Opposition health spokesman Peter Shack embarrassingly fails to produce the Coalition's long-promised health insurance policy. The Federal Opposition abandons its Medicare policy in what critics regarded as an embarrassing turnaround.
The International Olympic Committee President arrives in Melbourne, giving a massive boost to Melbourne's Olympic Games bid.
28 February – Bob Carr moves to suspend Standing Orders in New South Wales Legislative Assembly in order to move a motion to condemn National Party Leader and Deputy Premier Wal Murray for allegedly interfering with proper tendering procedures in respect of the Walsh Bay redevelopment.
Police conduct a drug raid on the Heidelberg Hotel, angering civil libertarian groups.
Aboriginal groups accuse Charles Perkins of joining in an attack on land rights by the New South Wales Government.
24 March – A federal election is held. The government of Prime MinisterBob Hawke is re-elected for a fourth term with its lowest primary vote ever – 39.4% and the loss of 8 seats. Australian Democrats Leader Janine Haines fails in her bid for the South Australian Lower House seat of Kingston, and National leader Charles Blunt loses his northern New South Wales seat of Richmond, largely on anti-nuclear Helen Caldicott's preferences. In North Sydney, popular ex-mayor Ted Mack becomes the first genuine Independent to win a House seat since World War II. The number of Australian Democrats Senators increases to 8.
25 March – A bomb and poison attack is instigated against an Adelaide poultry processing plant.
26 March – Finance Minister Senator Peter Walsh makes unflattering remarks about poll-driven policies having undermined the careful work of Cabinet's Economic Review Committee and declines to stay in the Ministry.
The fourth Hawke Ministry is announced – Treasurer Paul Keating replaces the retired Lionel Bowen as Deputy Prime Minister, Senator Graham Richardson transfers from the Environment portfolio to Social Security and the centre left faction loses out in the extensive reshuffle.
The South Australian Government releases its final report on the Murder of George Duncan finding that there was insufficient evidence to charge any person with the murder which took place on 10 May 1972.
8 June – Two major Queensland firms involved in the building industry collapse, costing hundreds of jobs and leaving projects worth millions of dollars in jeopardy.
10 June – The Federal Health Minister announces that Medicare is to be overhauled for the first time in its six-year history to produce a better targeted, more efficient system with a stronger emphasis on community care and preventative programs.
Prime Minister Bob Hawke announces that Australia will send two frigates to join the naval blockade of Iraq in the Gulf War which followed Iraq's annexation of Kuwait. Protests ensued.
21 August – Measures announced in the Federal Budget – an assets test on family allowances, the cutting of pharmaceutical benefits and taxes on imputed pensioner income from investments – all provoke community outcry.
24 September – A special Australian Labor Party Conference endorses the privatisation of Qantas and Australian Airlines, the merger of OTC and Telecom and the sale of Aussat, despite the misgivings of the Left faction.
29 October – Prime Minister Bob Hawke makes an announcement promising the States more access to Government revenue.
30 October – A special Premiers' Conference is held in Brisbane. State Premiers agree with the Commonwealth to streamline transport rules under an historic agreement providing for national registration and licensing.
12 November – Prime Minister Bob Hawke announces that the risk of war in the Persian Gulf had increased as two more Australian guided missile vessels left for the Gulf.
14 November – Former Queensland Health Minister Leisha Harvey is sentenced to twelve months in gaol after being found guilty of thirteen counts of misappropriating public money.
16 November – Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Queensland Premier Wayne Goss announce that the Federal and State Governments will provide $11 million to manage the 621,566 hectares of rainforest between Townsville and Cooktown.
21 November – The Queensland state caucus amends the Criminal Code and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1978–1989 to decriminalise consensual sexual activity between adult males in private.
22 January – John McEnroe is thrown out of the Australian Open Tennis Championships.
27 January – Steffi Gras wins the Australian Open Tennis Championship.
Hayley Lewis wins her fourth gold medal at the Auckland Commonwealth Games.
28 January – Lisa Curry wins a gold medal at the Auckland Commonwealth Games.
30 March – First day of the Australian Track & Field Championships for the 1989–1990 season, which are held at the Olympic Park in Melbourne, Victoria. The men's 10,000 metres event was conducted at Canberra on 24 February 1990.
23 July – Players' draft adopted at board meeting of NSWRL.
8 September – Collingwood draws its elimination final with the West Coast Eagles. The AFL finals schedule is thrown into chaos and the Grand Final is rescheduled to be played a week later than usual. Extra time is subsequently introduced for future finals matches.
6 October – Collingwood (13.11.89) defeats Essendon (5.11.41) to win the 94th VFL/AFL premiership. It is the first premiership won under the AFL banner and Collingwood's first premiership since 1958, thereby symbolising the end of the "Colliwobbles".