Records 1983


This guide has Cabinet record information from 1983, including Cabinet decision highlights from that year, Cabinet members and a background to the Northern Territory and Australia in 1983.

For a full listing of Cabinet decisions and Executive Council records go to indexes of Cabinet records.

Not all Cabinet decisions are available to view, get the list of Cabinet documents exempted from 30 year release PDF (73.2 KB).

About 1983 records

This page has a historical overview of the Northern Territory (NT) and Australia in 1983.

On 20 March, Prince Charles and Princess Diana began a four day visit to Central Australia. They visited Yulara and Uluru, spoke to school children from the Alice Springs School of the Air, and visited Tennant Creek.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana 

On 26 September, the Australia II syndicate won the America’s Cup Yacht Race.

On 21 April, the $30 million dollar Casino Resort Hotel at Mindil Beach, Darwin was opened.

Casino Resort Hotel at Mindil BeachCasino Resort Hotel opening

On 1 July, the Hotel Darwin celebrated its centenary with the opening of a $500,000 convention and function centre.

ABC FM radio transmission began.

The Federal election in March led to a change of government. Bob Hawke became Prime Minister. 

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser resigned as party leader and federal parliament.

Through the first part of 1983 protests were mounting over the damming of the Franklin River in Tasmania, and on 1 July the High Court of Australia overturned the Tasmanian Government decision to dam the Franklin River.

During February, ‘Ash Wednesday’ fires ravaged areas of Victoria and South Australia.

After an NT general election on 3 December, for the Fourth Legislative Assembly, the CLP retained government with 19 seats, with the ALP winning 6 seats. 

On 13 December the Eighth Everingham Ministry was appointed, with Cabinet increased to eight members. 

Noel Padgham-Purich became the Territory’s first female Cabinet Minister, and Tom Harris and Daryl Manzie became Ministers for the first time.

To try to reduce public nuisance, the new ‘2km drinking law’ came into effect making it illegal to drink within 2km of licensed premises, unless a certificate of exemption had been obtained from the NT Liquor Commission.

In August, Darwin became the home base of No. 75 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, equipped with Mirage fighter aircraft.

On 19 September, the restored Fannie Bay Gaol was officially re-opened as a museum, under the auspices of the Museum of the Arts and Sciences.

Territory Wildlife Park and Cobourg Marine Park were officially declared conservation areas.

The $4 million dollar roll-on/roll-off facility at Fort Hill Wharf went into service in March, as part of the plan to upgrade facilities for international shipping at Port Darwin.

Construction was underway for the $14 million dollar natural gas pipeline that ran 150km from Palm Valley to Alice Springs. The pipeline was completed and operating in September providing fuel for Alice Springs Power Station.

Work began on the access road and bridge to Channel Island for a new power station.

The Darwin Hospital received 'Royal' accolade.

Popular culture

In 1983 Territorians were shopping at Coles New World, Woolworths, and Lecornu. 

They were looking up information in their 'Funk and Wagnell Encyclopaedias', enjoying the movies ‘ET’, ‘The Man from Snowy River’, and ‘Phar Lap’ at the Cinema. 

People in the NT were listening to 'Australiana' by comedian Austen Tayshus, 'I was only 19' by Redgum, and 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' by Bonnie Tyler, and watching the newest talent in Australian Tennis, Pat Cash, rise to success.


All of the following references were used for the information on this page:

  • NAA Guide to Cabinet Records for 1982, and 1983
  • Northern Territory Chronicle 1974-198, NTU print 1999
  • Wilson H, and Estbergs E. The Northern Territory Chronicle, NTU 1984

Members of 1983 Cabinet

This page shows the Northern Territory Government ministries in 1983.

Members of 1983 Cabinet 

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

Eighth Everingham Ministry - 13 December 1983 to 16 October 1984

Hon PAE Everingham MLAChief Minister
Minister for Industrial Development and Tourism
Hon NM Dondas MLAMinister for Health, Youth, Sport, Recreation and Ethnic Affairs
Hon MB Perron MLATreasurer
Minister for Lands
Hon IL Tuxworth MLAMinister for Mines and Energy
Minister for Primary Production
Hon JM Robertson MLAAttorney-General
Minister for Transport and Works
Hon T Harris MLAMinister for Education
Hon CN Padgham-Purich MLAMinister for Housing and Conservation
Hon DW Manzie MLAMinister for Community Development

Fifth anniversary of NT self-government

On 18 January 1983, Cabinet considered a submission to approve the formalities and celebrations associated with the fifth anniversary of Self-Government in the Northern Territory (NT), to be held on Friday, 1 July 1983.

In the lead up, a nine person committee, including representatives of the Tourist Commission, defence services, Arts Council, Darwin City Council, media and private citizens met twice to consider options. 

Proposals submitted by centres outside of Darwin were also considered.

As a result, Cabinet endorsed a broad range of proposals including:

  • a Festival Coordinator to facilitate arrangements for activities associated with Self-Government celebrations on a Territory-wide basis
  • a wide-reaching media program covering such activities as advertising, public relations and the formal and informal proceedings associated with Self-Government be devised and implemented within the Territory and nationally
  • all main Territory centres be encouraged to hold a flag raising ceremony followed by a social gathering
  • where appropriate, all disembarking airline passengers within the Territory on 1 July 1983 to receive a gift pack and momento recognising the anniversary of Self-Government
  • the Department of Education to involve school children in relevant assignments including poster competitions, special outback radio and school of the air programs
  • a pop concert
  • through the NT Racing and Gaming Commission, a ‘monster’ lottery to be devised and implemented with the winning ticket being drawn on 1 July 1983, with the profits from the lottery to offset the cost of the celebrations
  • the words and music of a Territory-wide theme song be commissioned for use on both television and radio
  • suitably designed stick-on labels incorporating the NT Flag to be widely distributed
  • the booklet "Northern Territory 1983 – 5 Years of Self-Government" to be distributed
  • issue a compendium and silver medallion to all school children
  • invitations to visit Darwin on 1 July 1983 be extended to the Governor-General, and/or the Prime Minister and/or relevant Federal Ministers
  • Darwin celebrations to include such things as a Mardi Gras with ethnic dancing, the North East Arnhem Land dancers and the combined schools choir 
  • evening festivities should include a gala ball and a fireworks display from a floating pontoon in the harbour
  • approach the Royal Australian Air Force to make available the No. 75 Mirage Squadron for a fly past, and approach the Royal Australian Navy to provide a ship for ceremonial gun salute duties within Darwin Harbour
  • a hot air balloon race to Darwin with the assistance of the Australian Ballooning Federation
  • official launching of the Katherine Botanical Gardens
  • Community Awareness Week in Jabiru and a competition for the design of a town crest
  • an open town ceremony in Nhulunbuy
  • official opening of stage 1 of the Civic Centre complex in Tennant Creek
  • possible ceremony in Alice Springs for the commencement of construction of Alice Springs to Darwin railway.

Cabinet also endorsed the adoption of the proposed logo and its use should be encouraged as widely as possible, for example on Paul’s milk cartons.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2320 and decision number 2741 of 18 January 1983 PDF (1.7 MB).

Katherine - Tindal Infrastructure

On 8 March 1983, Cabinet considered a report on the infrastructure needs likely to result from the Department of Defence proposals for the development of Tindal Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base and the location of RAAF personnel at Katherine.

The Department of Defence proposals included the deployment to Tindal of an FA18 Squadron in 1986/87 and more comprehensive development of Tindal to include the transfer in the longer term of much of the RAAF activities currently conducted at Darwin. 

Options for location of RAAF personnel at Tindal and Katherine were also being considered.

It was noted this proposal would have a significant impact on the growth and development of Katherine.

It was estimated that employment could peak at about 1,000 additional positions in 1984/85, from jobs directly associated with construction projects and additional flow-on employment in service industries and the public sector.

Defence officials envisaged all single personnel and about 100 families would be housed at Tindal base, with the balance of married staff being housed in Katherine and Katherine East.

Subdivision requirements would involve the turn-off of serviced residential land to meet housing requirements at Katherine, spread over a three year period.

In terms of power supply requirements, it was anticipated that construction of an additional 11 kilo-volt (kV) feeder from Katherine to Tindal at a cost of $300,000 would be needed with implementation of the first stage.

Detailed feasibility studies would be conducted to identify a long term water supply development program, as part of planning for water and sewerage services. 

Several surface water alternatives had however been identified including Donkey Camp on the Katherine River, six possible dam sites on tributaries of McAddens Creek, two possible sites on Dorothy Creek, a dam site and run-of-the-river potential on 17 Mile Creek and Keckwick Dam on the Katherine River upstream from the Gorge.

Other likely infrastructure requirements were identified including:

  • duplication of Stuart Highway between Katherine and Tindal – cost estimate $3.5 million
  • a new pre-school, primary school and secondary school
  • extensions to Katherine hospital to provide a 32 bed wing at a cost of $1.5 million
  • possible upgrading of police facilities at Katherine
  • possible upgrading of Court facilities if the Supreme Court began sitting in Katherine.

The report noted the substantial projected influx of armed services personnel to a small community would have significant impacts on the composition and lifestyle of that community. 

Appropriate planning could greatly minimise negative impacts and problems with a net gain in economic expansion and growth of community services and activities.

Cabinet noted the report.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2422 and decision number 2856 of 8 March 1983 PDF (4.9 MB).

NT Export Markets and Investment Development Scheme

In April 1983, Cabinet approval was sought to establish a scheme which would provide loan assistance to locally based companies, local subsidiaries of interstate companies, individuals and partnerships with the purpose of encouraging the development of export markets for Territory products and services including tourism. 

It also aimed to encourage entrepreneurial investment attraction activity for development projects, including the mining and energy industries.

The submission to Cabinet noted that industry in the Northern Territory (NT) was characterised by a large number of small enterprises producing goods and providing services with export potential. 

Many had limited financial capacity which was an inhibiting factor in their efforts to identify and develop export markets.

At that time, the Commonwealth Export Market Development Grants Scheme (EMDGS) provided taxable grants of 70% of eligible expenditure incurred in developing export markets to bona fide exporters. 

Expenditure that would generally be eligible under the EMDGS included activities such as market research, advertising, participation in trade fairs, overseas travel and export labels and packaging.

In some cases, recipients under the Commonwealth Scheme had to wait up to 18 months after incurring expenses before receiving their grant moneys. This delay placed a considerable financial burden on smaller businesses striving to develop export markets.

To ease the burden on companies in relation to export development costs during the period prior to receipt of EMDGS moneys, and further encourage industry to develop export markets, the submission proposed the establishment of a facility which would be known as the Northern Territory Export Markets and Investment Development Scheme (EMAIDS).

The scheme would offer an interim loan to exporters so they would be in a position to undertake timely follow-up action in respect of overseas markets rather than having to wait for EMDGS reimbursement and perhaps lose the initiative of the previous market exploratory visit. 

Similarly, a loan facility would be established for entrepreneurs to allow them to follow up investment joint venture initiatives to maintain contact with potential investors overseas.

The scheme would provide interest free loans on the following basis:

  • loans of 70% of the cost of international air fares only will be made to bona fide exporters or entrepreneurs travelling overseas with the aim of securing an export market for their products or services, instigating joint ventures or attracting foreign participation in development projects in the Territory
  • the loans will be paid upon their return from overseas on presentation of air tickets
  • the loan agreement would stipulate repayment in full within one month of the receipt of the Commonwealth EMD Grant or 18 months after the date of issue of the loan, whichever was the sooner in the case of exporters, or 18 months after the date of issue of the loan in the case of investment missions and visits.

The Scheme would be administered by the Northern Territory Development Corporation.

Cabinet did not approve the proposal on the basis that it needed the NT Government to underwrite a Commonwealth incentive scheme. 

The Cabinet did indicate the Northern Territory Development Corporation should accept applications for interim funding where exporters were awaiting payment under the Commonwealth Scheme and instructed the Minister to pursue with the Commonwealth Government the more expeditious payment of benefits under its Scheme.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2453 and decision number 2889 of 19 April 1983 PDF (2.0 MB).

Establishment of NT Archives Service

Since the Northern Territory (NT) gained Self-Government in 1978, the Australian Archives provided storage for, and services in respect of, records from NT departments and authorities, as agent for the NT Government.

Executive responsibility for the archives function passed from the Commonwealth to the Northern Territory Government from 1 July 1982.

That same year, the Australian Archives advised that the storage capacity of their Darwin building was almost exhausted and that they could not continue to provide storage services for NT Government records. 

It was proposed the NT Government establish its own archives accommodation.

The submission to Cabinet noted the demand for disposal, storage and reference services from NT Government agencies, and also the demand for archives reference services from agencies and members of the public. 

It was also suggested there was a danger that departments and authorities may inadvertently destroy important records by reason of lack of space or disposal services, underlining the need for an NT Archives Service.

Cabinet agreed with the proposal and authorised the Department of Community Development to establish an NT Archives Service as the archival authority of the government.

Cabinet approved that the objectives of the Northern Territory Archives Service would be:

  • promote efficient and economic management of NT Government records
  • preserve and make available all NT Government records possessing permanent reference value and not needed for administrative purposes 
  • provide archival services for non-government records of permanent reference value.

Cabinet directed the Archives Service be located in Darwin temporarily. The Archives Service proceeded to investigate purpose-built accommodation at Palmerston on or adjacent to the University site.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2585 and decision number 3035 of 7 July 1983 PDF (3.6 MB).

Cashew Nut Development Proposal

On 26 August 1983, Cabinet considered an Information Paper on the development of a possible cashew nut trial proposed by a consortium formed by CSR and Twentieth Century Foods Limited of Singapore.

A Brazilian expert in cashew nut culture, accompanied by two executives of CSR, visited the Wildman River Pastoral Lease in the Northern Territory and two areas in the north west of Western Australia.

The expert’s report was favourable and formed the basis for a detailed cost benefit study leading to the proposal to establish a 25 hectare pilot farm at Wildman River to test the feasibility of cashew nut production over a period of five years.

A major technical problem was seen as the acquisition of suitable high-yielding planting material from new varieties developed in India. Possible quarantine problems had been discussed with CSR and were being researched by the Department of Primary Production.

It was anticipated that given a favourable decision for Wildman River, CSR would have further discussions with the Government in relation to leasing of land and matters such as the availability of ground water supplies for irrigation.

The Information Paper noted that CSR had not indicated its preference for a site however it was understood that Wildman River was favoured. 

Depending on the results of the pilot farm, this could be the site for a major development and the establishment of a cashew processing plant in the Northern Territory.

Cabinet noted the Information Paper.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2673 and decision number 3132 of 26 August 1983 PDF (682.3 KB).

Advance Australia Conqueror

In December 1983, Cabinet considered a proposal from the Minister for Industrial Development and Tourism to provide major sponsorship of $400,000 for a non-stop circumnavigation of the earth by manned helium balloon and gondolier, with the launch location to be either Alice Springs or Ayers Rock.

The project, known as the Advance Australia Conqueror project, would involve a specially designed 150,000 cubic foot (4,247.5 cubic metre) helium balloon which would use high altitude jet stream air currents to achieve a non-stop flight of an estimated 16 days duration, covering some 22,500 miles (36,210km). The project would be a media based operation with on-board broadcasting facilities capable of providing daily worldwide audio and visual communication.

The pilot was to be Mr Julian Nott, a British aviator who held several hot air balloon records. The submission noted that a theoretical and practical probability analysis conducted by the World Authority on Atmospheric Research led to a probability assessment for the project in “the high 90s”.

It was suggested that the attempt would provide unique and dramatic advertising and promotional opportunities prior to, during and after the flight, which would attract worldwide media attention. 

Television and print media coverage of the event was estimated at $34 million in value.

It was argued that the sponsorship would provide a unique opportunity for the Northern Territory to achieve international consumer advertising of multi-million dollar proportions.

Cabinet was not persuaded by the proposal, and did not approve the submission.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2838 and decision number 3328 of 20 December 1983 PDF (1.6 MB).