Records 1982


This guide has Cabinet record information from 1982, including Cabinet decision highlights from that year, Cabinet members and a background to the Northern Territory and Australia in 1982.

For a full listing of 1982 Cabinet decisions go to the indexes of Cabinet records page.

Get the  list of Cabinet documents exempted from 30 year release PDF (73.2 KB).

Read the Cabinet documents exempted from release prior to 1 January 2013 PDF (27.2 KB).

Read the 1982 Cabinet documents exempted from release on 1 January 2013 PDF (45.9 KB).

NT and Australia in 1982

This page has a historical overview of the Northern Territory (NT) and Australia in 1982.

On 3 July the Parap open air market began in Darwin.

In August the first 356 housing lots with a starting price of $17,000 were released in the newly established town of Palmerston.

Filling up at a Territory pump cost an average of 40 cents per litre for petrol.

Territorians were concerned about airfare price increases, increasing arrivals of refugees, and taxes.

In the NT Football League grand final the Wanderers scored a one point victory over St Marys.

The sale of fireworks was restricted to 1 July of each year.

More beer was consumed in the NT per person than anywhere else in the world. Figures from the NT Liquor Commission showed nearly 25 million litres of beer was consumed in 1981. Germany took out second place.

Pancontinental Mining was given approval for the development of the $600 million uranium mining venture at Jabiluka.

The traditional owners of the area around the Jabiluka mine site were given the deeds to their land, the result of the second stage of the East Alligator land claim.

The township of Jabiru was officially opened.

The first high school at Tennant Creek opened.

The Larrakeyah Naval Patrol base was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Peta Lynne Mann receiving the Royal Humane Society's Gold Medal for bravery from the Queen 

On 6 October 1982, Peta Lynne Mann received the Royal Humane Society's Gold Medal for bravery from the Queen for saving a 23-year-old man from a crocodile attack in 1981, when she was 12 years old.

In October, Lindy Chamberlain was jailed for the murder of her baby Azaria, following her disappearance at Ayers Rock on 17 August 1980.

East Arm Hospital, one of the last leprosy hospitals in Australia, closed after 27 years.

The funding for the brucellosis and tuberculosis (BTB) eradication campaign was more than doubled and a 1992 target set to have the NT completely eradicated from BTB. In 1982 tuberculosis in NT cattle had been reduced to 0.18 per cent.

The first Red Cross Katherine River Canoe Marathon started.

The inaugural Tennant Creek yachting regatta was held at the new Mary Ann Dam, and the Tennant Creek Yacht Squadron formed.

Casuarina Coastal Reserve was officially declared a Conservation Area under the Crown Land Act.

The NT Government launched the Darwin Foreshore Protection Plan, which only allowed new development proposals for Darwin's beaches for community recreation projects.

Society and popular culture

Pinball machines were being researched to determine their addictiveness and were thought to be responsible for an outbreak of gang warfare in Darwin.

'We of the Never-Never' premiered at Parap Cinema. One of the principal characters in Aeneas Gunn's classic novel, 'Bet Bet' attended the screening.

Territorians were listening to Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' and Men at Work released the single 'Down Under', which topped the charts for six weeks.

Territorians were watching 'Fawlty Towers', 'Dr Who' and 'Countdown', and listening to Dad and Dave on 8DN radio.

The 'Australian Women's Weekly cost 70 cents and Princess Diana featured on the cover ten times.

Prince William was born in June.

Members of 1982 Cabinet

This page shows the Northern Territory Government ministries in 1982. 

Fifth Everingham Ministry - 1 July 1980 to 25 January 1982

Hon PAE Everingham MLAChief Minister
Hon MB Perron MLATreasurer and Minister for Industrial Development
Minister for Community Development
Hon IL Tuxworth MLAMinister for Health
Minister for Mines and Energy
Hon JM Robertson MLAMinister for Education
Minister for Lands and Housing
Hon RM Steele MLAMinister for Primary Production and Tourism
Minister assisting the Treasurer
Hon NM Dondas MLAMinister for Transport and Works
Minister for Youth, Sport and Recreation - 1 January 1980 to 25 January 1982
Minister assisting the Chief Minister - 1 July 1981 to 25 January 1982

Sixth Everingham Ministry - 26 January 1982 to 30 November 1982

Hon PAE Everingham MLAChief Minister
Hon MB Perron MLATreasurer*
Minister for Lands and Housing
Hon IL Tuxworth MLAMinister for Health
Minister for Mines and Energy
Hon JM Robertson MLAMinister for Education
Minister for Community Development*
Hon RM Steele MLAMinister for Primary Production*
Minister for Industry Development and Tourism*
Minister assisting the Treasurer*
Hon NM Dondas MLAMinister for Transport and Works
Minister for Youth, Sport and Recreation
Minister assisting the Chief Minister

*These appointments began on 3 February 1982.

Seventh Everingham Ministry - 1 December 1982 to 12 December 1983

Hon PAE Everingham MLAChief Minister
Minister for Lands, Industrial Development and Tourism
Hon MB Perron MLATreasurer
Minister for Education
Hon IL Tuxworth MLAMinister for Primary Production and Conservation
Minister for Community Development
Hon JM Robertson MLAAttorney-General
Minister for Mines and Energy
Hon RM Steele MLAMinister for Transport and Works
Minister assisting the Treasurer
Hon NM Dondas MLAMinister for Health and Housing
Minister for Youth, Sport, Recreation and Ethnic Affairs
Minister assisting the Chief Minister

Cattle and buffalo policy

This page has Cabinet decision highlights about buffalo and cattle policy in the Northern Territory (NT). 

Brucellosis and Tuberculosis eradication in NT cattle and domesticated buffalo

The national brucellosis and tuberculosis (BTB) eradication campaign in the 1980s was a co-operative effort between producers, state and territory governments and the Commonwealth Government aimed at maintaining Australia’s competitive meat marketing position by pre-empting specific changes in the hygiene requirements of the major meat importing countries and particularly the United Sates of America. The objective was to have Australia free of BTB by 1992.

In January 1981, Cabinet had approved an eradication policy for bovine BTB in the Northern Territory. In December 1982, Cabinet was presented with a detailed plan to implement the policy in relation to cattle and domesticated buffalo. This plan aimed for freedom from BTB in the southern part of the Territory by 1990 and in the north by 1992, with a range of measures to assist cattle producers with on-property costs associated with the campaign.

There was an estimated 1.6 million to 1.8 million cattle in the Northern Territory at the time, with 174 herds assessed as being free from both diseases, 341 herds infected with tuberculosis and 94 herds with both diseases.

Cattle producers were able to participate in the campaign by implementing approved programs of disease eradication. Approximately 1.2 million cattle were run under conditions which allowed for regular mustering, with the diseases to be eradicated from these cattle by testing and culling of the reactors. The balance of stock consisted of animals which were not able to be regularly mustered, or were not able to be tested without difficulty, and it was intended to destock these cattle. Eradication of tuberculosis from the feral buffalo herd was to be carried out concurrently with the campaign in cattle herds in the Top End.

While there had been no opposition to the BTB campaign from Aboriginal communities, active participation by communities was described as having been “patchy”, especially in the north of the Northern Territory. It was noted there may have been a potential conflict where communities relied on buffalo as a source of meat.

The buffalo industry was expected to support the eradication of tuberculosis from the commercial domesticated buffalo herd, however, that part of the industry which depended on harvesting feral buffalo was expected to oppose the control and elimination of feral buffalo.

Northern Territory cattle abattoirs were expected to support the campaign, since the cattle industry would be more stable, producing a regular turnoff, which would be favourable for abattoir throughput and profitability. Abattoirs relying significantly on buffalo would suffer a shortage of slaughter buffalo due to the expected decline in the feral buffalo herd but it was considered that sufficient cattle should be available to replace buffalo at those abattoirs.

The Cabinet Submission suggested the plan for eradication of BTB would mean the purely speculative purchase of pastoral leases should become less attractive, due to the requirements of the BTB programme, which should in turn be favourable for the development of the beef pastoral industry.

The total cost of the eradication program including monitoring activities for three years after 1 July 1992 was $94 million, consisting of contributions as follows:

Northern Territory Government $25.55 million
Commonwealth Grant $39.75 million
Producer’s Levy $28.70 million

Cabinet approved the plan for eradication of BTB from the Northern Territory and the negotiation of an agreement with the Commonwealth to cover operations and funding of the eradication campaign and to provide assistance measures for cattle producers. Cabinet noted that a policy for the control of feral buffalo, and the eradication of tuberculosis from the feral buffalo herd, must be implemented concurrently with the eradication of tuberculosis in domesticated commercial buffalo, and cattle in the Top End.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2257 and decision number 2674 of 1 December 1982 PDF (11.7 MB).

NT buffalo policy

NT buffalo policy

When Cabinet approved the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign for cattle and buffalo in December 1982, it also considered a submission on the long term objective for the role of buffalo in the Territory.

The submission noted that buffalo had been present in the Top End of the Territory since 1826 and had remained largely a feral animal resource exploited for hides, meat, live export and tourism. 

The buffalo was also well known as the NT trade symbol. 

The buffalo population was 280,000 and generated primary production income of $6 million, in addition to tourism-related income.

Secure pastoral leases were first granted in the late 1960s in the Adelaide-Alligator Rivers area where the buffalo industry was based. 

Conflicts of opinion began to emerge from that time regarding the resource potential of buffalo, their ability when uncontrolled to degrade the environment and their importance both locally and nationally in terms of bovine and ruminant diseases.

The development of the Buffalo Policy was informed by a number of reports and a Buffalo Industry Symposium held in February 1981. 

Issues discussed in the policy's development included the priority to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) from NT buffalo, pastoral production value, the current and future value of the recreational industry involving buffalo, environmental issues, suitability of land systems for buffalo production, and support to pastoral enterprises.

Cabinet endorsed a range of principles to put in place the Buffalo Policy, including all of the following:

  • adoption of approved TB eradication programs by landholders
  • simultaneous control programs for feral cattle and buffaloes
  • compensation to be paid for TB carcass condemnations and for buffalo destocking
  • development of a more accurate TB test for buffaloes
  • encouragement of private game management reserves to cater for tourists including safari type hunting operations
  • provision of developmental finance through the Northern Territory Development Corporation especially directed towards the nucleus breeding population
  • encouragement of multi-purpose activities to the maximum degree possible such as pastoral with tourist activities and TB eradication with domestication.

Cabinet also asked that the government’s policy of involving Aboriginal people in ventures of this type be encouraged. 

Separate Cabinet submission’s were requested on the following initiatives:

  • establishment of a 1,000 head herd, intensively managed and researched on the Coastal Plains Research Station as a buffalo national genetic conservation resource
  • a nucleus domesticated buffalo breeding population with a minimum of 20,000 head to be established by pastoralists, assisted by an upgraded government extension effort
  • establishment of 10 industry development projects each with 500 buffaloes to be part of the nucleus breeding population
  • establishment of a government game management reserve with 6,000 controlled buffaloes for public hunting and sightseeing
  • introduction of programs for the restoration and conservation of wetlands and for the regeneration of areas degraded through overgrazing and erosion
  • re-assessment of the system of allocating buffalo tenders.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2290 and decision number 2707 of 1 December 1982 PDF (11.7 MB).


In January 1982, Cabinet considered a submission in relation to public safety and nuisance issues arising from the public use of fireworks. At that time, fireworks could be let off by the public on two occasions each year, being Self-Government Day on 1 July and Guy Fawkes Day on 5 November.

The submission noted that the police, the fire brigade and the Department of Mines and Energy received many complaints regarding the use of fireworks outside the designated hours for the two celebrations.

It was argued that, while many people consider that children should not be deprived of the pleasure of letting off their own fireworks, this had to be balanced against damage caused by fireworks, particularly injury to children.

It was noted that public displays of fireworks gave families the opportunity to see top class fireworks at reasonable cost under controlled and safe conditions.

The submission proposed that one day only should be reserved for the letting off of fireworks, being Self-Government Day on 1 July each year. 

The option of restricting the sale of fireworks to amusement-type fireworks by banning crackers was covered, as was banning the public sale of fireworks entirely, while permitting public displays of fireworks. 

The submission recommended the option to ban the public sale of fireworks. This approach would not only address issues of hooliganism and complaints of noise, it would also remove nearly all chance of injury to members of the public caused by fireworks.

Cabinet did not accept the recommendation to impose a ban and decided to continue to let the general public let off fireworks only on 1 July each year. 

Cabinet also directed that:

  • the Chief Inspector of Explosives be able to specifically approve the type of firework which may be sold based on a safety
  • fireworks of an illuminating nature be favoured over those of an explosive nature
  • permits for firework displays on special occasions under supervisory conditions were to be subject to the discretion of the Chief Inspector of Explosives.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 1800 and decision number 2130 of 28 January 1982 PDF (823.8 KB).

Indonesian - NT Joint Working Party Meeting

Following visits to Indonesia by the Deputy Chief Minister in October 1980, and by the Chief Minister in March 1981, a trade delegation from Indonesia led by Vice Admiral Abdul Kadir, Director General of Trade and Cooperatives, visited the Northern Territory (NT) in October 1981.

As a result of this visit, the Indonesian Government invited the NT Government to send a delegation to Surabaya to participate in a joint working group meeting to discuss the development of trade between Indonesia and the NT.

A delegation of NT Government officers attended the first joint working group meeting in Surabaya from 5 to 7 January 1982. 

The aims of the meeting were to:

  • explore the prospects for developing two-way trade with Indonesia which would complement economic development
  • keep close government-to-government contact with central and regional trade officers in the Indonesian Government
  • investigate means of developing rail, road, air and sea transport facilities linking Australian markets and sources of supply to Indonesia through Darwin
  • arrange a regular program of visits by business entrepreneurs and Government officials to facilitate two-way trade.

Topics covered by the working group discussions were:

  • transport and general trade policy including air freight, shipping, road and rail transport
  • livestock and livestock products including cattle, buffalo, beef, cattle hides and goats
  • building materials, industrial products and joint ventures
  • timber products for importation to the Northern Territory
  • Cabinet was provided with a report on the proceedings of the first Indonesian-Northern Territory Joint Working Party meeting in Surabaya for noting.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 1875 and decision number 2215 of 12 March 1982 PDF (2.5 MB).

Environmental Assessment Bill

Following self-government, environmental assessment of projects in the Northern Territory (NT) had stayed the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act.

In October 1979, the NT was exempted from the provisions of the Commonwealth Act on the understanding that the Territory would enact its own legislation for the conduct of environmental investigations.

In August 1981, Cabinet had approved the drafting of an Environment Assessment Bill to provide for preliminary environmental reports, environmental impact statements, public review and evaluation, and an enforcement process.

In May 1982, Cabinet considered the proposed NT legislation, noting it would replace the former application of Commonwealth procedures with a more flexible and locally responsive system, and would place the Territory on the same footing as the states in these matters. 

The Bill created a framework for environmental assessment, with the detailed implementation provisions to be contained in administrative procedures.

Cabinet approved the Environmental Assessment Bill and agreed to its introduction into the Legislative Assembly at the May/June 1982 sittings.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 1968 and decision number 2300 of 19 and 20 May 1982 PDF (3.3 MB).

Amateur fishing bag limit

In December 1981, as part of a plan of management for the Northern Territory barramundi resource, Cabinet had decided to extend the existing amateur bag limit for barramundi through the introduction of a family bag limit. 

The law at the time allowed an individual bag limit of five barramundi per person per day with a maximum of 10 barramundi in possession. 

The family bag limit option would be 10 barramundi per day per family with a maximum of 20 barramundi in possession.

The family bag limit for barramundi was originally proposed as part of a scheme requiring amateur licences for barramundi fishing. 

The aim was that a family, including small children, would be able to fish under a family licence and not need to take out licences for each individual. At the same time, the family would not be allowed to exceed the family bag limit.

In deciding on measures for inclusion in the barramundi plan of management, Cabinet decided not to implement amateur licences for barramundi fishing but agreed to proceed with the introduction of a family bag limit which would apply to all families engaged in barramundi fishing. 

This needed an amendment to the bag limit regulations.

In June 1982, Cabinet received advice through a submission from the Minister for Primary Production that the best way of determining a ‘family’ for the purpose of a bag limit would be to include children under a certain age.

This approach would help reduce abuse of existing bag limits but could give rise to an argument that young anglers would be discriminated against as they would not have the option of being treated as an individual for the purposes of the bag limit. 

Similarly, the scheme could be seen as discriminating against two parent families engaged in fishing compared with a family fishing group where only one parent was in attendance. 

These technical difficulties suggested that a family bag limit, in the absence of the need for an amateur fishing licence, may not achieve Cabinet’s original intentions.

The submission recommended that Cabinet’s previous approval of a family bag limit for amateur barramundi fishing not be used at that time, and Cabinet accepted this advice.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2001 and decision number 2361 of 4 June 1982 PDF (483.5 KB).

Zoo at Berry Springs

In 1979, the NT Conservation Commission briefed Dr Peter Crowcroft, former Director of Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, to prepare a report outlining realistic objectives and criteria for a Darwin Zoo.

An area of land adjacent to the Berry Springs Nature Park was subsequently recommended for the development of a zoo and Cabinet approved the preparation of detailed plans.

In July 1982, Cabinet was presented with a proposal for the zoo concept, being that of an open range zoo with large enclosures of natural appearance without fences or bars set in bushland.

The proposed site included an attractive lagoon and had a range of interesting natural features that could be developed. 

Visitor access included roads or walking tracks and cycle paths. Although educational aspects of such a zoo were important, the major emphasis was to be on visitor recreation, with an information centre, kiosk, toilets and picnic areas.

The advice to Cabinet noted that all other Australian States had large public zoos. 

With the exception of the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo, these were all established many years ago along traditional lines, with animals confined behind bars in artificial surroundings, and featuring exotic animals not native to Australia.

It was suggested that a zoo of this nature would cost too much to build and operate and that people preferred to see animals in a free and natural condition. 

A reasonable standard display featuring a modest collection of exotic animals such as large carnivores, elephants and so on at Berry Springs would be expensive to develop and maintain and would provide poor competition for the larger and longer established collections of southern zoos. 

Instead, the new zoo was seen as an opportunity to adopt a unique emphasis on Australian fauna.

Tropical wildlife was seen as one of the major attractions for both tourists and residents of the Top End. 

It would be possible to capitalise on this and feature species native to the north as well as introduced feral animals such as buffalo, Bali cattle, Timor ponies, donkeys and deer.

The proposed zoo was described as a prime addition to the tourist resources of the region, an important education resource for schools and a major recreation facility for local people.

Three options were put to Cabinet to progress the zoo:

  • allow private enterprise to develop a major zoo, either with government or independently
  • approve the development of a government-funded open range zoo featuring a unique display of Territory wildlife at an overall development cost of $4 million
  • continue with a smaller government-funded development, which could be expanded later.

Experience Australia-wide had shown a lack of success by private entrepreneurs in the establishment and operation of zoos with a wide diversity of exhibits. 

The direct income generating potential of such zoos was reported as being low, generally barely sufficient to cover operating costs, let alone service capital.

Zoos with a wide spectrum of fauna were associated with high capital costs, complex management, limited income and were usually public sector projects. So the private sector option was not recommended.

Although more costly in the short term, option 2 could be less expensive and would result in a unique, high class and significant public resource and tourist attraction in northern Australia.

Cabinet was advised that, if the initial development cost of the total proposal was of major concern, option 3 could be adopted, which involved approving the total concept in principle, with an initial development valued at $2.5 million over three years and completion of the development in the years after the zoo had been opened to the public.

This could be achieved by postponing the construction of some expensive elements, such as the proposed nocturnal house and the reptile house and by staging development in other areas.

Cabinet approved in principle the allocation of $4 million over the next five years for the construction of the Berry Springs Zoo subject to normal budgetary considerations.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2056 and decision number 2440 of 29/30 July 1982 PDF (1.5 MB).

Alice Springs to Darwin Railway

In August 1982, Cabinet was provided with an information paper on progress to date in relation to the proposed Alice Springs to Darwin railway.

While the Commonwealth Government had given a commitment for construction of the railway line to take place in 1990, the Northern Territory continued to press for completion in 1988 in time for the national bicentenary celebration. 

A joint Commonwealth-Northern Territory consultative committee of officials had been established to progress work on the railway.

Commonwealth and Northern Territory representatives had produced a draft Heads of Agreement between the two Governments. In brief, the Agreement sought to define the responsibilities and commitments of the two Governments as follows:

  • Commonwealth Government to build at its own expense a standard gauge railway between Alice Springs and Darwin, and aim to complete the line by 1988
  • Commonwealth Government to negotiate with Aboriginal communities in relation to Aboriginal land or land under consideration for grant as Aboriginal land for the railway corridor
  • Northern Territory Government to provide the land for the construction of the railway except existing Aboriginal land or land under claim
  • Northern Territory Government to provide the construction materials of gravel and earth where those occur on NT Crown land
  • various issues flowing from the above and the commitments made by both governments.

The progress report also noted the following developments:

  • a 200km route had been surveyed from Charles River (Alice Springs) to the Mt Tops to Mt Octy area 
  • over 60km had been pegged, while pegging of the Alice Springs to Charles River section was still in abeyance pending resolution of a sacred site with Aboriginal owners
  • anthropological works were continuing northwards particularly in the Devils Marbles area which was likely to be affected by the rail route
  • between Tennant Creek and Katherine, it was becoming clear that a route west of Lake Woods and northwards through the Hidden Valley area was both feasible and significantly superior in engineering and cost terms compared to a route along the Stuart Highway
  • a final centre line had been pegged through Katherine, and survey work was continuing in various sections through to Noonamah
  • planning for a station location south of Katherine
  • in the Darwin area, the railway commission Australian National had accepted the alternative corridor through Coonawarra to Winnellie and the entire route was to be surveyed by the end of the year.

A submission was intended to be made to Federal Cabinet for an Act of Parliament to be passed in early 1983 if the project proceeded.

Cabinet noted the progress report.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2069 and decision number 2461 of 10 August 1982 PDF (1.2 MB).

Confinement of baby Chamberlain

Baby Chamberlain' s mother 

Cabinet noted that the Minister for Community Development had determined, based on all available advice that the baby Chamberlain could not be confined with the mother at Berrimah Prison or at any other institution.

The events surrounding the delivery of the baby Chamberlain were matters to be resolved between the Chamberlains’ doctor, the Director of Correctional Services and the Medical Superintendent at Darwin Hospital.

Read the Cabinet decision - without submission, decision number 2631 of 5 November 1982 PDF (68.8 KB).