1976 in Australia

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1976 in Australia
Monarchy Elizabeth II
Governor-General John Kerr
Prime minister Malcolm Fraser
Population 13,892,995
Elections NSW, VIC, TAS
See also:



  • 5 January - The Family Law Act comes into effect, Elizabeth evatt is sworn in as first Chief justice of the Family Court of Australia.
  • 31 January - The Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, states that no “soft options” were left to get Australia out of its economic difficulties. In a major statement backing his Government’s surprise opposition to wage indexations, he said it was a matter of wage increase or jobs.
  • 1 February - Five killed when two light planes collide above Parafiled Airport, 16km north of Adelaide.
  • 9 February - Victorian Premier, Mr Hamer announces a March 20 election date, saying it is the most convenient date because of the Premiers’ Conferences due to be held in Canberra in late April and June.
  • 11 February - Liberal member for Clayfield, Queensland resigns.
  • 2 March - Cyclone Colin affects the south Queensland coast, forcing the suspension of shipping services into Brisbane and causing winds of up to 93 km an hour.
  • 3 March - The key man in the Labor campaign fund allegations, Mr Henry Fischer, breaks his silence to deny accusations that the Iraqi Government had offered money to the Australian Labor Party for election expenses last December.
  • 18 March - After another day of heavy withdrawals from building societies in Queensland, the Federal Treasurer, Mr Lynch, steps to reassure investors, saying that there was no reason why the events in Queensland – where five building societies have been suspended – should affect other States.
  • 27 March - Brisbane City Council election
  • 1 May – Neville Wran Becomes NSW Premier
  • 3 May - The Federal Opposition Leader, Mr Whitlam names the former Liberal minister he claims accepted bribes from the American Lockheed Corporation – the late Sir Shane Partridge – Defence Minister from 1964 to 1966.
  • 1 June - The Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, sets out his foreign policy objectives in a statement to the House of Representatives. He expresses his concerns about the ambitions of the Soviet Union (evidenced by its intervention in Vietnam and Angola), the strength of Warsaw Pact forces confronting NATO and naval expansion in the Indian Ocean. He condemns ‘undue world criticism’ of the United States and emphasises the importance of Australia’s relations with Japan and China, as well as stressing the importance of close relations with the ASEAN countries, especially Indonesia.

The Federal Government fails in another attempt to persuade the Queensland Premier, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, that the Australian-Papua New Guinea border in Torres Strait should be moved south.

  • 5 June - The Fraser Government and PNG Ministers finally decide that the inhabited Torres Strait islands would remain part of Australia, though the seabed boundary would move.
  • 8 June - Cabinet agrees to a series of changes in the law governing the establishment, operation, management and supervision of building societies, following a run on a number of building societies, the temporary suspension of five and then the collapse of two of them, the Great Australian and City Savings Permanent Building societies, with a joint deficiency of $3.7 million.

The Cabinet creates a contingency fund, funded by a compulsory levy on all permanent building societies in Queensland.

  • 15 June - Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and his wife arrive in Japan.
  • 16 June - The Australia-Japan Treaty of Friendship is signed, confirming the important trade relations between the two nations.
  • 29 June - New South Wales State Cabinet decides to appoint a three-member board of review to inquire into the future of the Eastern Suburbs Railway.
  • 29 July - In Brisbane, a police inspector hits a girl on the head with a baton during protests by university students through city streets, sparking calls for an inquiry into police powers.
  • 17 August - The Federal budget is handed down - it predicts a deficit of $2,608 million and an inflation rate of 8–9% by mid-1977.
  • 1 September - Cigarette + Tobacco advertising banned on TV + Radio
  • 30 September – Blue Hills, the long running ABC radio serial, comes to an end after 32 years
  • 1 October - Medibank Private is established following legislation passed allowing the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) to enter the private health insurance business.
  • 16 October - Queensland - Liberal candidate, Tony Bourke, wins the Lockyer by-election, the seat vacated by Sir Gordon Chalk.
  • 26 October - The Federal Government is given a report recommending that mining should stop on Fraser Island.
  • 28 October - Mr Justice Fox delivers his first report resulting from his inquiry into the proposed Ranger mine in the Northern Territory.
  • 4 November - A White Paper on defence is tabled in Parliament. This notes that Britain, Australia’s traditional protector, is no longer a significant power east of Suez and that Australia’s defence must become increasingly self-reliant.
  • 5 November - In Brisbane, after a trial that lasted 126 days, a jury finds three men not guilty of official corruption charges. One was a serving policeman, the second the person who had allegedly been involved in trying to bribe him and the third a policeman who had retired. That last man, Jack Reginald Herbert, was later to admit (to the Fitzgerald Inquiry) to his guilt for this and many similar crimes, and to implicate Sir Terry Lewis as an active member of the ‘Joke’.
  • 10 November - The Fraser Island Report recommendations are accepted by the Fraser Government but resisted by Bjelke-Petersen.
  • 15 November - Ray Whitrod decided to resign as Queensland Police Commissioner, claiming he could no longer function under such a high level of government interference.
  • 18 November - Prime Minister Fraser announces that Treasury would be split into separate departments of Treasury and Finance.
  • 28 November - Federal Cabinet agrees to a 17.5% devaluation of the dollar (which brought it almost to parity with the US dollar) and the ‘adoption of a flexibly administered exchange rate, somewhat along the lines of a “managed float”.’ Financial institutions would be closely monitored to ensure that lending ‘comes back from recent excessive and unsustainable levels’, government expenditure would be reviewed once again and the strongest possible arguments for restraint would be put to the December quarter National Wage Case.
  • 4 December – The Royal Australian Navy's fleet of Grumman Tracker aircraft is destroyed by arson at Nowra, New South Wales
  • 16 December - The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act is enacted.
  • 17 December - Cabinet agrees to establish a Human Rights Commission to deal with complaints of discrimination on the grounds of race or on other grounds prohibited by future Commonwealth laws. The Commission would review existing and future Commonwealth and state laws, and report on their consistency with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Australia was a signatory but not a party.

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Nine Network soap operas The Young Doctors and The Sullivans both begin on air in November.