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Material drawn from the archival collection may contain terms that reflect authors’ views, or those of the period in which the item was written or recorded, but which may not be considered appropriate today. These views are not necessarily the views of the National Archives of Australia. While information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in historical context.

Cabinet records created in the year 2003 became available to access on 1 January 2024.

These records offer an insight into John Howard's third term as prime minister.

Some of the big issues Cabinet discussed in 2003 were:

  • Iraq war
  • Solomon Islands Regional Assistance Mission
  • Murray Darling River system
  • Government response to Bali Bombings memorial, financial assistance
  • Live sheep exports
  • Medical indemnity insurance package
  • Fuel excise reform
  • Free trade agreements
  • Millenium drought
  • Tough on drugs strategy
  • Rugby World Cup
  • Migration and refugee programs
  • Indigenous education support 

Where can I find the 2003 Cabinet records?

The 2003 Cabinet records are in these series:

Find out about the difference between submissions, decisions and files.

Can I read all of the 2003 Cabinet records?

All of the Cabinet records from 2003 are now eligible for access under the Archives Act. Like all Commonwealth records, we need to examine Cabinet records before making them available to the public.

Many Cabinet records from 2003 have already been examined and digitised. Every year journalists and the guest Cabinet historian assist in the selection of records for proactive digitisation and release based on their significance to shaping Australian history. You can view copies of these digitised records in our RecordSearch database.

If the Cabinet record you want is not available online, you can usually still access it:

  • If the record has a status of 'open' or 'open with exception', you can order a digital copy or view the original record for free in our Canberra research centre.
  • If the record is 'not yet examined' or 'closed', you can apply to have the record examined for access. If we approve its release, the record's status changes to 'open' or 'open with exception' and it becomes available to view.

Background to these records

Associate Professor David Lee has provided an insight into the 2003 Cabinet papers.

Images from 2003