Australia in the 1970s


The Arts


In 1973, the federal government paid $1.3 million for the abstract expressionist painting Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock. At the time, it was the highest price paid for a work of art in Australia. The painting is displayed in the National Gallery of Australia and is presently valued at more than ten times its purchase price.

In April 1974, a public opinion poll found that Advance Australia Fair was preferred to God Save the Queen as the national anthem. A change of anthem was instituted shortly after. In 1976, God save the Queen was reinstated as Australia's national anthem by the Fraser government. In May 1977, another poll was held, and found that more than 40 per cent of Australian voters still preferred Advance Australia Fair as the national anthem.

In November 1974, ABC-TV launched a new popular music program called Countdown. The show was hosted by Molly Meldrum and was renowned for hosting local and international music artists.

In October 1975, Margaret Throsby became the first woman to read the main ABC radio news bulletin.

Patrick White became the first (and so far only) Australian to be awarded the 1973 Nobel prize for literature for his novel, Tree of Man.

In 1975, the novel Poor Fellow My Country by Xavier Herbert was published.

In 1976, new Batman and Superman titles were reprinted in colour for the first time under a new Planet Comics imprint.


A snapshot of 1978

  • January
    • The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Act 1978 (Cth) was proclaimed in federal parliament.
    • The Special Broadcasting Service, also known as SBS, was established.

  • April
    • The Migrant Services and Programs Report, also known as 'The Galbally Report', was presented to the prime minister.

  • August
    • The Malcolm Fraser conservative government announced the end of maternity allowances.

  • November
    • The West Gate Bridge over the Yarra River and Port Melbourne was opened. It is the second-largest single span bridge in Australia.
    • The Ranger Uranium Agreement was signed by the Northern Land Council and ratified by the traditional owners, allowing uranium mining in Arnhem Land.

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