The release of the 1989 NT Government Cabinet Records has revealed a fascinating insight into Territory life 30 years ago.
The documents provide a unique look at our past and highlight the decisions the government of the day made to deal with matters of importance to Territorians at that time.
The year 1989 saw the NT Government approve the drafting of an Equality of Status of Married Persons Bill. Prior to this Bill, the law said a woman lost most of her property rights and her independent legal capacity once she married.
Territorians were concerned about the environment, with the NT Government recognising the need for a national approach to ‘reducing the impact of the greenhouse effect’ and approving an agreement with CSIRO to provide scientific advice on the regional impact of the greenhouse effect.
The NT Legislative Assembly passed the Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act (NT) 1989 and met for the last time in the building on Mitchell Street, which was to be demolished to make way for the new Parliament House building.
1989 was the year the NT Government reached an agreement with the Jawoyn people for the lease of what we now know as Nitmiluk National Park.
Prime Minister Bob Hawke officially opened Stage 1 of RAAF Base Tindal and The Northern Territory University was formed.
1989 also saw the NT Government approve the staging of the inaugural Arafura Sports Festival in Darwin in 1991, which would go on to become the iconic Arafura Games from 1998.
The Territory’s population was around 160 000 people and we were watching Dead Poets Society, Rain Man and Young Einstein, while listening to Madonna’s Like a Prayer, Ian Moss’ Tucker’s Daughter and I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) by The Proclaimers.
The Territory Wildlife Park opened to the public, and the Darwin Symphony Orchestra performed its first concert.
On 1 January each year, Cabinet records are made public 30 years after they are created in line with the Information Act 2002.
To access the records visit https://nt.gov.au/cabinetrecords
As noted by Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, Lauren Moss:
“The release of the Cabinet Records each year is an opportunity for us to reflect on how the Territory has developed over the last three decades.
“1989 marked a year of ‘growing up’ for the Territory. We recognised married women should have equal rights to married men, we moved to protect Aboriginal sacred sites and we set out on the road to building our own Parliament House. We even established our own university.
“Nitmiluk was handed back to the Jawoyn, recognising their spiritual connection to the land and a 99-year lease was signed with the NT Government to jointly manage the national park, one of the Territory’s richest cultural assets.
“We saw the beginnings of our now iconic Arafura Games, with government approval to stage the very first Arafura Sports Festival in 1991.
“The Territory has such a unique and fascinating history and I encourage our community to read the 1989 Cabinet Records at the Library & Archives NT or online.”