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Release of Queensland Cabinet papers shows beginnings of post-Joh reforms

The ABC’s Allyson Horn reports (1.1.19) on the release by the Queensland State Archives of the 1988 Cabinet papers of the Ahern government. The documents show the first signs of reforms around accountability, policing and parliamentary processes in the wake of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s departure from state politics.

‘”The new Government in Queensland will be a government that puts people first” – those were among the first words spoken by Mike Ahern when he took over from Queensland’s longest-serving premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

‘Mr Ahern’s reign in 1988 sat between two powerful eras in Queensland politics — Sir Joh and Labor’s Wayne Goss.

‘Sir Joh resigned in 1987 after widespread allegations of bribery and corruption, which engulfed parts of Queensland’s Parliament and police force.

‘Cabinet documents held secret for 30 years, revealed Mr Ahern’s first decision in 1988 was to implement a Public Accounts Committee, to record and examine ministers’ spending.

‘”It told Queensland that there had been a change, ” Mr Ahern recalls.

‘But Mr Ahern’s regime of reform to rebuild public trust was not always given the full support of the National Party — with many of whom were unimpressed with Sir Joh’s treatment.’

Cabinet papers: was the Howard government conservative or liberal?

Anne Davies reports in The Guardian (1.1.19) on the National Archives of Australia’s release of the 1996-97 Cabinet papers covering John Howard’s first two years as Prime Minister, highlighting resonances with issues that PM Scott Morrison confronts today.

‘Was the Howard government a liberal or a conservative one? Did it govern to reinforce personal freedoms and reduce government intervention or was it determined to return Australia to an era of social conservatism?

‘That was the question posed by the official historian, Paul Strangio, from Monash University, at the launch of the 1996 and 1997 cabinet papers, released by the National Archives of Australia on Tuesday. They cover the first two years of John Howard’s government.

‘The period also has resonance for Scott Morrison’s government today, as he battles to hold onto power and keep the warring factions within the Coalition tent.

‘Many of the same issues – climate change, energy policy, immigration levels, the recognition of Indigenous rights, a drought and declining polls – proved as vexing for the Howard government in 1996 and 1997 as they are for the prime minister today.’

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