Australia in the 1970s

Environmental issues

In February 1971, the Queensland government approved sand mining on Fraser Island, despite strong protests from conservationists.

In March 1971, the Tasmanian parliament approved the damming of Lake Pedder by the Hydro-Electric Commission. In 1972, the world's first Green Party, the United Tasmania Group (UTG), formed to oppose the flooding of Lake Pedder. Those protesting included Bob Brown, future leader of the Australian Greens. In 1973, Lake Pedder was flooded.

In October 1971, the NSW branch of the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) launched the first-ever union 'green ban' when they refused to work on a building project at Hunters Hill, Sydney, due to concerns it could damage nearby Kellys Bush.

In 1973, a green ban was put on the demolition of houses and the redevelopment of The Rocks area of Sydney by the BLF. Its leader Jack Mundey was arrested.

In 1974, Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin with a loss of life of 65 people.

In October 1979, the Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Commission reported on power development in Tasmania and advised that a dam be built across the lower Gordon, Franklin and King rivers in the south-west of the state.

The track map showing the path of Cyclone Dawn, 1970

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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