Cabinet records of the Fraser government, 1975–83 – Fact sheet 246
The Fraser ministries
The Liberal–Country Party government of Malcolm Fraser began with the swearing-in of the first Fraser ministry on 11 November 1975, following the dismissal of the Whitlam government. It consisted of 15 members who were all members of Cabinet. The role was a caretaker one, pending the outcome of the general election on 13 December 1975. The second ministry, which consisted of 26 ministers, was formed on 22 December 1975 following the Coalition’s election victory. At this time the practice was reintroduced whereby Cabinet comprised only selected members of the ministry.
The Fraser government remained in office for more than seven years, coming to an end with the loss of the general election on 5 March 1983.
The Cabinet records identify five Fraser ministries and five Cabinets. Other sources identify only three Cabinets – the first ministry not being regarded as a Cabinet (the decisions of this period have an ‘M’ suffix indicating they are formally regarded as ministry, rather than Cabinet, decisions); and the period of the fourth and fifth ministries being regarded as one continuing Cabinet (as the 1982 ministerial reshuffle did not alter the composition of the Cabinet).
Fraser government ministries
|Ministry||Date range of ministry||Reason for end of ministry|
|First||11 November – 22 December 1975||Election – 13 December 1975|
|Second||22 December 1975 – 20 December 1977||Election – 10 December 1977|
|Third||20 December 1977 – 3 November 1980||Election – 18 October 1980|
|Fourth||3 November 1980 – 7 May 1982||Reshuffle – 7 May 1982|
|Fifth||7 May 1982 – 11 March 1983||Election – 5 March 1983|
Cabinet in operation
The style of the Fraser government generated a large volume of Cabinet business, a particular feature being the very large number of matters considered without a formal submission. A number of measures were taken to assist the Cabinet Office in dealing with the great quantities of records that resulted. These measures included:
- issuing a Cabinet handbook setting out policy and procedural arrangements
- introducing categories of ‘Cabinet papers’ and ‘Cabinet memoranda’ as a way of improving control over matters presented to Cabinet without a formal submission
- using Committees to relieve pressure on the Prime Minister (see the list of committees below).
Records of the Fraser Cabinet
Records become available for access once they enter the open access period.