The 2000 Cabinet Papers in Context

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2000 was the year before the ‘year that changed everything’: 2001, when Al-Qaeda attacked the United States on 11 September, and the Howard government created its ‘Pacific Solution’ asylum-seeker deterrent – prisms through which Australian politics would be refracted for many years to come.1 The 2000 Cabinet papers reflect a relatively quiescent world in which Islamic terror attacks and offshore detention were barely glimpsed on the horizon. Then Prime Minister John Howard later mused, ‘we had no conception of the challenges which would engulf the world in the next few years’.2 His Liberal and National coalition government’s concerns in 2000 were overwhelmingly domestic, and the approach to issues with international ramifications was heavily weighted toward local implications over international obligations. Many matters canvassed in the 2000 Cabinet papers remain of intense ongoing national interest today, including policies concerning climate change, energy, provision of infrastructure and aged care. Unauthorised arrivals by boat were an emerging issue, but not yet one that dominated the atmospherics of national politics. On climate change and the interrelated issue of energy policy in particular, these papers reveal a wider range of opinion four years into the Howard government’s life than many, from today’s vantage point, might expect, and are likely to inform and stimulate discussion on what might have been had those Cabinet discussions concluded differently
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherNational Archives of Australia
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

Publication series

NameNational Archives of Australia
PublisherNational Archives of Australia


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