1990 - The Goss Government – the great reforms roll out

Published Friday, 01 January, 2021 at 06:05 AM

Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

Today’s release of the 1990 Queensland Cabinet Minutes shows the Goss Government’s bold steps towards transforming Queensland into a modern, progressive and productive state, after 32 years of conservative government - delivering reform which is still supporting Queenslanders today.

Minister for the Digital Economy, Leeanne Enoch said 1990 was truly the year when change came to Queensland.

“Premier Goss cracked down on corruption, took steps towards every Queenslander’s vote having equal weight, and turned the public service into a modern administration,” Ms Enoch said.

“The appointment of Commissioners to the Criminal Justice Commission, the predecessor of today’s Crime and Corruption Commission, was pivotal in addressing the actions of the previous Bjelke-Peterson government.

“While the unravelling of the notorious gerrymander delivered an electoral system where Queenslanders could be confident their vote really counted.

“Reform was the cornerstone of the Goss Government’s Cabinet papers with a legacy which improved a broad cross section of policy areas, including the environment, education, police services, industrial relations, infrastructure, community housing and the rights of First Nations people.

“In one of the biggest reforms in 60 years the Goss Government made significant changes to the structure and organisation of Queensland’s public service to reflect the government’s favoured machinery of government and considerable reform agenda that would follow.

Beginning in January 1990, Cabinet authorised the establishment of the Public Sector Management Commission (PSMC) to ‘modernise’ Queensland’s public service and make it more ‘efficient’.

“The Goss Government promptly established an Office of Women’s Affairs and later the Women’s Policy Branch, located within the Policy Co-ordination Division in the Premier’s own Department,” Ms Enoch said.

“Reversing an earlier directive of the former National Party Government, Cabinet approved a new directive which required full cooperation of all state government employees to facilitate the work of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in Queensland.

“Later in 1990, Cabinet endorsed the government’s response to the 56 recommendations contained in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Commission’s interim report, indicating support for most recommendations.

 “1990 also saw huge steps forward in addressing gay rights with a review of homosexual law reform leading to the decriminalisation of homosexuality,” Ms Enoch said.

“A direct link from this past reform to the present can be seen in the Palaszczuk Government’s 2017  expungement of the state’s past convictions for homosexual activity and the apology for the harm it inflicted, as well as the equalisation of the age of consent in 2016.

“The Goss Government’s green credentials were also showcased in the Minutes with an agreement being reached with the Federal Government over financial and administrative arrangements for the north Queensland wet tropic region which had been listed as a World Heritage Area.

“These papers reveal the establishment of a national park on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in an attempt to balance sand mining and environmental protection, along with the announcement of a public inquiry into the conservation and land management of K’Gari (Fraser Island) and the Great Sandy Region,” she said.

“The release of these 1990 Cabinet papers reveal the progressive reform agenda of the Goss Government which was built on fairness, discipline and integrity - which can be seen today as integral to Queensland’s continuing success.

Other highlights of the of the 1990 Cabinet papers include:

  • The Goss Government introduced new industrial relations legislation based on the findings of 1987-88 Hanger Inquiry into Queensland’s industrial relations framework. Cabinet approved the Industrial Relations Bill and the legislation to reinstate the ‘lost’ superannuation entitlements of electrical workers sacked after the 1985 SEQEB dispute.
  • The opening of the new Logan Hospital along with south-east Queensland transport infrastructure projects and regional mining venture approvals continued to be a focus of Cabinet attention  
  • In August Cabinet agreed to introduce daylight saving time state-wide “on a permanent basis”. The trial continued through to 1991-92 when it was rejected at a state-wide referendum.
  • Cabinet considered the matter of Queensland’s higher education entrance system, with a view to replacing the TE score with a new system of ranking higher education applicants. Subsequently legislation was to be drafted to bring the review changes into effect, with the OP entrance system commencing in 1992.
  • With more students completing year 12, the Goss Government endorsed a policy of increasing the intake of students at the state’s universities and colleges to “provide enhanced higher education opportunities for young Queenslanders”. 
  • Cabinet also moved in 1990 to introduce the Heritage Buildings Protection Bill, saving many old, historic buildings from the wrecker’s ball.
  • Cabinet approved actions to investigate and facilitate the introduction of poker machines into Queensland clubs and pubs, under strict licensing laws.
  • Cabinet authorised investigation into how Queensland’s parliamentary terms might be extended to a four-year duration. The first four-year term for a Queensland Government started on November 1 2020 with the current Palaszczuk Government.  
  • In April 1990, Cabinet agreed that subordinate legislation be approved progressively bringing various provisions and regulations associated with the newly passed Police Act into effect, allowing the appointment of new executive-level police officers. Cabinet approved the repeal of the Police Complaints Tribunal Act 1982-1989, enabling the process for investigating complaints against police officers to be moved from within the Police Department to the Criminal Justice Commission.
  • The Goss Government considered the extent of the government’s involvement in Warana, up until that time was mandatory for government floats to appear in the parade. Now it was to be at the discretion of departments. By the mid-1990s it was clear that the city needed a new approach. Warana evolved into the Brisbane Festival, first held in 1996 as a joint initiative of the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council, intended to foster the arts.

The Cabinet Minutes can be viewed at the Queensland State Archive, Runcorn from Monday 4 January 2021, or www.archives.qld.gov.au from Friday, 1 January 2021.


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