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1988 Cabinet documents reveal the post Joh era reform

Minister for Digital Technology Mick de Brenni has lifted the lid on the 1988 Queensland Cabinet Minutes, revealing a huge year of change in Queensland's political landscape, amidst a state that was crying out for a stable government.

The 1988 Cabinet Minutes show Premier Mike Ahern took over in difficult circumstances with the Fitzgerald Inquiry in full swing, leading a Government that was no longer trusted.

“Queenslanders have always demanded and deserved good, decent, stable government and it was no different in 1988," Mr de Brenni said.

“The release of the 1988 Cabinet papers reveal an attempt by the Ahern Government to respond to that demand and establish the year as a year of change.

"The Ahern Government took a significant number of decisions in 1988 - 2,524 decisions in fact, implementing transparency models in-order to rebuild trust with Queenslanders.

“Thirty years on and trust is now a bedrock of modern day Queensland politics under today's Premier,” said Mr de Brenni.

“The minutes point to the legacy of Ahern that remains in place today. Reforms included much needed police reforms, new ministerial accountabilities, a greenhouse gas policy and World Expo.

“Queenslanders wanted change and with two years before the next election, Mr Ahern introduced a number of political committees which remain in place three decades later,” Mr de Brenni said. “These include the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Works Committee (now merged) and the Public Service Act.”

Mr de Brenni said although the Fitzgerald Inquiry was still sitting, it was obvious Queensland’s Police Service needed critical change.

“Mr Ahern committed to implementing the Fitzgerald Inquiry’s recommendations ‘lock, stock and barrel’ before they had been released,” he said.

“The Cabinet Minutes highlight deliberations around disgraced former Police Commissioner Terry Lewis, who was placed in administrative limbo and prevented from retiring, receiving his superannuation or obtaining another job until the Fitzgerald inquiry delivered its findings.

“Mr Ahern also relocated the Police Complaints Tribunal from the Police Department to the Justice department, so the police service couldn’t investigate itself."

The cabinet papers also show much discussion over the future of the South Bank precinct following the successful World Expo, which ran from April to October and attracted millions of national and international visitors to Brisbane.

Mr de Brenni said that following the success of Expo, the Government wanted South Bank to provide a lasting legacy to the people of Queensland.

“With no public consultation, they set about creating a potential World Trade Centre in Expo’s place.

“The proposal was met with a huge backlash from Queenslanders, who by now had fallen in love with the iconic South Bank buildings"

Eventually the Ahern Government created the South Bank Development Corporation who turned the parklands into an event destination.

“South Bank remains one of the Ahern Government’s most lasting achievements, with an estimated 11 million people visiting each year.

“The Cabinet Minutes show Mr Ahern recognised the need for social progress, particularly in relation to women and the threat of HIV/AIDS but he was much less progressive on environmental and Indigenous issues.”

The 1988 Cabinet Minutes is now available to the public at Queensland State Archives at Runcorn and on the State Archives website it has been available since January 1 2019.

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