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Gough Whitlam 05 Dec 1972 21st Prime Minister
Labor was elected to government for the first time in 23 years. Gough Whitlam and deputy Lance Barnard were sworn in to comprise the first ministry until a Cabinet was chosen.
Gough Whitlam 19 Dec 1972 Department of Aboriginal Affairs
One of the early reforms of the new Whitlam government was upgrading the Office of Aboriginal Affairs to ministerial level. This fulfilled an election promise designed to meet the responsibilities allocated by the 1967 Referendum.
Gough Whitlam 19 Oct 1973 Queen of Australia
The Royal Style and Titles Act altered the formal title of Queen Elizabeth II to refer specifically to Australia. This was one of the few Bills of the Australian parliament enacted by the monarch personally, rather than by the Governor-General as vice-regal authority. Queen Elizabeth signed her assent during the Royal Tour for the opening of the Sydney Opera House.
Gough Whitlam 31 Oct 1973 Whitlam in China
The first visit of an Australian Prime Minister to China marked Australia’s trade agreement with the People's Republic of China. Gough Whitlam had visited China in 1971, as part of a Labor Party delegation, a month before United States President Nixon made his historic visit.
Gough Whitlam 04 Dec 1973 Governing the continental shelf
The Sea and Submerged Lands Act extended Australian territorial seas from three to twelve miles. This gave the Commonwealth sovereignty of the sea and sovereign rights to resources to the extent of the continental shelf. Australia was a signatory to United Nations Conventions in 1958 and 1964 recognising national rights to territorial seas beyond the three-mile limit, mainly to enable member nations to protect their fishing grounds.
Gough Whitlam 08 Dec 1973 Referendum
At this referendum two proposals were rejected by voters. One sought to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to make laws with respect to prices, and the second with respect to incomes.
Gough Whitlam 23 Feb 1974 Saturday closing
Official post offices ended Saturday opening. On 1 July 1975 Saturday mail deliveries ceased. On the same date two statutory corporations, the Australian Postal Commission and the Australian Telecommunications Commission were established, replacing the Postmaster-General's Department.
Gough Whitlam 18 May 1974 29th federal election - House of Representatives and Senate (all 60 seats - double dissolution)
Labor under Prime Minister Gough Whitlam retained government.
Gough Whitlam 18 May 1974 Referendum
Australian voters rejected four proposals related to simultaneous elections in the House and Senate, allowing electors in territories to vote at referendums, determining the average size of electorates in each state, and giving the Commonwealth Parliament powers to borrow money for any local government body.
Gough Whitlam 11 Jul 1974 18th Governor-General
Sir John Kerr served as Governor-General until 8 December 1977.
Gough Whitlam 05 Aug 1974 Territories get Senate seats
The Senate was expanded to 64 seats when two Senate seats each were assigned to the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. This legislation was challenged in the High Court, and upheld.
Gough Whitlam 24 Dec 1974 Cyclone Tracy
On Christmas Eve 65 people lost their lives when a cyclone destroyed 90 per cent of homes in Darwin. Residents were without shelter, power, transport or water and sewerage services. Acting Prime Minister Jim Cairns ordered the evacuation of the population.
Gough Whitlam 31 Dec 1974 Diplomatic relations with North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea opened an embassy in Australia. The following April an Australian embassy opened in North Korea. On 30 October 1975, North Korea withdrew its embassy from Canberra and on 6 November expelled the staff of the Australian embassy in Pyongyang.
Gough Whitlam 14 Feb 1975 Order of Australia
Queen Elizabeth signs Letters Patent establishing an Australian Honours system to replace British Honours for Australians.
Gough Whitlam 13 Mar 1975 Conservation
Enactment of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act
Gough Whitlam 30 Apr 1975 Evacuation of Saigon
North Vietnamese troops occupied Saigon and remaining Australian and United States personnel were evacuated. Under the new regime, North and South Vietnam were unified. Saigon, the southern capital became Ho Chi Minh City.
Gough Whitlam 11 Jun 1975 Law rules
The Racial Discrimination Act enacted, outlawing discrimination on the grounds of race.
Gough Whitlam 12 Jun 1975 Federal family law
Enactment of the Family Law Act provides for a Family Court of Australia. The new Court came into operation on 6 January 1976.
Gough Whitlam 01 Jul 1975 Medibank begins
The government introduced Medibank, Australia’s first national health insurance scheme.
Gough Whitlam 16 Aug 1975 Handover at Wattie Creek
At Daguragu in the Northern Territory, Vincent Lingiari of the Gurindji people formally accepted from Prime Minister Gough Whitlam title deeds to a part of their traditional lands.
Gough Whitlam 16 Sep 1975 Independence Day
Papua New Guinea became independent, ending remaining Australian responsibilities in the self-governing country.