1979 in Australia

The following lists events that happened during 1979 in Australia.

1979 in Australia
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor-GeneralSir Zelman Cowen
Prime ministerMalcolm Fraser
Australian of the YearNeville Bonner and Harry Butler
ElectionsVIC, TAS, SA

Flag of Australia.svg

See also:


State and Territory LeadersEdit

Governors and AdministratorsEdit




  • 9 February – Associated Securities Limited, Australia's fourth-largest finance company, is placed into receivership. In a statement to the stock exchange, ASL directors state that the results for the six months to 31 December had shown a loss of $2.5 million, plus an extraordinary loss of $1 million from foreign exchange movements.
  • 12 February – Harry M. Miller's Computicket theatre and sporting booking agency collapses.


  • 9 March – The Arbitration Commission awards Australian women the right to six weeks' compulsory unpaid maternity leave with the option of extending the leave to one year. The provisions, which will flow to all awards covering women in the private sector, will take effect on 2 April.


  • 4 April – Domico Speranza hijacks a Pan-Am plane at Sydney Airport for 4 1/2 hours until shot dead by police.
  • 11 April – A truck drivers' blockade, which had disrupted the eastern states for 10 days, ends. The truck drivers had been protesting against state road taxes and low cartage rates.


  • 25 May – James William Miller, aged 39, is charged with the murders of four young women (the Truro murders 100 kilometres north-east of Adelaide. A fifth body has been found and police are searching for two more bodies, bringing the number of victims to a total of seven. Miller is charged with murdering Veronica Knight, 18, Sylvia Michelle Pittmann, 16, Vicki May Mowell, 26, and Connie Iordanides, 16.


  • 8 June – Philip Silleny attempts to hijack a TAA aircraft near Brisbane but is disarmed by hostess Esme Qazim and other crew.
  • 9 June –
    • A fire at Luna Park Sydney kills 7. Four young boys, a father and his two young sons die when the fire, believed to be caused by an electrical fault, engulf the ride. The park is forced to close.
    • Australia's first modern uranium mine opens at Nabarlek in Arnhem Land. A$25,000 party is held to celebrate the launch of the mine, which is also the first to open on Aboriginal tribal land.
  • 21 June – Up to a million workers stop work across the country to protest the arrest of unionists in Western Australia for addressing a public meeting without police permission. Public transport, industry and commercial services are thrown into disarray.
  • 23 June – New South Wales Premier Neville Wran opens the Eastern Suburbs six-station railway line which runs from Sydney city to Bondi Junction. The railway line has been a source of continuing controversy since work on it began. In 1976, Neville Wran referred to the project as probably "the most monumental financial scandal" in the state's history.


  • 1 July –
    • Commonwealth death duties are abolished.
    • Responsibility for education in the Northern Territory is transferred from the Federal to the Northern Territory Government.
  • 11 July – The American space station Skylab crashes in Esperance, Western Australia.
  • 19 July – The Miss Universe final is celebrated in Perth.
  • 20 July – Inaugural meeting of the National Farmers' Federation
  • 24 July – 14 coal miners die in a lethal gas explosion at Appin Colliery, New South Wales.



  • 22 September – The standing conference of Canonical Orthodox churches in Australia is established.
  • 26 September – New South Wales Attorney-General Frank Walker tables the 960-page Finnane Report in State Parliament. The New South Wales Government gags Opposition calls for a debate report only 30 minutes after it is tabled.
  • 27 September –
    • Australia announces the abolition of traditional trade preferences with Britain.
    • Ian Sinclair resigns as Federal Primary Industry Minister following allegations that he forged his father's signature on his family's annual returns. According to the Finnane Report tabled in State Parliament, Ian Sinclair was dishonest in arranging loans from a group of companies of which he was "de facto managing director" to the family pastoral company. Mr. Sinclair had denied the allegations the day before.


  • 7 October – The Australia Refugee Advisory Council is established.
  • 14 October – Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Bob Hawke wins preselection for the safe ALP federal seat of Wills, making way for him to enter federal politics next year. Mr. Hawke defeated the Socialist Left candidate Gerry Hand winning 38 votes from the 70-member selection panel.
  • 19 October – The Australian Federal Police is established under the command of Colin Woods.
  • 20 October – Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser proclaims the first section of the Great Barrier Reef (the Capricornia section) a national park, making it the third Australian national park to be declared this year. Malcolm Fraser also announces the allocation of $300,000 to research projects to be set up in the region to increase the Federal Government's knowledge of this area.


  • 5 November – The first New South Wales Lotto draw takes place. No-one chose the six winning numbers in the draw, so only half of the first prize – $193,576 – will be divided among the five members of the in the Money syndicate.
  • 6 November – The Royal Commission into Drug Trafficking (Woodward Royal Commission) reports to the New South Wales Parliament, recommending increased penalties and no concessions for soft drugs.
  • 30 November – The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), at a meeting of 24 major unions, rejects proposals to block the mining export of uranium.


  • 16 December – Sunday trading in Sydney public bars begins.

Arts and literatureEdit






See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Harry Gordon (2002). John Ritchie; Diane Langmore (eds.). Stedman, Ivan Cuthbert (1895–1979). Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 16. Melbourne University Press. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  2. ^ O'Connor, Desmond. "Helping People Has Been My Happiness: The Contribution of Elena Rubeo to the Italian Community in South Australia" (PDF). Retrieved 29 December 2012.