'Beware of swimming with gays': Qld Cabinet documents

"As a parent, I would have strong reservations about letting young people compete in a pool that was used for such a sick event as a gay swimming carnival."

So said Queensland's welfare, youth and ethnic affairs minister 30 years ago, at the height of the nation's AIDS fear and the state's own homophobia, led by the Bjelke-Petersen government.

"It seems these people who promote such an immoral, unnatural and deviant lifestyle are turning up everywhere in New South Wales.

"...You'll never hear of a gay mardi gras or gay swimming carnival in Queensland."

The first recorded case of HIV had only occurred in Australia three years before Geoff Muntz made his comments, two years after the nation's first recorded death.

Homosexuality was still illegal in Queensland and would be for another five years, Fairfax reported.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch officially released Cabinet Minutes from 1985 which reveal some of the big government decisions that made headlines in Queensland.

On 1 January each year Queensland State Archives release the Cabinet Minutes from a 30-year embargo.

"The minutes from 1985 reveal an intriguing and tumultuous time in our state's history when AIDS, electricity strikes and Native Title were all on the Cabinet agenda," Ms Enoch said in a statement on Friday.

"There were several secret Cabinet Decisions around Bjelke-Petersen Government legislation to prevent Eddie Mabo claiming Native Title on his island of Mer in the Torres Strait.

"Ministers approved the preparation of a draft Bill intended to 'put beyond doubt some matters where there might be room for argument on Queensland's position or its powers' and authorised extensive historical research to counter the Mabo claim."

Cabinet also introduced the Queensland Coasts Declaratory Bill that declared islands annexed by Queensland 'became the wastelands of the Crown'.

In 1985 an electricity dispute that started in 1980 boiled over when Cabinet members endorsed the actions of South East Queensland Electricity Board.

Ms Enoch said Cabinet members in January 1985 approved the preparation of a Bill amending the Essential Services Act to provide for automatic penalties for striking workers.

"This resulted in a State of Emergency being declared from 7 February to 7 March."

In December 1985 Cabinet agreed to establish a committee to investigate if street lights and "other bright outdoor illumination" could be turned off during the passing of Halley's Comet in April of 1986.

The Gateway Bridge was completed in June 1985 and, prior to the bridge's opening in 1986, Cabinet discussed toll charges and other legal matters.

Cabinet also discussed another bridge, this time to Stradbroke Island.

This controversial proposal involved the construction of a road bridge by a private developer "in return for Crown land on the island, development profits and toll revenues' was discussed.

Ultimately, members preferred a 'southern' route via Russell Island rather than a more direct 'northern' route.

Development was a big agenda item, with Christopher Skase named the developer for the Port Douglas Resort, and Mike Gore's development of Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast given the green light.

More than 30 Cabinet Decisions dealt with plans for and the construction of World Expo 88 at South Bank, and with other development proposals in Brisbane and Moreton Bay.

Significant decisions affecting Brisbane included the proposal for a Rugby Hall of Fame at Ballymore, the Kippa-Ring railway survey and the abandoning of the New Farm Bridge proposal

Cabinet also considered the emerging impact of AIDS, deciding on counter-measures, liability for AIDS-infected blood donations, and the testing of prisoners at Wacol Prison.

The 1985 Cabinet Minutes will be available to the public at Queensland State Archives at Runcorn, and on the State Archives website www.archives.qld.gov.au from Monday 4 January 2016.

Queensland State Archives is open Monday to Friday and the second Saturday of the month from 9am-4.30pm. They are closed during the Christmas period from 25 December until 4 January.