1990 in Australia

The following lists events that happened during 1990 in Australia.

1990 in Australia
MonarchyElizabeth II
Governor-GeneralBill Hayden
Prime ministerBob Hawke
ElectionsFederal, NT


  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
  • 2010s
See also:


State and Territory Leaders

Governors and Administrators



  • 2 January – A battle by the major creditors to the Bond Group of companies to gain control of the best assets begins in the Supreme Court of Victoria.
  • 3 January – Prime Minister Bob Hawke and New South Wales Premier Nick Greiner meet to discuss the reconstruction of Newcastle.
  • 16 JanuaryAndrew Peacock launches the Federal Opposition's Family Action Plan.
  • 17 January
    • Prime Minister Bob Hawke is heckled by pilots while on the campaign trail.
    • The National Australia Bank buys out Britain's Yorkshire Bank.
  • 18 January
    • Supreme Court of Victoria grants Alan Bond permission to sell an oilfield to raise cash.
    • A fateful outback trip in scorching conditions claims the lives of seven Aboriginal people from the Punmu community in the Great Sandy Desert.
  • 19 January – A fire breaks out in the historic Wool Store building in Brisbane.
    • A man is charged over an alleged plan to fire-bomb Parliament in Canberra.
    • Queensland Premier Wayne Goss announces an independent inquiry into the logging industry on Fraser Island.
  • 22 January
    • Tram dispute talks break down in Melbourne.
    • A gas leak causes the evacuation of a Melbourne building.[1]
  • 23 January – The industrial tram dispute continues as 250 trams blockade the city of Melbourne.[1]
  • 24 January
    • An Australian is shot dead in Bougainville.
    • A fireworks explosion occurs at an amusement park on the New South Wales Central Coast.
  • 25 January
    • Opposition health spokesman Peter Shack embarrassingly fails to produce the Coalition's long-promised health insurance policy. The Federal Opposition abandons its Medicare policy in what critics regarded as an embarrassing turnaround.
    • The International Olympic Committee President arrives in Melbourne, giving a massive boost to Melbourne's Olympic Games bid.
  • 26 JanuaryAllan Border is honoured in the Australia Day Honours.
  • 27 January – A riot breaks out at a Brisbane jail.
  • 28 January
    • Prime Minister Bob Hawke pledges millions for a new Melbourne sports stadium.
    • Police arrest a man in Melbourne alleged to be the infamous loaded note bandit.
  • 30 January – An inquiry into the Grafton bus crash begins.
  • 31 January – A freak storm tears a path of destruction across Mount Isa, Queensland.


  • 2 February – Cyclone Nancy hits the town of Maryborough in Queensland.
  • 7 February – Commonwealth Games athletes are welcomed home with a parade through the city streets of Melbourne.
  • 8 February – An oil slick pollutes Victoria's Ninety Mile Beach.
  • 12 FebruaryCarmen Lawrence becomes the Premier of Western Australia, and Australia's first female premier, after the resignation of Peter Dowding.
  • 14 February
    • A report is released which condemns the police rescue effort during the Newcastle earthquake.
    • Austin Lewis is removed from the shadow frontbench for declaring that Andrew Peacock was "gone" if the lost the next election.
  • 15 February – The Reserve Bank of Australia cuts official interest rates by half a percent – a move which Federal Opposition MP John Hewson described as "blatantly playing politics".
  • 16 February – Prime Minister Bob Hawke announces a March 24 election date.
  • 25 February – A televised debate between Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Opposition Leader Andrew Peacock reinforces Bob Hawke's position.
  • 28 FebruaryBob Carr moves to suspend Standing Orders in New South Wales Legislative Assembly in order to move a motion to condemn National Party Leader and Deputy Premier Wal Murray for allegedly interfering with proper tendering procedures in respect of the Walsh Bay redevelopment.


  • 5 March
    • Queensland State Cabinet gives Commission of Inquiry status to the investigation which Mr Tony Fitzgerald, QC, will conduct into the future management and conservation of Fraser Island.
    • Federal Opposition Leader, Andrew Peacock, launches the Liberal Party's policy for the upcoming Federal Election.
  • 6 March – The New South Wales Auditor-General clears the New South Wales Rail Chief, Sayers, of any wrongdoing.
  • 7 March – The New South Wales Government launches its "Statecare" environmental policies on the same day that an oil slick is washed up on three Sydney beaches.
  • 9 March
    • A "sombre, serious and responsible" Labor campaign is launched in Brisbane, 4 days after the Liberal Party's glitzy launch.
    • Bushfires burn in the Adelaide Hills.
  • 11 March
    • The Queensland Government introduces new heritage laws to protect heritage buildings from demolition by developers.
    • Criminal Abe Saffron is released from prison.
  • 19 March
    • Cyclone Ivor batters the Queensland coast.
    • Wild storms hit Sydney.
    • The Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody is to focus on police in a new inquiry.
  • 20 March
  • 21 March
    • Allegations are revealed that a Minister misled New South Wales Parliament over North Coast land deals.
    • Alan Bond sells off his brewing interests and Bond Media to Bell Resources.
  • 22 March – Prime Minister Bob Hawke admits that Australia is in the first stages of recession.
  • 23 March-
    • A bushfire sweeps through the Adelaide Hills.
    • Police conduct a drug raid on the Heidelberg Hotel, angering civil libertarian groups.
    • Aboriginal groups accuse Charles Perkins of joining in an attack on land rights by the New South Wales Government.
  • 24 March – A federal election is held. The government of Prime Minister Bob Hawke is re-elected for a fourth term with its lowest primary vote ever – 39.4% and the loss of 8 seats. Australian Democrats Leader Janine Haines fails in her bid for the South Australian Lower House seat of Kingston, and National leader Charles Blunt loses his northern New South Wales seat of Richmond, largely on anti-nuclear Helen Caldicott's preferences. In North Sydney, popular ex-mayor Ted Mack becomes the first genuine Independent to win a House seat since World War II. The number of Australian Democrats Senators increases to 8.
  • 25 March – A bomb and poison attack is instigated against an Adelaide poultry processing plant.
  • 26 March – Finance Minister Senator Peter Walsh makes unflattering remarks about poll-driven policies having undermined the careful work of Cabinet's Economic Review Committee and declines to stay in the Ministry.



  • The 80 Series Toyota Land Cruiser goes on sale in Australia for the first time. It is considered to be the greatest 4WD ever built.
  • 6 May – Six people die in the Cowan rail accident, when a CityRail Interurban train collides with a 3801 Limited steam locomotive on the banks of the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales.
  • 14 May – A bitter public row between Paul Keating and John Button over tariff policy leads critics to cast further doubt on Prime Minister Bob Hawke's ability to discipline his ministers.
  • 21 May – The Federal Government rejects calls from the New South Wales Government for a Royal Commission into the Mafia and its alleged links to the assassination of Police Chief Colin Winchester.


  • 8 June – Two major Queensland firms involved in the building industry collapse, costing hundreds of jobs and leaving projects worth millions of dollars in jeopardy.
  • 10 June – The Federal Health Minister announces that Medicare is to be overhauled for the first time in its six-year history to produce a better targeted, more efficient system with a stronger emphasis on community care and preventative programs.
  • 15 June
    • The Federal Government admits it can't stop Indonesia giving aid to thousands of Cambodians heading to Australia, renewing fears of an influx of boat people.
    • Hundreds of Aborigines and their supporters march to New South Wales Parliament House to demonstrate against a plan to replace the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council.
  • 16 June – Queensland Premier Wayne Goss announces that virgin forests on Fraser Island will be protected under a historic agreement between conservationists and the timber industry.
  • 19 June
    • Solomon Lew's luxury cruiser "Voyage Solo" erupts into flames at North Wharf.
    • Tasmanian Labor Party Senator Terry Aulich is cleared of an assault charge.
  • 20 June
    • The Victorian Government is humiliated following the downgrading of the State's credit rating by Moody Investor Services.
    • The first legal brothel opens in Melbourne's Central Business District.
  • 24 June – The Victorian Government orders the closure of the Farrow Corporation building societies Pyramid, Geelong and Countrywide.
  • 28 June – The Premiers' Conference takes place and Prime Minister Bob Hawke outlines his vision of a new co-operative federalism for Australia for the 21st century.


  • 10 JulyBob Hawke becomes Australia's second-longest serving Prime Minister (after Robert Menzies).
  • 19 July – Prime Minister Bob Hawke announces that the Commonwealth will work with the States to achieve effective supervision of deposit-taking, non-bank institutions.
  • 20 July
    • Prime Minister Bob Hawke announces that some public service jobs would be cut under reforms to eliminate Commonwealth-State duplication.
    • New South Wales Education and Youth Affairs Minister, Dr Terry Metherell, resigns from his ministry after revealing he faces tax charges.


  • 2 August – Former South Australian Premier Don Dunstan attacks Prime Minister Bob Hawke over his apparent reversal in Government policy on Fiji's new constitution.
  • 7 AugustJohn Cain resigns as Premier of Victoria over a series of financial scandals, and is replaced by the first female premier of Victoria, Joan Kirner.
  • 10 August
    • The State Bank of Victoria is sold to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for AU$1.6b, in the wake of bad debts run up by the State Bank's Tricontinental subsidiary in the 1980s.
    • Prime Minister Bob Hawke announces that Australia will send two frigates to join the naval blockade of Iraq in the Gulf War which followed Iraq's annexation of Kuwait. Protests ensued.
  • 21 August – Measures announced in the Federal Budget – an assets test on family allowances, the cutting of pharmaceutical benefits and taxes on imputed pensioner income from investments – all provoke community outcry.


  • 1 September – Liberal candidate Tony Packard wins the Hills by-election in New South Wales.
  • 5 September – The Queensland Government hands down its first budget under Premier Wayne Goss, which sets out a plan for increased spending on education, the police, aged care and the environment.
  • 9 September – New South Wales Premier Nick Greiner announces a ban on beachfront high-rise developments and says his State "is no place for the Queensland white-shoe brigade".
  • 14 September – Following the blockading of Parliament House, Canberra by hundreds of logging rigs, Federal Cabinet agrees to interim logging in 15 National Estate areas.
  • 24 September – A special Australian Labor Party Conference endorses the privatisation of Qantas and Australian Airlines, the merger of OTC and Telecom and the sale of Aussat, despite the misgivings of the Left faction.



  • 1 November – The Australian domestic aviation market is deregulated.
  • 12 November – Prime Minister Bob Hawke announces that the risk of war in the Persian Gulf had increased as two more Australian guided missile vessels left for the Gulf.
  • 14 November – Former Queensland Health Minister Leisha Harvey is sentenced to twelve months in gaol after being found guilty of thirteen counts of misappropriating public money.
  • 16 November – Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Queensland Premier Wayne Goss announce that the Federal and State Governments will provide $11 million to manage the 621,566 hectares of rainforest between Townsville and Cooktown.
  • 21 November – The Queensland state caucus amends the Criminal Code and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1978–1989 to decriminalise consensual sexual activity between adult males in private.
  • 29 November – Federal Treasurer Paul Keating announces that Australia is experiencing an economic recession.


  • 7 DecemberPaul Keating remarks at a Press Gallery dinner that Australia has never had a strong leader. He is forced to make a public apology to Prime Minister Bob Hawke on 10 December.
  • 11 December – Media company Fairfax is placed in receivership.
  • 12 December – Prime Minister Bob Hawke publicly states that skilled journalists are more important than diverse media ownership to the media's crucial democratic role.

Arts and literature




  • 1 January – The VFL is renamed as the AFL (Australian Football League).[2]
  • 22 January – John McEnroe is thrown out of the Australian Open Tennis Championships.[1]
  • 27 January – Steffi Gras wins the Australian Open Tennis Championship.
    • Hayley Lewis wins her fourth gold medal at the Auckland Commonwealth Games.
  • 28 January – Lisa Curry wins a gold medal at the Auckland Commonwealth Games.
  • 30 March – First day of the Australian Track & Field Championships for the 1989–1990 season, which are held at the Olympic Park in Melbourne, Victoria. The men's 10,000 metres event was conducted at Canberra on 24 February 1990.
  • 22 May – New South Wales (13.8.86) upsets Victoria (10.16.76) in a State of Origin match at the SCG.
  • 22 July – Allan Carman wins the men's national marathon title, clocking 2:15:17 in Brisbane, while Trudy Fenton claims the women's title in 2:44:38.
  • 23 July – Players' draft adopted at board meeting of NSWRL.
  • 8 September – Collingwood draws its elimination final with the West Coast Eagles. The AFL finals schedule is thrown into chaos and the Grand Final is rescheduled to be played a week later than usual. Extra time is subsequently introduced for future finals matches.
  • 6 October – Collingwood (13.11.89) defeats Essendon (5.11.41) to win the 94th VFL/AFL premiership. It is the first premiership won under the AFL banner and Collingwood's first premiership since 1958, thereby symbolising the end of the "Colliwobbles".
  • 10 November – Mal Meninga scores a stunning last-minute try to win the second Ashes rugby league test at Old Trafford.



See also


  1. GTV 9 News Melbourne
  2. Chronology of Australian Football Archived 10 July 2012 at Archive.today, It's More Than A Game!.
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