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 Malcolm 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, 16 km north of Adelaide.
9 February – Victorian Premier Rupert 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, 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 Phillip 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.
3 May – Federal Opposition Leader Gough 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 –
Prime Minister Malcolm 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 Queensland Premier Joh 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.
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.
1 August -
The 483-page report of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration is released, recommending overturning the centralised system of decision-making in the Commonwealth Public Service and allowing much greater sharing of power between officers and departments. The report is the product of two years of work.
29 Australians are evacuated from Peking, China after Chinese authorities warn of the possibility of a new powerful earthquake.
2 August -
Defence Minister James Killen rejects allegations made by former Deputy Prime Minister Jim Cairns that Australian soldiers were responsible for the alleged massacre of 27 people in Vietnam in July 1970.
New South Wales Premier Neville Wran calls for the abolition of the New South Wales bank holiday.
4 August - New South Wales Premier Neville Wran announces that the State Government will invest $120,000 in the film "The Picture Show Man" - the state's first big investment in film-making in many years.
5 August - New allegations are made on the ABC program "This Day Tonight" claiming that Australian servicemen killed unarmed civilians in Vietnam.
10 August -
The New South Wales Government guarantees an extra $15 million for the Sydney Water Board to create 750 more jobs the 1976-77 financial year in an effort to relieve increasing unemployment in the state.
Max Hodges is removed from the position of Queensland Police Minister due to his unresolved disagreements with the Queensland Police Union. He is replaced by Tom Newberry.
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 – Liberal candidate, Tony Bourke, wins the Lockyer by-election in Queensland, the state 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 Russell Walter 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 Federal Government but resisted by Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
15 November – Ray Whitrod resigns as Queensland Police Commissioner, claiming he could no longer function under such a high level of government interference.
18 November – Prime Minister Malcolm 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.
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.