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Memento : Issue 17
3 Cabinet discussions on these issues are revealed in the 1950 Cabinet notebooks released early this year. The nine handwritten notebooks were compiled by Allen Stanley Brown, Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department from August to December 1950. These are the first Cabinet notebooks ever released to the public. Cabinet notebooks are released after 50 years rather than the usual 30, because they are particularly sensitive. They record the views expressed by individual Ministers, not just the collective decisions of Cabinet. At a media briefing on the notebooks in February, Dr John Knott, Australian National University historian and historical consultant to the Archives, revealed some of the secrets held by the notebooks. Dr Michael Keating AC, former Cabinet Secretary during Prime Minister Keating's term of office, talked about the notetaker's role and Cabinet processes in 1950 compared with more recent times. Dr Knott explained that the notebooks are not a verbatim account of Cabinet discussions, but were kept by the notetaker to help draft the formal Cabinet decisions after a meeting. They provide new insights into the reasoning behind those decisions and a glimpse of the way Cabinet worked. Cold War fears, defence considerations and the state of the economy dominated federal politics in Australia in 1950. This was the year in which the Korean War began, the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was enacted, compulsory military training for 18-year-olds was introduced, wool prices reached record levels, and inflation pushed up wages and prices. 'We learn what Menzies was prepared to tell, and not to tell, the Australian people about the decision to commit Australian troops to the Korean War. We can The fourth Menzies Ministry outside Government House after being sworn in, December 1949. NAA: A1200, L12817 may 2001 memento observe how Country Party manoeuvring stymied Cabinet's attempt to deal effectively with inflation. We have it confirmed that some members of Cabinet thought the main purpose of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was to cause grief for the Australian Labor Party', he said. The notebooks also reveal the rather strange twist of events by which the decision to commit To see the handwritten notebooks and transcripts, as well as background information on the notebooks and the events of the day, see 'The Collection' on our website at www.naa.gov.au. And look forward to more fascinating reading when the 1951 notebooks are released next year. Australian troops to the Korean War was made without Prime Minister Robert Menzies' knowledge, as he travelled to New York aboard the Queen Mary.