1997 in Australia

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1997 in Australia
Monarchy Elizabeth II
Governor-General William Deane
Prime minister John Howard
Population 18,517,564
Elections NT, SA
See also:


Premiers and Chief Ministers[edit]

Governors and Administrators[edit]


  • 9 January – Yachtsman Tony Bullimore is found alive five days after his boat capsized in the Southern Ocean.[1]
  • 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. [2]
  • 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. [3]
  • 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". [4]
  • 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. [5]
  • 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]
  • 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.
  • 14 April - Prime Minister John Howard announces that the Government will no longer accept the vote of Senator Mal Colston.
  • 1 May – Tasmania becomes the last state in Australia to decriminalise homosexuality.
  • 1 May – Melbourne's HM Prison Pentridge is closed.
  • 5 May – The position of Chief Minister of Norfolk Island is restored.
  • 6 May - Mal Colston resigns as Deputy President of the Senate.
  • 20 May – A Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report calls for an apology for an early government policy of removing Aboriginal children from their parents and placing them in institutions.
  • 1 July – The telecommunications market is deregulated, allowing the entry of competitors other than Telstra and Optus.
  • 13 July – A crowd of over 100,000 people watches the Royal Canberra Hospital implosion. A 12-year-old girl, Katie Bender, is killed instantly and nine others are injured when debris from the site travels across Lake Burley Griffin.
  • 15 July - Senator Mal Colston and former West Australian Liberal MP Noel Crichton Brown are charged with fraud.
  • 30 July – The Thredbo landslide occurs, killing 17 people.
  • 2 August – Stuart Diver, a ski instructor, is rescued as the sole survivor of the Thredbo landslide.
  • 30 August – Elections in the Northern Territory re-elect the Country Liberal Party government of Shane Stone.
  • 31 August – The head of Yagan, a Noongar warrior, is repatriated to Australia 164 years after being taken to the United Kingdom.[7]
  • 11 October – A state election is held in South Australia. The Liberal/National coalition government of John Olsen is re-elected, albeit with a substantially reduced minority.
  • 15 October – Cheryl Kernot, leader of the Australian Democrats, defects to the Australian Labor Party.

Arts and literature[edit]






Unknown date[edit]


  1. ^ Tony Bullimore is rescued by the Navy
  2. ^ "Denial of Telstra vote buy". The Courier-Mail, p.2. 12 February 1997. 
  3. ^ "Poisoned biscuits could kill children: health chief". The Courier-Mail. 15 February 1997. 
  4. ^ "Colston to sue over rorts allegation". The Australian, p.2. 24 February 1997. 
  5. ^ "Minister investigates Colston's use of cars". The Australian, p.2. 26 February 1997. 
  6. ^ "Arnott's back in biscuit business but down $10m". The Courier-Mail, p.2. 26 February 1997. 
  7. ^ McPhee, Lindsay (2008). "Reburial of Yagan head is delayed". The West Australian, 19 November 2008.