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1987 Cabinet minutes reveal pivotal year for Queensland 

The release of the 1987 Queensland Cabinet Minutes this week by QSA reveals a landmark year for Queensland politics which saw strained relations with Bob Hawke’s federal government, the start of the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and the resignation of long-serving premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. 

The Cabinet minutes showed the enormous workload of the Cabinet, which often heard more than 50 submissions in a meeting and deliberated over 2811 submissions throughout the year. 

The Cabinet minutes for 1987 highlight key political moments of Queensland history, from the submission by Acting Premier Bill Gunn on 25 May to appoint Tony Fitzgerald QC as a commissioner of inquiry into allegations about the Queensland Police Force, to Sir Joh’s final Cabinet submission on 30 November. 

But as tumultuous as the political machinations were, the Cabinet minutes also reveal a much broader picture of events that have gone on to shape our life today in Queensland, from the decision about the future of South Bank site after Expo, to decisions made about education, industrial relations and the environment. 

There were controversial projects, such as Sir Joh’s backing of the world’s tallest building, the Hawke government’s nomination of Queensland’s northern rainforests for World Heritage listing, and the implementation of a task force to investigate domestic violence. 

Cabinet decisions involving public health and safety campaigns were notable, including the warnings on cigarette packages, the results of Queensland’s first random alcohol breath test trial and police raids on university campuses to crack down on condom vending machines. 

Indigenous affairs were a key issue, with Cabinet documents noting the Queensland Government’s agreement to cooperate with a Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, but unwillingness to contribute financially to the inquiry costs, and a decision to allocate additional funding to legally oppose Eddie Mabo’s land rights claim. 

In stark contrast to today’s employment conditions, Cabinet also decided that reduced funding to Queensland from the Premiers’ Conference meant it would no longer meet its previous commitment to pay award wages to Indigenous workers employed by the Department of Community Services.

The Cabinet documents show that Premier Bjelke-Petersen’s preference for oral submissions continued, and ministers often did not see all submissions and were poorly briefed before the meetings.  

In the final month of the year when Premier Mike Ahern began to chair Cabinet, the processes of autocratic power by the Premier and Treasury in the Cabinet room changed with the implementation of a Budget Review Committee and an Expenditure Review Committee. 

The 1987 Cabinet Minutes are now available. The hardcopy minutes can be viewed at the Queensland State Archives premises, 435 Compton Road, Runcorn. Opening hours are 9.00am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, as well as the second Saturday of every month.

‘1 million and Counting’ competition

Over 1 million archival records have been viewed and requested at Queensland State Archives since July 2016!

That means a lot to us, and to say thanks we’re giving everyone the opportunity to win a framed copy of their favourite archival photo.

It’s easy to enter the competition – just follow these simple steps:

  1. Explore our Flickr collection.
  2. Leave a comment on the photo you like, or tell us on our Facebook page – remember to paste a link to the image too.
  3. We’ll pick five lucky winners in the month of April who will get a framed photo of their choice!

Happy exploring, and good luck!

Website workshop

We'll be offering a 30 minute 'hands on' workshop to help you with navigating our new website. The website workshop will be held onsite at QSA on 22 March 2017 from 9.30 am to 10 am. Bookings are essential due to limited places so please email to save your spot.

Brolgas, comets and big buildings – Cabinet minutes in ’86

Date: 28 March 2017
Time: 10 am – 11.30 am
Location: Queensland State Archives Lecture Theatre 1 and 2
Details: Queensland State Archives (QSA) would like to invite you to join us for our upcoming event, Brolgas, comets and big buildings – Cabinet minutes in ’86, on 28 March 2017 at our premises at Runcorn from 10 am to 11.30 am.

Griffith University’s Jennifer Menzies and Dr Tracey Arklay will be chatting about key events documented in the 1986 Cabinet Minutes. We will also have a short presentation on Cabinet records in the QSA collection followed by a Q&A session with our speakers.

Light refreshments will be provided.

Places are limited so please book through Eventbrite to reserve your place.

Need more information about this event? Please email us at

Calling all rail enthusiasts!

QLD State Archives has just released a new Open Data Set on the Queensland Government Data website for Steam Locomotive Drawings and Railway Plans.

We’re hoping this new feature will help make it easier to research our collection, so head on over and let us know what you think!

New website

Our website has changed! Our home page has a new design, the content is easier to read (especially fo​r people new to QSA), and there are new functions that make the site easier to use.​ In particular, we have a new index search, tips on getting started with your research and a new section for ordering copies of records.

Contact us

Contact us for further information.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
28 December 2017
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