The 2002 Cabinet papers in context


The Cabinet papers of 2002 are framed by two events in the previous year. The first took place in August 2001 when Australian troops boarded a Norwegian vessel, MV Tampa, to stop it landing rescued asylum seekers on Australian soil. The second was the terrorist attacks in the United States in September (‘9/11’)1.  The ‘Tampa Crisis’ and the terrorist attacks in the United States were key contributors to the unexpectedly decisive victory of the coalition parties in the General Election on 10 November 20012.

Buoyed by this third electoral victory, the Howard Government continued to develop and implement its election-winning strategy for dealing with unauthorised arrivals. This strategy included disruption of people-smugglers in transit countries, Operation Relex, the name given to the Australian Defence Force’s border protection operations in Australia’s northern approaches, and processing asylum seekers offshore3.

2002 was also a year in which the Howard Government was involved with a range of national security and foreign policy issues, many of which were associated with the terrorist attacks in the United States in September 2001 and Australia’s earlier intervention in East Timor. Cabinet’s focus on President George W. Bush’s ‘war on terror’ was accentuated by the Bali Bombings that took place on 12 October 2002. The government also paid particular attention to trouble spots in the region, the Solomon Islands and Bougainville and East Timor, with which it negotiated a resource-sharing agreement in the Timor Sea. Defence policy-makers, moreover, started to move away from the local defence strategy (the Defence of Australia strategy) that had been pursued by Australian governments since at least the 1980s. 

Domestically, although it could not see it then, the government was on the cusp of enjoying the benefits of one of the biggest economic booms in Australian history, the China-inspired resources boom that would last for at least a decade after 20024. As well as managing this coming prosperity, the Howard Government addressed a range of domestic issues. 

These are addressed in this paper under the categories of transport, infrastructure and communication; rural and regional issues; welfare reform, economic and health policy; and indigenous policy. In managing issues such as Telstra privatisation and policy toward rural and regional Australia, the Howard Government alleviated tensions between the coalition parties and continued to build a political ascendancy that positioned it for a fourth election victory in 20045.  

People Trafficking, Immigration and Crime

Phillip Ruddock, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, reported to Cabinet in March 2002 that the government’s strategy on dealing with boat people had been broadly successful.6 After being processed in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, some refugees went to third countries. Cases rejected for asylum, including almost 500 Afghans on Nauru, were sent back to their country of origin.7 Ruddock recommended removal of immediate permanent residence status for persons arriving in Australia seeking refugee status for Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs), a visa category first introduced in 1999. Persons granted TPVs were required to reapply after three years, to test whether conditions had changed in their homeland. Unlike holders of permanent visas, recipients of TPVs had no family reunion rights and no right to re-enter if they departed Australia.8  

While the government achieved success with its ‘Pacific Solution’ strategy in 2001, Cabinet worried in 2002 that processing facilities in Papua New Guinea and Nauru were beyond the complete control of the Australian government and that infrastructure on the latter, especially water and power, was fragile.9  To establish an offshore processing centre directly controlled by the Australian Government, Cabinet looked to one of its external territories, Christmas Island.10 On 11 March 2002 it agreed to construct a purpose-designed and built Immigration Reception and Reprocessing Centre (IRPC) on a fast-tracked timetable reduced from two years to forty weeks.11 

In addition to building the new Christmas Island facility, Cabinet agreed to Ruddock’s recommendations for other centres in Australia. These included expanding the centre in Villawood in Sydney and establishing the Baxter Immigration Reception and Processing Centre near Port Augusta in South Australia.12 These decisions were supported by increased funding to the tune of $81.4 million in 2001–02 to meet the cost to the government of managing unauthorised arrivals.13

The government garnered significant regional support for its migration strategy from a conference convened with the government of Indonesia in Bali in February 2002. What later became called the ‘Bali Process’, was initiated through a framework initiated at the conference.14 This was a boon to the Howard Government because many of the elements of its strategy required the co-operation of regional neighbours. The Bali process allowed the issue to be regionalised and provided ‘useful regional “cover”’ for Australia and other countries to respond to regional momentum in a way that would have been difficult if the issue was perceived as an Australian one’.15 

Part of the strategy of dealing with asylum seekers, including those arriving by boat, was the government’s humanitarian program for immigrants. On 22 April 2002 Cabinet agreed on a humanitarian intake of 12,000 places for the financial year 2002–03.16 4000 were for the Offshore Refugee Category, including some from an intercepted caseload in Indonesia and others from the offshore processing centres. 2000 places were assigned to onshore grants and another 6000 were allocated to the Special Humanitarian Program, a program for those applying for asylum ‘who are subject to substantial discrimination in their home country amounting to gross violation of human rights, and who have strong support from family or community groups in Australia’.17  

In April 2002, Ruddock’s options for Australia’s non-humanitarian migration intake, covering family, skill and special eligibility streams, ranged between 93,000 and 130,000.18 The Department of Finance and Administration preferred an intake at the lower end of the recommendations, while the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet recommended one at the higher end.19 On 22 April Cabinet compromised with an intake of 105,000 and comprising 43,200 in the family stream, 60,700 in the skills stream and 1100 in the special eligibility stream.20

The question of whether to establish an over-arching population policy for Australia had been on the Cabinet’s agenda since 2000. In April 2002, Ruddock indicated that Australia’s population, then 19.7 million, would only grow slowly to reach 25 million by 2050.21 As in previous years, Cabinet resisted calls to establish long-term population targets when commentators were advocating population targets at mid-century that varied between 20 and 50 million. 

Cabinet’s resistance to setting a population target was despite the unanimous agreement of State and Territory leaders that Australia needed to ‘decide what is the optimum population for Australia and how we get there’.22 In the absence of formal population targets, Australia’s population exceeded 25 million in 2022 and, based on trends over the past two decades, may exceed 35 million by 2050.23 Some Australian commentators argue today that a population policy is urgently needed.

Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs, secured the agreement of Cabinet to establish a new offence, by criminalising the smuggling of persons from a country other than Australia to a third country via Australia.24 To improve criminal investigation generally, the Attorney-General Daryl Williams, appointed former Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Palmer, and former Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, Tony Blunn, to prepare a report assessing the effectiveness of the National Crime Authority (NCA). 

The NCA had been set up in 1984 in the wake of the Costigan Commission, which investigated tax evasion and organised crime.25 It had been established as a crime-fighting organisation that could overcome jurisdictional barriers in Australia’s federal system but by 2002 was being increasingly criticised. 

The upshot was a joint submission by Williams and Ellison on the independent report into the NCA and a Cabinet decision to create an entirely new organisation.26 The two ministers agreed with, and Cabinet accepted, the preferred option of the Palmer/Blunn report: to abolish the NCA altogether and establish an Australian Crime Commission (ACC) under new governance arrangements for targeting organised crime through development of national criminal intelligence, research, public hearings, and use of coercive powers.27 On 1 January 2003, because of these decisions, the ACC superseded the NCA, the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence and the Office of Strategic Crime Assessments. 

National Security, Foreign and Defence Policies

The terrorist attacks in the United States in September 2001 marked the beginning of what Cabinet historian Christine Wallace described as a ‘new securitised era in Australian and world politics’.28 This securitised era extended into 2002.29 Cabinet agreed that a package of anti-terrorism and related bills would be considered in the House of Representatives and the Senate in March. 

These included the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Bill, the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism Bill, the Criminal Code Amendment (Suppression of Terrorist Bombings Bill), the Border Security Legislation Amendment Bill and the Telecommunications Interception Legislation Amendment Bill.30 Cabinet also agreed on a package of measures proposed by Williams to strengthen counter-terrorism arrangements concerning aviation and border security and a recommendation from John Anderson, Minister for Transport and Regional Services, to enhance screening of passengers and checked baggage at  Australian airports.31  

The War on Terror in 2001 and 2002 proved to be a significant episode in the construction by Australian governments of what journalist Brian Toohey has described as Australia’s ‘national security state’.32 Another international commentator agreed, describing Australia in 2019 as perhaps the world’s ‘most secretive’ democracy through a process that began in the wake of the Global War on Terror.33 

Cabinet dealt with several aspects of the international military campaign initiated by US President George W. Bush following the September 11 2001 attacks. The targets of the campaign were primarily Islamic terrorist groups, but it also encompassed allied intervention in Afghanistan and later Iraq.34 US (and Australian) intervention in Iraq would take place in 2003. Australia first committed troops to Afghanistan in support of the United States in October 2001. 

The war in Afghanistan could have concluded in 2002 if the Taliban’s offer of unconditional surrender and cooperation with Hamid Karzai, the interim president of Afghanistan, had been accepted. The overture was, however, rejected by the Bush Administration.35 Consequently, US and allied intervention (including by Australia) extended for a further twenty years until 2022 when the United States ignominiously withdrew to allow a full Taliban take-over of the country.36  

On 11 February 2002 Williams reported that the government regarded the detention of David Hicks, an Australian citizen who attended Al-Qaeda’s Al Farong training camp in Afghanistan and met with Osama bin Laden, as lawful. Cabinet’s agreement to allow US investigative and legal processes to be completed before ‘final determination of the legal options for prosecution of Mr Hicks under Australian law’ saw Hicks incarcerated in the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay between 2002 and 2007.37 The incarceration would later prove to be the source of acute embarrassment to the Howard Government on the eve of the 2007 election. 

In September 2002, Cabinet noted oral reports by Downer on developments in relation to a proposed United Nations Security Council resolution dealing with Iraq’s purported possession of, and attempts to secure, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and an oral report from Howard on discussions with Bush on the US position in relation to Saddam Hussein and his supposed efforts to secure and maintain WMD.38 These developments would later see Australia join the United States in intervening militarily in Iraq in the following year without authorisation by the UN Security Council.39 The Cabinet records released do not illuminate the content of the 2002 Bush-Howard discussions. 

Australia’s prior commitment to peacekeeping operations in East Timor, Bougainville and the Solomon Islands meant that Cabinet retained a sharp focus on the region in 2002. Before the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) intervention of 2003, Australia deployed forces to address the unfolding crisis in that island nation. 

These included warships in Operation Trek and Operation Plumbob and support of the International Peace Monitoring Team (IPMT) in 2000. Noting that ethnic conflict was subsiding and that a national peace summit would be held in March, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer argued that this provided a reasonable context for withdrawal of the IPMT.  On 14 February 2002, Cabinet agreed to reduce Australia’s contribution to the IPMT from 26 to less than 20 persons.40  

Similarly, Downer and Defence Minister, Robert Hill, submitted that there had been solid improvement in settling the conflict between the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and a secessionist movement in Bougainville. They received agreement to withdraw Australian participation in the Bougainville Peace Monitoring Group by the end of the year, but Cabinet later extended that deadline until 2003.41

On 6 May Prime Minister John Howard briefed Cabinet in the lead-up to elections in that country in June. Sir Michael Somare’s National Alliance Party won the election after which Prime Minister John Howard travelled to Port Moresby. There Howard discussed PNG’s role in the Pacific solution through its hosting a processing centre on Manus Island. In Opposition, Somare had been fiercely critical of the Morauta Government for hosting the facility, but he was persuaded to continue his country’s support for the facility.42

Cabinet continued to focus on relations with Indonesia and East Timor, which was transitioning from an incorporated province of Indonesia to an independent state.43 In March 2002, Foreign Minister Downer, Treasurer Peter Costello, Attorney-General Daryl Williams and Minister for Industry Tourism and Resources, Ian MacFarlane, made a joint submission to seek from Cabinet a mandate to negotiate the Timor Sea Treaty (TST) and a unitisation agreement for the Greater Sunrise natural gas field, both to be ready for signature on 20 May 2002, the date of East Timor’s independence. The TST was intended to replace the existing arrangement between Australia and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), an arrangement which had extended the terms of the 1989 Timor Gap Treaty between Australia and Indonesia. The TST did not settle maritime boundaries and indeed Australia withdrew from the maritime dispute settling procedures of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the equivalent jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), two months before the restoration of East Timorese independence.44

It was a joint resource-sharing agreement for an area of the Timor Sea called the ‘Joint Petroleum Development Area’ (JPDA).  Two main commercial venturers operated in the Timor Sea. One was Baya-Undan, totally within the Joint Petroleum Development Area and with Phillips as operator and major shareholder. The other was Sunrise, an operation that fell 20 per cent within the Joint Petroleum Area and 80 per cent in Australia’s jurisdiction. Sunrise was operated by Woodside with Shell and Phillips as major shareholders.

The significant difference of the 1989 Timor Gap Treaty and the Timor Sea Treaty was that the latter only created one Joint Petroleum Development Area with East Timor getting 90 per cent and Australia 10 per cent of revenue derived from the area. While this arrangement might appear generous at first blush, Timor-Leste, according to Michael Leach, had a ‘respectable claim to the entire area’.45 Signed on 20 May 2002 and entering into force on 2 April 2003, the treaty was to run for thirty years, but it ceased being in force when the treaty establishing the maritime boundaries between Australia and Timor Leste came into effect in 2019.46

On 12 October 2002, terrorists detonated bombs in the tourist district of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali. The attack killed 202 people (including 88 Australians, 39 Indonesians, 23 Britons and other people of more than 20 different nationalities). Various members of the violent Islamist terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah were later convicted in relation to the bombings and three of them were sentenced to death.47

Howard made an oral report to Cabinet on the crisis on 14 October. He informed Cabinet that the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia had taken charge of operations in Bali, that all Australian casualties were evacuated within 48 hours and that relatives were understanding that the process of identifying the missing and the killed would be slow. Cabinet’s National Security Committee approved sending a delegation, consisting of Howard, John Anderson, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Simon Crean, the Leader of the Opposition, to attend a memorial service for the victims at the Australian Consulate in Bali on 17 October.48  

In other matters of foreign affairs, Howard was a member of the ‘Troika’ of Commonwealth leaders (with Zimbabwe Presidents Mbeki of South Africa and Obasanjo of Nigeria). They successfully pressed for the (British) Commonwealth’s suspension of Zimbabwe for breaching the Harare Declaration, which in 1991 set of the organisation’s core principles and values.49  

In June 2002, Downer considered the possibility of Australia seeking a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the years 2007-08. However, Australia’s failure to secure a seat in 1996 and the necessity for Australia to compete against Italy and Belgium dampened Cabinet’s enthusiasm for pursuing the bid and no decision was made.50  

Minister for Trade, Mark Vale, was successful, however, in convincing Cabinet to support Australian hosting of the Asia–Pacific Cooperation (APEC) Forum in Australia in 2007.51 He also secured Cabinet approval for negotiating guidelines to finalise the Australia-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and a negotiating mandate for a Free Trade Agreement with Thailand.52  

2002 marked a turning away from the ‘Defence of Australia’ (DOA) strategic doctrine that had underpinned Australian strategy since at least the 1980s.53 The DOA strategy prioritised self-reliance and the defence of the continent and its approaches over commitment with allies in expeditions far from Australia’s shores. The September 11 2001 attacks in the United States and the US ‘war on terror’, however, called the attention of some defence critics to the need for an entirely new defence doctrine.54  

Minister for Defence, Senator Hill, seemed to endorse these criticisms when he remarked: ‘It probably never made sense to conceptualise our security interests as a series of diminishing concentric circles around our coastline, but it certainly does not do so now’.55 The beginning of a shift away from the ‘Defence of Australia’ strategy saw Cabinet pay greater attention to the Australian Army. Signs of this shift are also evident in the Cabinet-approved outline of a new Foreign Affairs and Trade Policy white paper published in 2003.56 They are also evident in Cabinet’s decision to establish a joint Australian Defence Force (ADF) Special Operations Command and to encourage more joint initiatives with the United States.57 Despite cost pressures on the defence budget, Cabinet considered or revisited a range of major defence acquisitions in 2002, including its air strike capability.58 

Climate Change, Environment and Heritage

Issues related to climate change, the environment and heritage feature in the 2002 Cabinet papers as they did in 2001.59 In July 2002 Cabinet considered a report from Downer and David Kemp, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, on Australia’s climate change strategy against the background of the 2001 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.60 That report had concluded that human-induced climate change was already occurring and that some of its effects might already be irreversible.61  

Downer and Kemp agreed that whatever measures were taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, climate change would have some effects on Australia. By this time, however, the Bush Administration had decided not to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and there was yet no clear path to developing countries accepting binding commitments.62 The European Union and Japan had ratified the protocol in 2002, but it was not until 2005, after subsequent ratification by Russia and Canada, that the protocol came into effect.63  

Australia had in 1997 negotiated a special deal by which it only had to limit emissions by 108 per cent over its 1990 level during the period from 2008 to 2012. Australia was also benefiting from a one-off sharp decline in land-clearing emissions post-1990. It was thus in a strong position to meet the 1997 commitments. Nonetheless, Cabinet accepted advice that there were ‘risks for Australia in burdening its emission-intensive trade-exposed industries with costs not faced by competitors, and that it is not in Australia’s interest to ratify the Protocol’.64 Cabinet further agreed not to ratify the protocol until it was demonstrated to be in Australia’s national interest to do so. 

The government conceded, nevertheless, that Australia should continue to participate in international climate change discussions to protect its economic and trade interests and with the aim of developing an international climate change regime in the longer term. In the co-ordination comments for the joint submission of the two ministers, the Treasury was the most critical, arguing for cost-effective investment in cleaner technologies and domestic policies that concentrated on transparent, broad-based incentives to adopt such technologies rather than direct subsidies.65  

Cabinet’s lack of commitment to the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 reflected the government’s emphasis on maintaining the competitiveness of the Australian economy, which was substantially dependent on fossil fuels. Climate change in 2002 was not the urgent political issue it has become twenty years later. Now the effects of climate change are clearly visible throughout the world and the necessity for action is compelling. 

Downer and Kemp also made submissions to Cabinet on the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Conference, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, between 26 August and 4 September 2002 with participation by governments, international organisations, multilateral financial institutions and non-governmental organisations.66 The WSSD conference had its roots in the 1983 Brundtland Commission, which provided momentum for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)). The Brundtland Commission had defined sustainable development as a ‘system of development that meets the basic needs of all people without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own life-sustaining needs’.67  

The conference attracted 65,000 people, including UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Russian President Vladimir Putin but not George Bush. Cabinet agreed that the objectives of the Australian delegation should focus on consolidating progress on oceans management, sustainable agriculture, protecting World Trade Organisation (WTO) rights and promoting the benefits of globalisation and good governance. In the event, the conference agreed on 27 August 2002 to restore the world’s depleted fisheries by 2015 and to have ‘partnership initiatives’ as a key means to achieve the Millenium Development Goals (these were eight international development goals agreed at the 2000 Millennium Summit of the United Nations to be achieved by 2015).

By this time, the Howard Government’s launch in 1998 of Australia’s Oceans Policy had established Australia’s reputation as a world leader in marine management. The aim of its oceans policy was to establish Regional Marine Plans as a mechanism to promote integrated and ecosystem-planning and management.68 

In March Cabinet considered a proposal from Kemp and Warren Truss, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, to extend the Natural Heritage Trust, an account set up in 1997 to conserve the ‘natural capital infrastructure’ of Australia. This fulfilled a 2001 election commitment to extend the Trust so that it could continue to fund salinity, water quality, biodiversity, and native bush restoration projects.69   

Transport, Infrastructure and Communication

Issues of transport, infrastructure and communications have a prominent place in the Cabinet papers. In May and December 2002, John Anderson, Minister for Transport and Regional Development, made several submissions to Cabinet on the Australian shipping industry.70 Since the election of the Howard Government in 1996, it had pursued a policy aimed at decreasing coastal shipping freight rates, emphasising that shipping was a means for other industries to transport their requirements. By contrast, the maritime unions, the Australian shipping industry, and the States supported the Australian shipping industry as an end in itself. 

On 17 December 2002 Cabinet authorised the Department of Transport and Regional Services, the Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to prepare options for the more efficient and effective operation of the coastal trading system for examination by Cabinet in 2003.71 Anderson, was successful, too, in persuading Cabinet to allow him to reform the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), a statutory authority, by abolishing its board and strengthening ministerial authority over its performance and accountability.72 

In February 2002, Richard Alston, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, proposed significant changes to media ownership laws.73 In 1987 the Hawke Government had implemented cross-media rules, regulating the degree to which a single corporate entity could own multiple types of media companies and arguably facilitating the rise of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.74  

Cabinet approved Alston’s submission for another comprehensive reform and on 21 March 2002 the Government introduced the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Cross Media Ownership) Bill 2002. Its purpose was to remove controls on foreign ownership of television, provide for exemptions to the cross-media rules and ensure that local rules maintained in regional areas were subject to exemptions to the cross-media rules. 

The Bill was referred to the Senate Environment, Communications, Information and the Arts Committee, which made recommendations eventually accepted by the Government.75 However, although the bill passed the House of Representatives in December 2003, it was held up in the Senate and lapsed with the Federal Election of October 2004. 

Alston’s contemplated media reform was deferred until 2007 when the Government had obtained control of the Senate. These reforms were sharply criticised by the Australian Labor Party Opposition as leading to concentration of the media. Media critic Stephen Mayne described the reforms as a ‘free-for-all on media ownership which will serve to further entrench the power of Australia’s two wealthiest families, the Murdochs and the Packers’.76 Alston also sought Cabinet approval for a range of measures associated with the rollout of digital television services, including the anti-siphoning regime (the practice by which pay television broadcasters appropriate certain sporting events) and regulation of community television.77 

In March 2002 Cabinet agreed to wind up a scoping study (designed for the calendar years 2001 and 2002) for establishment of a 2000 km Melbourne-Canberra-Sydney-Brisbane Very High Speed Train. Phase 1 of the study indicated that cost estimates ranged between $33 billion and $59 billion for construction over a ten- to twenty-year period of the full 200 km network with trains travelling at speeds of between 250 km per hour to 500 km per hour. Cabinet agreed to cancel the study as unfeasible due to the high amount of public expenditure required and the estimated low benefit from it. Twenty years later, Anthony Albanese’s Labor Government introduced legislation to establish a High Speed Rail Authority and to commence work on just such a network.78 


Rural Issues and Regional Issues

Responding to a strong sense of grievance that Australians in rural and regional areas were being disadvantaged by government policies, National Party leader John Anderson had launched in August 2001 the government’s ‘Stronger Regions Program’.79 Addressing the aspirations and discontents of people in rural and regional Australia had the added benefit of alleviating political tensions between the Liberal and National parties that had surfaced before the 2001 election. Anderson reported to Cabinet on the program and that his department, the Department of Transport and Regional Services, had targeted four themes: growth, structural adjustment, planning and access to services.80 

The thorniest issue for rural and regional Australia and for the relationship between the Liberal Party and the National Party was the privatisation of the monopoly telecommunications company, ‘Telstra’. The junior coalition party, the National Party, had always considered that any privatisation of telecommunications should not be to the disadvantage of rural and regional Australia. The Liberal Party, however, was determined to proceed apace with privatisation. 

Accordingly, the government began to privatise Telstra in 1997 with a first tranche in which the government sold one third of public shares for $A14 billion and publicly listed the company on the Australian Stock Exchange.81 In 1998 the public still had 51 per cent stake in the company. In 1999 a second tranche of Telstra shares was sold to institutional and retail investors. 

As part of its election commitments before the 2001 election the government had promised not to proceed any further with the sale of Telstra until it was fully satisfied that arrangements were in place to deliver adequate services to all Australians. These election commitments also committed the government not to amend existing foreign ownership arrangements for Telstra, meaning that not more than 35 per cent of Telstra shares could be owned by foreign entities and the maximum ownership of any individual foreign entity was capped at 5 per cent. 

A legislative requirement of the sale of the second tranche of Telstra was establishment of an independent inquiry into the adequacy of telecommunications services. The inquiry chaired by Tim Besley reported to Alston on 30 September 2000 that Australians were generally satisfied with their telecommunications services but pointed to concerns by people who lived in rural and remote Australia.82 Within the coalition, however, members of the Nationals were dissatisfied with Besley’s report and pressed for a further inquiry into the adequacy of rural telecommunication services.83 

Accordingly, the government on 16 August 2002 appointed cotton farmer, Dick Estens, to conduct a further inquiry into regional telecommunications services. Specifically, Estens was asked to report on whether telecommunications services to regional, rural and remote areas were adequate.84 Estens’ Regional Telecommunications Inquiry (RTI) received 606 submissions and released its report on 6 November 2002. The report concluded that the government had responded positively to the earlier Besley inquiry but also made some recommendations regarding services to regional, remote and rural communities. 

In coordination comments on Alston’s submission on the RTI, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Finance and Administration were supportive, but the Department of Transport and Regional Services considered that there were still areas of concern such as in dial-up speeds for internet, high costs of mobile telephone services and cost of access to broadband services in regional Australia. 

Cabinet agreed, nonetheless, that the RTI provided a sufficient basis to proceed with full privatisation of Telstra. Legislation to do so passed the lower house in 2003 (with the abstention of Alby Schultz and Kay Hulls), but the support of the Senate remained elusive.85 It would not be until 2006–2011 that the remaining public shares in Telstra were sold and Telstra fully privatised. 

The Howard Government continued to pay attention to the drought in southeastern Australia, the ‘Millennium Drought’, which had commenced in 1996 and intensified in 2002, which was one of the driest years on record.86 It provided $4.5 billion in drought assistance in 2001 and Cabinet agreed to extend this assistance on 2 December 2002.87  

Cabinet also approved a submission from Wilson Tuckey, Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, for the Commonwealth to contribute to the cost of two additional Skycrane helitankers to supplement the firefighting resources of the states and territories in what was looming as an ‘above normal’ fire risk season.88 The decision proved timely for the bushfires which ravaged the Australian Capital Territory and other parts of Eastern Australia in the summer of 2003.89


Welfare Reform, Economic Policy and Health Policy

In a 2000 report, Patrick McClure advised the Howard Government to reform the social welfare system by replacing a range of welfare payments with a single payment accompanied by a series of rewards and penalties. The welfare debate took place in the context of the Howard Government’s policy of ‘mutual obligation’, a concept that called on recipients of welfare to do something in return for government assistance. 

The first steps in responding to the McClure Report were taken in the 2002–02 budget with Australians Working Together. In 2002, Cabinet provided guidance to Senator Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Family and Community Services, and Tony Abbott, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, for a further stage of welfare reform. This included ensuring that only those with limited work capacity could access the Disability Support Pension, simplifying the structure of social security payments, increasing participation of mature age workers, and addressing regional unemployment and the welfare dependence of young people.90 Reform of the Commonwealth–State Disability Agreement became a major focus for Vanstone in 2002.91  

In the health and ageing portfolio, significant demands on the budget came from the Medicare Benefits Schedule, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, residential aged care subsidies, the Private Health Insurance Rebate and Australian Health Care Agreements (Commonwealth and States).92 Kay Patterson, Minister for Health and Ageing, urged a new approach to the National Public Health program. Alongside free access to public hospitals, the Medicare Benefits Schedule, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, she urged prevention as an additional pillar.93 Patterson also obtained Cabinet’s agreement on a set of measures to help the budget by seeking to contain increases of private health insurance premiums.94 

In 2002 Treasurer Peter Costello reported to Cabinet on his release of what became the first of five intergenerational reports. This first report, like the four that have succeeded it to date, painted an alarming picture of a widening gap between revenue collected from a declining share of predominantly younger taxpayers and the increased government spending required on an increasingly older population.95  Part of the response to addressing intergenerational inequity in 2002 was a submission from Williams seeking Cabinet’s approval to the passage of age discrimination legislation, legislation which was eventually passed by both houses of parliament in 2004.96 


Indigenous Policy

In 2002 as today Indigenous policy was a major focus of government. In June 2002 Cabinet approved a recommendation from Ruddock to review the operation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Commission (ATSIC), the commission established by the Hawke Government in 1990. Intended to be the body through which Indigenous Australians were formally involved in the processes of government affecting their lives, it had come under criticism, perhaps unfairly, over succeeding years given that the commission had achieved a measure of success in promoting Indigenous self-determination.97  

The decentralised structure of ATSIC, based on regional councils, gave elected representatives real power over funding, and in 2002 almost half of the Commonwealth’s $2.5 billion indigenous-specific spending was controlled by ATSIC. Yet policy differences emerged between the minister and ATSIC which, following the 2001 election, was subsumed within the larger Department of Immigration, Multiculturalism and Indigenous Affairs. 

Another complicating issue was that the proportion of Indigenous people who voted in ATSIC elections was never more than one third and responsibility for some indigenous-specific programs had devolved to mainstream functional agencies.98 ATSIC would eventually be dismantled in 2004 in the aftermath of corruption allegations and litigations involving its chairperson, Geoff Clark. 

At Corroboree 2000 in May of that year the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, proposed an ‘Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation’, an aspirational statement, and a ‘Roadmap for Reconciliation’, a set of strategies, and submitted these to Parliament. Its final report included recommendations on developing process for a treaty and seeking a referendum to recognise Indigenous people in a new preamble to the Constitution.99 

In August 2002 Cabinet accepted Ruddock’s recommendation not to issue an apology for past treatment of Indigenous people, not to pursue a treaty, and not to have a referendum for a new preamble to the constitution. The cornerstone of the government’s approach remained to provide practical and effective measures to address Indigenous disadvantage.100 Cabinet’s cautious approach to reconciliation in 2002 provides a sharp contrast with the Albanese Government’s push in 2022 for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.



There is no Cabinet submission on Howard’s finalisation in August 2002 of a $25 billion deal to supply China with liquefied natural gas, a deal that was then Australia's single biggest export deal.101 The trade agreement with China symbolised the degree to which Australia’s economic fortunes were already becoming intertwined with a country that became Australia’s largest export market in 2009 and whose willingness to buy Australian resources helped Australians enjoy a period of unparalleled prosperity.102  

China’s economic ascendancy in the first two decades of the 21st century was facilitated by two calamitous wars waged by the United States as part of the War on Terror: those in Iraq and Afghanistan.103 In 2002, Australia was already engaged in the war in Afghanistan and would join the conflict in Iraq in 2003. Neither of those countries feature prominently in the 2002 Cabinet records and nor does the emblematic event of the year, the Bali bombings.104  

The papers reflect the government’s priorities in 2002: keeping its strategy on handling unauthorised arrivals intact, enacting a web of national security laws, not getting ahead of other countries in climate change negotiations and keeping an eye on potential trouble spots in the region. In one of these, the Solomon Islands, it would launch a successful international mission in 2003. 

The Howard Government’s foreign policies were popular in Australia in rather the same way as were those of Harold Holt’s coalition Government 36 years earlier. Holt won a landslide victory in 1966 by following the United States into the Vietnam War. The Howard Government would go on to win another decisive election in 2004 partly by sowing doubts about Labor Leader Mark Latham’s commitment to the US alliance.105  

In domestic policy the Cabinet records shed light on the government’s success in managing a range of issues including Telstra privatisation, shipping reform, media ownership reforms, management of the drought and welfare reform. In its health policy, part of the Howard Government’s success was earned by retaining Medicare, the enormously popular publicly-funded universal health insurance scheme introduced by Labor in 1984, and at the same time encouraging as many Australians as possible to take out private health insurance. It was incumbent on the government, however, to keep the rise of private health insurance premiums to a minimum.

Associate Professor David Lee

University of New South Wales



1. Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda’s Road to 9/11, Allen Lane, London, 2006. 

2. David Marr and Marianne Wilkinson, Dark Victory, Allen & Unwin, North Sydney, 2004; Gwenda Tavan, ‘Issues that swung elections: Tampa and the national security election of 2001’, The Conversation, 3 May 2019; Ian McAllister, ‘Border Protection, the 2001 Election and the Coalition Victory’, Australian Journal of Political Science, Volume 38, Issue 3, 2003, pp. 445–63. 

3. Richard Devetak, ‘In fear of Refugees: the Politics of Border Protection in Australia’, The International Journal of Human Rights, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2004, pp. 101–9; Greg Martin, ‘Stop the boats! Moral Panic in Australia over asylum seekers’, Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, Volume 29, Issue 3, 2015, pp. 304–22; and Don McMaster, ‘Asylum-seekers and the insecurity of a Nation’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, Volume 56, Number 2, 2010, pp. 279–90. 

4. David Lee, The Second Rush: Mining and the Transformation of Australia, Connor Court, Redland Bay 2016, Chapter 9; David Uren, The Kingdom and the Quarry: China, Australia, Fear and Greed, Black Inc, Melbourne, 2012; and George Megalogenis, The Australian Moment: How we were Made for These Times, Penguin, Camberwell, 2015. 

5. See generally, Tom Frame (ed.), Trials and Transformations, 2001–2004: the Howard Government. Volume III, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2019; and John Howard, Lazarus Rising: A Personal and Political Commentary, HarperCollins, Sydney, 2011. 

6. Cabinet Submission JH02/0106 – Review of long-term detention strategy – Decisions JH02/0106/CAB, JH02/0106/ER/2 and JH 02/0106/CAB/3, 22 April 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/106. 

7. Janet Phillips, ‘The “Pacific Solution” Revisited: a Statistical Guide to the Asylum Seeker Caseloads on Nauru and Manus Island’, 4 September 2012, Social Policy Section, Parliamentary Library.

8. Cabinet Submission JH02/0109 First Amended – Handling strategy for managing offshore unauthorised arrivals – Decision JH02/0109/CAB, JH/02/0109/ER/2 and JH02/0109/CAB/3, 22 April 2022, NAA: A14370, JH2002/109. 

9. Cabinet Decision JH02/0189/NS – Reference copy of Nauru, Without Submission, 6 May 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/189. 

10. Ibid.

11. Cabinet Submission JH02/0068 – Construction of a purpose-built Immigration Reception and Processing Centre on Christmas Island – Decision JH02/0068/CAB, 11 March 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2202/68. 

12. Cabinet Submission JH02/0106 – Review of long-term detention strategy – Decisions JH02/0106/CAB, JH02/0106/ER/2 and JH 02/0106/CAB/3, 22 April 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/106.  

13. Cabinet Memorandum JH02/0027 – Authorisation for continuation of funding in relation to unauthorised boat arrivals to 30 June 2002 – Decision JH02/0027/CAB, 11 February 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/27. 

14. Co-Chairs’ Statement, Bali Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime (PDF 85kB), 26–28 February 2002.

15. Cabinet Submission JH02/0350 – The Bali Process – Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime – Decision JH02/0350/CAB, 5 November 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/350, p. 6. 

16. Cabinet Submission JH02/0117 – 2002–2003 Humanitarian Program – Decisions JH02/0117/CAB, 1 May 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/117.  

17. Cabinet Submission JH02/0117 – 2002–2003 Humanitarian Program – Decisions JH02/0117/CAB, 1 May 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/117, p. 6. 

18. Cabinet Submission JH02/0118 – 2002–2003 Migration (Non-Humanitarian) Program – Decision JH02/0118/CAB, 22 April 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/118. 

19. Cabinet Submission JH02/0118 Attachment A, NAA: A14370, JH2002/118. 

20. Cabinet Minute HH/02/0118/CAB, NAA: A14370, JH2002/118. 

21. Cabinet Submission JH02/0119 First Amended – Population Issues – Decision JH02/0119/CAB, 6 May 2002, NAA: A14370. JH2002/119. 

22. Cabinet Submission JH02/0119 Attachment C National Population Summit 2002– Communique, NAA: A14230, JH2202/119. 

23. Liz Allen, ‘Australia doesn’t have a population policy – why?’, The Conversation, 3 July 2017; Gavin W Jones, An Australian Population Policy, Research Paper 17 1996–97, Parliamentary Library. 

24. Cabinet Submission JH02/0272 – People Smuggling: Proposed Offences – Decision JH02/0272/CAB, 22 August 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/272. 

25. Teresa Mannix, ‘National Crime body to take over from Costigan inquiry’, Canberra Times, 8 November 1983. 

26. Cabinet Submission JH02/0272 – People Smuggling: Proposed Offences – Decision JH02/0272/CAB, 22 August 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/272. 

27. Cabinet Submission JH02/0043 – Report of the review of the National Crime Authority – Decision JH02/0043/CAB, 25 February 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/43. 

28. Chris Wallace, The 2001 Cabinet papers in context, National Archives of Australia, Canberra, 2001, p. 2. 

29. Cabinet Decision JH02/0036/NS – Reference copy of Threat from terrorism – update on the domestic and international security environment – Without Submission, 14 February 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/36; Cabinet Submission JH02/0478 – Reference copy of Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to anti-terrorist operations in Australia – Decision JH02/0478/NS, 16 December 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/478. 

30. Cabinet Decision JH02/0087/CAB – Parliamentary Programme: anti-Terrorism and Related Bills – Without Submission, 11 March 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/87, [date of decision not released], NAA: A14370, JH2002/20.  

31. Cabinet Submission JH02/0020 – Reference copy of Counter-terrorism priorities for investigation, aviation security and border protection – Decision JH02/0020/NS, NAA: A14370, JH02/0020; Cabinet Submission JH02/0444 First Amended – Review of passenger and checked baggage screening at Australian airports – Decision JH02/0444/CAB, 2 December 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/44.

32. Brian Toohey, Secret: the Making of Australia’s Security State, Melbourne University Publishing, Carlton, 2019. 

33. Damien Cave, ‘Australia May well be The World’s Most Secretive Democracy’, New York Times, 5 June 2019. 

34. Cabinet Decision JH02/0106/NS– Reference copy of Possible Australian contribution to the International Security assistance Force and assistance to the Afghan National army – Without Submission, 5 June 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2202/216; Cabinet Decision JH02/0324/NS – Reference copy of Possible Australian assistance to the Afghan National Army – Without Submission, 10 September 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/324.

35. Alissa J. Rubin, ‘Did the War in Afghanistan Have to Happen?’, New York Times, 23 August 2021; Carter Malkasian, The American War in Afghanistan: A History, Oxford University Press, New York, 2021 and Craig Whitlock, The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2021. 

36. Karen Middleton, An Unwinnable War: Australia in Afghanistan, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2011; Chris Masters, No Front Line: Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan, Allen & Unwin, North Sydney, 2017; Mark Willacy, Rogue Forces: An Explosive Insiders’ Account of Australian War Crimes in Afghanistan, Simon & Schuster Australia, Cammeray, 2021. 

37. Cabinet Decision JH/0033/CAB – Australian citizen detained by US Forces – David Hicks – Without Submission, 11 February 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/33. 

38. Cabinet Decisions JH 02/0332/CAB and JH02/0332/CAB 2 – Iraq: Possible United Nations Resolutions – Without Submission, 23 September 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/332. 

39. Cabinet Decision JH02/0320/CAB – Iraq: Position of the United States of America – Without Submission, 10 September 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/370. 

40. Cabinet Submission JH02/0023 – Reference copy of Solomon Islands – The International Peace Monitoring Team – Decision JH02/0023/NS, 14 February 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/23. 

41. Cabinet Submission JH02/0252 – Reference copy of Bougainville – Peace Monitoring Group – withdrawal of Australian participation – Decision JH02/0252/NS, 23 July 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/252 and Cabinet Submission JH02/0476 – Reference copy of Bougainville: Peace Monitoring Group – options for the withdrawal of Australian participation – Decision JH02/0476/NA, 16 December 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/476. 

42. ‘Somare set to dump Australian asylum deal’, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 August 2002, and letter from Mike Jenrzejczyk, Washington Director, Asia Division, Human Rights Watch, to Somare, 3 October 2002. 

43. Cabinet Decision JH02/0193/NS – Reference copy of Australian Defence Force contribution to the United Nations Mission in Support in East Timor – Without Submission, 6 May 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/193; Cabinet Submission JH02/0330 – Reference copy of Draw-down of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) commitment to East Timor – Decision JH02/0330/NS, 22 October 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/330.  

44. Michael Leach, ‘Turbulence in the Timor Sea’, Inside Story, 6 December 2013. 

45. Ibid.

46. The literature on the Timor Sea Treaty is extensive. See Paul Cleary, Shakedown: Australia’s Grab for Timor Oil, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2007; Bernard Collaery, Oil Under Troubled Water: Australia’s Timor Sea Intrigue, Mebourne University Publishing Carlton, 2020, and Kim McGrath, Crossing the Line: Australia’s Secret History in the Timor Sea, Black Inc, Carlton, 2017. 

47. Cabinet Decision JH02/0373/NS – reference copy of Bali – terrorist attacks – Without Submission, 14 October 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/373; Stephen Sherlock, ‘The Bali Bombings: Looking for Explanations’, E-brief, Foreign Affairs and Trade Group, Parliamentary Library, 14 October 2002.

48. Cabinet Decisions JH02/0372/CAB and JH02/0372/CAB/2 – Attacks in Bali, Indonesia – Without Submission, 21 October 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/372. 

49. Cabinet Submission JH02/0302/NA – Reference copy of Zimbabwe – Without Submission, 26 August 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/302. See also Cabinet Decision JH02/0352/CAB – Proposed Smart Sanctions against the Government of Zimbabwe – Without Submission, 8 October 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/352. 

50. Cabinet Submission JH02/0218 – Australian Candidacy for Election to the United Nations Security Council – No Decision, 11 June 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/218. 

51. Cabinet Submission JH02/0355 – Australian hosting of the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum – Decision JH02/0355/CAB, 14 October 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/355.

52. Cabinet Submission JH02/0354 – Australia–Singapore Free Trade Agreement – Decision JH02/0354/CAB, 14 October 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/354; Cabinet Submission JH02/0180 – Australia-Thailand Free Trade Agreement – Decision JH02/0180/CAB, 13 Maty 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/180.

53. For the evolution of the Defence of Australia strategy see Sasha Vukoja, ‘Adapting to Strategic Uncertainty: The Development of Self-Reliance Within the ANZUS Alliance in Australian Defence Policy Between 1959 and 1989’, PhD thesis, Australian National University, Canberra, 2022 and Desmond Ball and Sheryn Lee (eds), Geography, Power and Strategy: Essays in Honour of Paul Dibb, ANU Press, Canberra, 2016. 

54. Geoffrey Barker, ‘Fighting talk as the defence strategists take sides’, Australian Financial Review, 14 November 2002.

55. Gerard Henderson, ‘New Strategic Interests Carry a Hefty Price Tag’, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 July 2002. 

56. Cabinet submission JH02/0169 – Reference copy of Foreign Affairs and trade policy white paper – outline – Decision JH02/0169/NS, 6 May 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/169.

57. Cabinet Submission JH02/0052/NS First Amended – Reference copy of the Defence Capability Plan – Without Submission, 26 March 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/52; Cabinet Decisions JH02/0244/NS and JH02/0244/NS/2 – Reference copy of Interim Defence Capability Support – Without Submission, 10 September 2002, NAA: a14370, JH2002/44; Cabinet Submission JH02/0477 – Reference copy of Establishment of an Australian Defence Force (ADF) Special Operations Command – Decision JH02/0477/NS, 16 December 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/477; Cabinet Submission JH02/0251 – Reference copy of Land 121 Phase 2A – Field Vehicles and trailers (Change of Scope and Cost Increase) – Decision JH02/0251/NS, 10 September 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/251; Cabinet Submission JH02/0365 –  Reference copy of United States Navy ‘Sea Swap’ initiative – Decision JH02/0365/NS, 22 October 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/365. 

58. Cabinet Submission JH02/0035 – Defence additional estimates 2001-2002 – proposal for supplementation – Decision JH02/0035/CAB, 11 February 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/35; Cabinet Memorandum JH02/0364 – Reference copy of Project SEA 1411 – ANZAC Ship Helicopters –  Decision JH02/0364/NS, 22 October 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/364; Cabinet Submission JH02/0234 – Reference copy of Australian involvement in Joint Strike Fighter Programme System Development and Demonstration Phase – Decision JH02/0234, NS, 26 June 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/234; Cabinet Submission JH02/0233 – Reference copy of Current and future Australian Defence Force air combat and strike capabilities – Decision JH02/0233/NS, 26 June 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/233; Cabinet Submission JH02/0250 – Reference copy of Land 75 Phase 3.3B – Battlefield Command Support Systems – Decision JH02/0250/NS, 10 September 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/250; Cabinet Submission JH02/0171 – Reference copy of Re-placement Patrol Boat (Project SEA 1444) Acquisition Strategy – Decision JH02/0171/NS, 26 June 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/171; Cabinet Submission JH02/0203 – Reference copy of Land 116 – Bushranger Phase 3 Project – Decision JH02/0203/NS, 5 June 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/203; Cabinet Submission JH02/0204 – Reference copy of Air 6398 Phase 1A/2 Air-to-surface standoff weapon system – Decision JH02/0204/NS, 5 June 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/204.

59. For a discussion of Australian policy on climate change sec Marian Wilkinson, The Carbon Club: How a Network of Influential Climate Sceptics, Politicians and Business Leaders Fought to Control Australia’s Climate Policy, Allen & Unwin, North Sydney, 2020; Ben Saul, Steven Sherwood, Jane McAdam, Tim Stephens and James Slezak, Climate Change & Australia: Warming to the Global Challenge, Federation Press, Annandale, 2012.

60. Cabinet Submission JH02/0258 – Climate Change – Australia’s forward strategy – Decisions JH02/0258/SE and JH02/0258/CAB/2, 23 July 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/258. 

61. International Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001.

62. Cabinet Minute, JH02/0258/CAB/2, 23 July 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/258; Peter Baker, ’16 years Later, Bush’s Climate Pact Exit Holds Lessons for Trump’, New York Times, 4 June 2017. 

63. Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (PDF 75kB), United Nations, 1998. 

64. Cabinet Minute, JH02/0258/CAB/2, 23 July 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/258, p. 1.  

65. Cabinet Submission, JH02/0258, 17 July 2002, Attachment A, NAA: A14370, JH2002/258. 

66. Cabinet Submission JH02/0256 – World Summit on Sustainable Development – negotiating mandate – Decisions JH02/0256/SE and JH02/0256/CAB/2, 23 July 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/256/1 and Cabinet Submission JH02/0063 – World Summit on Sustainable Development – Decisions JH02/0063/SE and JH02/0063/CAB/2, 20 March 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2202/63. 

67. United Nations, Sustainability. See also Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future (PDF, 4MB), Oslo, 20 March 1987. 

68. Cabinet Submission JH0227 First Amended – Australia’s Oceans Policy Implementation – Decisions JH02/0227/SE and JH02/0227/CAB/2, 13 August 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/227 and Cabinet Submission JH02/0451 – Improved Implementation of oceans policy – Decision JH02/0451/CAB, 16 December 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/451. 

69. Cabinet Submission JH02/0058 – Strategic Arrangements for the Extension of Natural Heritage Trust – Decisions JH02/0058/ER, JH02/0058/SE/2, JH02/0058/CAB/3, JH02/0058/ER/4, JH02/0058/CAB/5 and JH02/0058/SM/6, 1 May 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/58. 

70. Cabinet Submission JH02/0402 First Amended – Future of the Australian shipping industry – Decision JH02/0404/CAB, 17 December 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/402 and Cabinet Decision JH02/0198/CAB – Shipping – operation of foreign vessels in Australian coastal trade – Without Submission, 13 May 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/198.

71. Cabinet Minute, JH02/0402/CAB, 17 December 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/402. 

72. Cabinet Submission JH02/0410 – Reforms to the Civil Aviation Authority (CASA) – Decision JH02/0410/CAB, NAA: A14370, JH2002/410. 

73. Cabinet Submission JH02/0042 – Media Ownership Reform – Decision JH02/0042/CAB, 25 February 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/42. 

74. Paul Chadwick, ‘Hawke’s Cabinet’s media changes paved the way for news corporation’, Guardian Australia, 1 January 2014.

75. Raani Costelloe, ‘The Media Ownership Bill—A Divided Senate’ (PDF, 175kB), Communications Law Bulletin, Volume 21, Number 2, 2002. 

76. S. Mayne, (2006), The Mayne Report, ‘Corporate Power, Macq very Macq’, preselection stoushes and Myer takeover’ [online]. 

77. Cabinet Submission JH02/0222 First Amended – Digital Television and related Broadcasting Issues– no decision (submission dated 17 July 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/222.

78. Announcement by Catherine King MP, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, ‘High speed rail gathers speed’, 8 September 2022. 

79. Chris Wallace, The 2001 Cabinet Papers in Context, p. 2–3. 

80. Cabinet submission JH02/2002/394 – Regional Policy Statement: Progress and Future Challenges – Decisions JH02/0394/EI and JH/0394/CAB/2, 11 November 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/394.

81. On telecommunications reform in Australia see John Doyle, Crossed Lines: Disruption, Politics and Reshaping Australian Telecommunications, Australian Scholarly Publications, Melbourne, 2022. 

82. ‘Report finds rural telecommunications inadequate’, PM Archive ABC Radio, 12 October 2002; Sue Boland, ‘Besley report: a classic government whitewash’, Green Left, 22 November 2000. 

83. ‘Telstra sell-off divides Nats over level of rural services’, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 May 2002. 

84. Cabinet Submission JH02/0430 – Region Telecommunications Inquiry – Decision JH02/0430/CAB, 18 November 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/430. 

85. Toni O’Loughlin and Nicole Lindsay, ‘Telstra needs better line to bush’, Australian Financial Review, 9 November 2002.

86. Bureau of Meteorology, Annual Australian Climate Statement 2002, Issued 6 January 2003. 

87. Cabinet Decision JH02/0434/CAB – additional drought assistance measures – Without Submission, 2 December 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/434. 

88. Cabinet Submission JH02/0308 – National aerial firefighting strategy – Decision JH02/0309/CAB, 10 September 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/309. 

89. ‘More helitankers to join battle’, The Age, 25 January 2003. 

90. Cabinet Submission JH02/0051 – Welfare Reform – Next Steps – Decision JH02/0051/CAB, 25 February 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/51. 

91. Cabinet Submission JH02/0049 – Commonwealth approach to the negotiation of the third Commonwealth–State Disability Agreement – Decision JH02/0049/CAB, 25 February 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/49; Cabinet Decision JH02/0226/CAB – Disability support pension changes – negotiating options for the treatment of current recipients – Without Submission, 17 June 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/226; Cabinet Submission JH02/0110 – Negotiation of the Third Commonwealth–State–Territory Disability Agreement – Disability Minister’s Meeting on 1 March 2002 – Decisions JH02/0110/CAB, JH02/0110/ER/2 and JH02/0110/CAB/3, 22 April 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/110. 

92. Cabinet Memorandum JH02/0140 – Overview of expenditure in the Health and Ageing Portfolio – Decision JH02/0140/ER, 8 April 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/140. 

93. Cabinet submission JH02/0342 – Evaluation of the National Public Health Program – Decision JH02/0342/CAB, 8 October 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/342. 

94. Cabinet Submission JH0/0308 – Options to contain future private health insurance premium increases – initial response – Decision JH02/0308/CAB, 10 September 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/308.

95. Cabinet Decision JH02/0158/CAB – Intergenerational Report – Without Submission, 15 April 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/158. 

96. Cabinet Submission JH02/0426 – Age Discrimination Legislation – Decisions JH02/0426/CAB and JH02/0426/CAB/2, 16 December 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/426/1. 

97. Cabinet submission JH02/0220 – More effective arrangements for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission – Decision JH02/0220/CAB, 16 July 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/220. 

98. Ibid. 

99. Cabinet Submission JH02/0271 – Government response to the final report of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation – Reconciliation: Australia’s Challenge – Decision JH02/0271/CAB, 10 September 2002, NAA: A14370, JH2002/271.

100. Ibid. 

101. ‘Gas Boom as China Signs 25bn deal’, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 August 2002. 

102. In late 2007 China overtook Japan to become Australia’s largest trading partner and in 2009 became Australia’s largest export market. 

103. For the former see Robert Draper, To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq, Penguin, New York, 2020. 

104. These issues were handled departmentally, particularly by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. See Ian Kemish, The Consul: An Insider Account from Australia’s Diplomatic Frontline, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 2022. 

105. Paul D. Williams, ‘The 2004 Federal Election: Why Labor Failed’, Australian Quarterly, Volume 76, Number 5, 2004, pp. 4–10.