1996 in Australia

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1996 in Australia
Monarchy Elizabeth II
Governor-General Bill Hayden, then William Deane
Prime minister Paul Keating, then John Howard
Population 18,310,714
Elections Federal, TAS, VIC, WA
See also:


Premiers and Chief Ministers[edit]

Governors and Administrators[edit]


  • 19 February – Rob Borbidge becomes Premier of Queensland after winning a by-election from the Labor Party and winning the support of Independent MP Liz Cunningham.
  • 24 February – A state election is held in Tasmania. The Liberal Party government of Ray Groom is re-elected; however, Groom's promise to only govern in a majority saw him resign.
  • 2 March – A federal election is held. The Liberal/National coalition defeats the Labor government of Paul Keating.
  • 11 March – John Howard is sworn in as Australia's 25th Prime Minister.
  • 30 March – A state election is held in Victoria The Liberal/National coalition government of Jeff Kennett is re-elected for a second term.
  • 4 April – The Wiggles' sixth album, Wake up Jeff is released.
  • 8 April - Nine people die in a fire at a home for the intellectually disabled in Melbourne, Victoria.
  • 28 April – Port Arthur massacre: Martin Bryant kills 35 people and injures 21 in a shooting spree at the Port Arthur historic site in Tasmania. Bryant is captured the next day after an 18½ hour standoff with the Special Operations Group of the Tasmania Police.
  • 10 May – Prime Minister John Howard announces new gun control measures, which involve the banning of self-loading rifles, shotguns and pump-action shotguns, as well as tightening of other gun laws.
  • May – Floods in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales kill five people and cause more than A$55 million in farm losses.
  • 12 June – Two Blackhawk Helicopters collide near Townsville, killing 18 people.
  • 1 July – The Northern Territory legalises voluntary euthanasia. The legislation would be later be repealed by a conscience vote in the federal parliament in 1997.
  • 26 July - Road worker Ivan Milat is found guilty of the murder of seven backpackers between December 1989 and April 1992 in the Belango State Forest, south-west of Sydney. Mr. Justice David Hunt (judge) hands down a sentence of seven life terms, meaning that Milat will spend the rest of his life in prison.
  • 27 July - HMAS Collins; the first of the Collins Class Submarine, is officially commissioned into service by the RAN
  • 6 August – The Australian Bureau of Statistics conducts the 1996 National Census.
  • 9 August - Federal Education Minister Amanda Vanstone cuts $1.8 billion from higher education funding.
  • 19 August - Thousands of protesters, in a breakaway group from a pre-budget rally against the Federal Government's workplace reforms, broke down the doors of Parliament House and caused an estimated $200,000 worth of damage in one of the most violent demonstrations ever seen in Australia.
  • 6 September – The Wiggles' Wiggly Wiggly Christmas album is released.
  • 10 September - Independent Federal MP Pauline Hanson makes her maiden speech to Parliament, reigniting the race debate, attacking Asian immigration and calling for a tougher line on Aboriginal welfare.
  • 22 September - Australia's first legal euthanasia takes place in Darwin, Australia when 66-year-old Bob Dent elects to submit to the lethal injection.
  • 26 September - The Dalai Lama meets Prime Minister John Howard in Canberra, Australia during his week-long visit to Australia.
  • 7 October - Australian Professor Peter C. Doherty wins the Nobel Prize for Medicine jointly with Professor Rolf M. Zinkernagel of Switzerland for showing an important way in which the body targets germs. The research revolutionised the study of immunology and laid the groundwork for designing improved vaccines and researching new therapies against cancer, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
  • 10 October - Paul Streeton douses school boy Tjandamurra O'Shane in petrol and sets him alight, causing burns to 70% of Tjandamurra's body. The case attracts national attention.
  • 4 November - Retired Supreme Court judge David Weldham commits suicide after being named in the New South Wales Parliament in connection with paedophilia investigations by the New South Wales Police Royal Commission.[1]
  • 6 November - Martin Bryant pleads guilty to the massacre of 35 people in a shooting rampage at the Port Arthur historic site in Tasmania in April.
  • 14 November - Rock star Michael Jackson, aged 38, marries Debbie Rowe, aged 37, at Sydney's Sheraton on the Park Hotel.
  • 18 November - Perth teenager David Dicks becomes the youngest person to sail non-stop solo around the world as he arrives back in Fremantle Harbour, having left in February.
  • 19 November –
  • 28 November – Dean Brown is ousted in a party-room ballot as Premier of South Australia by John Olsen.
  • 4 December -
    • Alan Bond pleads guilty to dishonesty offences during the $1 billion takeover of Bell Resources. It is said to be Australia's biggest corporate fraud.
    • Independents Brian Harradine and Mal Colston vote to push the Telstra Bill through to the second reading in the Senate, allowing for the part-privatisation of Telstra by the Federal Government, in exchange for an additional $250 million from the sale being spent to ensure regional and rural areas have greater access to telecommunications services. The legislation is expected to pass the Senate the next year and be proclaimed on May 1.
  • 14 December – A state election is held in Western Australia. The Liberal/National coalition government of Richard Court is re-elected.
  • 23 December - In a 4-3 majority verdict, the High Court of Australia holds that the native title of the Wik and Thayorre peoples of Cape York has survived the granting of pastoral leases by the Queensland Government and did not necessarily extinguish native title. However, although pastoral leaseholders do not have exclusive possession of grazing land, if the two uses were in conflict, pastoral uses would prevail.
  • 27 December - Lone French yachtsman Raphael Dinelli is rescued in treacherous conditions 2,200 kilometres south of the Western Australian coast after his sloop Algimouss was dismasted and its rigging swept overboard on Christmas night.

Arts and literature[edit]



  • Jessica Rowe joins Ten News Sydney in January to co-anchor with Ron Wilson for the next nine years.
  • Australian television celebrates its 40th birthday with celebrations lasting throughout the year. The actual birthday was on 16 September.
  • April – John Burgess is shelved from the Seven Network after being long-time host of Wheel Of Fortune. The show begins to repeat the 1988 episodes.
  • July – Wheel Of Fortune returns and starts in mid-1996 with the relocation from Adelaide to Sydney.
  • August – After a court battle, the first series of Friends screens on the Seven Network, almost two years after it premiered in the United States. Subsequent series is picked up by the Nine Network.



Main article: 1996 AFL season


Rugby League[edit]

  • 23 February – Super League's challenge to club loyalty contracts signed with the ARL is ruled out of order & orders banning Super League until 2000 are made.
  • 22 March – Clubs aligned with the Super League forfeit opening round of matches in the ARL competition.
  • 26 May – Melbourne Knights win the NSL for the second season in a row, defeating minor premiers Marconi Fairfield 2–1 in the Final at Olympic Park.
  • 29 September – The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles defeat the St. George Dragons 20–8 to win the 89th NSWRL/ARL premiership.
  • 4 October – The full bench of the Federal Court overturn the earlier decision to ban Super League, meaning the competition can start in 1997.


Track And Field[edit]

  • 7 March – First day of the Australian Track & Field Championships for the 1995–1996 season, which are held at the Sydney Athletic Field in Sydney. The 10,000-metre championship was conducted at the Zatopek Meet in Melbourne, Victoria on 14 December 1995.
  • 21 July – Magnus Michelsson wins the men's national marathon title, clocking 2:20:20 in Brisbane, while Sylvia Rose claims the women's title in 2:40:17.



  • 29 December - The 80-foot maxi Morning Glory breaks the race record in winning this year's Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 2 days 14 hours 7 minutes 10 seconds.


Brandon Walters, actor



  1. ^ "Four Corners - 17/02/97: Courting Disaster". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.