Series VPRS 11935
Cabinet Records
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series ? 1918 - 1982
  Series in Custody 1918 - 1982
  Contents 1918 - 1982
Public Access: Open
Location: North Melbourne
Format of Records: Physical
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1918 - 1936 Premier's Office (also known as Premier's Department) VA 672
1918 - 1982 Cabinet VA 4419
1936 - 1982 Department of the Premier (also known as Premier's Department 1960-1982) VA 2717
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1982 - cont Cabinet Office [known as Cabinet & Executive Branch 1991-1992; Cabinet Secretariat 1992 - 2015] VA 2989
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    This series includes all papers of Cabinet meetings prior to April 1982 which are known to be in public custody. (Some records of the Cabinet Sub-Committee for Commonwealth Celebrations 1901-1902 are also held by the Public Record Office. See List of Holdings second edition, 1985, section 1.1.0.

    In order to locate records about a particular Cabinet matter, researchers may either:

    -- If the date or approximate date that the matter was discussed is known: Select the unit(s) covering the relevant date(s) from the Consignment Details, or

    -- For the period July 1969 to April 1982: Refer to the rough indexes to Cabinet decisions included in this series. These indexes provide an alphabetical list of the subject matter of Cabinet decisions and give a reference to the meeting/agenda number. Researchers can then use the Consignment Details for this series to determine the units in which papers of a particular meeting will be found. Further information about the rough indexes appears below.

  • Function / Content
    Cabinet Records Prior to 1982

    Although a system of Cabinet Government is thought to have operated in Victoria since the commencement of responsible government, relatively few records relating to Cabinet meetings prior to the 1980s are known to be extant and little is known about the record-keeping processes associated with Cabinet throughout this period.

    The records in this series suggest that at least for some periods of time systematic procedures were in place for bringing matters to Cabinet and/or for the recording of Cabinet decisions. However, this may not always have been the case.

    Most papers in the series date from the 1920s or the 1960s and 1970s, with one bundle of papers dating from 1943.

    Cabinet Records -- 1920s

    The records relating to Cabinet meetings held in the 1920s include:

    -- agendas

    -- "Decision Sheets" prepared at the conclusion of Cabinet meetings as a summary record of Cabinet decisions. It appears unlikely that formal "minutes" of Cabinet meetings have ever been made. These sheets merely record the decisions reached by Cabinet regarding the matters set down on its agenda.

    -- memoranda from various departments to the Cabinet Secretary (an officer within the Premier's Department) requesting that certain matters be listed for Cabinet.

    From these records it appears that during the 1920s Cabinet met at least once a week. An officer within the Department of the Premier provided a secretariat. However, it is not clear whether this officer attended Cabinet meetings and recorded decisions, or whether a Parliamentary Secretary performed this role. It seems unlikely that detailed submissions on matters before Cabinet were prepared, since the mechanism for bringing a matter to Cabinet was merely to ask for it to be listed on the agenda. Loose decision sheets appear to provide the only record of Cabinet decisions. These may have been distributed to all Cabinet members.

  • Recordkeeping System
    It is evident that some system of control governed the Cabinet papers. The agenda and decision sheet(s) for each meeting are numbered in grey lead pencil in a single number sequence which usually corresponds to the chronological order of the meetings. There are some gaps in this sequence, indicating that the papers are incomplete. However, another single number sequence has also been applied to the decisions sheets in blue pencil. There do not appear to be any gaps in this numbering sequence. These numbers may have been applied at a later date as a means of controlling papers found to be extant at that time.

    The papers in this series dating from 1943 are similar to those dating from the 1920s.

    Cabinet Records -- 1965 to 1982

    The records in this series dating from 1965 to 1982 comprise two sets of agendas, presumably maintained by two members of Cabinet. Papers in one set have been stapled into paper folders and the decisions of the Cabinet regarding each agenda item have been recorded on the folders. This set of papers may have served as a master record of Cabinet decisions. These papers have been described in the Consignment Details as "Agendas and Decisions". The other set comprises agendas only, although in many cases the decisions of Cabinet are handwritten against agenda items. These papers have been described in the Consignment Details as "Agendas".

    The exact relationship between the two copies of Cabinet agendas is not clear. Both sets appear to be close to complete, thus there is a high degree of duplication in this series. However, the handwritten records of Cabinet decisions may not be identical.

    It seems unlikely that during this period written submissions on matters before Cabinet were prepared for distribution to Ministers.

    System of Arrangement

    Cabinet usually met weekly and each meeting was numbered in a single numbering sequence which reflects the chronological order of meetings. The agenda for each meeting was numbered accordingly. The two sets of agenda papers for the period 1965 to 1982 were both arranged in this order. The earliest meeting/agenda number in this part of the series is 473 and is dated January 1965, indicating that the system was used prior to this; however it is not known if these papers are extant. This numbering sequence reverted to number 1 twice during the period 1965 to 1982; in August 1972 when Rupert Hamer replaced Henry Bolte as Premier and in June 1981 when Hamer was replaced by Lindsay Thompson.


    Rough indexes, called indexes of decisions, were created throughout the period July 1969 to April 1982. The subject matter of each agenda item/decision was entered into the appropriate alphabetical section of the index and a reference was given to the meeting/agenda number and the number of the item on the agenda. Within each alphabetical section of the indexes, entries were made roughly in chronological order of the meeting at which they were made, hence the entries are not in strict alphabetical order within each section. The indexes are included in this series.

    1982 -- Upgrading of Cabinet Processes

    In April 1982 a Labour Government was elected in Victoria. The new government formalised the Cabinet process and established a Cabinet Office within the Department of Premier and Cabinet to operate as a Secretariat. Precise records creating requirements were introduced and a system of using submissions to bring matters before Cabinet was established. Some records created under this system have been transferred to the Public Record Office and are included on the Inventory of Series for the Cabinet Office (VA 2989).

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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0001 1920 - 1968 Open 2
P0002 1969 - 1982 Open 12
P0003 1918 - 1918 Open 1
P0004 1976 - 1982 Open 1
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