Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

Australia in the 1990s

Kuwait and East Timor

On 13 and 14 August 1990, three navy warships left Sydney for the Persian Gulf to enforce the UN embargo against Iraq after its annexation of Kuwait in what became known as the First Iraq War. They provided naval support for the US-led Operation Desert Storm, and afterwards enforced sanctions on Iraq.

In early September 1999, the UN Headquarters in Dili filled with refugees in the aftermath of killings and violence that followed the East Timor vote for independence. On 10 September, the RAAF began airlifting UN staff and refugees from the headquarters. Six days later Indonesia abrogated the 1995 mutual security treaty that had been signed by prime minister Paul Keating and Indonesian president Suharto. On 20 September, Australian troops led a UN peace-keeping force into East Timor, under Australia's Major General Peter Cosgrove. They have been stationed there almost continuously ever since.

A snapshot of 1998

  • February
    • A Constitutional Convention was held in Old Government House, Canberra, and gave in principle support to Australia becoming a republic.

  • April
    • Patrick Stevedores sacked its workforce on the Australian waterfront, thus beginning the Waterfront Dispute with the Maritime Union of Australia.

  • May
    • The first Sorry Day was held on 26 May to commemorate the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families.

  • June
    • In Queensland's state election, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party won 23 per cent of the vote and 11 seats.

  • July
    • The Senate passed the Native Title Act Amendment Bill 1998 (Cth) after a debate lasting 105 hours.


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