Cabinet records of the Fraser government, 1975–83

The Fraser ministries

The Liberal–Country Party government of Malcolm Fraser began with the swearing-in of the first Fraser ministry on 11 November 1975, following the dismissal of the Whitlam government. It consisted of 15 members who were all members of Cabinet. The role was a caretaker one, pending the outcome of the general election on 13 December 1975. The second ministry, which consisted of 26 ministers, was formed on 22 December 1975 following the Coalition’s election victory. At this time the practice was reintroduced whereby Cabinet comprised only selected members of the ministry.

The Fraser government remained in office for more than seven years, coming to an end with the loss of the general election on 5 March 1983.

The Cabinet records identify five Fraser ministries and five Cabinets. Other sources identify only three Cabinets – the first ministry not being regarded as a Cabinet (the decisions of this period have an ‘M’ suffix indicating they are formally regarded as ministry, rather than Cabinet, decisions); and the period of the fourth and fifth ministries being regarded as one continuing Cabinet (as the 1982 ministerial reshuffle did not alter the composition of the Cabinet).

Fraser government ministries

Ministry Date range of ministry Reason for end of ministry
First 11 November – 22 December 1975 Election – 13 December 1975
Second 22 December 1975 – 20 December 1977 Election – 10 December 1977
Third 20 December 1977 – 3 November 1980 Election – 18 October 1980
Fourth 3 November 1980 – 7 May 1982 Reshuffle – 7 May 1982
Fifth 7 May 1982 – 11 March 1983 Election – 5 March 1983

Cabinet in operation

The style of the Fraser government generated a large volume of Cabinet business, a particular feature being the very large number of matters considered without a formal submission. A number of measures were taken to assist the Cabinet Office in dealing with the great quantities of records that resulted. These measures included:

  • issuing a Cabinet handbook setting out policy and procedural arrangements
  • introducing categories of ‘Cabinet papers’ and ‘Cabinet memoranda’ as a way of improving control over matters presented to Cabinet without a formal submission
  • using Committees to relieve pressure on the Prime Minister (see the list of committees below).

Records of the Fraser Cabinet

Records become available for access once they enter the open access period.

Cabinet correspondence files

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Cabinet file series 1975–83 A10756
Register of Cabinet files 1975–83 A12999


Title or description of record Date range Series number
Submission series – first ministry 1975 A12908
Submission series – second to fifth ministries 1975–83 A12909
Register of submissions 1975 A12910

Papers and Memoranda

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Papers series – Cabinet 1976–79 A12933
Papers series – FAD committee 1976 A12934
Register of papers 1976–82 A12940
Memoranda series 1979-83 A12930
Register of memoranda 1979-83 A12932


Title or description of record Date range Series number
Ministry decisions 1975–82 A12931
Register of decisions 1975–83 A12911
Decisions series – first ministry 1975 A13050
Decisions series – second to fifth ministries 1975–83 A13075


Title or description of record Date range Series number
Subject index (1975–82) 1975–82 A12936
Nominal index 1975–83 A13156
Nominal index (departments) 1975–81 A12939

Auxiliary series

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Cabinet Office procedural and housekeeping files 1968–83 A7753
Chronological record of meetings 1975–79 A12573
Attendance sheets 1975–83 A12575
Reference index of LC files to decisions 1975–83 A12938
Records of meetings 1976–77 A12935
Debrief sheets 1978-83 A12937


Fraser Cabinet standing committees and ad hoc committees

Cabinet was assisted by a range of standing committees and ad hoc committees. The main standing committees are listed below. Cabinet decisions taken by a subcommittee are identified by the suffix shown.

Ad hoc committees were appointed for a particular purpose as required. Decisions of an Ad hoc committee bear the suffix ‘AD HOC’.

Committee name Date range Suffix
Coordination 1979–83 CC
Economic 1975–83 EC
Foreign Affairs and Defence 1975–83 FAD
General Administrative 1975–79 GA
General Policy 1979–83 GP
Industry Policy 1979–83 IP
Intelligence and Security 1977–80 IS
Legislation 1975–83 LC
Machinery of Government 1975–79 MOG
Monetary Policy 1977–83 MP
Planning and Coordination 1975–79 PC
Public Information 1977–83 PIC
Social Welfare Policy 1977–83 SWP
Wages Policy 1977–83 WP

Cabinet notebooks

Cabinet notebooks become available 30 years after the end of the year in which they were created. The first Cabinet notebooks for the Fraser government will become available from January 2026.