Release of the 1980 Queensland Government Cabinet Minutes

On 1 January 2011 the Cabinet Minutes of the 1980 Queensland Government were made available to the public.

The 30 year old Cabinet Minutes show that 1980 was a controversial year for both Queensland and the Bjelke-Petersen government covering issues such abortion legislation, industrial disputes and the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. The weather was also a problem 30 years ago, as it continues to be in 2011.

Cyclones and Droughts

Today, in the wake of horrendous floods and as tropical cyclone warnings remain in place for communities between Ayr and Proserpine, we see that 30 years ago the adverse weather was, then as now, a problem for Queenslanders.

Cyclone 'Simon'. After referring a submission from the Minister for Primary Industries to the Deputy Premier and Treasurer for financial approval, Cabinet agreed 'in principle' to fund a low-interest loan scheme for primary producers affected adversely by severe tropical cyclone Simon.

‘We have a solution for farmer’s debt problems’ Alan Moir Cartoons, John Oxley Library.

Drought. Following another dry summer over most of Southern Queensland, Cabinet decided on a scheme of 'drought relief' loans and special repayment provisions, which were amended and extended over the course of the year.

Anti-abortion sentiment

One of the most controversial topics was the proposed revisions to Queensland's abortion laws, which generated intense debate in and outside of government. Early in the year, the Bjelke-Petersen government instigated a campaign to outlaw the Greenslopes Fertility Clinic. The proposed legislation would effectively criminalise the operation of abortion clinics. It was ultimately defeated in May by five votes, with 19 MPs crossing the floor to vote against the Bill. Bjelke-Petersen responded by playing down talk of Coalition disunity.

Industrial disputes

Declare a state of emergency! Alan Moir Cartoons 1980-1984, John Oxley Library.

Industrial disputes troubled the state government, many of these initiated by the electricity industry. Widespread work stoppages ensued, and the Premier convinced Cabinet to declare a state of emergency. Over the 12 months the days lost to industrial action equated to over $32 million in lost wages.

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority zoning plan for Capriconia section. Decision no 33558. QSA Item ID 406543.

The Great Barrier Reef was again on the agenda in 1980. The Bjelke-Petersen government opposed the Australian Heritage Commission proposal to list the Great Barrier Reef on the National Register - for the third year in a row. The government also rejected Commonwealth plans to nominate the reef for listing by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

Other Cabinet decisions of interest

In another submission to Cabinet, the Minister for Culture, National Parks and Recreation bemoaned Queensland's lack of a state zoo, leaving it as "the only state on the Commonwealth's mainland that does not have a major zoo serving educational, recreational and promotional purposes." The Minister cited the 'extreme dissatisfaction' of the public with the few small menageries then operating - "existing animal collections are mostly disgraceful by modern zoo standards" - and argued that Queensland's rich diversity of fauna should be better showcased "to promote the inherent qualities of this state." Cabinet agreed and duly approved a feasibility study to determine the possible location and layout of such a major facility.

To see more about the 1980 Cabinet Documents:

Cabinet Minutes - Important Decisions

Cabinet Minutes - Highlights

Cabinet Minutes - Background

A selection of 1980 Cabinet Minutes

The 1980 Cabinet Minutes are available at Queensland State Archives at 435 Compton Road, Runcorn. Opening hours are 9am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday and 9am-4.30pm on the second Saturday of the month.

Niles Elvery

Manager - Public Access

Queensland State Archives

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