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Wednesday, 10 May 1972
Page: 2389

Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) ns asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(1)   Which Department will be undertaking the actual clearance of Cabinet records as distinct from the arrangement of access to Cabinet records.

(2)   What steps have been taken to expedite the release of Cabinet record's scattered in departmental correspondence prior to 1939 and requested by publicly financed researchers.

Mr McMahon - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   As announced on 26th January 1972 the Government has decided that a 30-year access rule should in future apply to Cabinet papers and that the remainder of the war-time Cabinet papers covering the years 1942-1945 should also be released for public examination. Before the papers can be made available however it is necessary to examine them in order to withhold those which, in accordance with normal archival practice and policy, should not be released. A number of departments are engaged in the examination of these records but the final decision, wilh regard to the withholding of any of them, will of course, be made by the Government.

(2)   As I also announced it is hoped to make available the first group of Cabinet papers covering the years 1939 to 1941 by about the middle of this year. Further groups of war-time papers will become available as they are processed. I am advised that as soon as possible after this, work will commence on the pre-1939 Cabinet papers. Meanwhile, it would not be practicable to attempt a search of all pre-1939 departmental records in order to extract any Cabinet records which may be contained in them. If a researcher requests from the Commonwealth Archives Office, access to a file which is then found to contain a Cabinet paper, that paper will be withheld and referred for special individual clearance while the remaining part of the file will be made available for access.

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