1981 in Australia

The following lists events that happened during 1981 in Australia.

1981 in Australia
MonarchyElizabeth II
Governor-GeneralSir Zelman Cowen
Prime ministerMalcolm Fraser


  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
See also:


State and Territory Leaders

Governors and Administrators





  • 11 March – Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser informs Parliament that US B-52 bombers will be allowed to land at Darwin from their base at Guam.
  • 19 March – The South Australian Parliament passes the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act.


  • 15 AprilMinister for Industrial Relations Andrew Peacock resigns from cabinet accusing the Prime Minister of gross disloyalty.
  • 16 April – The New South Wales Government's controversial election funding Bill is introduced into Parliament, provoking strong Opposition criticism. The Bill imposes stringent declaration conditions with political donations of more than $200, requiring a statement giving the name and address of donors.
  • 29 April – A fire at the Pacific Nursing Home kills 16 in Sylvania, a suburb of Sydney.
  • 30 April
    • The Federal Government's Committee of Review into Government Functions, nicknamed "The Razor Gang", releases its final report and begins a series of cuts in spending on public services and instrumentalities.
    • Graham Potter, aged 23, is charged with the murder of a woman found decapitated near Kiama on 8 February. He is refused bail after denying the allegations.


  • 7 May
    • Alleged crime boss, Robert Trimbole, leaves Australia.
    • Three engineering companies make agreements for shorter working weeks with metal trade union representatives in Sydney, giving a major boost to the ongoing campaign for a 35-hour week.
  • 9 May – Assisted passage to Australia is now restricted to refugees.
  • 26 May – Foreign Affairs Minister Tony Street announces that the United States has asked Australia to send peacekeepers to the Sinai Desert.



  • 17 July – A truck drivers' strike in most states causes the Queensland Government to declare a state of emergency.
  • 24 July – The Queensland Government declares a state of emergency over a threat to food supplies caused by the transport workers' strike.
  • 30 July – The ALP National Conference rewords its Socialist Objective and endorses affirmative action.
  • 31 July – The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission decides to end wage indexation, a system which has been established in April 1975. President Sir John Moore stated that the guidelines indexing wage adjustments to inflation would no longer be applied to cases before the Commission. Each case will now be decided on individual merit.


  • 24 August – The Church of England in Australia is renamed the Anglican Church of Australia.





  • 12 December – A referendum is held in Tasmania to vote for whether or not the Franklin Dam should be built. 47% vote for the original proposal, 8% vote for the compromise solution & 45% vote informally. It is estimated that up to one-third of all votes were for 'no dams', which was not a sanctioned option.
  • 31 December – New South Wales abolishes death duties.

Unknown dates

  • Public funding of election campaigns introduced in New South Wales
  • Victoria decriminalizes homosexual acts between consenting adults

Arts and literature




†=Scored under outdated scoring system.



See also

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