet papers. The 'C' files covering 1951 can be found in series A4940.

Fourth and fifth Menzies ministries

An election was held on 28 April 1951 after Menzies secured a double dissolution on the basis of the Senate, controlled by the Australian Labor Party (ALP), refusing the Government’s banking legislation. The 1951 election saw the Coalition returned in the House of Representatives and the ALP lose control of the Senate. The fifth Menzies Ministry was in place from 11 May 1951.

The fourth Menzies ministry (19 December 1949 to 11 May 1951) consisted of the following Ministers.

MinisterPosition
MENZIES, The Right Hon. Robert GordonPrime Minister
FADDEN, The Right Hon. ArthurTreasurer
HARRISON, The Hon. Eric JohnMinister for the Interior
Resident Minister in the UK
HOLT, The Hon. HaroldMinister for Labour and National Service
Minister for Immigration
McEWEN, The Hon. JohnMinister for Commerce and Agriculture
SPENDER, The Hon. Percy ClaudeMinister for External Affairs and External Territories
CASEY, The Right Hon. Richard GardinerMinister for National Development
Minister for Works and Housing
McBRIDE, The Hon. Philip AlbertMinister for Defence
PAGE, The Right Hon. Earle ChristmasMinister for Health
O’SULLIVAN, The Hon. NeilMinister for Trade and Customs
McLEAY, The Hon. GeorgeMinister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport
WHITE, The Hon. Thomas WalterMinister for Air and Civil Aviation
ANTHONY, The Hon. Hubert LawrencePostmaster-General
Acting Minister for the Interior
FRANCIS, The Hon. JosiahMinister for the Army
Minister for the Navy
SPICER, The Hon. John ArmstrongAttorney-General
LYONS, The Hon. Dame EnidVice President of the Executive Council
SPOONER, The Hon. William HenryMinister for Social Services
COOPER, The Hon. Walter JacksonMinister for Repatriation
BEALE, The Hon. Oliver HowardMinister for Supply

 

The fifth Menzies ministry (11 May 1951 to 11 January 1956) consisted of the following Ministers.

 

MinisterPosition
MENZIES, The Right Hon. Robert GordonPrime Minister
FADDEN, The Right Hon. ArthurTreasurer
HARRISON, The Hon. Eric JohnVice-President of Executive Council
Minister for Defence Production
HOLT, The Hon. HaroldMinister for Labour and National Service Minister for Immigration
McEWEN, The Hon. JohnMinister for Commerce and Agriculture
CASEY, The Right Hon. Richard GardinerMinister for External Affairs
Minister in charge of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
McBRIDE, The Hon. Philip AlbertMinister for Defence
Minister for the Navy and Minister for Air to 17 July 1951)
McMAHON, The Hon. WilliamMinister for the Navy
Minister for Air (from 17 July 1951)
PAGE, The Right Hon. Earle Christmas GraftonMinister for Health
O’SULLIVAN, The Hon. NeilMinister for Trade and Customs
McLEAY, The Hon. GeorgeMinister for Shipping and Transport
ANTHONY, The Hon. Hubert LawrencePostmaster-General
Minister for Civil Aviation
FRANCIS, The Hon. JosiahMinister for the Army
SPICER, The Hon. John ArmstrongAttorney-General
SPOONER, The Hon. William HenryMinister for National Development
COOPER, The Hon. Walter JacksonMinister for Repatriation
BEALE, The Hon. Oliver HowardMinister for Supply
KENT HUGHES, The Hon. Wilfred SelwynMinister for the Interior
Minister for Works and Housing
TOWNLEY, The Hon. Athol GordonMinister for Social Services
HASLUCK, The Hon. Paul MeernaaMinister for Territories

Read about the events and issues that made the news in 1951.

Cabinet notebooks 1951

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017