Australia in the 1980s


In July 1982, the ALP opposition reversed its policy disallowing any uranium mining. In the same month, the Northern Land Council representing traditional owners agreed to uranium mining at Jabiluka. The Hawke ALP government later restricted mining to two mines, but maintained export contracts.

In 1984, the newly formed Nuclear Disarmament Party won a Senate seat in the federal election.

In the same year, more than 76,000 square kilometres of land at Maralinga, some of which had been used for British nuclear tests in the 1950s, was returned to the traditional owners, while the government retained the right to veto decisions of land use. In the event of a dispute regarding whether the lands could be explored or mined, an arbitrator would assess the interests of the traditional owners against the economic importance of the venture to the state and to Australia.

In February 1985, New Zealand refused to allow nuclear-capable US warships to call at its ports, leading to the USA withdrawal from ANZUS naval exercises. New Zealand was shortly after suspended from the ANZUS treaty, but Australia remained within the treaty with the USA.

The Ranger uranium mine operates within Kakadu National Park.

A snapshot of 1988

  • January
    • The first Aboriginal television station, Imparja, began transmission in Alice Springs.
    • Australia's Bicentennial celebrations began and the First Fleet re-enactment vessels arrived at Botany Bay.
    • The new Parliament House on Capital Hill in Canberra was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

  • June
    • Kay Cottee became the first woman to sail single-handedly and non-stop around the world.
    • The $2 coin went into circulation replacing the old $2 note.


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