The 2003 Cabinet papers in context


The Howard government’s decision to participate in the Iraq War dominated Australian politics in 2003. While Iraq was the dominant issue that year, the Cabinet papers on this subject are sparse, pointing to the primacy that the National Security Committee (NSC) of Cabinet had achieved in the domain of national security at that time. Nonetheless, because of its importance, the Iraq War is dealt with in its own section in this paper. Beyond Australia’s participation in that conflict, there are many more papers on diverse issues relating to Australia’s national security, and to foreign affairs, trade and defence policies. All of these issues are covered in the first two sections below.

Most of the 2003 Cabinet papers deal with manifold aspects of domestic policy, which will be discussed in the remaining five sections: economic, social welfare, health and immigration policies; climate change, energy and the environment; transport, infrastructure, communications and legal issues; rural and regional issues; and Indigenous policy. 

Iraq: the Cabinet submission that never was1

The most important decision John Howard’s Cabinet made in 2003 was the one to commit Australia to the US-led military intervention in Iraq, which was an extension of the ‘war on terror’ that had been waged since 2001.2 The invasion of Iraq began on 19 March (air) and 20 March 2003 (ground). Hostilities lasted about a month and included 26 days of major combat operations. Forces from the United States and its close allies – the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland – participated. This was seen as a ‘coalition of the willing’ rather than the sort of broad-based group, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, that expelled Iraq from Kuwait in 1991.3  

The early stage of the war ended on 1 May 2003 when President George W Bush declared the end of major combat operations in his ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech.4  Afterwards, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was established as the first of several transitional governments in Iraq. According to Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, the coalition aimed ‘to disarm Iraq of Weapons of Mass Destruction [WMD], to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people’.5  In 2020 US historian Robert Draper painted a portrait of the Bush administration as driven by ‘fear, imagination, ideology, and blind idealism rather than truth seeking – all to justify a decision that would result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and a flood tide of chaos in the Middle East that shows no signs of ending’.6

Writing in 2013, the Australian prime minister, John Howard, recalled that ‘Australia’s decision to join the Coalition in Iraq was a product both of our belief at the time that Iraq had WMDs, and the nature of our relationship and alliance with the United States’.7 The US war aim quickly crystallised into that of ‘regime change’. Britain and Australia, however, continued to emphasise the objectives of disarming Iraq of the WMD that US intelligence and US diplomats wrongly insisted that Iraq possessed.8 As army historian Albert Palazzo observed: ‘Once the war began, ADF [Australian Defence Force] forces … did so under US operational command and by default in support of [the US] desire to overthrow Saddam, no matter the sophistry of the more limited Australian intent’.9 For Palazzo, ‘[i]mproving the alliance was [Australia’s] main goal: a logical if not proper goal, and one that was not explained to the Australian people’.10

The 2003 Iraq War differed from the first Gulf War, which was undertaken in response to Iraqi aggression against Kuwait and mandated by the UN Security Council.11 The United Nations Charter of 1945 allowed only two exceptions to its general prohibition of the use of force: self-defence against an armed attack and a definite decision on the part of the UN Security Council. The secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and other authorities regarded the 2003 Iraq War as illegal because of the absence of these criteria.12 Consonant with this position, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, addressed the parliament on 5 February 2003, arguing that Australian troops should not be sent to Iraq in advance of a UN mandate.13 

What do the Cabinet documents tell us about Australia’s decision on the Iraq War? One submission analyses the implications of the post-conflict situation in Iraq for Australia’s migration and refugee programs.14 There is also a short minute dated 1 April 2003 in which Cabinet ‘noted an oral report by the Prime Minister on the progress of military operations in Iraq and the contribution made by the Australian Defence Force’.15 There was no submission to Cabinet on costs, benefits and implications of Australia’s entry into the war. This was notwithstanding the fact that the Iraq commitment was in Howard’s words, ‘the most controversial foreign policy decision taken by my Government in the almost twelve years it held office’.16 This indicates that Cabinet’s National Security Committee (NSC) was the locus of decision-making on the war.17  

There is a Cabinet minute, dated 18 March 2003, based on two oral reports from Howard. The prime minister recalled that the NSC had been meeting regularly on Iraq, but that he ‘wanted full Cabinet endorsement of a final decision to commit the invasion’.18 One of his oral reports to Cabinet outlined his extensive discussions with Bush, and the other was his notification to Cabinet of a request from the US President, received on the morning of 18 March 2003, which asked ‘that Australia participate in military action by a coalition to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and advice that it was the intention of the President to issue a final ultimatum to Iraq shortly’.19 Cabinet noted that Australia’s goal in ‘participating in any military enforcement action would be disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction’.20 Howard provides no details of the Cabinet discussion but records that there was no surprise or dissent in a subsequent meeting of the two Coalition parties.21

The Australian forces committed to Iraq would consist of ADF elements pre-deployed to the Middle East to take part in military enforcement action against Iraq; ADF elements deployed to the Middle East as part of the Multinational Interdiction Force and maritime surveillance forces deployed as part of Operation Slipper (the ADF contribution to the war in Afghanistan made in 2001); and ADF personnel deployed to the Middle East with the forces of other coalition countries.22 Just as Australia joined the Vietnam War in 1965 based on a request from the US government, which arranged a request from the South Vietnamese government, so it participated in the second Iraq War after a request from the US president rather than as a result of a definite decision of the UN Security Council, which declined to pass the necessary resolution.23  

While the United States was keen for Australia to provide a reconnaissance battle group of about 2,000 men to secure the western flank of the US 1st Marine Division driving towards Baghdad, Howard offered instead a niche capability of special forces troops. For some critics, such as Paul Barratt and Paul Brereton, who led the inquiry into Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan, the ADF should not have supported what was a political rather than military decision to rely on special forces in Iraq.24

Several Australian journalists have already commented about the absence of a Cabinet submission on the Iraq War.25 In 2004 Robert Garran wrote: 

Howard acknowledges that there was no cabinet submission on the costs and benefits of going to war in Iraq. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) was not asked for, and did not offer, any advice on the pros and cons of supporting American intervention. This reinforces the view that Howard’s decisions on Iraq were political, not based on a dispassionate appraisal of the threats it posed.26 

At that time, Howard did not dispute Garran’s account, but indicated that the issue was being handled by the NSC.27 Professor Patrick Weller sees the NSC as the most powerful of three principal Cabinet committees. These were the National Security Committee (NSC), the Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) and the Parliamentary Business Committee.28 The NSC consisted of senior ministers whose discussions ranged over defence, security, intelligence matters and some foreign issues. Senior officials – the Chief of Defence Force, the secretaries of Defence, Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the heads of the Office of National Assessments (ONA) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) – attended all meetings, with ministers on one side of the table and officials on the other.29 In 2002–03 there were 64 meetings of the NSC/Secretaries Committee on National Security and 250 submissions; in 2003–04 there were 32 such meetings and 206 submissions. The large jump in the business of the NSC in 2003 coincided with the Iraq War.30 Howard called his creation ‘the most effective whole of government arrangement with which I’ve been associated as prime minister’.31 Weller explains how the NSC worked: 

Except on rare occasions where Howard may wish to have a full cabinet discussion of an issue before the NSC, the committee’s decisions stand on their own as cabinet decisions, unlike those of the ERC, which are referred to a ‘budget cabinet’ meeting for final discussion and ratification.32 

The NSC’s connection with the war-making power was described to parliament by Brendan Nelson, Robert Hill’s successor as Minister for Defence. Nelson explained the procedures for war-making in the 2000s in this way:

It is the NSC that considers, debates and resolves to commit Australian defence personnel to domestic or overseas deployments. The full cabinet then considers the advice and recommendation of the NSC. Once a position is adopted, the Opposition leader, members of the full government executive and its back bench are briefed.33 

What discussions took place in the NSC on Iraq in 2003 must await publication of the relevant volumes of the official histories of Australian operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and public requests for access to those Cabinet committee documents under the Archives Act 1983. Cabinet was content that it had ‘reached its decisions in accordance with its Executive responsibilities under the Constitution’ via the Cabinet minute of 18 March.34 There was no discussion of the modalities of executing Cabinet’s decision other than that a draft resolution would be proposed in the House of Representatives and the decision would be conveyed to Bush. 

As well as having a powerful NSC, Howard worked with a different kind of public service than the Commonwealth Public Service which operated during the days of Ben Chifley and Robert Menzies, in the era of the ‘seven dwarfs’.35 Howard built on reforms to the public service in the years of the Hawke Labor government (1983–91) that had made provision for closer supervision of departments by ministers and for renewable fixed-term appointments for departmental secretaries.36 In 1999 was added the Public Service Act 1999, under which departmental secretaries would be appointed, and could be terminated, by the prime minister rather than by the governor-general. With these changes came a more expansive conception of the role of the prime minister and his or her prerogatives. 

For former senior public servant Paul Barratt, ‘Cabinet [under John Howard] was not the place where big decisions were made; the decisions to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, were made by Howard, without consulting Cabinet and without the benefit of public service advice’.37 Barratt’s assessment in relation to matters of defence and national security is corroborated by Ric Smith, Secretary of the Department of Defence (2002–06), who informed journalist Paul Kelly that:

The message from ministers by … [November 2002] was that they did not want strategic advice from the Defence Department. This reflected a conviction that ministers knew the issues and would take the decisions for or against war.38 

Ashton Calvert, Secretary of DFAT (1998–2005), concurred. Calvert recalled that he did not regard it as his duty to question the Howard government’s Iraq decision.39 Permanent heads of departments from earlier times, such as Sir Arthur Tange and Sir Frederick Shedden, had the advantage of security of tenure in providing advice to government in ways that might have been unwelcome.40  

That the Iraq commitment was made without weighing the pros and cons of one or more submissions, but rather by reaching a decision without a submission being made, raises issues worthy of comment. One relates to the perception that, up to the moment of the Iraq War, the Australian Government had not made up its mind about whether to go to war. In Howard’s statement to the House of Representatives in February 2003, he repeated that the government had not made a final decision to commit to military conflict.41

The reality, argued Graeme Dobell, was that ‘the commitment had long since been made; the Australian military was deeply involved in US planning for the war and Australia was in’.42 Professor Hugh White, a former Deputy Secretary in the Department of Defence, concurred, arguing in 2004 that: 

In the weeks after George Bush put the invasion on the agenda with his ‘axis of evil speech’ in January 2002, Australia clearly indicated it would be willing to join. Of course, no formal commitments were made until the eve of battle – they never are. But the key political decision had already been taken.43  

Confining Iraq decisions to a core group of ministers and senior public servants had its advantages. One was in managing legal and constitutional questions. Until the Second World War, the war power was a prerogative of the Crown, exercisable on the advice of the British ministers but also committing the empire’s self-governing dominions and colonies.44 This was until John Curtin’s wartime Labor government insisted that the war power for Australia must be exercisable on the advice of Australian ministers to the governor-general.45 Legal scholars have recently discovered that Howard originally planned to take the matter to the governor-general ‘for noting’, but did not do so after then Governor-General Peter Hollingworth sought the views of the attorney-general about relevant issues of international law.46 According to Charles Sampford and Margaret Palmer,

the Governor-General’s scrutiny was the only independent scrutiny available because the legality of the decision to go to war was not a matter that could be determined by the High Court, and the federal government had taken action in March 2002 that effectively prevented the matter coming before the International Court of Justice.47  

Hollingworth’s request for legal advice attracted a reply from Howard to the effect that Hollingworth’s ‘predecessors had not been involved in past decisions, that no involvement was necessary’ and that the decision could be implemented without recourse to the governor-general under the Defence Act as amended in 1975.48 In its minute of 18 March Cabinet noted only that the ‘Prime Minister had discussed the possibility of the commitment of the ADF … with the Governor-General’.49 Brendan Nelson would subsequently assert that contemporary practice, as distinct from the practice in Curtin’s time, was that ‘decisions to go to war are ultimately matters for the prime minister and Cabinet, involving directly neither the Governor-General nor Federal Executive Council’.50 Sampford and Palmer dispute this, arguing that: 

A powerful argument could be made that the relevant sections of the Defence Act were not intended to be used for the decision to go to war and that such instructions are for peacetime or in bello decisions. If so, the power to make war remains within the prerogative to be exercised on advice.51 

In 2003 Hollingworth became involved in controversy over his handling of matters of sex abuse allegations in the Anglican diocese of Brisbane that saw him resign as governor-general in May 2003.52 Before he did so, he accepted Howard’s advice on the handling of the Iraq matter.53 It is possible that other governors-general might have handled the matter differently. This is demonstrated by an episode in 1977 when Sir John Kerr insisted on advice from the attorney-general before accepting a recommendation from the Fraser government on its establishment of the Department of the Special Trade Negotiator.54 Had the governor-general in 2003 not been a clergyman but a lawyer as versed in constitutional law and practice as Kerr or Sir Ninian Stephen or Sir William Deane all were, he or she may well have insisted on advice from the attorney-general.55  

There were cogent political reasons for the government to bypass the executive council and the governor-general. Howard was relying for his advice on the legality of Australia’s entry into the Iraq War on a ‘Memorandum of Advice’ from two officers at the level of first assistant secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Attorney-General’s Department.56 The Cabinet decision of 18 March noted this Memorandum of Advice, ‘which concluded that the use of force to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction … would be consistent with Australia’s obligations under international law’ and observed that Attorney-General Daryl Williams ‘fully concurred with the advice’.57 

Former Solicitor-General Gavan Griffith queried why the government had relied on the authors of the Memorandum of Advice and not more senior experts such as Henry Burmester QC, Chief General Counsel of the Attorney-General’s Department, or renowned international lawyer Professor James Crawford SC, who commonly advised the government in international law matters. On the question of the Iraq War, moreover, the opinion of the independent solicitor-general, David Bennett QC, was not sought.58  

Griffith was Australia’s second law officer for 14 years from 1984; he pleaded 250 cases before the entire bench of the High Court and was Agent and Counsel at several other cases at the International Court of Justice. He proceeded to argue that the published legal advice from the Government in 2003 (the Memorandum of Advice) had ‘insufficient substance to bear the weight of the Prime Minister’s reliance to justify the invasion of Iraq by Australian defence forces’.59Griffith continued:

To this end the Australian and United Kingdom legal advices are entirely untenable. They are arrant nonsense. They furnish no threads for military clothes. It is difficult to comprehend that the fanciful assertions (they are not arguments) of the two advices have been invoked by Australia and the United Kingdom to support the invasion of another state. It does not appear from his published remarks that President Bush made any such attempt to clothe American action with the authority of the Security Council. This has the advantage of making the unilateral basis of his country’s actions plain. 

Once the troops were committed, however, the Howard government’s decision attracted stronger popular support as well as full endorsement from large sections of the media.60  

National security, defence, foreign affairs and trade policies 

Many of the Cabinet submissions, memoranda and decisions are concerned with issues of national security, defence policy, foreign policy and trade policy beyond the Iraq War. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile, made a joint submission to Cabinet on the launch of the 2003 foreign and trade policy white paper, Advancing the national interest.61 The white paper was prepared by a task force within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in consultation with departments and agencies represented on the NSC. 

It explained the Howard government’s focus on global security threats and its commitment to the war against terrorism. It also set out Australia’s contribution to international efforts to halt proliferation of WMDs. On the overseas trade front, the paper asserted that the government had ‘developed the most ambitious and wide-ranging trade policy agenda of any government in Australia’s history’.62  

A submission tells us that the NSC agreed to introduce legislation to ensure that the terrorist wing of Hizballah was listed as a terrorist organisation.63 At the same time, the committee amended the text of Australia’s national security: a defence update to clarify that: ‘The Australian Government is aware that the majority of Muslims hold moderate views and that they are no less victims than other religious, ethnic or national groups’.64 The NSC also agreed to implement International Maritime Organization (IMO) measures to enhance maritime security.65 

In the region, Australia had played a prominent role from 1997 to 2000 in the peace process in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, deploying more than 2,500 ADF personnel and 300 civilians in the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG). In March 2003 the NSC decided to plan for the withdrawal of the PMG from 30 June 2003, and on 28 May it agreed that a small unarmed civilian force should replace the PMG.66 On 22 July 2003 Cabinet noted an oral briefing from Downer and Robert Hill, Minister for Defence, on the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).67 RAMSI was established in response to a request for international aid by the governor-general of Solomon Islands in response to ethnic violence in the period between 1998 and 2003.68  

In a short minute without submission, Cabinet noted advice from Downer on negotiation of a unitisation agreement with the East Timorese government relating the Sunrise and Troubadour petroleum fields and legislation to ratify the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty.69 In addition, the NSC agreed in June 2003 that an inter-departmental committee should consider an appropriate legislative and administrative framework to protect offshore oil and gas infrastructure, particularly in the Timor Sea.70 

An extraordinary occurrence in 2003 was the Australian Parliament being addressed on consecutive days by US President George W Bush, and the president of a country that was soon to become Australia’s largest trading partner, China’s Hu Jintao.71 Before 2003 only two foreign heads of state had addressed a joint meeting of the Australian Parliament: former US President George HW Bush in January 1992 and then US President Bill Clinton in 1996. 

Around the time of Hu Jintao’s visit, inter-governmental negotiations took place on 9 and 10 October 2003 regarding the Australia–China Trade and Economic Framework (TEF) – a framework agreed in May 2002 by Howard and then Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji for a possible joint scoping study on a bilateral free trade agreement between Australia and China.72 China would not agree to such a study unless Australia agreed to recognise China as a market economy, but such recognition was then a major step for Australia, and one that would have attracted considerable international attention. In canvassing options, Trade Minister Vaile recommended, and Cabinet accepted, that Australia not fully accede to China’s demands in a way that would have impinged on domestic anti-dumping and safeguard actions against Chinese imports. As a concession, Cabinet accepted that it was willing to recognise, in due course, China as a market economy.73

Negotiation of a free trade agreement with the United States was one of the rewards for Australian participation in the war in Iraq. On 3 March 2003 Cabinet agreed to a joint submission from Vaile and Downer for Australia to pursue a genuinely comprehensive free trade agreement between the two countries. While striving to achieve reduced barriers to trade and enhanced market access, Australian ministers expected that US requests would cover sensitive areas such as single desk marketing, pharmaceutical benefits, foreign investment screening, parallel importation and copyright legislation.74

Formal rounds of negotiations commenced in March 2003, with subsequent rounds in May, July, October and December ahead of the end-of-2003 target for concluding the negotiations. The third round of negotiations in July was crucial. Before this took place, Cabinet canvassed various options, including eliminating tariffs on the importation of all goods from the United States, but preferred to offer to reduce tariffs to zero, except for those on passenger motor vehicles and textiles, clothing and footwear.75 On 9 October 2003, before the next round of negotiations, Cabinet agreed to Vaile’s request to modify the existing mandate for the negotiations following a US offer on agricultural trade that was deemed adequate.76 The agreement with the United States was signed on 18 May 2004 and would come into effect on 1 January 2005. 

Writing in 2015, Shiro Armstrong observed that the free trade deal was negotiated and signed within a year because of Howard’s determination to consummate a trade deal with the United States in the context of the second Iraq War. The deal, Armstrong considered, damaged Australia’s trade by diverting it away from low-cost sources.77 Cabinet also considered submissions on other trade agreements, including signing the agreement with Singapore after Vaile had reached agreement with his counterpart there, making progress on a free trade agreement with Thailand and strengthening trade and economic links with Japan.78

By 2003 progress in the so-called Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations had been mixed with some areas, such as services, moving at a reasonable place, while others, such as agriculture, progressed more slowly.79 Vaile obtained Cabinet approval for an Australian negotiating approach that sought substantial gains in market access for agricultural and industrial products and services while preventing gains being eroded in areas such as anti-dumping subsidies and countervailing measures.80 Cabinet agreed to Australia’s participation in the World Exposition held in Aichi, Japan, in 2005.81 It also approved the signing of an agreement with New Zealand to jointly  regulate therapeutic products.82 

Another Cabinet submission relates to the sale of Australian wheat to Iraq by AWB Limited (the Australian monopoly wheat trader formerly known as the Australian Wheat Board). Under the UN Oil-for-Food Programme (OIP), which expired on 21 November 2003, AWB had become the dominant supplier of wheat to the Iraqi market. Iraq was Australia’s largest wheat market in 1999–2000 and 2001, and Australia secured an average 65 per cent of the Iraqi wheat market over the period from 1996 to 2003. In 2001–02 Australia exported 2.2 million tonnes of wheat worth $800 million, representing 82 per cent of Iraqi imports and 13.5 per cent of Australian wheat exports.83  

The extraordinary success of the Australian wheat trade in Iraq was partly explained by the subsequent discovery, in the mid-2000s, that AWB had been paying kickbacks to the regime of Saddam Hussein through a middleman.84 The discovery led to a major scandal and a royal commission presided over by Justice Terence Cole. To cover for the period following the anticipated expiry of OIP in November 2003, Cabinet agreed on 22 October to establish a trade finance facility, by means of the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), that would provide re-insurance for Australian wheat exporters on the National Interest Account (NIA). The NIA facility covered a maximum of $350 million of exports to Iraq for exports shipped before December 2004.85  

In matters of international law, Cabinet approved a recommendation from Downer, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, David Kemp, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, and Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, to make a submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. This proposed the extension of the outer limits of Australia’s continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline, including in the areas adjacent to the Australian Antarctic Territory. In doing so, the ministers sought to take advantage of the opportunity to define an internationally accepted outer limit that would protect Australia’s exclusive sovereign rights and interests in possible future exploration and exploitation of the non-living and sedentary living resources of the seabed and subsoil in the area beyond 200 nautical miles as well as bestowing rights to regulate marine scientific research and the marine environment.86  

Approval of the submission permitted Australia to submit the data in 2004 within the 10-year deadline set by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and to become the third country after Russia and Brazil to do so. This in turn enabled Australia, via the Seas and Submerged Lands (Limits of the Continental Shelf) Proclamation 2012, to define the 11 million square kilometres of seabed over which it could exercise exclusive rights to seabed resources. Two areas of Australia’s augmented continental shelf extended south into the Antarctic Treaty area.87  

On other international legal matters, Cabinet authorised relevant ministers, including Attorney-General Daryl Williams (who would be succeeded by Philip Ruddock from 7 October 2003), to prepare a negotiating mandate for the development of a thematic convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.88 Cabinet also agreed to a submission from Downer that Australia should ratify a convention on procedures for handling hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade.89 

In September 2002 Howard wrote to Defence Minister Robert Hill, expressing his concern about continuing performance problems with major defence acquisitions.90 To address this long-term problem, Howard appointed a Secretaries Task Force and an External Defence Procurement Team, the latter consisting of Malcolm Kinnaird AO (Chairman), Len Early PSM and Bill Schofield AM. The team recommended reforming the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), which had been established in mid-2000, by drawing together the Defence Acquisition Organisation and Support Command Australia to produce an integrated organisation with responsibility for ‘whole-of-life’ acquisition and through-life support of capabilities.91 In 2003 Cabinet agreed to several recommendations, including establishing the DMO as an executive agency within the Defence portfolio and as a prescribed agency under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. These reforms were designed to transform the culture of the DMO to make it more business-like and performance-focused.92  

Cabinet approved another of Hill’s submissions to meet key priorities over the four years from 2003–04 to 2006–07, with a fiscal impact of $2,802.3 million. This decision stemmed from the 2000 Defence White Paper and the associated Defence Capability Plan, which was described as the most ‘specific long-term Defence funding commitment given by any Government in 25 years’.93 Defence spending was set to increase by $500 million in 2001–02, $1 billion in 2002–03, and thereafter by 3 per cent annually in real terms. Hill and his department continued to work on reforming Defence’s budgeting processes by focusing on whole-of-life capability management in acquisitions and logistics and by concentrating responsibility for asset management in both the DMO and the Corporate Services and Infrastructure Group.94 In another defence submission, Hill sought Cabinet approval for Defence to amend its budgeting and reporting obligations, which were hitherto based on one outcome: ‘the Defence of Australia and its National Interests’. Instead, Hill proposed a reporting structure with seven Outcomes, supported by 29 Outputs and 34 Programs.95  

In July 2003 Hill received approval to acquire command and control systems and communications infrastructure to upgrade Australia’s air defence systems.96 A decision to sell and then lease back the Department of Defence’s Russell Offices had been taken in 2000 and was confirmed in April 2002. Following that decision, the Department of Finance and Administration and the Department of Defence submitted a memorandum to the NSC in 2003 on necessary steps to address national security considerations before the sale.97  

Australia’s six Collins Class submarines were constructed in Adelaide between 1990 and 2003 by the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) to a Swedish design. In October 2003 the NSC agreed to a recommendation from Hill for the Commonwealth to sign a contract with the ASC for through-life support of the submarines. The initial period of the agreement was 15 years, with options to extend to 25 years.98 Hill also received approval to increase the total funding for Australia’s military satellite communications, providing continuous UHR-band low data rate coverage across the region, from Sri Lanka in the west to Hawaii in the east, and from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle.99 

To promote defence cooperation with our regional neighbours, on 28 May 2003, Cabinet approved a recommendation from Hill that Australia release a second and final tranche of financial assistance worth $20 million towards the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government’s efforts to reform the PNG Defence Force. The assistance, which had commenced in 2001, was predicated on a firm PNG agreement to a downsized force of around 2,000 (a reduction of more than 1,000).100  

Economic, social welfare, health, education and immigration policies

Many of the 2003 Cabinet submissions relate to the Howard government’s policies in the areas of the economy, social welfare, health, education and immigration. The Australian economy performed well in 2003. Despite drought, war and rising oil prices, Australia enjoyed a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 2.7 per cent at the beginning of the year, a 6.1 unemployment rate in the middle of the year and an increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at an annual rate of 2.7 per cent.101 A budget surplus of $2.2 billion and forecasted economic growth of 3.25 per cent permitted modest ‘sandwich and milkshake’ income tax cuts for those earning between $30,000 and $50,000 and larger cuts for low- and high-income earners.102 The state of the economy emboldened Cabinet to agree to a moderate increase of up to $12 per week in the Federal Minimum Wage in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.103  

In September 2003 Treasurer Peter Costello announced a federal Budget surplus of $7.5 billion, raising the prospect of more tax cuts before the 2004 election. In a joint Budget submission for the 2004 pre-election Budget, Costello and Nick Minchin, Minister for Finance and Administration, proposed a staged process beginning with an examination of the state of the Budget in December 2003 by senior ministers and a final stage of early preparation of the Budget in April and May 2004. Cabinet also approved amendments to the budget process that clarified the definition of new policy proposals and improved the processes for identifying financial implications and risks.104 

Under the National Competition Policy (NCP) framework, Costello introduced a submission for a measure to allow the Australian Government to make competition payments to states and territories assessed by the National Competition Council (NCC). The role of the NCC was to assess the progress of all jurisdictions in respect of implementing agreed NCP and related reforms (water, gas, electricity and road transport.) Cabinet accepted Costello’s recommendations for competition payments to states and territories that in some cases involved imposing penalties.105 Together, Costello and Tony Abbott, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, received Cabinet approval of a report on using employee share ownership schemes to drive productivity.106 

Minchin brought to Cabinet his own submission aimed at curbing the increasing costs of the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme (PSS), whose unfunded liabilities in 2003 were around $9 billion after 12 years of operation. Legislation to close the scheme had been defeated in the Senate in 2001, and closure continued to attract opposition from the non-government parties in the upper house. Cabinet agreed in 2003 to convert the PSS to a fully funded accumulation scheme for all new employees and office-holders who became PSS members from 1 July 2005.107  

Senator Helen Coonan, Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, received Cabinet approval for a strategy to address low levels of consumer and financial literacy in Australia.108 Another subject for Cabinet on the economy was dealing with the collapse of HIH Insurance group of companies, which went through a corporate collapse in March 2001. In May of that year, Cabinet agreed to implement an assistance scheme to alleviate genuine hardship cases for policyholders affected by the failure of those companies. In 2003 Coonan sought Cabinet approval to close the HIH Claims Support Scheme and establish a limited gateway for special circumstances claims.109 In another submission, Coonan received approval to introduce a civil penalty regime to deter promotion of tax avoidance and tax evasion schemes.110 

The universal health care system Medicare, established by the Hawke government in 1984, assisted Australians in meeting health care costs. While hospital care was free and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) limited patient contributions to fixed co-payments with a safety net arrangement, there were no such guarantees around patient contributions for medical services funded under the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS). By late 2002 opinion polls were registering a degree of public concern about the Medicare system.111 The affordability problem was being manifested in three ways: where the upfront cost of a visit to the doctor was a barrier; where the gap cost of a single visit was the barrier; or where cumulative gap costs were the barriers.112 The level of bulk-billing, which had fallen for 11 quarters before May 2003, became the litmus test of the Howard government’s commitment to universal access to health care.113  

In 2003 Howard showed that he continued to have no desire to expend political capital in fighting the popular Medicare scheme.114 To that end, Kay Patterson, Minister for Health and Ageing, launched ‘A Fairer Medicare’, described as ‘the most far-reaching reform of Medicare since its introduction in 1984’, and created new incentives to bulk-bill in rural areas and for pensioners and other cardholders.115 But instead of calming hostility, Patterson’s reforms:

heightened concerns that Medicare was being undermined by stealth, moving towards a two-tiered system with means-tested bulk-billing. Patterson took the brunt of this attack, and was replaced by Tony Abbott as minister … with a brief to end the growing political discontent over bulk-billing.116  

On 5 November 2003 Cabinet agreed to enhance the Fairer Medicare package, including by extending the government-funded MBS safety net arrangement for concessional patients. This covered 80 per cent of out-of-pockets costs above $500 a year for low-income families and above $1000 a year for other families in a calendar year.117 While the version of the plan announced by Abbott was a more generous one than the earlier version, it retained a fundamental assumption in Patterson’s scheme. This was that both schemes aimed to ‘recast Medicare as a safety net, rather than as the system of universal cover it was conceived to be’.118

A related problem for the Howard government was the rising cost of private health insurance premiums. All 43 health funds applied for premium increases in 2003, and the previous year had seen growth in benefits exceed growth in contribution income by a wide margin. This problem saw Patterson make a submission in February 2003 to secure Cabinet’s agreement to a package of measures to reduce pressure on premium increases. Patterson’s submission focused on the issues of prostheses benefits, reinsurance arrangements – a method of risk equalisation to support community rating, which required that funds not discriminate based on age, sex, health status or claims history when paying benefits or settling premiums – and default and ancillary benefits.119 

Other initiatives in the Health portfolio included Cabinet’s agreement to a recommendation from Patterson for Australia to sign the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Australia had been a prominent member of the intergovernmental negotiating body that developed the text. By 2003 Australia’s public health policies on tobacco were among the most advanced in the world owing to measures such as bans on advertising, health warnings on tobacco products and restrictions on smoking in public places.120  

Related initiatives in the health portfolio included Cabinet’s agreement to the government’s response to reviews in 2002 of the National HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C Strategies and Strategic Research in HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and Indigenous sexual health.121 Another was Cabinet’s approval of a National Illicit Drug Strategy (NIDS) that took the government’s total spending commitment to ‘Tough on Drugs’ to over $1.2 billion.122 

By 2003 the Health Insurance Commission (HIC), an agency with a board of directors reporting to the Minister for Health and Ageing, was in financial trouble. The HIC’s 10-member board included the managing director and the Secretary of Health in an ex officio position. It received 95 per cent of its revenue from the Department of Health, with the remainder coming from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) (4 per cent) and the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) (1 per cent). 

Under an agreement signed with Health in 1998, the HIC was responsible for managing legislated functions, processing claims, and paying benefits under Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and delivering services connected with several other health programs. The HIC’s revenue was in the order of $442 million in 2002–03 and was collected under purchaser-provider arrangements with Health, DVA and FACS. The Output Pricing Arrangement with Health, however, had not delivered sufficient funds to ensure the HIC’s solvency. This prompted Patterson to ask for additional funding for HIC of $34.3 million in 2003–04.123  

In July 2002 the government agreed that work and family should be a strategic priority for the government’s third term. Accordingly, in September of that year, Howard commissioned an Interdepartmental Work and Family Taskforce on to develop policy options. One of the fruits of this taskforce, which provided its initial report to Cabinet in 2002, was a submission from Larry Anthony, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, to expand access to childcare. Although Anthony proposed the uncapping of Outside School Hours (OSH) and Family Day Care (FCC), Treasury persuaded Cabinet to proceed by expanding places by a set amount.124 

Brendan Nelson, Minister for Education, Science and Training, introduced a major package for the reform of the higher education sector. In 2001 this sector employed 80,000 people and had total revenue of $10.2 billion, contributing 1.5 per cent to GDP. Commonwealth funding – including the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS), at around $6.2 billion in 2001 – accounted for about 61 per cent of total sector funding. In the decade leading up to 2000 the higher education sector attracted a 30 per cent increase in the number of students, and there was a greater emphasis during that time on seeking funding from non-Commonwealth sources. However, the last major reform of the higher education sector had taken place in 1988, when the Hawke government introduced the Unified National System and HECS. 

In 2003 Nelson’s package included extending unsubsidised loans to fee-paying students in public institutions.125 His reforms preserved and even tightened many elements of the centrally controlled system, but they also created new price signals and gave students enrolled at private higher education institutions access to a loans scheme. Under the 2003 package, student charges in government-subsidised places would be set by the university, within limits imposed by the Commonwealth, and the income generated would go to the university.126  

Nelson also received authority from Cabinet to open a dialogue with private schools on funding arrangements for non-government schools in the 2005–08 quadrennium. At that time, 30 per cent of private schools were funded based on need according to their socioeconomic status (SES). However, the Catholic school systems, which made up 61 per cent of non-government schools, received funding based on historical rates rather than on SES scores. Nelson thought that bringing Catholic schools into the SES policy was good policy and likely to be cheaper than other options.127 He also devised a new method for the Commonwealth’s contribution to the national vocational education and training (VET) system. This approach incorporated new performance measures relating to Commonwealth priorities for addressing ‘Australia’s changing demographics, welfare reform, youth transitions, practical reconciliation for Indigenous Australians and workplace relations’.128 

Philip Ruddock, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, persuaded Cabinet that the success of policies in relation to those attempting to come to Australia by boat meant that the government had been able to restore the balance in its humanitarian immigration program. This had enabled his department ‘to provide greater entitlements for those resettled from countries of first asylum and reduced entitlements for those resettled as secondary movers’.129 Ruddock and Downer received Cabinet approval to seek extensions of offshore processing arrangements with Nauru and, possibly, Papua New Guinea.130 This was deemed necessary because the processing facility on Christmas Island was not expected to be ready until 2006.131  

Kay Patterson, as Minister for Family and Community Services, and Kevin Andrews, Abbott’s successor as Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, obtained guidance for Cabinet on the government’s long-term plans to modernise the social support system to better support participation and self-reliance of working-age people. This was consistent with the McClure Reference Group’s recommendation to the government in 2000 to balance the goals of poverty alleviation and participation.132  

Another subject on the social security front was negotiation of a social security agreement with Greece. Negotiations had been going on for ten years but had stalled over the issue of the level of pension paid to former Australian residents who moved back to Greece before they retired. Without an agreement, they could not claim an Australian pension when they reached pension age.133 An agreement would eventually be concluded in 2007.134 

Meanwhile, Ian Macfarlane and Joe Hockey, Minister for Small Business and Tourism, received Cabinet endorsement of a white paper on tourism, which was an industry contributing 4.5 per cent to GDP and representing 11.2 per cent of export earnings.135 Cabinet also endorsed recommendations from Industry, Tourism and Resources for a whole-of-government approach to implementing recommendations for an Aerospace Industry Action Agenda.136 On housing matters, it approved a submission from Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Family and Community Services, for a multilateral Commonwealth State Housing Agreement, with Commonwealth funding of over $900 million per year from 2003–04 to 2007–08.137  

Climate change, energy and the environment

Having decided in 2002 not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the Howard government decided to respond to electoral pressure to take action to mitigate the long-term effects of climate change. One of the consequences was that in 2002, it adopted the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET). The MRET was introduced with an initial target of 9,500 gigawatt hours of new electricity generation and was intended to run to 2010.138 In 2003 the government also pursued a forward strategy on climate, as set out in a memorandum from the Department of the Environment and Heritage, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, the Australian Greenhouse Office and DFAT. The plan wove together an international strategy, a domestic emissions abatement strategy and an adaptation strategy.139 Treasury preferred to introduce a ‘non-prescriptive, broad-based market instrument’, such as ‘an emissions trading scheme’ of the kind that Howard would later foreshadow before the Australian general election in 2007.140  

In a submission on their preferred approach to emissions management, David Kemp, Minister for Environment and Heritage, Costello, Downer and Joe Hockey, as Acting Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, recommended a ‘mandatory national emissions trading system’, albeit one that would not be introduced before 2012 ‘unless it was in the national interest to do so’.141 On 8 September 2003, however, Cabinet decided not to support an emissions trading system after noting an oral report from Howard ‘on his meeting with industry leaders who expressed opposition to any government announcement of a disposition toward emissions trading as the preferred policy instrument for managing future emissions’.142 

Cabinet noted several items of business before the Sustainable Environment Committee of Cabinet in 2003, including property rights for water, The Living Murray Program established in 2002, land-clearing in Queensland, national coastal policy, regional marine plans and priorities for the conservation of biodiversity.143 The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 required that zoning plans be developed for all areas declared to be part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. 

These were primary planning instruments for the conservation and management of the marine park. Cabinet gave Kemp authority to discuss key aspects of a revised zoning plan with stakeholders.144 Cabinet also agreed that he should develop a Commonwealth position on a national Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme for consideration at the Environment Protection and Heritage Council meeting held in Perth on 2 October.145 Ministers supported the work of the Department of the Environment and Heritage to halt the decline in Australia’s biodiversity through the Natural Heritage Trust, the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and efforts to reduce land clearing and promote environmental flows.146 Cabinet also considered options for environmental measures associated with the reform of fuel excise.147 

In energy policy, on 6 March 2003, Cabinet’s Energy Committee established an energy task force, a whole-of-government process involving officers from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), the Department of the Treasury, the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources (DITR).148 The task force was instructed to develop proposals for a more consistent and integrated framework for energy policy, to identify key decisions that the government needed to take during the year, and establish a clear timetable for the taking of those decisions. 

The approach and timetable proposed by the task force supported the development of a major public statement on energy policy. Key decisions on energy policy in 2003 included the government’s response to an Independent Review of Energy Market Directions chaired by former Liberal Senator Warwick Parer; development of the Climate Forward Strategy discussed above; consideration of a National Framework on Energy Efficiency being developed by the Ministerial Council on Energy (MCE); a response to Sasol Chevron’s application for an investment incentive for its proposed Gas to Liquids project; a review of the balance of resource development initiatives; a review of the Gas Access Regime; and reform of the downstream petroleum market.149  

In August 2003 Cabinet accepted the position of the energy task force that Australia enjoyed a strong energy position and argued against the needs for pipelines to supply gas from Western Australia and northern Australia to south-eastern Australia. The task force argued that:

While observing that declining reserves proximate to the south east markets may result in higher gas prices in the medium term, the Task Force does not consider this provides sufficient reason to intervene in the market.150  

The Howard government pursued negotiations with the states and territories to try to develop a national legislative framework for the national energy market; establish a single national regulator for electricity and gas located in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC); develop a national code for energy distribution and retailing to be brought within the national energy regulator by 2005; and establish an independent transmission planning panel by 2004. While federal ministers made some progress in negotiations in June 2003, the states and territories resisted the Commonwealth’s objective of a single national energy regulator within the ACCC.151  

As part of its 2001 election campaign, the government announced a Biofuels for Cleaner Transport plan to promote the production, distribution, and transportation of biofuels. In 2003 Costello and Kemp obtained Cabinet agreement on measures to support greater market acceptance of ethanol–petrol blends in Australia by setting a 10 per cent upper limit for ethanol in petrol and by providing for fuel labelling under the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000.152  On a related matter, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources submitted a memorandum to Cabinet on Australia’s obligations to participate in emergency oil measures developed by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to meet future oil supply emergencies. This issue had heightened relevance following the loss of Iraqi oil supplies during the Iraq War.153 

Transport, infrastructure, communications, and legal issues

Several submissions relate to the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry, an inquiry established by the Howard government in 2001 to inquire into alleged misconduct in the building and construction industry in Australia.154 The building and construction industry, which contributed an estimated 5.5 per cent to GDP annually had a pivotal role in Australia’s economy. This inquiry followed several unsuccessful attempts by the Howard government to regulate the conduct of industrial relations more strongly within that industry. The royal commission commenced on 29 August 2001 and was overseen by a sole royal commissioner, Justice Terence Cole, who handed his final report to the governor-general on 24 February 2003. 

Although Cole found no evidence of organised criminal activity, he recommended sweeping changes to industrial relations laws applicable to that industry. On 1 April 2003 Cabinet agreed to a response to Cole’s final report in two stages: a broad initial response, to be followed by a detailed second-stage response. On 2 April 2003 Tony Abbott, Minister for Workplace and Employment Relations, announced industry-specific legislation to regulate workplace relations in the industry, including a new regulatory body, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). A Treasury submission provided a response that accepted 27 of 32 recommendations, either wholly or partially.155  

The government’s efforts to implement its reform legislation for the industry stalled in the Senate in 2004 but were revived in 2005 after the government secured control of the upper house. This enabled passage of the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 along with establishment of the Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC), an independent statutory authority responsible for monitoring and protecting workplace relations in the building and construction industry. 

In November 2002 Cabinet considered the report of the Regional Telecommunications Inquiry (RTI) chaired by Dick Estens. Cabinet accepted that the RTI report provided a sufficient basis for proceeding with the full privatisation of Telstra as long as two issues identified in the report were addressed. Accordingly, in June 2003 Cabinet agreed to a submission from Richard Alston, Minister for Communications, Information Technology, and the Arts, that legislation be introduced as soon as possible to enable full privatisation of Telstra Corporation (Telstra). 

To ease the path, Cabinet agreed to Estens’ key recommendations. One was to impose a license condition on Telstra to provide dial-up internet access over its fixed telephone network at a minimum equivalent data rate of 19.2 kilobits per second. The other was to require the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) to identify the worst-performing Exchange Service Areas (ESAs) in regional, rural and remote areas and require Telstra to provide a formal strategy for improving service in those ESAs.156 

Alston had less success with a submission proposing new arrangements for costing and funding the Universal Service Obligation (USO) that had been established in the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 to ensure reasonable access to telephone services for all Australians. In practice, Telstra was the sole USO provider in Australia, ‘reflecting its historical position as the incumbent, ubiquitous national service provider, with other major providers subsidising Telstra for this provision on the basis of a costing model’.157   

Alston’s submission was based on the RTI’s finding that current USO obligations might be favouring Telstra and constraining regional competition. To address this problem, he framed a submission requiring Telstra to take on full responsibility for the USO in regard to telephone services, but to make a clear break with the USO when encouraging access to important new services such as broadband. On 15 April 2003, however, Cabinet decided not to proceed with the submission.158 

In another communications submission Alston sought guidance from Cabinet on a proposal for the merger of the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA), the body responsible for broadcasting licensing, regulation of commercial and subscription broadcasting services, online content regulation and Broadcasting Services Bands, and the ACA, the agency responsible for the regulation of telecommunications licensing, most aspects of telecommunications-specific service regulation and the management of spectrum other than the ‘broadcasting services bands’ (that is, that part of the spectrum used for commercial, national and community television and radio).159 Changes to cross-media ownership rules including a two-out-of-three media sector limit for TV/newspaper/radio mergers and metropolitan and rural/regional voice limits, were noted by Cabinet, but it took until 2005 for these to come to fruition.160 

A memorandum from the Department of Transport and Regional Services, the Treasury and PM&C responded to Cabinet’s request in December 2002 to examine options for more effective and efficient operation of the coastal trading permit system. Unlike many other countries, Australia did not reserve its coastal trade for Australian flagged or based vessels. The coastal trade was open to foreign shipowners under a licensing system whose main prerequisite was that they pay Australian wages to their crews. Cabinet decided to extend the interim immigration arrangements in respect of foreign crews on Australian ships – arrangements announced by Ruddock in December 2002 – and to remove the need to provide six months’ notice of cancellation of a Continuing Voyage Permit (CVP).161  

The sale of Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport was completed in 2002. In the same year, Nick Minchin, Minister for Finance and Administration, and John Anderson, Minister for Transport and Regional Services, were given approval for their proposed strategy to sell the three remaining Sydney airports (Bankstown, Camden and Hoxton Park).162 Meanwhile, Attorney-General Daryl Williams received Cabinet approval for a strategy to combat rising levels of identity fraud. This did not embrace the national identity card idea that the Hawke government had tried but failed to implement in the 1980s, but rather sought to develop common supporting mechanisms for Commonwealth agencies to ensure accuracy in the verification of identity and a basis for cleansing existing data that had not been verified.163  

In 2001 the Senate rejected legislation to establish an Administrative Review Tribunal (ART) by amalgamating the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), the Social Security Appeal Tribunal (SSAT), the Merits Review Tribunal (MRT) and the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT). That being so, Williams recommended discontinuing the plan to establish a single tribunal, but instead reforming the AAT and pursuing administrative efficiencies with respect to the federal merits tribunal.164 Williams also made a submission to Cabinet on reform of the family law system, and Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs, received approval to amend the Criminal Code Act 1995 to introduce new telecommunications offences in relation to internet content.165 


Rural and regional issues

In rural and regional policy, Cabinet had on its agenda the Sustainable Regions Program. This was one of the issues that spoke to an enduring issue in the Howard government: maintaining the relationship between the Liberal and National parties. During the period of this government, the National Party, the junior Coalition party, was losing numbers and had, at the same time, to combat Pauline Hanson’s ‘One Nation’ movement.166 In the 2000s there were none of the vigorous Coalition battles that had occurred in the early 1950s (the debate over revaluation), the late 1960s (what to do about sterling’s devaluation) and 1971–72 (devaluation again).167  

The National Party nonetheless fought its corner on aid to rural and regional Australia, which was one of the nine major issues identified by Cabinet on 30 July 2002. One of its projects was the Sustainable Regions Program (SRP), a project resulting from the Stronger regions, a stronger Australia, endorsed by Cabinet on 20 August 2001. The SRP was designed to assist regions undergoing major economic, social, technological and environmental change and to support community leadership in the development of local solutions. 

The eight regions were the Atherton Tablelands and Wide Bay Burnett (Qld); Far North East New South Wales and Campbelltown–Camden (NSW); Gippsland (Vic); North West and West Coast (Tas); Playford/Salisbury (SA); and Kimberley (WA). By August 2003 Anderson had approved 97 projects to the value of $29.5 million (GST exclusive), and the projects had attracted an additional $84 million in funding from other partners.168 Another facet of the Stronger regions, a stronger Australia project in 2003 was Cabinet’s agreement to publish an independent report, Regional business – a plan for action. The report was commissioned to identify impediments to the growth and effectiveness of federal government assistance to regional business.169  

Following a disastrous fire season in the Australian Capital Territory in 2003 and severe drought across much of the country from March 2002 to January 2003, Cabinet agreed to set up a national inquiry into bushfire prevention and mitigation and continued to provide financial relief to farmers to manage drought conditions.170 

Indigenous policy

A key Cabinet submission from 2003 in the Indigenous area was concerned with health. A National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council had developed the National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health to provide an approach to Indigenous health. The development of the framework was driven by the Commonwealth and gained the support of state and territory governments, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and the Aboriginal community–controlled health sector. It aimed to achieve a whole-of-government commitment in each jurisdiction to address nine key result areas, recognised that action had to be in partnership with local communities, and devoted attention to improving the responsiveness of the mainstream health system to the needs of Indigenous Australians.171  

Ruddock sought to shape a draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples so as to avoid the use of ‘self-determination’ in the operative articles of the declaration.172 Later, Amanda Vanstone, Ruddock’s successor as Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, obtained Cabinet’s approval to modernise the Malcolm Fraser–era Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 into what became the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 after a review agreed by Cabinet in July 2002.173 

In November 2003 Vanstone received the final report of the review of ATSIC, In the hands of the region.174 Intended by the Hawke government in 1990 to be the body through which Indigenous people were formally involved in the processes of government affecting their lives, ATSIC had attracted criticism over succeeding years – perhaps unfairly, given that it had achieved a measure of success in promoting Indigenous self-determination. 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. In June 2002 the Howard government approved a recommendation from Ruddock to review the operations of the commission. While the report that was eventually delivered to Vanstone did not advocate abolishing ATSIC, it did point out the limitations of providing funding through mainstream agencies. Nonetheless, in 2004 legislation was enacted to finally abolish the body.175 

In August 2002 Cabinet had decided that the government should not 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.176 However, in 2007, Howard would reverse one aspect of these decisions by putting the issue of Constitutional recognition on the table – thus setting Australia on the path to the unsuccessful 2023 referendum on the Indigenous Voice to parliament.177 


Australia joined the war in Iraq in March 2003, even while maintaining that it had not made up its mind until the last moment.178 As Graeme Dobell put it in 2013:

The Howard Government claimed to be considering all options, but in reality it closed down consideration. Options weren’t called for. Getting wrong answers to questions posed about Iraq would make it harder for the Prime Minister to take Australia to war.179  

By contrast, Canada’s prime minister, Jean Chrétien, made it clear in 2002 that his country’s participation in any war against Iraq would depend on having the support of the United Nations.180 The policy still permitted Chrétien to participate in the invasion should China or Russia veto a resolution that was supported by the rest of the US Security Council. In 2003, when the Security Council did not support the war, neither did Canada. By contrast, Australia went ahead with its commitment to the United States in Iraq lacking a Security Council resolution but armed with internal advice that the use of force was authorised by earlier Security Council resolutions.181  

The October 2003 visit to Australia by the leaders of the United States and China offered the Australian Government hope that these two foreign countries would establish a modus vivendi and that Australia would be able to maintain a constructive relationship with both its major ally and its soon-to-be major trading partner. At home, Australia was on the cusp of one of the greatest economic booms in its history, fueled by Chinese demand for exports of minerals and energy.182 This boom gave the Howard government the space to turn its attention to reforms illuminated by these Cabinet papers. They include areas such as defence acquisitions, energy policy, the building and construction industry, the higher education and vocational training sectors, communications, coastal shipping, social welfare and the private and public health systems. 

Two opportunities were missed in 2003. One was an emissions trading system, which Howard only sought to introduce at the end of his term and which one of his ministers, Tony Abbott, extinguished in 2013. The other was an Australian sovereign wealth fund, larger than the Future Fund for unfunded liabilities of politicians and public servants that was established by Peter Costello in 2006. Such a sovereign wealth fund could ideally have been introduced in 2003, when the China resources boom was beginning, with immense consequences for Australia’s continuing prosperity once the boom had ended.183


1The title of this section is based on Graeme Dobell’s perceptive series of articles on the Howard government’s Iraq War decision in The Strategist cited below. 

2 James Bluemel and Renad Mansour, Once upon a time in Iraq: history of a modern tragedy, BBC Books, London, 2020; Benjamin Isakhan, ‘Iraq war, 20 years on: how the world failed Iraq and created a less peaceful, democratic and prosperous state’, The Conversation, 17 March 2023. 

3Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter is the section that deals with international action in response to threats to world peace. The measures that can be taken under Chapter VII range from partial to complete interruption of economic relations and means of communication and the severance of diplomatic relations to the direct use of armed force (Article 42). 

4‘President Bush announces major combat operations in Iraq have ended’, 1 May 2003, President Bush Announces Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended (

5‘How the war started’, The Week, 24 March 2003. 

6Robert Draper, To start a war: how the Bush Administration took America into Iraq, Penguin Press, New York, 2020, cover. See also Thomas E Ricks, Fiasco: the American military adventure in Iraq, Penguin Press, New York, 2007. 

7John Howard, ‘Iraq 2003: a retrospective’, Speech, Lowy Institute, 9 April 2013. See also John Howard, Lazarus rising: a personal and political autobiography, revised edition, HarperCollins, Sydney, 2011, Chapter 34.

8Julian Borger, ‘Colin Powell’s UN speech: a decisive moment in undermining US credibility’, The Guardian, 19 October 2021; Judith Betts and Mark Phythian, The Iraq War and democratic governance: Britain and Australia go to war, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, 2020. 

9Quoted in Paul Barratt, ‘Howard’s war – a continuation of politics by other means’, Pearls and Irritations, 10 March 2017. 

10Albert Palazzo, ‘Iraq and the politics of alliance relationships’, in Tom Frame (ed.), Trials and transformations, 2001–2004: the Howard government, vol. III, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2019, p. 238.

11Jean Edward Smith, George Bush’s war, Henry Holt, New York, 1992. 

12Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger, ‘Iraq War was illegal and breached UN Charter, says Annan’, The Guardian, 16 September 2004. See James Traub, The best intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the era of world power, Bloomsbury, London, 2006. 

13‘Every word of Crean’s defining counter to John Howard on Iraq’, 5 February 200, republished in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June 2003; Phillip Coorey, ‘Labor’s journeyman leaves a legacy of principle and reform’, Australian Financial Review, 26 June 2023. 

14Cabinet Submission JH03/0236 – Implications of the Post-Conflict Situation in Iraq for Australia’s Migration and Refugee Programs, Decision of the National Security Committee, JH03/0326/NS, 25 June 2003, NAA: JH2003/236. 

15Without Submission – Iraq–Military Operations, Cabinet Decision JH03/0157/CAB, 1 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/157. 

16 John Howard, ‘Iraq 2003: a retrospective’, Speech, Lowy Institute, 9 April 2013.

17Paul Barratt, in ‘Here we go again’, Arena Magazine, October 2014, criticised decisions made by a small group of ministers to go to war in the cases of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. He argued that ‘inhibitions based on concerns about the major ally’s capacity to fight effectively and win within a period of a year or two (if perceived at all) can be easily swept aside by the desire … to remain close to whoever is the US President at the time of deciding. Also in this system of decision-making, broader issues such as the morality of the commitment, which was clearly a major public issue in the cases of Vietnam and Iraq, are relatively easy for the Government to ignore or set to one side. The small group setting also makes it easier to believe faulty intelligence reports, or even dismiss them when they are inconvenient for the government’s preferred policy’. 

18John Howard, Lazarus rising: a personal and political autobiography, HarperCollins, Sydney, 2011, p. 445. 

19Without Submission – Iraq: Authority for Australian Defence Force Military Action, Cabinet Decision JH03/0124/CAB, NAA: A14370, JH2003/124. Margaret Swieringa argues that the government’s justification for war was not supported by any of its own agencies’ intelligence. See Margaret Swieringa, ‘Howard ignored advice and went to war in Iraq’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 April 2013. 

20Without Submission – Iraq – Military Operations, Cabinet Decision JH03/0157/CAB, 1 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JG2003/157. 

21Howard, Lazarus rising, p. 446. 

22Howard, Lazarus rising, p. 446. 

23Gregory Pemberton, All the way: Australia’s road to Vietnam, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1987; Peter Edwards with Gregory Pemberton, Crises and commitments: the politics and diplomacy of Australia’s involvement in Southeast Asian conflicts 1948–1965, Allen & Unwin in association with the Australian War Memorial, Sydney, 1992; Gary Woodard, Asian alternatives: Australia’s Vietnam decision and lessons on going to war, Melbourne University Publishing, Carlton, Vic, 2004; Gary Woodard, ‘Two Australian wars, two prime ministers: Australia’s virtual Vietnam, and lessons for today’, NAPS/net Policy Forum, 18 April 2013, Two Australian wars, two prime ministers: Australia’s virtual Vietnam, and lessons for today | Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability 

24Paul Barratt, ‘The war crimes inquiry should make us question how we go to war and why’, The Guardian, 20 November 2020. 

25Graeme Dobell, ‘Iraq lessons: the Cabinet submission that never was’, The Strategist, 23 November 2015, and ‘Iraq lessons: the Cabinet submission that never was (part 2)’, The Strategist, 30 November 2015.

26Robert Garran, True believer: John Howard, George Bush and the American alliance, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2004, p. 199. 

27In an interview with Garran on 12 March 2004, Garran recorded that ‘asked to comment on reports that there had been no overarching cabinet submission on Iraq, Howard did not dispute the point, and answered that the issue was dealt with by cabinet’s National Security Committee’. Garran, True believer, fn 15, p. 220. See also Patrick Weller, Cabinet government in Australia, 1901–2006, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2007, p. 182 and Howard, Lazarus rising, p. 238. 

28Weller, Cabinet government in Australia, p. 182. 

29Weller, Cabinet government in Australia, p. 183.

30Weller, Cabinet government in Australia, p. 187. 

31Weller, Cabinet government in Australia, p. 183. 

32Weller, Cabinet government in Australia, p. 183.

33Brendan Nelson, ‘The role of government and parliament in the decision to go to war’, n.d. Parliament of Australia, Papers of Parliament No. 63, The Role of Government and Parliament in the Decision to Go to War – Parliament of Australia (

34Without Submission – Iraq: Authority for Australian Defence Force Military Action, Cabinet Decision JH03/0124/CAB, NAA: A14370, JH2003/124.

35Samuel Furphy (ed.), The seven dwarfs and the age of the mandarins: Australian Government administration in the post-war reconstruction era, ANU Press, Canberra, 2015. For the operation of the Cabinet system under Menzies, see David Lee, ‘Cabinet’, in Scott Prasser, JR Nethercote and John Warhurst (eds), The Menzies era: a reappraisal of government, politics and policy, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1995, pp. 123–36. 

36The Prime Minister and Cabinet (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1994. See Elaine Thompson, ‘Democracy undermined: reforms to the Australian Public Service from Whitlam to Hawke’, The Australian Quarterly, vol. 63, no. 2, 1991, pp. 127–42. 

37Paul Barratt, ‘My, how things have changed’, Meanjin, Autumn, 2021. 

38Quoted in Dobell, ‘Iraq lessons: the impact of the Howard fib’, The Strategist, 13 November 2015. 

39Dobell, ‘Iraq lessons: the impact of the Howard fib’. For a long-term perspective, see James Curran, ‘Iraq War casts a long shadow over Australia’s sovereignty’, Australian Financial Review, 19 March 2023.

40Peter Edwards, Arthur Tange: last of the mandarins, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, 2006, and David Horner, Defence supremo: Sir Frederick Shedden and the making of Australian defence policy, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 2000. 

41Ministerial Statement by the Prime Minister, 4 February 2003, ParlInfo - MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS : Iraq (

42Graeme Dobell, ‘The Iraq war 10th anniversary: the Canberra silence’, The Strategist, 12 March 2013, and ‘Cabinet papers reveal Australia was on path to war in Iraq in 1998’, The Strategist, 20 January 2020. See also Sally Graham, ‘Australia in Iraq: a summary of the Iraq dossier’, The Cove, 5 September 2017; David Wroe, 'The secret Iraq dossier: inside Australia’s flawed war’, The Age, 25 February 2017; and Albert Palazzo, The Australian Army and the war in Iraq 2002–2010, 15 March 2011 (released in 2017). 

43Hugh White, ‘Why Howard took us to war’, The Age, 26 February 2004. See also Paul Barratt, ‘Faulty intelligence, or a war pre-ordained?’, Pearls and Irritations, 12 July 2016. 

44A Berriedale Keith, The dominions as sovereign states: their constitutions and governments, Macmillan and Co, London, 1938, pp. 46–48 and pp. 605–07. 

45Cablegram from John Curtin to SM Bruce, 3 December 1941, WJ Hudson and HJW Stokes (eds), Documents on Australian foreign policy, 1937–49. Volume V: July 1941–June 1942, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1982, pp. 266–68; David Lee, John Curtin, Connor Court Publishing, Redland Bay, Qld, 2022, p. 77; David Lee, ‘States rights and Australia’s adoption of the Statute of Westminster, 1931–1942’, History Australia, vol. 13, issue 2, 2016, pp. 258–74. See also, Commonwealth on Australia, Inquiry into international armed conflict decision making, Commonwealth of Australia, 2023,

46Charles Sampford and Margaret Palmer, ‘The Constitutional power to make war: domestic legal issues raised by Australia’s action in Iraq’, Griffith Law Review, 2009, vol. 18, issue 2, p. 374. They report that Hollingworth recalled: ‘I had previously read public statements made by some academics and international lawyers, and, on the advice of the Official Secretary, I sought clarification from the Attorney-General as to technical ramifications that could arise under international law’.

47Sampford and Palmer, ‘The Constitutional power’, p. 350. ‘Declarations recognizing the jurisdiction of the Court as compulsory’, Australia, 22 March 2002,

48Sampford and Palmer, ‘The Constitutional power’, p. 374. Hollingworth may also have been reacting to claims from the Anglican Church that the Howard government was beholden to the United States and unable to think for itself on Iraq. See ‘PM and churches clash over Iraq’, The Age, 5 October 2002. 

49Without Submission – Iraq: Authority for Australian Defence Force Military Action, Cabinet Decision JH03/0124/CAB, NAA: A14370, JH2003/124.

50Nelson, ‘The role of government and parliament in the decision to go to war’. 

51Sampford and Palmer, ‘The Constitutional Power’, p. 350. Later, on p. 380, they argue: ‘In 2003, it appeared that the Defence Minister used his legal powers under the Defence Act to implement decisions taken by Cabinet and/or its Security Sub-Committee to give instructions to service head(s) to take the actions which involved us in war. A powerful argument could be made that the relevant sections of the Defence Act were not intended to be used to go to war and that such instructions are in peacetime or in bello decisions … [G]iven the gravity of the decision, it might seem surprising that the government did not choose the most obvious and unimpeachable legal means to go to war’. In a similar vein, former Secretary of Defence Paul Barratt argued, in ‘It’s too easy to take us to war’, Pearls and Irritations, 22 November 2019, that ‘successive Governments appear to have relied upon Section 8 of the Defence Act 1903, a provision which in its current form was introduced in 1975 to make clear that the Minister for Defence had ‘general control and administration’ of the Defence Force and that both the Secretary and the newly created position of Chief of the Defence Force were subject to the Minister’s discretion. Section 8 was never intended to create a new power to make war’.

52Without Submission – Governor-General: Provision in Letters Patent for Standing Aside, Decision of Ministry JH03/0186/MIN, 12 May 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/186. 

53Samford and Palmer, ‘The Constitutional power’, p. 374, record that the attorney-general did not respond to Hollingworth, but that Howard did ‘from available legal advice’. Howard did not pursue an undertaking to bring the decision to the Executive Council ‘for noting’ and advised Hollingworth that ‘his predecessors had not been involved in past decisions and that no involvement was necessary’. 

54Tom McIlroy, ‘Kerr–Fraser conflict a precedent for governor-general’s intervention’, Australian Financial Review, 21 August 2022. 

55Among the questions raised by this episode are whether the governor-general was entitled to ask for the advice of the attorney-general as to the international legality of the war, whether he could seek independent legal advice if the government were not permitted to give it, and ‘[w]hat should the Governor-General do if he is uncertain of the international legality of the war after receiving advice from the government – especially if the advice is not from the Attorney-General whose advice he has requested?’ Sampford and Palmer, ‘The Constitutional Power’, pp. 375–76.  The authors go on to discuss the possibility that the governor-general might insist on seeking the opinion of the attorney-general as first law officer, insist on the publication of the advice or even consider the possibility of resignation. Sampford and Palmer, ‘The Constitutional power’, pp. 374–77. See also Barratt, ‘It’s too easy to take us to war’. Before he agreed to Malcolm Fraser’s request for a double dissolution in 1983, Stephen asked for further advice. For Stephen, see Philip Ayres, Fortunate voyager: the worlds of Ninian Stephen, The Miegunyah Press, Carlton, Vic, 2013.

56‘The government’s legal advice on using force’, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 March 2003. 

57Without Submission – Iraq: Authority for Australian Defence Force Military Action, Cabinet Decision JH03/0124/CAB, NAA: A14370, JH2003/124.

58Gabrielle Appleby, ‘The political imperative for a legal war’, Inside Story, 13 July 2016.

59‘This war is illegal: Howard’s last top law man’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 March 2003.

60Murray Goot, ‘Polls apart on whether this is a conflict is worth waging’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 April 2003; Murray Goot, ‘Public opinion and the democratic deficit: Australia and the war against Iraq’, Australian Humanities Review, no. 29, 2003; Robert Manne, ‘Murdoch’s war’, The Monthly, July 2005. 

61Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Advancing the national interest, Canberra, 2003. 

62Cabinet Submission JH03/0012 – Foreign and Trade Policy White Paper, 19 January 2003, p. 3. 

63Without Submission – Hizballah, Cabinet Decision JH03/0217/NS, 28 May 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/217. 

64Without Submission – Australia’s National Security: a Defence Update, Cabinet Decision JH03/0034/NS, NAA: A14370, HH2003/34. 

65Cabinet Submission JH03/0041 – International Maritime Organization – Implementation of Measures to Enhance Maritime Security, Decision of National Security Committee JH03/0041/NS, 5 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/41. 

66Cabinet Submission JH03/0202 – Bougainville: Successor to the Peace Monitoring Group, Decision of the National Security Committee, JH03/0202/NS, 28 May 2003, NAA: JH2003/202. 

67Without Submission – Solomon Islands: Regional Assistance Mission, Cabinet Decision JH03/0280/CAB, 22 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/280. 

68See Bob Breen, The good neighbour: Australian peace support operations in the Pacific Islands, 1980–2006, The official history of Australian peacekeeping, humanitarian and post–Cold War operations, Volume V, Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne, Vic, 2016. 

69.Without Submission – International Unitisation Agreement for the Sunrise & Troubadour Petroleum Fields & Implementation of the Timor Sea Treaty, Cabinet Decision JH03/0076/CAB, 3 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/76. 

70Cabinet Memorandum JH03/0425 – Protection of Timor Sea Oil and Gas Infrastructure, Decision of National Security Committee JH03/0425/NSC, 26 November 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/425. 

71Jane Perlez, ‘A visitor from China eclipses Bush’s stop in Australia’, The New York Times, 25 October 2003. Without Submission – Visit to Canberra by the President of the United States George W Bush: Aviation Security Arrangements, Decision of National Security Committee JH03/0391/NS, 15 October 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/391/NS. 

72Cabinet Minute – Without Submission – Australia-China Free Trade Agreement Scoping Study, Cabinet Decision JH03/0263/CAB, 22 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/263. 

73Cabinet Submission JH03/0377 – China: Trade and Economic Framework (TEF) – Cabinet Decision JH03/0377/CAB, 9 October 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/377; Without Submission – Australia–China Free Trade Agreement Scoping Study, Cabinet Decision JH03/0263/CAB, 22 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/263. 

74Cabinet Submission JH03/0051 – Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement, Cabinet Decision JH03/0051/CAB, 3 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/51. 

75Cabinet Submission JH03/0247 – Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) – Market Access, Cabinet Decision JH03/0247/CAB, 26 June 2003 and Cabinet Decision JH03/0247/CAB2, 26 August 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/247. See also Cabinet Submission JH03/0417 – Future Textile, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) Assistance Arrangements, Cabinet Decision JH03/0417/CAB, 24 November 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/417. 

76Cabinet Submission JH03/0375 Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) – Mandate Review, Cabinet Decision JH03/0375/CAB, 9 October 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/375. 

77Shiro Armstrong, ‘The costs of Australia’s “free trade” agreement with America’, Inside Story, 28 April 2015. See also Linda Weiss, Elizabeth Thurbon and John Mathews, How to kill a country: Australia’s devastating trade deal with the United States, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, 2004, and Ann Capling, All the way with the USA: Australia, the US and free trade, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2005.

78Cabinet Submission JH03/0010 – Singapore–Australia Free Trade Agreement, Decision JH03/0010/CAB, 3 February 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/10; Cabinet Minute – Without Submission – Australia – Thailand Free Trade Agreement, JH03/0093/CAB/2, NAA: A14370 JH2003/93; Cabinet Submission JH03/0376 – Australia–Thailand Free Trade Agreement, Cabinet Decision JH03/0376/CAB, 9 October 2003, NAA: 14370, JH2003/376; Cabinet Memorandum – Trade Implications of Australia’s Quarantine Regime, Cabinet Decision JH03/0222/CAB, 10 June 2003 NAA: A14370, JH2003/222; Cabinet Submission JH03/0069 – Australia–Japan Trade and Economic Consultations, Cabinet Decision JH03/0069/CAB, 19 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/69. 

79Amrita Narlikar and Rorden Wilkinson, ‘Collapse at the WTO: A Cancún post-mortem’, Third World Quarterly, vol. 25, issue 3, 2004, pp. 447–60. 

80Submission JH03/0101 – World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Negotiations: Australia’s Approach, Cabinet Decision JH03/0101/CAB, 19 March 2003; Submission JH03/0325 – World Trade Organization (WTO), NAA: A14370, JH2003/102: Approach to the Fifth Ministerial Conference in Mexico in September 2003, Cabinet Decision JH03/0325/CAB, 26 August 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/325. 

81Without Submission – Australia’s Participation in the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan, Cabinet Decision JH03/0231/CAB, 23 June 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/231. 

82Cabinet Submission JH03/0416 – Regulating Therapeutic Products in Australia and New Zealand, Cabinet Decision JH03/0416/CAB, 1 December 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/416. 

83Submission JH03/0381 – Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) – National Interest Account (NIA) Facility or Australian Exports to Iraq 15 October 2003, p. 5, NAA: A14370, JH2003/381. 

84Caroline Overington, Kickback: inside the Australian Wheat Board scandal, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, 2007; Commonwealth of Australia, Report of the Inquiry into certain Australian companies in relation to the UN Oil-for-Food Programme, Canberra, 2006; Richard Ackland, ‘This inquiry is only half the job’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 April 2006; and Rebecca Weisser, ‘The systematic failure of Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to prevent AWB’s corrupt contracts’, The Australian, 25 April 2006. 

85Cabinet Decision JH03/0381/CAB, 22 October 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/381; Cabinet Memorandum JH03/0092 – Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC): National Interest Account (NIA) – Exposure and Risk Management Report, Cabinet Decision JH03/0092/CAB, 24 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/92. 

86Cabinet Submission JH03/0415 – Delineation of the Outer Limit of Australia’s Extended Continental Shelf, p. 1, Cabinet Decision JH03/0415/CAB, 1 December 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/415. 

87Tony Press, ‘Explainer: Australia’s extended continental shelf and Antarctica’, The Conversation, 30 May 2012. 

88Cabinet Submission JH03/0194 – Ad Hoc Committee Meeting on a Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, Cabinet Decision JH03/0194/CAB, 12 May 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/194. 

89Cabinet Submission JH03/0290 – Ratification of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure, Cabinet Decision JH03/0290/CAB, 18 August 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/290. 

90See Parliament of Australia, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee, Report on the inquiry into materiel acquisition and management in Defence, Canberra, March 2003; Cabinet Submission JH03/0302 – Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) Rationalisation Project, Decision of National Security Committee, 21 August 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/302. 

91Submission JH03/0320 – Report into the Review of Defence Procurement, Decision of the National Security Committee JH03/0320/NS, 17 September 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/320. 

92Submission JH03/0320 – Report into the Review of Defence Procurement, Decision of the National Security Committee JH03/0320/NS, 17 September 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/320.

93Submission JH03/0085 – 2003–04 Budget – Defence Portfolio Budget Submission, p. 6, Cabinet Decision JH03/0084/CAB/3, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/85. 

94Submission JH03/0150 – Reforms to Defence’s Budgeting and Business Processes, Cabinet Decision JH03/0150/CAB/2, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/150. 

95Cabinet Submission JH03/0099 – Proposed New Defence Outcome, Output and Program Structure, Expenditure Review Committee Decision JH03/0099/ER, 1 April 2003 and Cabinet Decision JH03/0099/CAB/2, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/99. 

96Cabinet Submission JH03/0265 – Project Air 5333 (Vigilair) Replacement of Air Defence Systems, Decision of National Security Committee JH03/0265/NS, 29 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/265. 

97Cabinet Memorandum – Sale of Defence Russell Offices, Decision of National Security Committee JH03/0023/NS, 5 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/23. 

98Cabinet Submission JH03/0366 – Establishment of a Strategic Agreement for the Through Life Support of Collins Class Submarines, Decision of the National Security Committee JH03/0366/NS, 15 October 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/366. 

99Cabinet Submission JH03/0271: Joint Project 2008 Phase 3E – Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) Ground Infrastructure, Decision of National Security Committee JH03/0271/NS, 29 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/271. 

100Cabinet Submission JH03/0204 – Papua New Guinea: Release of Further Financial Assistance to PNGDF Reform Program, Decision of the National Security Committee, JH03/0204/NS, 28 May 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/204. 

101Aynsley Kellow, ‘Economics and the environment’, in Tom Frame (ed.), Trials and transformations, p. 282. 

102The phrase was that of Senator Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Family and Community Services. See Toni O’Loughlin and Tim Dodd, ‘Lucky to buy a sandwich’, Australian Financial Review, 15 May 2003. 

103Cabinet Submission JH03/0011 – Commonwealth’s Position in the 2003 Review of Award Wages, Cabinet Decision JH03/0011/CAB, 3 February 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/11. 

104Submission JH03/0353 2004–05 Budget Process, Cabinet Decision JH03/0353/CAB, 23 September 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/353; Submission JH03/0131 – 2003–04 Treasury Portfolio Budget Submission, Cabinet Decision CABJH03/0131/CAB/3, 15 April 2003, JH03/0131; Cabinet Submission JH03/0090 – 2003–04 Budget – Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio Budget Submission, Cabinet Decision JH03/0090/CAB/4, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/90; Cabinet Submission JH03/0075 – 2003–04 Budget – Environment and Heritage Portfolio Budget Submission, Cabinet Decision JH03/0075/CAB/5, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/75; Cabinet Submission JH03/0097 – 2003–04 Budget – Family and Community Services Portfolio Budget Submission, Cabinet Decision JH03/0097/CAB/6, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/0097; Without Submission – Senior Ministers’ Review for 2004–05 Budget: Environment and Heritage Portfolio, Cabinet Decision JH03/0465/SM, 10 December 2003; Without Submission – Senior Ministers’ Review for 2004–05 Budget Overview, Cabinet Decision JH03/0456/SM, NAA: A14370, JH2003/456; Without Submission – Senior Ministers’ Review for 2004–05 Budget; Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, Cabinet Decision JH03/0461/SM, 10 December 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/461; Cabinet Submission JH03/0102 – 2003–04 Budget – Transport and Regional Services Portfolio Budget Submission, Cabinet Decision JH03/0102/CAB/4, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/102.

105Cabinet Submission JH03/0420 – National Competition Policy – 2003–04 Competition Payments to States and Territories, Cabinet Decision JH03/0420/CAB, 24 November 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/420.

106Cabinet Submission JH03/01119 – Employee Share Ownership, Cabinet Decision JH03/0119/CAB, 24 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/119. 

107Cabinet Submission JH03/0351 – Proposed New Superannuation Arrangements for Commonwealth Civilian Employees, Cabinet Decision JH03/0351/CAB, 23 September 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/351. 

108Cabinet Submission JH03/0422 – The National Consumer and Financial Literacy Strategy, Cabinet Decision JH03/0422/CAB, 15 December 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/422. 

109Cabinet Submission JH03/0287 – Proposal to Restructure the HIH Claims Support Scheme, Cabinet Decision JH03/0287/CAB, 18 August 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/287. Also Cabinet Submission JH03/0255 – Government Response to Recommendations of HIH Royal Commission Report into the Failure of the HIH Insurance Group, Cabinet Decision JH03/0255/CAB, 15 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/255. 

110Cabinet Submission JH03/0413 – New Civil Penalty Regime to Deter the Promotion of Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion Schemes, Cabinet Decision JH03/0413/CAB, 1 December 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/413. 

111James Gillespie, ‘The politics of health’, in Frame (ed), Trials and transformations, p. 327

112Submission JH03/0036 – Affordability of Medical Services Under the Medicare Benefits Schedule – A New Policy Approach, Decision JH03/0036/CAB, 3 March 2003, Cabinet Decision JH03/0036/CAB/2, 6 March 2003 and Cabinet Decision JH03/0036/CAB/3, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/36. 

113Submission JH03/0036 – Affordability of Medical Services Under the Medicare Benefits Schedule – A New Policy Approach, Decision JH03/0036/CAB, 3 March 2003, Cabinet Decision JH03/0036/CAB/2, 6 March 2003 and Cabinet Decision JH03/0036/CAB/3, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/36.

114James Gilespie, ‘The politics of health’, in Frame (ed.), Trials and transformations, p. 327. 

115 ‘A “fairer” Medicare? Truth is Howard would rather have put it down’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 April 2003. 

116 James Gillespie, ‘The politics of health’, p. 327. 

117 Without Submission – A Fairer Medicare – JH03/0411/M, 5 November 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/411. 

118 ‘Not Much of a Plus for Medicare’, The Age, 19 November 2023. 

119 Cabinet Submission JH03/0330 – Options to Contain Future Private Health Insurance Premium Increases, Cabinet Decision JH03/0030/CAB, 18 February 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/30. 

120Cabinet Submission JH03/0343 – Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and Future Agenda, Cabinet Decision JH03/0343/CAB, 23 September 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/343. 

121Cabinet Submission JH03/0345 – Government Response to the 2002 Reviews of the National HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C Strategies and Strategic Research, Cabinet Decision JH03/0345/CAB, 15 September 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/345. 

122Cabinet Submission JH03/0100 – National Illicit Drug Strategy – ‘Tough on Drugs’ – Next Phase, Cabinet Decision JH03/0100/CAB4, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/100. 

123Cabinet Submission JH03/0151 – Financial Needs of the Health Insurance Commission for 2003004 and Beyond, Expenditure Review Committee Decision JH03/0151/ER, 1 April 2003 and Cabinet Decision JH03/0151/CAB/2, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/151. 

124Cabinet Submission JH03/0421 – Child Care Initiatives, Cabinet Decision, JH03/0421/CAB, 1 December 2003 with Treasury Coordination Comments at p. 12, NAA: A14370, JH2003/421. 

125Cabinet Submission JH03/0120 – Higher Education Reforms, Decision of Expenditure Review Committee, JH03/0120/ER, 24 March 2003, Decision of Expenditure Review Committee JH03/0120/ER/2, 25 March 2003, Decision of Expenditure Review Committee JH03/0120/ER/3, 1 April 2003, Decision JH03/0120/ER/4, 10 April 2003 and Cabinet Decision JH03/0120/CAB/5, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/120. 

126Andrew Norton, ‘Two steps forward, one step back: Dr Nelson mixes price flexibility and rigid quotas’, The Centre for Independent Studies, 18 June 2003. 

127Cabinet Submission JH03/0278 – Issues for Non-Government Schools Funding – 2005 to 2008, Cabinet Decision JH03/0278/CAB, 29 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/278. 

128Cabinet Submission JH03/0109 – Commonwealth Support for Vocational Education and Training, p. 1, Cabinet Decision JH03/0209/CAB/3, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/109/CAB/3. 

129Cabinet Submission JH03/0103 – 2003–04 Humanitarian Program, p. 3, Cabinet Decision JH03/0103/CAB, 24 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH03/0103. See also Cabinet Submission JH03/0104 – 2003–04 Migration (Non-Humanitarian) Programme, Cabinet Decision JH03/0104/CAB, 24 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/104. 

130Cabinet Submission JH03/0224 – Offshore Processing Centres: Arrangements with Nauru and PNG, Cabinet Decision HH03/0224/CAB, 16 June 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/224. 

131Cabinet Submission JH03/0031 – Christmas Island Permanent Immigration Reception and Processing Centre (IRPC) – Supplementary Decision, Cabinet Decision JH03/0331/CAB, 18 February 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/331. 

132Cabinet Submission JH03/0453 – Working Age Payment Reform, Cabinet Decision JH03/0453/CAB, 15 December 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/453. 

133Cabinet Submission JH03/0333 – Social Security Agreement between Australia and Greece – Further Submission, Cabinet Decision JH03/0333/CAB, 8 September 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/333. 

134Agreement between Australia and the Hellenic Republic on Social Security (Canberra, 23 May 2007). 

135Cabinet Submission JH03/0380 – Tourism White Paper: A Medium to Long Term Strategy for Australia’s Tourism Industry, Cabinet Decision JH03/0380/CAB, 11 November 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/380. 

136Cabinet Submission JH03/0295 – Aerospace Industry Action Agenda, Cabinet Decision JH03/0295/CAB, 26 August 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/295. 

137Cabinet Submission JH03/0254 – 2003–08 Commonwealth State Housing Agreement – Endorsement of the Agreement, Cabinet Decision JH03/0254/CAB, 15 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/254. 

138Kellow, ‘Economics and the environment’, p. 288. 

139Cabinet Memorandum – Development of a Forward Strategy on Climate Change – Progress Report, Cabinet Decision JH03/0039/CAB/2, 19 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/39. 

140Cabinet Memorandum – Development of a Forward Strategy on Climate Change – Progress Report, Cabinet Decision JH03/0039/CAB/2, 19 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/39, Attachment A: Co-ordination Comments, p. 11. Marc Hudson, ‘The too hard basket: a short history of Australia’s aborted climate policies’, The Conversation, 20 August 2018; Liz Minchin, ‘Howard blows hot and cold on emissions’, The Age, 15 November 2016. 

141Cabinet Submission JH03/0258 – Climate Change Forward Strategy: Preferred Strategic Approach to Emissions Management, 16 July 2003, p. 2, NAA: A14370, JH2003/258. See also Cabinet Submission JH03/0195 – Strategy for Managing Australia’s Response to Climate Change Issues over the Short and Long Term, Cabinet Decision JH03/0195/CAB/2, 10 June 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/195. 

142Cabinet Decision JH03/0258/CAB/4, 8 September 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/258. 

143Cabinet Memorandum JH03/0070, Sustainable Environment Committee of Cabinet – Indicative Business for 2003, Decision JH03/0070/SE of the Sustainable Environment Committee of Cabinet, 4 March 2003 and Cabinet Decision JH03/0070/CAB/2, 19 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/70; without submission – Strategic Presentation: Sustainable Environment, 24 February 2003, Cabinet Decision JH03/0059/CAB, 24 February 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/59; Without Submission – Presentation: The Living Murray, Cabinet Decision JH03/0072/CAB/2, 19 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/72; Cabinet Submission JH03/0050 – Queensland Land Clearing – Commonwealth Negotiating Position, Cabinet Decision JH03/0050/CAB/2, 19 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/50; Cabinet Memorandum – Queensland Land Clearing Proposal, Cabinet Decision JH03/0398/CAB, 24 November 2003 and Cabinet Decision JH03/0398/CAB/2, 15 December 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/398; Cabinet Memorandum JH03/0260 – Progress with a National Water Initiative, Cabinet Decision JH03/0260/CAB/2, 29 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/260; Cabinet Submission JH03/0454 – Marine Protected Areas and Displaced Fishing, 9 December 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/454; Cabinet Memorandum JH03/0397 – Progress with the National Water Initiative and Funding to Address Water Overallocation in the Murray-Darling Basin, Cabinet Decision JH03/0397/CAB, 11 November 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/397; Cabinet Submission JH03/0159 – Energy Grants Credit Scheme – Environmental Component, Decision of Energy Committee JH03/0159/E, 10 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/159. 

144Cabinet Submission JH03/0396 – Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – Representative Areas Programme, Cabinet Decision JH03/0936/CAB, 11 November 2003, NAA: JH2003/396. 

145Cabinet Submission JH03/0344 – Implementation of a Mandatory National Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme, Cabinet Decision JH03/0344/CAB, 30 September 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/344. 

146Cabinet Submission JH03/0196 – National Biodiversity Conservation Priorities, Cabinet Decision JH03/0196/CAB/2, 10 June 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/196. 

147Cabinet Memorandum JH03/0404 – Fuel Excise Reform: Environmental Measures, 4 November 2003, NAA: A14370, JH03/0404; Cabinet Memorandum JH04/0294 – Fuel Excise Review: Overview, Cabinet Decision JH903/0294/CAB/4, 15 September 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/294. 

148Without Submission, Decision of Energy Committee, JH03/0087/E, 6 March 2003 and Without Submission, Cabinet Decision JH03/0087/CAB/2 – Australian Energy Policy – An Overview, NAA: A14370, JH2003/87. 

149Cabinet Memorandum JH03/0168 – Energy Task Force: Key Decisions, Workplan and Timetable, Decision JH03/0168/E, 10 April 2003 and Decision JH03/168/CAB/2, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/168; Cabinet Memorandum JH03/0406 – Downstream Petroleum Overview, Cabinet Decision JH03/0406/CAB, 16 December 2003, NAA: A14370, 16 December 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/406. 

150Cabinet Memorandum JH03/0291 – Australian Energy Security, p. 13 – Decision of Energy Committee JH03/0291/E, 12 August 2003 and Decision JH03/0291/CAB/2, 19 August 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/291.

151Submission JH03/0277 – Development of a National Energy Market, Decision JH03/0277/CAB, 29 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/277. See also Cabinet Submission JH03.0315 – Council of Australian Governments Meeting – August 2003, Cabinet Decision JH03/0315/CAB, 11 August 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/315. 

152Cabinet Submission JH03/0110 – Ethanol Labelling and Limits in Petrol, Cabinet Decision JH03/0110/CAB, 24 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/110. 

153Cabinet Memorandum – International Energy Agency (IEA) Emergency Oil Measures and Australia’s Obligations, Cabinet Decision JH03/0169/CAB, 12 May 2003, NAA: A14370, 12 May 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/169. 

154Cabinet Submission JH03/0257 – Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry: Legislation and Related Matters, Cabinet Decision JH03/0257/CAB, 22 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/257; Cabinet Submission JH03/0259 – Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry: Changes to the National Building Code, Cabinet Decision JH03/0259/CAB, 22 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/259. 

155Cabinet Submission JH03/0261 – Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry: Response to the Treasury Portfolio Related Recommendations, Cabinet Decision JH03/0261/CAB, 22 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/261. 

156Cabinet Submission JH03/0007 – Regional Telecommunications Inquiry: Further Submission, Cabinet Decision JH03/0007/CAB, 3 February 2003, Cabinet Decision JH03/0007/CAB/2, 15 April 2003, and Cabinet Decision JH03/0007/CAB/3, 10 June 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/7. 

157Cabinet Submission JH03/0008 – Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation, 28 January 2003, p. 5, NAA: A14370, JH2003/8.

158Cabinet Decision JH03/0008/CAB/2, NAA: A14370, JH2003/8. 

159Cabinet Submission JH03/0209 – Institutional Arrangements for Regulation of Telecommunications and Broadcasting, Cabinet Decision JH03/0209/CAB, 10 June 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/209. 

160Without Submission – Cross-media Arrangements, Cabinet Decision JH03/0071/CAB, 3 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/71; Tim Dwyer and Annika Dean, ‘Why media reform in Australia has been so hard to achieve’, University of Sydney, 12 May 2017,

161Cabinet Memorandum JH03/0324 – Future Arrangements for Australian Shipping, Cabinet Decision JH03/0324/CAB, 26 August 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/324. 

162Cabinet Submission JH03/0147, Strategy for the Sale of the Three Basin Airports, Cabinet Decision JH03/0147/CAB, 1 April 2003, NAA: A14307, JH2003/147. 

163Cabinet Submission JH03/0208 – Identity Fraud, Cabinet Decision JH03/0208/CAB, 16 June 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/208. 

164Cabinet Submission JH03/0004 – Reform of the Federal Merits Review Tribunal System, Cabinet Decision JH03/0004/CAB, 3 February 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/4. 

165Cabinet Submission JH03/0440 – Government Response to the Report of the Family Law Pathways Advisory Group – Out of the Maze, Cabinet Decision JH03/0440/CAB/3, 15 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/440; Cabinet Submission JH03/0880 – Telecommunications Offences, Cabinet Decision JH03/0880/CAB, 1 April 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/880. 

166Weller, Cabinet government in Australia, p. 180. 

167Weller, Cabinet government in Australia, Chapter 6. 

168Cabinet Memorandum JH03/0332 – Sustainable Regions Programme Update, Cabinet Decision JH03/0332/CAB, 15 September 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/332. 

169Cabinet Submission JH03/0276 – Regional Business – A Plan for Action, Cabinet Decision JH03/0276/CAB, 29 July 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/276. 

170Without Submission – National Inquiry into Bushfire Prevention and Mitigation, Cabinet Decision JH03/0068/CAB, 3 March 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/68; Without Submission – Drought Update, Cabinet Decision JH03/0032/CAB/3, 26 August 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/32; Ron McLeod, Inquiry into the operational response to the January 2003 bushfires in the ACT, Department of Urban Services ACT Government, Canberra, 2003. 

171Cabinet Submission JH03/0006 – National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Cabinet Decision JH03/0006/CAB, 3 February 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/6. 

172Cabinet Submission JH03/0212 – Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Cabinet Decision JH03/0212/CAB, 10 June 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/212. 

173Submission JH03/0286 – Reform of the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act, Decision JH03/0286/CAB, 11 November 2003, NAA: A14370, JH2003/286. 

174John Hannaford, Jackie Huggins and Bob Collins, ‘In the hands of the regions – a new ATSIC report of the review of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission’, Australian Indigenous Law Reporter, vol. 8, no. 3, 2003, pp. 105–12. 

175Quoted in Alison Holland, ‘Many claim Australia’s longest-running Indigenous body failed. Here’s why that’s wrong’, The Conversation, 24 July 2023. 

176Cabinet 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. 

177Gabrielle Appleby and Sean Brennan, ‘The long road to recognition’, Inside Story, 19 May 2017. 

178According to former diplomat Tony Kevin, Australian troops were engaged in hostilities on the evening of 18 March (Iraq time), 16 hours after Bush’s 48-hour ultimatum to cede power. Tony Kevin, ‘Our questionable tactics in Iraq’, The Age, 17 January 2004. 

179Graeme Dobell, ‘Iraq lessons: the impact of the Howard fib’. 

180Timothy A Sayle, ‘“But he has nothing on at all!” Canada and the Iraq War, 2003’, Canadian Military History, vol. 19, issue 4, 2015, p. 6.

181Ewan MacAskill, ‘Adviser quits Foreign Office over legality of war’, The Guardian, 22 March 2003; Vikram Dodd, ‘Iraq war illegal, says FO adviser who quit’, The Guardian, 14 June 2004.

182David Lee, The second rush: mining and the transformation of Australia, Connor Court Publishing, Redland Bay, Qld, 2016, Chapter 9. 

183Rod Myer, ‘Australia missed out on mining boom cash by rejecting larger sovereign wealth fund’, The New Daily, 17 November 2019.