1981 in Australia
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|1981 in Australia|
|Prime minister||Malcolm Fraser|
- Queen of Australia – Elizabeth II
- Governor General – Sir Zelman Cowen
- Prime Minister – Malcolm Fraser
Premiers and Chief Ministers
- Premier of New South Wales – Neville Wran
- Premier of South Australia – David Tonkin
- Premier of Queensland – Joh Bjelke-Petersen
- Premier of Tasmania – Doug Lowe, then Harry Holgate
- Premier of Western Australia – Sir Charles Court
- Premier of Victoria – Rupert Hamer, then Lindsay Thompson
- Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory – Post did not exist in 1981
- Chief Minister of the Northern Territory – Paul Everingham
Governors and Administrators
- Governor of New South Wales – Sir Roden Cutler (until 19 January), then Sir James Rowland
- Governor of South Australia – Keith Seaman
- Governor of Queensland – Sir James Ramsay
- Governor of Tasmania – Sir Stanley Burbury
- Governor of Western Australia – Sir Richard Trowbridge
- Governor of Victoria – Sir Henry Winneke
- Administrator of the Northern Territory – John England (until 1 January), then Eric Johnston
- 10 February – Townsville International Airport opens in Townsville
- 14 February – Australia withdraws recognition of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia.
- 15 April – Foreign Minister Andrew Peacock resigns from cabinet accusing the Prime Minister of gross disloyalty.
- 29 April – A fire at the Pacific Nursing Home kills 16 in Sylvania, a suburb of Sydney.
- 5 June – Rupert Hamer resigns as Premier of Victoria after losing the support of his party.
- 25 August – The Rembrant Hotel fire kills 19 people in Kings Cross, Sydney.
- 19 September – The ALP government of Neville Wran is re-elected in New South Wales, increasing his majority from his "Wranslide" win in 1978.
- 11 November – Harry Holgate becomes Premier of Tasmania after the resignation of Doug Lowe.
- 12 December – A referendum is held in Tasmania to vote for whether or not the Franklin Dam should be built. 47% vote for the original proposal, 8% vote for the compromise solution & 45% vote informally. It is estimated that up to one-third of all votes were for 'no dams', which was not a sanctioned option.
- Public funding of election campaigns introduced in New South Wales
- Victoria decriminalizes homosexual acts between consenting adults
Arts and literature
- 2 March – Good Morning Australia premieres on Network Ten, marking the return of breakfast television to Australian television screens.
- 10 April – The TV Week Logie Awards air on Ten for the first time. It is also the first time that the logies have not been screened on the Nine Network.
- 27 July – Wheel of Fortune premieres on the Seven Network
- 16 September – The Nine Network celebrates 25 years of television in Australia
- November – A Country Practice debuts on Channel 7
- 1 February – Trevor Chappell bowls underarm in the final delivery of the game against New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The delivery leads to the banning of underarm deliveries in cricket.
- 28 March – Australia is represented by fifteen long-distance runners (nine men, six women) at the ninth IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Madrid, Spain. Robert de Castella is Australia's best finisher, claiming the sixth spot (35:20.0) in the race over 12 kilometres.
- March – The Canberra Raiders are accepted as the fourteenth team in the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) for 1982.
- The sin bin rule is introduced in rugby league. Newtown hooker Barry Jensen becomes the first player sent there.
- 6 June – Kevin Bartlett becomes the first player to play 350 Victorian Football League (VFL) games, celebrating as Richmond Football Club beat Melbourne 20.16 (136) to 14.10 (94).
- 25 July – Garry Bentley wins the men's national marathon title, clocking 2:16:58 in Werribee, while Rosemary Longstaff claims the inaugural women's title in 2:46:48.
- 29 July – The VFL board announces that South Melbourne will play 11 games in Sydney in 1982.
- 29 August – South Melbourne play their last game at the Lake Oval in Albert Park against North Melbourne. North Melbourne win, 15.17 (107) to 10.14 (74).
- 26 September – Carlton 12.20 (92) defeat Collingwood (10.12 (72)) to win the 85th premiership. It is the last time Collingwood would feature in a grand final until 1990.
- 27 September – The Parramatta Eels defeat the Newtown Jets 20-11† to win the 74th NSWRL premiership. It is also the first premiership for the Parramatta Eels, who had been trying to win one since 1947. Fans celebrate by burning down the main grandstand of the Cumberland Oval, which was due to be demolished.
- 3 October – Port Adelaide (14.11 (95)) defeat Glenelg (6.8 (44)) at Football Park to win their 27th South Australian National Football League (SANFL) premiership. Port Adelaide's Russell Ebert is awarded the inaugural Jack Oatey medal for best player during the grand final.
- 3 November – Just A Dash wins the Melbourne Cup.
†=Scored under outdated scoring system.
- 17 February - Lisa Skinner, gymnast
- 24 February – Lleyton Hewitt, tennis player
- 26 February – Daniel Geale, welterweight boxer
- 2 April – Michael Clarke, cricketer
- 16 April – Vico Thai, actor
- 11 May – Lauren Jackson, basketball player
- 7 June – Luke Burt, rugby player
- 15 June – Andrew McDonald, cricketer
- 17 June – Shane Watson, cricketer
- 24 July – Doug Bollinger, cricketer
- 26 July – Abe Forsythe, actor
- 8 August – Vanessa Amorosi, singer-songwriter, entertainer
- 18 October – Nathan Hauritz, cricketer
- 19 October – Sarah Taylor, field hockey player
- 22 October – Bradley Hore, boxer
- 26 October – Guy Sebastian, singer-songwriter, Australia's first Idol
- 2 November – Mitchell Johnson, cricketer
- 21 December – Justin Kane, bantamweight boxer
- 27 December – Emilie de Ravin, actress
- 16 June – Sir Thomas Playford (born 1896), former Premier of South Australia
- 29 June – Russell Drysdale (born 1912), painter
- 19 October – Dymphna Cusack (born 1902), writer
- 2 September – Dame Enid Lyons (born 1897), politician
- 9 September – Sir Robert Askin (born 1907), former Premier of New South Wales
- 23 December – Sir Reginald Ansett (born 1909), businessman