9 January – HMAS Adelaide rescues British yachtsman, Tony Bullimore, from the Southern Ocean, after his boat, Exide Challenger, capsized three days before.
20 January - Prime Minister John Howard calls a meeting of State Premiers to discuss the implications of the High Court's Wik judgment.
26 January – Nobel Prize winner Peter Doherty is named Australian of the Year.
29 January - Hundreds turn out in North Queensland to hear Pauline Hanson criticise the High Court's ruling in the Wik case.
4 February - Prime Minister John Howard wins Parliamentary support for a constitutional convention on the republic.
10 February - Prime Minister John Howard convenes meetings between miners, farmers and Aboriginal leaders, to discuss the Wik native title issue. Mr Howard also reveals the details of the Government's Work for the Dole plan.
11 February - Prime Minister John Howard admits he approved a requested pay rise for one of Labor defector Mal Colston's staff shortly before last year's crucial Senate vote on the partial sale of Telstra.
14 February - Arnott's Biscuits begins withdrawing its biscuits from supermarket shelves as authorities issue a health alert over an extortionist's poison threat. A pesticide strong enough to kill a small child had been found in some of the biscuits.
23 February - Federal Independent Senator Mal Colston denies new allegations that he had rorted his parliamentary expenses, saying the claims by a former employee were "malicious".
25 February - The Minister for Administrative Services, David Jull, announces a departmental investigation into Independent Senator Mal Colston's use of chauffeur-driven Commonwealth cars and warns he would have no hesitation referring the matter to police.
26 February - Arnott's Biscuits restocks Queensland supermarket shelves with its biscuits three weeks after it was rocked by an extortion threat. The threat has cost the company at least $10 million.
6 March - In Cairns, Paul Streeton is sentenced to life imprisonment for setting fire to school boy Tjandamurra O'Shane.
24 March -
Senator Mal Colston admits he's guilty of claiming an extra $7,000 for travel expenses, but blames sloppy book-keeping.
A conscience vote by the Senate overturns the Northern Territory’s controversial voluntary euthanasia legislation, The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act.
26 March - Prime Minister John Howard announces plans for a constitutional convention in Canberra to consider the republic issue.
20 May – The Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission releases a 689-page report entitled, Bringing Them Home, which states that Australian governments must apologise and pay compensation for the forced removal of Aboroginal and Toores Strait Islander children from their families. The report concludes that successive government policies of forced removal of children constitutes a crime against humanity which amounted to “genocide”. It recommends a national compensation fund be established by the Commonwealth and states, as well as a national “sorry day” be held each year.
30 May – Prime Minister John Howard releases a ten-point plan in response to the High Court of Australia's historic Wik decision last December which recognised that native title and pastoral leases can co-exist. Key points of the plan include the permanent extinguishment of native title on freehold, exclusive-tenure leases, agricultural leases deemed to confer exclusive title and where rights are inconsistent with those of pastoralists; the removal of the right of native title-holders to negotiate over mining exploration and the imposition of a six-year unset clause to register statutory native title claims.
15 June – 14-month-old Jaidyn Leskie disappears from a house in Moe, Victoria.
21 June - Prime Minister John Howard briefs the Queen on his plans to deal with the republic issue.
24 June - Prime Minister John Howard describes Australia as a racially tolerant nation in the Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Lecture in London.
New South Wales Premier Bob Carr announces that New South Wales Police will employ Korean police and intelligence officers to help crack down on organised crime gangs as investigations continue into Korean loan-shark operations at Sydney Harbour Casino.
12 August - Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett is under fire for spending over $5,000 on a helicopter trip.
18 August – Aboriginal activist Burnum Burnum dies at his Woronora home near Sydney. He is particularly remembered for claiming Britain on behalf of the Aboriginal people on Australia Day 1988, while Australia celebrates its bicentennial.
The head of Yagan, a Noongar warrior, is repatriated to Australia 164 years after being taken to the United Kingdom.
Prime Minister John Howard announces the 36 names of Australians appointed to the Constitutional Convention that will discuss Australia becoming a republic.
1 September - Federal Cabinet shelves plans to alter cross-media ownership laws.
2 September - Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett ridicules Federal Cabinet's indecision on media ownership laws. The Federal Opposition uses this to help show that the Prime Minister is weak.
3 September - Waterfront unions and the ACTU warn the Federal Government of widespread industrial action if the Government continues its method of reforming work conditions at seaports.
8 September - New South Wales Premier Bob Carr opens a world-class cancer research institute in Camperdown, Sydney.
11 September - BHP announces plans to cut over 800 jobs from coal mines in Illawarra.
14 September - Prime Minister John Howard announces a $5 million rescue package for farmers.
30 September - The guns buyback amnesty expires with owners of restricted weapons now facing fines.
4 October - The New South Wales Labor Party Conference delegates reject Premier Bob Carr's planned sell-off of the State's electricity assets. Mr. Carr is the first Labor Premier in fifty years to suffer a defeat at a State Party Conference.
29 October - Prime Minister John Howard has meetings in Malaysia and in Indonesia, with President Suharto, about the Asian currency crisis.
2 November - Prime Minister John Howard launches the Federal Government's anti-drug campaign.
5 November - Postcard bandit Brendan Abbott and three others escape from Sir David Longland Prison at Wacol, Brisbane.
13 November - Postcard bandit Brendan Abbott carries out a robbery on a Gold Coast Commonwealth Bank.
14 November –
Sydney is awarded the 2002 Gay Games and Cultural Festival.
Arnott’s Biscuits shareholders overwhelmingly approve a takeover bid from American conglomerate Campbell’s.
15 November – Two men are charged over the abductions and murder of Bega schoolgirls Lauren Barry and Nichole Collins.
17 November – Telstra shares are listed on the Australian stock exchange.
3 December -
Queensland Premier Rob Borbidge announces nearly $30 million to bailout the Queensland Ambulance Service, but unions say it is not enough.
The first of the Federal Government's Work for the Dole schemes begins in Sydney.
9 December - The Australian Bankers Association doubles the bounty on the head of bank robber Brendan Abbott
19 December - Postcard bandit Brendan Abbott robs the Yirrigan Drive branch of the Commonwealth Bank in Perth, disguised as a businessman in a grey wig and a false moustache and brandishing a .45 Webley, stealing $300,000.
26 December - The final figures for the nationwide guns buyback are released - 640,000 weapons were surrendered across Australia with New South Wales providing the poorest number of returns.
27 February – First day of the Australian Track & Field Championships for the 1996–1997 season, which are held at the Olympic Park in Melbourne, Victoria. The 5,000 metres was conducted at the Nike Classic, Melbourne on 20 February. The men's decathlon event was conducted at the Hobart Grand Prix on 15–16 February 1997.
10 August – Australia retains the Ashes after beating England by 264 runs in the Fifth Test at Trent Bridge Nottingham. The win gives Australia its fifth consecutive series victory, an ascendancy they’ve held since winning the 1989 series in England.