1988 Cabinet Records Released

Territorians have been given new insight into life in the Territory 30 years ago following the release of the 1988 Cabinet records.

The documents provide a chance to learn more about government decisions at the time and reflect on the Territorys unique history.

In a case of dj vu, 1988 saw a khaki-clad Prince Charles visit the Territory for a two-day whirlwind trip with Princess Diana, which saw the pair visit the Darwin Crocodile Farm.

Fast forward 30 years and His Royal Highness paid his sixth visit the Territory in April 2018, visiting Arnhem Land and Darwin.

Crocodile Dundee II shone on the silver screen while John Farnhams Age of Reason hit the airwaves along with the Dirty Dancing classic, (Ive had) The time of my life.

Tennant Creek was hit by a 6.6 magnitude earthquake, which is still Australias largest ever.

There was also a shake-up in Territory politics, when Marshall Perron became Chief Minister after Steve Hatton resigned.

As the Territory economy began to take off, particularly in mining and gold production, 1988 saw Cabinet introduce a new two-man NT Police Force Gold Squad to monitor criminal activity that was robbing the government of royalties.

New industries were also explored with Cabinet endorsing the testing of the Kenaf crop, a tropical hibiscus plant, which could be potentially be turned into paper.

Tourism remained high the agenda with Cabinet passing a five year proposal that outlined the future development of the Territorys key parks in the Top End and Red Centre, including potential upgrades to facilities and the improvement of road access.

Cabinet records are made public 30 years after they are created under the Northern Territory Information Act. The records can be accessed at https://nt.gov.au/cabinetrecords

As noted by Minister for Tourism and Culture, Lauren Moss

The Territorys natural assets, our beautiful parks, have always been a major drawcard for tourists to the Territory and the release of the 1988 cabinet records show the Government laying the early foundations of this important job creating industry.

While 30 years has passed, its pleasing to see our tourism industry still remains at the forefront of Government decision-making today, through our record $103 million turbocharging tourism announcement which will see $12 million to open up brand new swimming holes and campgrounds in Litchfield National Park in 2019.

The year 1988 was an exciting one for the Territory, development was booming with work starting on the Cullen Bay Marina while the Atrium Hotel and Darwin Private Hospital both opened.

Community events added colour and vibrancy, with the first ever Greek Glenti held in Darwin while Alice Springs celebrated the centenary of its proclamation as a town.

There is so much to be learned from our unique history and I encourage anyone with a thirst for knowledge to read the 1988 Cabinet Records at the NT Archives Service or online.


  • Brief Guide to 1988 Cabinet Records
  • Selection of NTAS images from 1988

/Public Release.View in full here.