1971 in Australia

The following lists events that happened during 1971 in Australia.

1971 in Australia
MonarchyElizabeth II
Governor-GeneralSir Paul Hasluck
Prime ministerJohn Gorton, then William McMahon
ElectionsNSW, WA


  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
See also:


State and Territory Leaders

Governors and Administrators



  • 3 January -
    • Sudden hailstorms lash the Sydney area causing widespread damage to houses and properties, as well as traffic chaos and nearly $150,000 worth of damage to fruit and vegetable crops at Cobbity.
    • New South Wales Transport Minister announces that intensified police weekend patrols might become a regular part of the campaign to cut the road toll after 8,148 New South Wales motorists were arrested or charged over the New Year holiday weekend.
  • 4 January -
    • Federal Opposition Leader Gough Whitlam says in Port Moresby that Papuan leaders seem to accept completely the Australian Labor Party's timetable for independence of Papua New Guinea. The timetable provides for self-government as soon as a Labor Government comes to power in Australia, and independence in 1976.
    • Immigration Minister Phillip Lynch gives a ruling that three Asian doctors at St Vincent's Hospital Sydney, who entered Australia under the private overseas student program, will be sent home, but may apply to return to Australia as migrants conditionally.


  • 10 March - William McMahon replaces John Gorton as Prime Minister of Australia after a party room ballot on a motion of confidence in John Gorton as Prime Minister. The ballot was divided 33:33 until Mr. Gorton, as chairman, gave his casting vote against the motion, effectively voting himself out of office. He stood for and won the position of Deputy Party Leader, after William McMahon beat Billy Snedden for the leadership. Later, John Gorton publishes an article critical of Cabinet leaks.



  • 13 October - Enrolment, but not voting, is made compulsory for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland.


  • 2 November -
    • President Richard Nixon gives Prime Minister William McMahon an unqualified endorsement of the Anzus alliance, saying that the United States would honour its commitments under the alliance, which he described as one of America's fundamental pillars in the Pacific.
    • Sonia McMahon, wife of Prime Minister William McMahon, captures international attention when she wears a daring full-length dress, with a long slit down the sides revealing her legs, to a White House reception. The dress was designed by South Yarra fashion designer Victoria Ciscijo of Valencia House. Sonia McMahon would be most remembered in years to come for this dress.[1]


Arts and literature



  • 4 January – American children's educational TV series Sesame Street premieres on ABC.
  • 28 July – Pick-A-Box, hosted by Bob and Dolly Dyer, airs for the final time. It had first been broadcast as a radio program in 1948.





  1. "Sonia stuns White House". Sydney Morning Herald. 4 November 1971.
  2. "Mary GRIGSON - Olympic Cycling Mountain Bike | Australia". International Olympic Committee. 17 June 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
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