Australian Quotes & Notes

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The Quotes - 1950 to the Present

17. 1950-1959

'Myxomatosis is doing to the rabbit ... what the Black Death did to the people of Europe...' (W.S. Noble, Corowa [NSW], 14 March, 1951)

THIS was Australia's age of expansion and prosperity. And it was also an age of suspicion and manipulation. Conservatives warned darkly of the 'Red Menace' and the 'domino theory' of Communist conquest in our near north. Our population, driven by the post-War Baby Boom and 1.68 million new settlers, rose from 7.5 million to 10 million by 1960. Wool boomed, too. At the winter sales of 1950, prices rose an astonishing 40 percent, fed by demands of the Korean War and rebuilt mills in Europe and, later, Japan. The wives and daughters of wealthy graziers crowded liners to Britain in 1953 to observe the Coronation and enjoy the gains. The Cold War and the constant fear of nuclear conflagration was but a small price to pay in this time of plenty. A day after North Korean soldiers crossed the 38th parallel on 25 June, 1950, to invade South Korea, Australia committed troops to a United Nations force, largely composed of Americans. The Cold War had become hot and although the main antagonists, the US and the Soviet Union, never engaged in actual warfare, the Cold War did not really ease until the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaties of 1972 and 1979 and ended with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. More significantly for Australia, the French finally lost their possession of Vietnam at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The US became involved there next year.

Australians turned their backs on the perils of the H-Bomb and worried about rabbits. The CSIRO began trials of the virus disease, myxomatosis, in the Victorian district of Gunbower, on the Murray River, early in 1950 and by the end of the year, carried by mosquitoes, it had begun to spread throughout Victoria, NSW, Queensland and into South Australia. Journalist W. S. Noble, reporting from the Murray Valley in March, 1951, said: Myxomatosis is doing to the rabbit population around Corowa what the Black Death did to the people of Europe in the 14th century. Such enthusiastic remarks were not endorsed by a country housewife who grumbled that her husband had shot 14 rabbits the previous night, that they all had myxo and it was impossible to get a decent eating rabbit these days.

In Canberra, Prime Minister Robert Menzies, facing an imminent election, suddenly unveiled a new Communist ogre with a dramatic announcement on 14 April, 1954, that a Russian spy ring had been discovered. Menzies had already failed in an earlier attempt to ban the Communist Party in Australia. He said a Soviet Embassy official, Vladimir Petrov, had defected and sought asylum. His wife was rescued later at Darwin airport from armed guards taking her back to Moscow. Menzies won the election on 29 May, but with a reduced majority. However, the Communist can-kicking was having its effect on the Labor Party which split in 1955, largely on the issue of Communism in the trade union movement. The split gave birth to the Catholic-based Democratic Labor Party, which effectively kept Labor out of office.

In NSW, six-o-clock closing of hotels, in force since World War One, ended with a very narrow victory at a referendum in September, 1954.. A liquor industry spokesman assured women: Husbands won't drink their beer quickly to beat the clock. The knowledge that they can go home, have their dinner and wander down again afterwards, will play a tremendous part in curbing excess. Next year, the NSW government decided to abolish the death penalty for rape and murder, but retained it for treason and piracy. In Victoria, which was to host the Olympic Games in 1956, six o'clock closing and capital punishment remained on the statute books.

' ... immigration on a grand scale ...'

If we want to make our contribution to the pacification of the world, it is our duty to present to the world the spectacle of a rich country with a great people, with an adequate population - with a population which may justly say to the rest of the world: 'We are here; we propose to maintain our integrity as a nation; and our warrant for that is that we are using the resources which God has given into our hands.' The case for immigration on a grand scale is, indeed, an irresistible one. - Prime Minister Robert Menzies, Citizenship Convention, Canberra, 23 January, 1950.

1950: Senator Joseph McCarthy emerges from obscurity, February, with charge that 205 Communists had infiltrated U.S. State Department, initiating Communist witch-hunt (known as McCarthyism) and ending on 2 December, 1954, when he is publicly censured by U.S. Senate.

Menzies tries to ban Communist Party

The real and active Communists in Australia present us with our immediate problem - not the woolly-headed dupes, not the people who are pushed to the front in order to present a respectable appearance, but the real and active Communists. We have a clear choice, and we must make it clearly. We can attack these Communists frontally, or we can adopt inaction and justify it by accepting one or all of the arguments that are used currently to justify inaction. - Prime Minister Robert Menzies, House of Representatives, Canberra, 27 April, 1950.

• Menzies introduced his Communist Party Dissolution Bill to ban the Party. It was ultimately declared invalid by the High Court after concerns, on both sides of politics, that it could lead to the abuse of freedoms. The Communist Party asserted that one clause meant that any worker 'saying or doing anything about wages, prices, housing, peace, democratic liberty or a dozen and one other matters on which the Communist Party is active could be sentenced to five years' jail'.

1950: Korean War begins, 25 June.

Australians regulars go to Korean War

No one can deny that this occasion is of tremendous significance not only to the people of this country but also to freedom-loving peoples throughout the world. It is indeed a momentous occasion, because for the first time in the history of this parliament, we have been asked to support action by our government in implementing the principles of the United Nations. - External Affairs Minister Percy Spender, House of Representatives, Canberra, 6 July, 1950.

• Australians enthusiastically endorsed the decision to join a United Nations force in its defence of South Korea which had been invaded by the North on 25 June.

Price of cuppa goes up

Some of the flavour went out of the Australian housewives' pleasure at the abolition of tea rationing when simultaneously it was announced that the price of freedom - though nominally unrelated - was 7d a pound for the commodity. - Age , Melbourne, 4 July, 1950.

• Still, the Age said, tea was still the most popular beverage in Australia and the second cheapest next to water.

North Koreans on top

Along the whole of main front line, American and Australian tactical air forces, supported for the first time by single-seater Corsair fighters, are hammering the Communists. - Correspondent's report, Tokyo, 27 July, 1950.

• These were desperate times for the American-led forces, which were in danger of being pushed into the sea. Eventually, they were reinforced by tens of thousand of Americans and other UN troops who forced the North Koreans back until the war stabilised on the 38th parallel. Armistice talks began on 10 July, 1951.

Wool boom!

On the present basis of value, the Australian 1950-51 wool clip, estimated at 3.6 million bales, will return about 460 million pounds. Values at the opening Sydney sales this week were astounding. Compared with June rates, which were only a little below the peak of the 1949-50 season, the market rose on the average by fully 40 per cent. This is by far the greatest increase ever between the close of one Australian season and the start of another. - Weekly Times, Sydney, 26 August, 1950.

• This was the quite unexpected beginning of the 'Korean War wool boom'.


They probably haven't seen a horse out there for a long, long time. - Celebrated American sex goddess and noted wit, Mae West, New York (US), 30 August, 1950.

• Miss West made this obscure wisecrack while declining an invitation to appear as Lady Godiva at the Jubilee Procession in the NSW town of Dubbo. Local girls were outraged that the committee thought it necessary to import an outside beauty. Dubbo got its own back in 1958 when the Commonwealth Censor banned her book, She Done Him Wrong, along with 177 others .

Toothless Tasmanian monster with whiskers!

It was about 16ft long, and from its head which was above water, could be seen two large and staring eyes. It had a circular, parchment-like mouth, and did not appear to have any teeth. It had broad flappers like a shark and was light yellow. It had two ear-like projections at the back of its head. It looked to be about 4ft 6in wide and its tale tapered to a small end. It was whiskery formations around and under its mouth which gave it a cat-like appearance. - Trawler skipped A. E. McKay, Launceston (Tas), 30 August, 1950.

• McKay sighted this sea monster about 40km off the east coast of Tasmania.

Menzies hires British butler with striped pants

He and Mrs Menzies, who is a small, greying, attractive woman with a flashing smile, have, of course, reopened the Prime Minister's Lodge, which was out of use during the Chifley regime. Their constant companions are a large, likeable, but intensely self-satisfied white cat and a fat, one-eyed dog of mottled ancestry, who does not belong to them but who has 'adopted' the Lodge. The dog objects strongly to motor cars and makes futile attempts to bite their front tyres off the moment their engines start. Another acquisition is an English butler whose striped pants and silent service impress some visitors nearly out of their skins.- People magazine, Sydney, 22 November, 1950.

1951: Colombo Plan aid details worked out, February (after an initial meeting, January, 1950.)

Deadly comparison with Black Death

Myxomatosis is doing to the rabbit population around Corowa what the Black Death did to the people of Europe in the 14th century. - Journalist W.S. Noble, Corowa (NSW), 14 February, 1951

• A very fair comparison, since the Black Death is estimated to have taken 25 million lives. But, like the population of Europe, the bunny eventually recovered from myxo's ravages.

Here is the recommended method (of infecting rabbits with myxomatosis);

I. Take a group of healthy rabbits to the nearest infected site and inoculate them from one or two sick rabbits.

2. Use a matchstick with a small twist of cotton wool to take a swab from the eye of a diseased rabbit and rub it into the eye of the healthy rabbit. A swab from one rabbit will infect a dozen healthy rabbits.

3. Seven days after inoculation expose the rabbits in cages or enclosures - three or four rabbits to a group - in places where there is a high concentration of mosquitoes.

4. Until the seventh day, keep the batch of inoculated rabbits in an enclosure at least 12ft by 12ft.

5. To help mosquitoes bite, clip fur to the skin over two or three square inches on either side of the exposed rabbit's body. - Advice to farmers, 14 February, 1951.

Joan Sutherland, hopeful, heads for England

I hope the most tangible gesture of appreciation to all who have helped me will lie in the fulfilment of my ambition to win a place alongside those many Australian singers who have won recognition for our country in the opera houses and on the concert platforms of the world. - Soprano Joan Sutherland, Sydney, 20 April, 1951.

• Sutherland, aged 25, wrote this message in the programme at a fund-raising concert on the eve of her departure for Europe. She had won the Sun Aria in 1949 and the Mobil Quest in 1950. She was already acclaimed in Australia, although though some of the critics were hedging their bets. The Sydney Morning Herald had said of a 1950 performance of the Messiah : Joan Sutherland, who began by using her fresh and clear soprano voice with style and beauty, seemed to lose confidence in the He Shall Speak Peace Number and did not quite recover her artistic poise afterwards.

Ben Chifley dies two years after losing office

Everyone in the town knew him well. He was like the town clock. Even the bishops in Bathurst called him Ben. - Unidentified local, Bathurst (NSW), 13 June, 1951.

• Former Prime Minister Ben Chifley, born in Bathurst in 1885, died in Canberra. He was a former railways locomotive driver, who entered Federal Parliament in the Scullin Labor landslide in 1928, was defeated in 1931 and re-entered Parliament in 1940 to become Treasurer in the Curtin government. He was Prime Minister, 1945-49.

1952: George VI dies, succeeded by Elizabeth 11, 6 February.

You'd butter move along, madam

Ten women fainted in a rush for 2000lbs of butter at a Sydney store today. About 200 women refused to leave when police closed the sale. The police then joined hands and forced the women back. - News report, Sydney, 7 March, 1952.

• Butter rationing had ended in 1950, but some people were still prepared to shop till they dropped for it.

Red writers? A 'deliberate and concerted effort ...'

If anybody could prove to me that the only writers who are producing decent literary work in Australia are the persons to whom these (Commonwealth Literary Fund) awards have been made during the past few years, then I'm a Dutchman. One could expect that occasionally a stray Communist could get an award, but it is quite obvious from the number of Communists who have received them that a deliberate and concerted attempt on behalf of those who control the fund to ensure that the taxpayers' money should go to persons such as those that I have mentioned. - Labor MHR S. Keon, House of Representatives, Canberra, 28 August, 1952.

• The Reds weren't only under our beds. They were in our bookshops, as well. Vance Palmer, Flora Eldershaw and Katharine Susannah Pritchard were mentioned as alleged fellow travellers. Indeed, Palmer and Pritchard were photographed with the Czech dissident, Egon Kisch, in Melbourne in 1934! The journalist and spy expert, Phillip Knightley, wrote as recently as 1999 ( Australian Review of Books ) that he believed Kisch was a Russian Comintern agent out to destabilise the Western world.

Britain explodes A-bomb off WA

It (the Monte Bello bomb) gives the world the indisputable proof that Britain has the material, the skill and the installations for the independent production of atomic weapons and she will yield the initiative to none. - West Australian , Perth, 4 October, 1952.

• Britain's first atomic test on 3 October on the Monte Bello Islands, off the northwest coast of Western Australia, was hailed as proof that the British Commonwealth could protect itself in the nuclear age. In 1953, Britain moved to the Australian mainland with tests at Woomera (SA). The health ramifications for service personnel and aborigines are still being questioned today.

Japanese 'wool' from whales (continues?)

A Japanese scientist has found how to make synthetic wool and other substances from whale blubber, reports Professors Rogers Finch, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. - Weekly Times , Melbourne, 24 December, 1952.

• What a ghastly Christmas present for Australian graziers! Nearly 50 years later, we still anxiously await the outcome of the scientist's endeavours (well, the Japanese are still catching whales for mysterious 'research' purposes).

Our very own uranium to go to Britain, US

In making our surplus (uranium) available to the United Kingdom and the United States, we are accepting the responsibility which relies upon this country to assume a proper share in the defence programme of the Western democracies. The way has now been cleared for full-scale development of the Rum Jungle field. - Government statement, Canberra, 8 January, 1953.

• Australia signed an agreement in Washington. Consolidated Zinc Ltd was to manage mining operations.

1953: Death of Joseph Stalin, 5 March.

Poms give Sutherland warmish reception (sort of)

Her performance last night was not very free nor very big, but suggested she will grow in the part if given the chance, and has the makings of a first-rate dramatic soprano, if her voice can be properly developed. - Critic, Manchester Guardian , Manchester ( UK), 31 March, 1953.

• Joan Sutherland, who had joined the Royal Opera in 1952, had taken over the leading role of Amelia in Verdi's A Masked Ball .

1953: Armistice in Korean War, Panmunjom, 27 July.

We did but see her passing by (etc)

Three and a half minutes and the Queen would be with us! At that point, the emotional tension near the dais at Farm Cove was almost unbearable. But when that petite figure for which a nation had waited for so long actually set her white-clad foot on Australian soil, we who watched could hardly believe it . - Reporter Lois Lathlean, Sydney, 5 February, 1954.

I was so flabbergasted I couldn't reply. I just went wobbly at the knees. - Railways 'porteress' Pat Kingmill, South Yarra station (Vic), 1 March, 1954.

• Pat had just been told by the handsome Duke of Edinburgh that he didn't have a ticket for the Royal Train. It was just his way of having a joke. Haw, haw.

Sutherland arrives on the Covent Garden stage

She is a believable, if somewhat artless actress. Give her time and she should become a valuable addition to Covent Garden's shockingly short list of good sopranos. - Daily Express , London, 14 May, 1954.

• Joan Sutherland had, in fact, arrived as Agatha in Der Freischutz at Covent Garden. The Sydney Sun reported that the performance was stopped for applause twice and reported that Sutherland said: 'I was so scared I could hardly breathe.'

Young Whitlam's first warning on Vietnam

There is a threat to the peace of the world in Indo-China ... if the peace of the world is to be maintained, it should be maintained through the United Nations. If the United Nations says we should intervene with police action, then in my view Australian troops should go to Indo-China. But if the United Nation does not issue any such verdict, we should keep out of the matter. - Labor member Gough Whitlam, House of Representatives, Canberra, 8 April, 1954.

• This speech by the young member for Werriwa is the first recorded warning by an Australian politician against Australia becoming involved in any American adventure in Vietnam. On 7 May, the French surrendered at Dien Bien Phu after a seven year independence war with the Viet Minh, under Ho Chi Minh. The country was divided into a Communist-led northern half and a US-supported southern half. In 1955, the Americans became alarmed about Communist activity in the south and launched the Second Indo-Chinese, or Vietnam, War.

Petrov sees 'Australian way of living', defects

I wish to ask the Australian Government for permission to remain in Australia permanently. I wish to become an Australian citizen as soon as possible. I ask for protection for myself and assistance to establish myself comfortably in this country. I no longer believe in the Communism of the Soviet leadership - I no longer believe in Communism since I have seen the Australian way of living. - Vladimir Petrov, Canberra, 14 April, 1954.

• On 14 April, Vladimir Petrov, a third secretary at the Soviet Embassy, defected. His wife remained at the Russian Embassy. Some days later, she was forcibly removed at Darwin airport from two Russian couriers apparently escorting her back to Moscow.

1954: French beaten in siege of Dien Bien Phu, 7 May, concede defeat in Indo-China. Geneva Accord recognises partitioned (North and South) Vietnam.

SEATO ... and the Red menace

We have seen aggressive Communism on the March in Asia ... We are not aware of what these commitments may involve. But whatever is involved, Australia will - and must assist them. - Prime Minister Robert Menzies, Melbourne, 22 August, 1954.

• Menzies addressed the State Conference of the Victorian Liberal and Country Parties on the eve of the first meeting of the South East Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO). In April, 1955 Australia sent ground troops to help the British fight Communist insurgents in Malaya.

There are eight countries represented here, and it must be the hope and belief of all of us that when the terms of this Treaty become publicly known they will assure the several other countries in this area, the democratic countries who have not been parties in the creation of this Treaty, as to the real purpose of this Treaty, and I do hope and believe that before very long we have made additions to our ranks in this Treaty. The real purpose of this Treaty is to present a concerted front of defence against aggressive Communism which presents the free world with immediate problems of security. We in Australia are very conscious of this; we realise that our fate is linked with the South-East Asian countries actually on the Asian mainland and all the countries not far away. And all our Australian defence policy is directed towards the dominant purpose of coping in the future with any eventuality that may unfortunately result. - External Affairs Minister R.G. Casey, Manila ( Philippines), 8 September, 1954.

• SEATO existed from 1954 until 1977. It was directed at military aggression in Korea and Indo-China, and and subversion in Malaya and the Philippines. Its founding members were Australia, the US, Britain, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand. Pakistan withdrew in 1968 and France suspended financial support in 1975.

Labor's devastating split over Communism

Both armies in Labor's civil war yesterday committed themselves irrevocably to a long and bitter struggle for control of the Federal party machine. - Mercury , Hobart, 11 March, 1955.

• The Labor Party split for the third time in its history when a majority decided to withdraw recognition of its Industrial Groups, rightwingers dedicated to fighting Communism in the unions. Their supporters left to form the Anti-Communist Labor Party, which became the Democratic Labor Party. At the conference, Opposition Leader Dr Herbert Evatt said 'an outside Santamaria group has threatened the fabric of Labor'.

Pro-hanging NSW MP invokes Jack the Ripper

When I last visited England, I visited Madame Tussaud's and copied in full a letter that Jack the Ripper had written to the police of London. No one who read it could suggest that solitary confinement was an appropriate way to deal with such a monster. Jack the Ripper said that he had started to write the letter with the blood of one of his victims, but it had become too thick.This is the kind of person upon whom so much compassion is being wasted tonight. It is a pity that the spark of life was not snuffed out of such people at birth.They would then be prevented from proceeding along their gory way. - MLA L.C. Jordan, NSW Parliament, 23 March, 1955.

• Despite this persuasive argument, the NSW Labor government abolished the death penalty for rape and murder.

Australia produces anti-polio Salk vaccine

Special steps have been taken to ensure a continuous supply of monkeys from various parts of the world. - Age , Melbourne, 19 April, 1955.

• The newspaper hailed the Federal government's quick action to produce Salk vaccine to combat poliomyelitis. The vaccine, discovered in the US by Dr Jonas Salk, was produced from monkeys. Production was announced in Melbourne a few days after it was released in the US.

Catholic church backs Santamaria in Labor fight

It is a well-known fact that during the last ten years, Catholics in Australia have endeavoured to form a strong public opinion against Communist activities in our community. This was a noble undertaking, patriotically directed to save our Fatherland, the rights and liberties of our fellow citizens and the free exercise of religion. The leaders of this campaign were familiar with the extent of Communist suppression of those rights and privileges in other countries. They foresaw, as the history of subsequent years proved, that the Communist plan to capture trades unions and other public bodies in Australia was part of a clearly designed scheme to seize complete control of the country. It is very regrettable that highly placed public men. including some Catholics, seem to have closed their eyes to the great issues involved in the present upheaval. They do not appear to realise that they are forwarding the interests of Communism. - Pastoral letter signed by 33 Catholic archbishops and bishops, Sydney, 29 April, 1955.

• This letter was seen as the church hierarchy's endorsement of the activities of the Catholic Social Studies Movement, led by B.A. Santamaria, and disapproval of prominent Catholic layman, including Arthur Calwell. It led to the formation next year of the Democratic Labor Party, an organisation dedicated to denying Labor office.

M en's hats raised

Myxomatosis has pushed up the price of men's hats. A shortage a fur, caused by the decimation of the rabbit population, has forced the price of hat fur from 40d per pound to 201d per pound. - E.J. Earl, general manager, Buzolich's Hatters, Melbourne, 29 June, 1955.

Petrov: huge witchhunt ... no spies

Two foreigners, the Petrovs, and one foreign-born Australian spy, Bialoguski, have made a lot of money. The forum (Royal Commission) in which they appeared cost the taxpayers 140,000 pounds plus unlimited security service expenses. The nation suffered heavy loss in trade, and the breaking of diplomatic relations with a great power. There has been the attempted smearing of many innocent Australians, grave inroads have been made into Australian freedoms by attacks on political non-conformity ... but after 18 months of enquiry, at great cost to this nation, no spies have been discovered. Not a single prosecution is recommended. - Opposition leader Dr Herbert Evatt, House of Representatives, Canberra, 19 October, 1955.

• Evatt suggested that the whole Petrov fiasco had been a Menzies political stunt on the eve of the 1954 election.

1955: Republic of (South) Vietnam proclaimed with Ngo Dinh Diem as President, 26 October. U.S. seeks to build the South Vietnam army (ARVN) with weaponry and advisers against the so-called 'domino theory' of Communist aggression.

Australia observed

Washing dirty linen in public is a favourite form both of aggression and defence in Australian politics, and no form of detergent is neglected. - J.C. Horsfall, Australia ( London), 1955.

DLP formed to fight Communism in unions

In 1943, as today, the fight against Communism in the trade unions is a fight for freedom of religion. There is, or was, no secret that Catholics, in an organised way, were behind the groups when the fight began. - B.A. Santamaria, leader of the Catholic Social Studies Movement, Canberra, 24 April, 1956.

• The Democratic Labor Party was formed in Sydney on 29 September.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

It is, in effect, the love of the sailor and the sailor's wife - all over the world, even among some very sedate and respectable married couples, there is envy and hunger for the special self-renewing happiness that comes to the sailor and his girl through the recurrent 'accident' of their separations. - Critic, Sydney Morning Herald , 23 June, 1956.

• Ray Lawler's play, The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (about seasonal cane cutters and their women) captivated Australian playgoers with its freshness and vitality. Later, it had great success in London and New York. In fact, it was not until 1978 that another Australian play, David Williamson's The Club (renamed The Players for US consumption) was performed in New York.

1956: Suez Crisis begins, 26 July, when Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalises canal.

Television's earnest beginnings in Australia

It is perhaps trite to say that the primary purpose of television is to provide entertainment. It is in this connection that it will embrace live shows as well as films. Much of it will make an appeal to children at times of day best suited to that end. It will have an attraction for adolescents and adults. Generally, it will provide theatre, variety, and the like. Regard will - as it should - be had to the principle that entertainment can be popular without being vulgar. It will afford ample opportunity for the development of Australian talent. - Mr Justice Maxwell, chairman, Amalgamated Television Services, Sydney, 15 October, 1956.

• Television transmission began in Australia early in November, in time for the Melbourne Olympics.

Catholic division over Santamaria activity

All that I would like to suggest is that the Catholic Social (Studies) Movement should be allow to develop along its own lines and that nothing should be done to curb the legitimate freedom of highly competent and dedicated laymen in the technical fields of politics and trade unionism ... those Bishops who favour it should give it whatever encouragement and support they can; while those Bishops who, for whatever reason, do not favour it, should not actively campaign against it or seek to destroy its influence by claiming authority in technical matters of politics and trade unionism which, according to Papal documents, they do not possess. - Letter from Archbishop Dr Daniel Mannix, Melbourne, to Commission of Cardinals, Vatican City, 17 October, 1956.

• Some members of the Catholic hierarchy and priesthood were beginning to have misgivings about the activities of B.A. Santamaria's 'Movement' (although Mannix appeared to favour giving it free rein). In a memorandum prepared in November, 1956, the Labor politician and prominent layman Arthur Calwell wrote: The Catholic Social Studies Movement, led by Mr Santamaria, which still enjoys the confidence of some members of the hierarchy of Australia, has done very grave harm to the Catholic Church in this country. Communities everywhere are divided, by those who feel that any lead given by a bishop or a priest on a purely political matter, must be accepted without question.

Professor Orr sacked for having sex with student

I am quite unable to understand how it could be that a professor could teach, examine, recommend for prizes and honours, or present as a fit and proper person to receive a degree, a student who has in her academic life been his mistress. - Mr Justice Green, Tasmanian Supreme Court, Hobart, 8 November, 1956.

• Mr Justice Green delivered his finding in the case of Professor Sydney Sparkes Orr v. University of Tasmania. He found that the university was justified in dismissing Professor Orr for having committed adultery with one of his students, but not justified on other grounds, which involved Orr's involvement in university politics. The case caused outrage in pro-Orr academic circles throughout Australia.

1956: Hungarian Uprising, 23 October-4 November.

Melbourne Olympics

Australia came out of the Olympic Games the most successful host country since World War Two. - Bruce Welch, Age , Melbourne, 10 December, 1956.

• True. But there were only two other Olympic Games since the War and they were conducted in England and Finland! Nevertheless, there was great national pride in our achievement in coming third on the gold medal tally behind the USSR and the United States.

Utzon wins Opera House design contest

Because of its very originality, it is clearly a very controversial design. We are, however, convinced about its design. - Sydney Opera House design judges' report, 29 January, 1957.

• Danish architect Joern Utzon won the design competition for a building destined to become one of the world's distinctive landmarks. Most local architects applauded Utzon's daring design, but one knocker said: It looks like an insect with a shell on its back that has crawled out from under a log.

Santamaria's Movement divorced from Church

The Movement must exclude from its programme all direct or indirect action on unions or political parties.There is nothing, however, which forbids individual Catholics from joining unions or political parties which are not in open contrast with the doctrinal and moral principles of the Church. Their action will be entirely individualistic and not involve the name and responsibility of the Movement. - Letter from the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Vatican City, to Cardinal Norman Gilroy, Sydney, 25 July, 1957.

• This letter, in the words of historian Paul Ormonde ( The Movement ), 'stripped Mr Santamaria's new organisation of any claim to connection with the Church'.

1957: Malayan (later Malaysian) Independence, 31 August.

Mid-1950s: our scholarly university failure rate

The most disturbing aspect of university education in its actual working is the high failure rate. A survey of the records of students enrolled at six universities for the first time in 1951 showed that of every hundred students, only sixty-one passed in the first year examinations; only thirty-five graduated in the minimum period of time; and only fifty-eight graduated or are expected to graduate at all. Such a high failure rate is a national extravagance and can be ill afforded. Extensive consideration of the problem clearly indicates that there is no one cause and we have discussed various relevant factors such as the previous preparation of students, the gap between school and university, the pressure of curricula, teaching methods, inadequate staffing and the absence of student guidance. - Report of the Murray Committee of Enquiry into Australian Universities, 1957.

• The Wyndham Committee on NSW Education reported at the same time that only 16 per cent of secondary students survived to the final year.

Mid-winter in the Cold War

The year 1957, now about to close, will stand out in history in various ways as an important turning point. In world affairs, all attempts to reach an understanding between the Soviet and Western powers for the reduction of armaments and nuclear weapons have come to nought. The Cold War is still on, and Western complacency about the relative military strength of the two great opposing groups has been sharply focussed by the launching of the Russian satellites. As things stand at the turning of the year, the outlook for 1958 internationally is far from reassuring. - Editorial, Land , Sydney, 26 December, 1957.

• To make matters worse, on the Home Front, Australia's post-War boom appeared to be subsiding after 12 years.

1958: European Common Market created, 1 January.

Schoolkids give pet rabbits to zoo's 'care' (!)

Bring pea shells, lettuce leaves or apple peelings. They eat up to one pound weight a day each, so we'll need help from the public . - Appeal from Melbourne Zoo director A.G. Whitlam, 3 February, 1958.

• Melbourne Zoo took 1000 pet rabbits, surrendered by schoolchildren after the State Vermin and Noxious Weeds was amended to provide penalties of 50 pounds or two years' jail for keeping rabbits in captivity. The government blamed the amendment on 'New Australians' who were breeding them for food. It didn't occur to the zoo, of course, that they would make fine fresh fare for pythons and other gluttons if fattened on 'pea shells, lettuce leaves and apple peelings ...'

Pokies: Genius ties with the village idiot

The point about the poker machine is that it is purely mechanical. You pull the lever, watch the little pictures spin round, and, fatalistically, await the result. No skill of any sort is involved. As between, say, Bertrand Russell and a village idiot, there is no advantage. - English observer Malcolm Muggeridge, Sydney Morning Herald , 12 April, 1958.

• Muggeridge was fascinated by poker machines, which had been legalised in NSW clubs in 1956.

Untapped water from Mallee to the south coast

It (the underground basin) represents an enormous and as yet relatively untapped source of supply in the sandy country between Bordertown and Pinnaroo. - SA Minister of Mines Sir Lyell McEwin, Adelaide, 10 May, 1958.

• South Australian water engineers announced the extent of water up to 100 metres underground from the northern Mallee to the coast at Mount Gambier. It was considered suitable for cropping and stock.

Chocolate milk gamble fails

We processed 1500 gallons of the (chocolate) milk to meet an expected demand on the first day, but our gamble failed. Only about half was sold. - J. E. Walsh, secretary of the Victorian Milk Distributors' Association, Melbourne, 16 July, 1958.

• Consumers proved wary of this early experiment in marketing flavoured milk. A campaign by dentists warning of the effects on children's teeth was blamed. But Melbourne milk distributors were heartened by news from progressive Sydney, where they were regularly selling 1400 gallons a day.

Australia reaches 10 million population, 1959

If we are able to maintain an immigration rate of one percent we should, we natural increase, achieve our next 10 million in 30 years - by 1988. The years since the end of the war have demonstrated that the smooth and healthy growth of Australia depends on building our population at a faster rate than natural increase alone will allow. - Immigration Minister Alexander Downer, Canberra, 10 March, 1959.

• Australia's population reached 10 million, boosted by 2.8 million immigrants since 1954.

Ava and Frank: lovers' tryst in Melbourne

Of course they'll be seeing each other. They're very friendly. - Actress Ava Gardner's manager, David Hanna, Melbourne, 30 March, 1959.

• Miss Gardner was in Melbourne to star in On The Beach. Her manager had been asked if she intended to see the crooner, Frank Sinatra, her most recent former husband, who was appearing on stage there. Their meeting, according to Melbourne tittle-tattle, was a resounding success. Miss Gardner later endeared herself to the Melbourne citizenry by allegedly saying the city was an ideal place to make a film about the end of the world. A Melbourne journalist admitted many years later to inventing the quote, knowing it was so clever Miss Gardner would never deny it.

Ideal society: no divorce

Mr Speaker, one of the great foundations of our national life is the family, and in turn the family is founded on marriage. National interest is best served and family life is best nurtured when marriage is truly life-long. The prevalence of broken marriages does threaten our strength and imperil our future. The ideal society would know no occasion for divorce. - Attorney General Sir Garfield Barwick, House of Representatives, Canberra, 14 May, 1959.

• Barwick introduced the Matrimonial Causes Bill, unifying State divorce laws. It became operative in 1961. The Family Law Act, giving Federal authorities full control over divorce, was enacted in 1975.

Happiest people in the WHOLE world!

There is more contentment in Australia than any country I have been to. - American evangelist Billy Graham, New York (US), 30 May, 1959.

• Graham had returned to the US after a triumphant tour of Australia and New Zealand during which he claimed more than three million people had attended his meetings.

18. 1960- 1969

' ... you have an admiring friend, a staunch friend that will be all the way with LBJ.' - (Prime Minister Harold Holt, 30 June, 1966)

Those children of the 1890s and growing old, Sir Robert Menzies, Herbert Evatt, then Arthur Calwell, called it quits in this decade, a most turbulent one. The anti-establishment mutterings of the War Babies and their younger brothers and sisters, the Baby Boomers, grew into a crescendo in the late 1960s. The Vietnam War brought them on to the streets in alarming displays of young, mostly middle-class, civil disobedience. Unlike Prime Minister Harold Holt's declaration in Washington, they would not go 'all the way with LBJ'. In their leisure hours, they drove to the surf beaches in their Mini Minors and explored the marvels of the female contraceptive pill. Women of child-bearing age found liberation and control at last. Among the new breed of assertive women, the pill's popularity reached its greatest heights when they discovered they could use it in conjunction with the mobile phone in the 1990s.

Australian society mirrored American as never before. The common cause (which saw the emergence in the US of the New Left) was Vietnam. But even before the groundswell of protest against the war began, Australians joined in the horror, then mourning, after the assassination of the charismatic President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on 22 November, 1963. Many more Australian news pages were devoted to it than the drowning of Prime Minister Harold Holt off Cheviot Beach, Victoria, on 17 December, 1967. Relieved Australians applauded American's entry into the space race in 1962 with John Glenn's triple orbits of the earth, but some of us became suspicious after an alleged incident in 1964, in which North Vietnamese gunboats fired on US warships in the Gulf of Tonkin, allowed the Americans to escalate the war in Vietnam to the North.

By 1966, Australia had made the fateful decision to send conscripts to the war, and rightwing NSW Premier Robin Askin made the infamous remark, 'Run the bastards over' when a car containing him and US President Lyndon Johnson were confronted by young anti-war demonstrators in Sydney. But it was not only the young in Australia who were becoming concerned about our involvement in the war. Many older people, particularly women, were becoming concerned. These people, traditional Liberal-Country Party supporters, had childhood memories of the waste of our youth on the battlefields of Gallipoli, France and Belgium in World War One. In Melbourne, the Save Our Sons movement was formed and in 1969 two of its leaders did the unthinkable and visited Hanoi, the North Vietnamese capital.

Once again, we mirrored America. Early in 1968, the Tet offensive in Saigon showed that the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong held the whip hand in the war. President Lyndon Johnson halted the bombing of the North and began peace talks with the Communists after the anti-war Senator Eugene McCarthy polled strongly in the New Hampshire primary. In 1968, the great year of worldwide protest, Australian army chiefs realised that the war was not only unpopular, but also unwinnable, and began to scale down our involvement. As early as February, 1968, Prime Minister John Gorton had hinted publicly that Australia had had enough. Meanwhile, Gough Whitlam had succeeded Arthur Calwell as Labor leader and begun the transformation of the party which would take it to victory in 1972 after 23 years. The same year, 1967, Australians voted overwhelming in a referendum to permit the Commonwealth to legislate on aborigines' behalf, and to include them in the Census. In 1968, the right to appeal beyond the High Court of Australia to the British Privy Council was abolished. Next year, the Arbitration Commission handed down the decision to progressively implement equal pay for equal work for women.

Joan Sutherland was already known as 'La Stupenda' in Europe when she took New York by storm in 1961. Their parents hadn't heard of the Beatles, but their young daughters certainly had, and there were street scenes not unlike the Vietnam Moratorium marches and anti-Springbok rallies (but friendlier) when they visited in 1964. Attracting much less attention, the National Library in Canberra was opened in 1968.

Arthur Calwell takes Labor leadership, 1960

The plan is apparently for Dr Evatt's heir-apparent, Mr Calwell, to use his standing as a Catholic to coax back the lost votes without making any real changes in policy and administration of the ALP. - B. A. Santamaria, leader of the Catholic Social Studies Movement, Melbourne, 13 January, 1960.

• Santamaria responded to Dr H.V. Evatt's decision to relinquish the Federal Labor leadership to become Chief Justice of NSW.

True Briton

We British people, not discouraged by republican examples, have a deep instinct for the monarchy. - Prime Minister Robert Menzies, memorial lecture, Cambridge University (UK),16 May, 1960.

City of churches' closed Sundays kill Festival

The disappointing features of the Festival were not the fault of the organisers, but of the archaic laws and customs which prevail in South Australia. The dead Sundays, the six o'clock closing time on weekdays, the comparatively poor gastronomic achievements, and the noticeable shortage of good hotels, restaurants and nightclubs, makes the visitor's life at the Festival difficult and, at time, tedious. - I. I. Kavass, Australian Quarterly , June, 1960.

• The writer commented on the first Adelaide Festival. An easing of restrictions as in Edinburgh, he suggested, would not make Adelaide licentious or immoral.

Menzies' about-face on P-NG independence

Whereas at one time many of us might have thought that it was better to go slowly in gaining independence (for Papua New Guinea) so that all conditions existed for a wise self government, I think that the prevailing school of thought today is that if in doubt you should go sooner, not later, I belong to that school of thought myself now, though once I didn't. - Prime Minister Robert Menzies, press conference, Melbourne, 6 June, 1960.

• Menzies spoke after returning from a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' meeting in London, where the question of independence for former colonies was discussed. His about-face startled many conservatives. His Territories Minister Paul Hasluck was more cautious ( see 23 August, 1960 and 28 January, 1968 ).

Racehorse stamp boycott: symbol of great evil

Australia has been reported overseas as being a nation of gamblers. The distribution of a stamp with a racehorse on it will seem to prove it. Are the Christian churches obliged to send out all their mail with a symbol of our greatest evil on it? - Rev Alan Walker, Methodist Church spokesman, Sydney, 20 July, 1960.

• The Methodist Church boycotted the use of new fivepenny stamps depicting Archer, winner of the first two Melbourne Cups in 1861 and 1862.

Hasluck cautions on P-NG self-government

Before self-government can be effective in a country as primitive socially and as underdeveloped economically as Papua and New Guinea is at present, considerable social changes and economic progress will be required. These changes can only be brought about by major efforts by the Australian government in maintaining and establishing a system of law and justice, in health, education and agriculture and technical training, and by bringing indigenous people into public administration and by membership of all political institutions. - Minister for Territories Paul Hasluck, House of Representatives, Canberra, 23 August, 1960.

• Papua New Guinea achieved self-government in 1973 and complete independence in 1975. The name Papua was given to the southern half in 1906 when Britain handed its administration to Australia. The German northern half, New Guinea, was captured by Australian troops at the outbreak of World War One in 1914. Australia was given a mandate to continue to administer the northern half by the League of Nations in 1921.

Ford Falcon arrives: new rival for the Holden!

Ford's new Australian car, the Falcon - its answer to the Holden - comes on the market tomorrow. The Falcon will be thirty pounds dearer than the Holden. - Press release, Melbourne, 14 September, 1960.

Flushed with success

We have come along way from the Tank Stream, Sydney's first water supply. - NSW Premier Heffron, Warragamba Dam Village (NSW), 14 October, 1960.

• The opening of the Warragamba Dam eased Sydney's growing water supply problems.

1961 credit squeeze gives Menzies his big fright

Now, the 'Panic Budget' of 1960-61 will take its place, with the 'Horror Budget' of 1951-52 and the 'Little Budget' of March, 1956, as a measure to place private enterprise, temporarily at least, on its back. Forced loans from many other institutions, beside banks will accompany severe taxation. - Sydney Morning Herald, 17 November, 1960.

• The Menzies government had imposed severe credit restrictions two days earlier. The newspaper had become disenchanted with government economic policy and would become more strident in its criticism by the time of the 1961 election. The new Labor leader, Arthur Calwell, wrote later ( Be Just and Fear Not ) that Fairfax executives had confided in him that this was because the credit squeeze caused a downturn in classified advertising, the fabled 'rivers of gold'.

Way open to Japanese money, iron ore ban lifted

As in 1938, conservation (of mineral resources) is the keynote of our policy, but we have now coupled it with an incentive for exploration. - National Development Minister Senator Spooner, Canberra, 2 December, 1960.

• The government, with an eye on a forthcoming recession and a decline in Australia's balance of payments, lifted a ban on the export of iron ore placed by the Lyons government in 1938. This caused a boom in Western Australia. Deposits were unveiled in the Koolanooka Hills, near Geraldton, then Mount Goldsworthy, in the Pilbara. The extraordinary wealth of the Pilbara was revealed in 1963 when drilling at Mount Tom Price exposed 500 millions tonnes of top grade ore.

Extinct mammal found alive!

There before them as they gazed like Keats' 'Stout Cortez when, with eagle eyes he stared at the Pacific ... with a wild surmise' was what had been sought for 50 years. It had been found not on almost impenetrable peaks of Victoria's far northeast, but in a well-known tourist resort a comfortable two-hour car journey from Melbourne. - Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria, Melbourne, 6 April.

• An expedition led by H. E. Wilkinson to Marysville found a healthy example of the tiny Leadbeater's Possum, thought to have been extinct for half a century.

1961: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space, 12 April.

One Day Of The Year causes Anzac anxiety

It is true that one or two of my characters made disparaging remarks about Anzac Day and what it stands for, but this makes me no more guilty of attacking Anzac Day than Shakespeare is guilty of the murderous thought that he put into the mind of Macbeth. - Playwright Alan Seymour, Sydney, 25 April, 1961.

• Seymour's play, The One Day of the Year , rejected by the Adelaide Festival the previous year because it was seen as denigrating returned servicemen, was produced in Sydney by the Elizabethan Theatre Trust to critical acclaim. It was part of a wave of fresh productions, including Ray Lawler's Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (1956), which enabled us to take a fresh look at ourselves.

'Usual suspects' doing UnAustralian Activities

Migrants have been trying to breed rabbits in Melbourne backyards or even in rooms in their houses. Inspectors of the Victorian Vermin and Noxious Weeds Destruction Board seized nearly 200 rabbits in shed and cages in backyards. The penalty for keeping rabbits without a permit is a fine of not less than five pounds or more than 50 pounds, and not more than six months jail. - Weekly Times , Melbourne, 12 July, 1961.

• The hapless immigrants did not know that growing rabbits for food those days was an even greater offence than sheltering a Communist.

'La Stupenda' cascades on New York critic

She can sing like a flute - but the sound is never flutey; she can sing staccatos that can cascade like raindrops; her trills are not the usual uneasy vaccilation between two neighbouring tones, but an utterly musical warbling that a pianist could not execute with more security, and she can make a melody arch as if it were supported by marble columns. - Critic Henry Long, New York Herald-Tribune , New York , 27 November, 1961.

• Joan Sutherland, already named 'La Stupenda' by Europeans, made her New York debut in Lucia Di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera. She took the city by storm. When she left the Met, enthusiastic fans tore at her clothes and rocked her Rolls Royce alarmingly. Curious American journalists described her accent as 'cultured Cockney'.

Payable oil found in Qld, WA and Vic

Assessment of the commercial significance of the Moonie discovery must obviously wait until it has been thoroughly tested, but is clearly is a most promising find. - Dr R.H. Raggatt, secretary, National Development Department, Canberra, 3 December, 1961.

• Australians had been searching for payable oil in quantities for eighty years until it was found at Moonie, in southern Queensland. Later, other significant finds were made at Alston (Qld), Barrow Island (WA) and in Bass Strait (Vic). Ultimately, the greatest benefit from the oil strikes was the accompanying gas. Moonie supplies Brisbane, 320km away, and Bass Strait supplies Melbourne, 300km away.

Menzies sneaks in by one seat

Right up to the end, the Prime Minister refuses to give the country a proper account of his stewardship or state a policy. Why has his government deserted Liberal principles? Why does he refuse to admit either the existence of a recession or put forward any policy to deal with it? - Sydney Morning Herald , 8 December, 1961.

• This editorial appeared the day before the general election. Menzies had his closest shave since the War, winning a majority of only one seat.

Indonesia grabs West New Guinea

We are reluctant to believe that the threats of war now being made by the Indonesian government ... are to be followed by action. War in this corner of the world is quite unnecessary, for the doors to free negotiation are wide open. Such a war would solve no problems, but would create animosities from which nobody except the Communist powers could profit. The paramount interests of the people of New Guinea, both West and East, and indeed of southeast Asia generally, cannot be served but must be damaged by war. - Prime Minister Robert Menzies, communique, Canberra, 12 January, 1962.

• Indonesian President Sukarno had just grabbed West New Guinea (Irian Jaya) from the Dutch and defied anyone to do anything about it. Menzies 'great and powerful friends', principally the US were preoccupied by the Cold War and the looming Cuban missile crisis and showed no interest. But many Australians thought Menzies' action amounted to appeasement. In 1969, the Indonesian takeover of Irian Jaya was legalised by plebiscite.

Dinkum Aussies flatten tourist-class migrant with axe

He was hit over the head with an aircraft emergency escape axe before the crew and passengers could subdue him. Trans-Australia Airlines said the man, a migrant of Central European origin, was travelling tourist class. - Airline press release, Brisbane, 20 January, 1962.

• That was how real Aussies dealt with hijackers, particularly New Australians who travelled tourist class.

Mountain ash comes to the Big Smoke

Looking to the west, the spires of St Paul's could barely be seen. The dome of Flinders Street Station on the other side of Swanston Street were hidden. So, too, were buildings north in Collins Street. - Office worker, Melbourne, 15 January, 1962.

• This was the extraordinary, smoke-filled scene in Melbourne during Victoria's worst bushfires since 1939. Ash from the Dandenong Ranges, 40km east, fell on city streets.

Melbourne-Sydney standard rail (cities no closer)

You'd never have believed that for 79 years Albury had been the scene of the greatest farce ever perpetuated in Australia railway history, the change of gauge. - Anonymous journalist, Border Morning Mail , Albury, 16 April, 1962.

• He was celebrating the opening of the standard gauge rail link between Sydney and Melbourne which meant weary passengers no longer had to change trains at the border crossing, as they had done since 1883 ( see James Service, 14 June, 1883).

Pride of the CWA

I just love to get at some jam making and do the washing, as I did most of my life when we lived on a property near Charleville, Queensland. - Dame Alice Berry, newly-elected national president of the Country Womens Association, Brisbane, 3 October, 1962.

• Dame Alice once took prizes at country shows for 'featherlight sponges and delectable scones'.

Menzies gets gongs, despite passing fantasy

I did but see her passing by, and yet I'll love her till I die. - Prime Minister Robert Menzies, Canberra, 18 February, 1963.

• Menzies welcomed the Queen to Canberra on her second tour of Australia with these breathless words borrowed from a English poet. He was the first Australian awarded the Knight of the Order of the Thistle and, on his retirement in 1966, was appointed Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Quid pro quo

The benefits of introducing a decimal system of currency will include the saving of up to half of the time our primary school children have to spend in learning arithmetic. - Treasurer Harold Holt, Canberra, 17 October, 1963.

• Decimal currency would save us from learning to do sums in pounds, shillings and pence. It was introduced early in 1966, but not before the will of the people stopped Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies from naming the main unit of currency the 'Royal'.

1963: President John F. Kennedy assassinated by a sniper in Dallas, Texas, 22 November, succeeded by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Desperate Arthur Calwell reacts to garbled news

Menzies has smeared the blood of the Labor Party all over the coffin of the dead President. - Statement released by Opposition leader Arthur Calwell, Perth, 23 November, 1963.

• According to Calwell's press secretary, Graham Freudenberg, Calwell had reacted to a 'garbled report that Menzies had invoked the name of Kennedy against the Labor Party' ( A Certain Grandeur ). That morning, Australians awoke to the news that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. In Australia, it added to the high emotion during the campaign for a snap Federal election. Menzies easily won the election on 30 November.

From the trend of voting, it was evident that the dissident Liberals of 1961 have returned to the fold and the electorate has responded to the choice of foreign affairs and defence as principal issues. - Age , Melbourne, 2 December, 1963.

• The result wiped away the memory of Menzies' close win in 1961 and, insiders said, broke the spirit of Opposition leader Arthur Calwell. He led the Labor Party to another defeat in 1966 and did not stand when Gough Whitlam won the leadership early in 1967.

Voyager disaster takes 82 lives

I imagine the Melbourne went through the forward switchboard in the section where the crew was playing tombola. The section was plunged into darkness and turned turtle. There was only a small opening to get out of it. I must have been washed out of the ship. I came out under the water and saw the stars. - Lieut Commander Peter Coombs, Voyager survivor, Jervis Bay, 10 February, 1964.

• The aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne cut through the destroyer HMAS Voyager on the evening of 10 February during exercises off Jervis Bay, southern NSW. Eighty-two of Voyager's 324 crew died. The 3500-tonne vessel, built in Sydney 12 years earlier, sank almost immediately. The 19,500-tonne Melbourne hove to at the scene to take aboard survivors before limping back to Sydney for repairs to her badly damaged bow. A Royal Commission in August found that Voyager was responsible for the collision, but because of the loss of the bridge officers, was unable to blame anyone for a navigational error which caused the destroyer to cut under Melbourne's bows. The Commission praised the skipper of Voyager , Capt D.R. Stevens, who was lost at sea, and rejected any allegations that he was a drunkard. More than 30 years after Australia's greatest peacetime naval disaster, survivors were still claiming compensation from the government.

Burr-plucking monkey's no nut (rules ATO)

It was right and justified that the monkey be entitled to a tax deduction as he is employed on the farm. - Farmer Lindsay Schmidt, Balmoral (Vic), 4 March, 1964.

• The Taxation Office allowed a deduction of 40 pounds a year after the monkey, Johnnie, proved he could drive a tractor. Mr Schmidt also claimed he picked burrs out of the sheep's bellies and had sandwiches, apricots and a bottle of Passiona soft drink at lunch with the shearers.

Federal government pork barrels private schools

This bill reverses two attitudes which the Menzies government has maintained for the past fourteen years. One is that the Commonwealth has no responsibility for education, except at the tertiary level, while the other is that aid to non-government schools is beyond the jurisdiction of this Parliament. The Prime Minister has reiterated these fundamental positions again and again, in this Parliament and at election time. The Labor Party, at successive elections and on many occasions in this chamber, has urged a greater responsibility for education at all levels. And again and again, we have met a blank wall of opposition from the government. Yet the Prime Minister passes off his amazing reversal of attitude as if it were the most natural thing in the world and not worthy of comment or explanation. - Opposition leader Arthur Calwell, House of Representatives, Canberra, 14 May, 1964.

• The Menzies government's State Grants (Science Laboratories and Technical Training) Bill aimed to provide Federal money for science teaching in non-government schools - Catholic and Protestant. This meant a return of State aid to Catholic schools after a break of nearly 90 years. Calwell saw it as little more than a cynical wooing of Catholic voters. The Australian newspaper agreed. It said that while many Catholic parish schools were deprived of resources and quality teachers, there was no justification for the great mass of taxpayers to subside the children of the privileged in the wealthy private schools.

Beatles Down Under

Welcome to Australia. Which one am I talking to? - Well-prepared Australian journalist to Paul McCartney, Darwin airport, 11 June, 1964.

• The Beatles, on their historic 32-concert tour of Australia and New Zealand, made an unscheduled stop at Darwin when their plane was diverted by bad weather. The tour by the world's most popular group was a watermark in isolated Australia. In Adelaide, 350,000 people, half the city's population, turned out to welcome them.

Another group affected is the fans' parents. Many of these were brought up on tunes like Tea for Two. - Daily Telegraph , Sydney, 13 June, 1964.

• Many parents were confused by the mass hysteria occasioned by the Beatles! But D-grade journalist John Larkins, forecasting the visit in the Melbourne-based Listener In-TV in January, had said, wisely: Things couldn't be better for the Beatles - but they know it can't last.

1964: So-called Gulf of Tonkin Incident on 4 August (later proved to be false claim that North Vietnamese gunboats fired on U.S. destroyers) gives U.S. President Lyndon Johnson excuse for all-out war in Vietnam.

Menzies conscripts young Australians

At present, important questions arise which require frank answers. They will, I regret to say, indicate that there has been a deterioration in our strategic position since the review which I presented to Parliament last year. The range of likely military situations we must be prepared to face has increased as a result of recent Indonesian policies and actions and the growth of Communist influence and armed activity in Laos and South Vietnam. If these countries collapsed, there would be a grave threat to Thailand and the whole of Southeast Asia would be at risk. - Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, House of Representatives, Canberra, 10 November, 1964.

• Menzies' answer was the reintroduction of conscription for service overseas. The Australian public, generally, took the news calmly. At the time, our involvement in South Vietnam consisted of about 100 experienced soldiers, mostly officers and NCOs. Menzies' announcement came soon after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident (2 August) in which North Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly attacked two American destroyers. US President Lyndon B. Johnson immediately ordered American bombing raids on the North and raised his soldier numbers from 20,000 to 148,000 in a year. Early in 1965, Australia sent 1500 regular infantrymen to South Vietnam and these were followed by conscripts soon afterwards. The death of the first conscript was announced on 24 May, 1966.

Dynamic Don and Turgid Tom in South Australia

It goes without saying, too, that there will be widespread regret at the eclipse of Sir Thomas Playford after twenty seven-and-a-half years (a record for any British Commonwealth country) as prime political architect of the state's destinies. - Adelaide Advertiser , 8 March, 1965.

• Playford had ruled South Australia benignly by gradually-eroding gerrymander until Labor finally unseated him in 1965. It was the beginning of more liberalised laws and greater freedom of expression, personified by the dynamic Don Dunstan, who was elected Premier in 1970 and who, one hot day, wore pink shorts into Parliament, causing mass attacks of the vapours among the wives of the city's staid burghers.

Vietnam : Australia REALLY reports for duty in the tragedy

Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies announced his contentious decision to send 800 men of the Ist Battalion RAR to Vietnam to an unprepared House of Representatives on 29 April, 1965. Opposition Leader Arthur Calwell and Deputy Opposition Leader Gough Whitlam were both absent, having left to campaign in a NSW State election. Menzies said ...

The House in recent weeks has conducted an important debate on foreign affairs in which the situation in Vietnam was fully and anxiously discussed.

In the first half of 1962 the Government decided, following upon a request from the Government of South Vietnam, that Australia should contribute militarily to the defence of South Vietnam. We sent at that time a group of about 30 military instructors to provide military training assistance.

Since then additional military aid has been provided. The strength of the Australian army team was, in the first place, doubled, and later still, increased to 100. A flight of six Caribou transport aircraft has been provided.

The Australian Government is now in receipt of a request from the Government of South Vietnam for further military assistance. We have decided - and this has been done after close consultation with the Government of the United States - to provide an infantry battalion for service in South Vietnam.

There can be no doubt of the gravity of the situation in South Vietnam. There is ample evidence to show that with the support of the North Vietnamese regime and other Communist powers, the Viet Cong has been preparing on a more substantial scale than hitherto insurgency action to destroy South Vietnamese Government control, and to disrupt by violence the life of the local people.

The rate of infiltration of guerrillas from North Vietnam has been increasing and last year rose to some 10,000. The infiltration of a battalion of the regular North Vietnamese army has recently been confirmed.

We have not, of course, come to this decision without the closest attention to the question of defence priorities. We do not, and must not, overlook the point that out alliances, as well as providing guarantees and assurances for our security, make demands upon us.

We have commitments to Malaysia which we are meeting. We have to bear in mind, and make preparations against, the possibility of other developments in the region which could make demands on our defence capacity.

Assessing all this, it is our judgment that our decision to commit a battalion in South Vietnam represents the most useful additional contribution which we can make to the defence of the region at this time. The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia and all the countries of South and South-East Asia. It must be seen as a thrust by China between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The task of holding the situation in South Vietnam and restraining the North Vietnamese is formidable. But we are conscious of the effort being made by the Government and people of South Vietnam in their own defence. In recent months, the United States has taken historic decisions to extend further military assistance to South Vietnam. South Korea has also committed substantial forces.

We have noted and welcomed the efforts to open the way which have been made, so far unsuccessfully, by President Johnson and by the Prime Minister of Britain through his representative, Mr Gordon Walker. We also welcome President Johnson's proposals for a wide-ranging economic programme. We will certainly continue to play our part in the economic development of the region.

I make it clear that the Government has no desire to have Australian forces in Vietnam no longer than necessary to ensure the security of South Vietnam.

We and our allies are not seeking to take over North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese must not take over South Vietnam through armed force or subversion.

Simultaneously, Menzies released a letter from the President of the U.S., Lyndon Johnson, indicating their degree of cooperation. It read (in part) ...

I am delighted at the decision of your Government to provide the services of an infantry battalion for service in South Vietnam, at the request of the Government of South Vietnam.

Protests in Australia were muted. The former Anglican Bishop of Armidale, Rev. J.S. Moyes, said: There is a major division of opinion in Australia on the war in Vietnam now. It seems we are sending troops to help the South Vietnamese when Australian newspapers are reporting that they are not anxious to fight.

The most spirited opposition came from a younger Rupert Murdoch's then Canberra-based Australian . In a strap across the top of of page one announcing the decision, it said ... The Menzies Government has made a reckless decision ... which this country may live to regret ... so that America may shelve a tiny bit of her embarrassment.

The government had been in deep discussion with President Johnson's special envoy, Mr Henry Cabot Lodge, the previous week, but Menzies claimed it had received a plea for help from the South Vietnamese government. In Australia, the anti-war movement did not gain real momentum until 1969 when more and more people questioned the wisdom and morality of the war.

Joan likes billy tea amid Aussie smells

But, oh, I do miss the feeling of having a cup of billy tea among the gum trees. I am looking forward to seeing those fabulous beaches here with their beautiful white sands. I do miss ... the smell ... of this country. - Soprano Joan Sutherland, Melbourne, 17 June, 1965.

• Sydney-born Sutherland, 'La Stupenda', was making her first tour of Australia since joining the Royal Opera, London, in 1952. She was the first Australian since Dame Nellie Melba to reach the first rank of international performers.

White Australia policy abandoned

But given these tests (selective immigration), we want to say we are not keeping people out because of any different pigmentation. - South Australian Deputy Premier Don Dunstan, ALP Federal Conference, Sydney, 2 August, 1965.

• Dunstan, later a successful reforming Premier, moved to delete any reference to 'White Australia' from the Party's policy platform. He said the term caused trouble and misunderstanding in Asia, although people there did not object to selective immigration. The conference adopted a resolution to support a 'vigorous and expanding immigration programme, administered with sympathy, understanding and tolerance'. Next year, the Federal government opened the door to well-qualified Asians and their families' who could be expected to 'integrate readily' into Australian society.

Prince of the Pacific calls it quits ...

I am tired. My pace has slowed down. I could not properly continue in office for very much longer and at the same time do justice to the growing problems of the nation. - Retiring Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, Canberra, 20 January, 1966.

• Menzies retired and his anointed successor, Treasurer Harold Holt was unanimously elected leader by Government members. Labor and National Service Minister William McMahon was elected deputy leader.

Arthur Calwell says Menzies was honest

For any Prime Minister to have held power for sixteen years at a time when rapidly growing Federal revenues made strict Parliamentary supervision of expenditure not always possible without any breath of financial scandal touching any of the Departments of State, is an achievement worthy of mention and praise. It is no exaggeration to say that on the Federal level, we have the most honest administrative system in the world, and that include Britain. - Newspaper tribute from Opposition leader Arthur Calwell to retiring Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies' government, Melbourne, 20 January, 1966.

... but Sydney Morning Herald calls him 'inept'

The patriarch has relinquished his power. The Menzies era of sixteen years successive years as Prime Minister and 21 years as foundation leader of the Australian Liberal Party has ended. Like any era, the Menzies reign has had about it the quality of inevitability. This was the genius of Robert Gordon Menzies - to achieve the domination of Australian politics to a degree never reached before and impossible to imagine being repeated ... Sir Robert, marvellous at divining the Australian electoral temper, has been inept and listless in the role he has seemingly cherished, the role of statesman. He has presented Australians with few challenges: we have an immigration plan, but a White Australia policy; a Colombo Plan, but no Peace Corps; conscription, but an enfeebled CMF; affluence, but no campaign against poverty; policies, but little public debate. Menzies is the master politician who does not understand that, 'The difficulty about politics is that when it does not matter at all, it matters desperately and tremendously.' - Editorial, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 January, 1966.

Holt's leadership philosophy involves battleships

I have what I call my 'battleship theory' about the Prime Minister. The duty of the rest of the fleet is to protect the battleship, even at the risk of losing some of the escort vessels. So it is in politics - the Prime Minister is brought into major engagements; it is the duty of the rest of the team to protect him. - Prime Minister-elect Harold Holt, Melbourne, 21 January, 1966.

End of 6 o'clock swill, enter 'train-missers' club'

It was sheer bedlam here! - John Locantra, licensee of Young and Jackson's Hotel, Melbourne, 1 February, 1966.

• Victoria finally ended 6 o'clock closing after 50 years. But the new .05 blood alcohol laws kept drinkers in check. In the late afternoon, Young and Jackson's, opposite Flinders Street station, became the haunt of well-intentioned, but incompetent, commuters who became known As the 'Train Missers' Club'.

Assassination attempt on Arthur Calwell

Just after the door was closed, I saw young Kocan running towards the car. I thought he might be just another well-wisher who was making a belated effort to tell me how much he supported the Labor Party's attitude on Vietnam. So I started to wind down the car window to shake hands with him. But before I could get the window open, there was a loud bang and I suddenly realised a shot had been fired at me. - Opposition leader Arthur Calwell recalling the events of 21 June, 1966.

• Peter Kocan, aged 19, shot at Calwell after a Labor Party rally at Mosman Town Hall, Sydney.

All the way with LBJ etc

And so, sir, in the lonelier and perhaps even more disheartening moments which come to any national leader, I hope there will be a corner of your mind and heart which takes cheer from the fact that you have an admiring friend, a staunch friend that will be all the way with LBJ. - Prime Minister Harold Holt, Washington (US), 30 June, 1966.

• This extraordinary commitment was made by Holt during a visit to assure President Lyndon B. Johnson of Australia's support in Vietnam.

Run the bastards over. - NSW Premier Robin Askin when his car, carrying US President Lyndon B. Johnson, was blocked by young anti-war demonstrators lying on the road, Liverpool St, Sydney, 24 July, 1966.

• LBJ visited Australia to stiffen our resolve on Vietnam. Our commitment was important to America's justification of their right to be there. He was said to be pleased with Askin's attitude to the well-being of Australia's youth.

Ronald Ryan hanged, Victoria disgraced

I don't like hanging. I don't see why Ryan has been singled out. If hanging is on the statute, there should be no discrimination. I think hanging is un-Christian in a so-called Christian society. - Liberal MLA George Sampson, Portland (Vic), 28 January, 1967.

• Sampson joined another Liberal MLA, Brian Dixon, in bravely opposing Premier Sir Henry Bolte's determination to hang Ronald Ryan, who had been convicted of shooting a prison warder while attempting to escape from Pentridge Jail in 1966. Ryan was hanged on 3 February. Bolte's action caused widespread revulsion in the community and led to the abolishment of capital punishment.

Reluctantly Calwell resigns, Whitlam succeeds

When the ALP Federal Parliamentary Caucus accepted Mr Calwell's resignation yesterday, it wound up a political tradition which produced Prime Ministers of the calibre of Billy Hughes, John Curtin and Ben Chifley. His tragedy was that his party had elected him to leadership when the day of the 'battler' had passed. The one invariable characteristic of Arthur Calwell's political personality has been the urge to power. It made him dominant in the Victorian ALP machine in the 1930s. It provided the motivating force which drove him to the top of the Parliamentary party. And it constituted the fatal flaw which has reduced his personal standing and the electoral credit of the ALP to their present low ebb. - Australian , 9 February, 1967.

• Calwell, reluctantly, made way for Gough Whitlam as Labor leader. Labor improved its position in 1969 and won in 1972.

1967: European Community created, July.

Holt drowns: 'He was like a leaf being taken out'

The Prime Minister must be a lot fitter than we are. There he goes, striding along like Marco Polo. - Alan Stewart, a few minutes before Prime Minister Harold Holt went into the surf, Cheviot Beach (Vic), 17 December, 1967.

• Holt was in a group of friends from the seaside town of Portsea, 100km southeast of Melbourne, who went to the treacherous Cheviot Beach that Sunday, mainly to observe to lone British yachtsman, Alec Rose, sail through Port Phillip Heads. Holt said, 'I think I'll go in for a paddle,' but the others remained on shore. His body was not recovered.

I know this beach like the back of my hand. - Prime Minister Harold Holt, Cheviot Beach (Vic), 17 December, 1967.

Nobody could have done thing. He was like a leaf being taken out. It was so quick and so final. - Mrs Winton Gillespie, eyewitness to the disappearance of Harold Holt, Cheviot Beach (Vic), 17 December, 1967.

Jack McEwen blackballs McMahon as PM

I have told Mr McMahon that neither I nor my Country Party colleagues could serve under him as Prime Minister. - Interim Prime Minister John McEwen, Canberra, 20 December, 1967.

• McEwen, the powerful Country Party leader, wrecked Deputy Liberal leader William McMahon's prime ministerial prospects when he threatened to withdraw his party from the Coalition if McMahon were elected. Menzies' preferred replacement, Paul Hasluck, was beaten in the ballot by John Gorton.

Gorton gives life to a disintegrating government

Your colleagues have given me a formidable opponent. I look forward with zest to our contest in the cause of our parties and in our cooperation in the cause of our country. - Telegram from Opposition leader Gough Whitlam, Osaka ( Japan) to Prime Minister John Gorton, Canberra, 9 January, 1968.

• Gorton, Government leader in the Senate at the time of Holt's disappearance, had entered Parliament in 1949 and held various portfolios since 1958. According to some insiders (Alan Reid, The Gorton Experiment ) he had been encouraged to have leadership aspirations even when Holt was alive. His not unattractive, rebuilt face told of his experiences as a crashed World War Two fighter pilot against the Japanese. But his 'crash through or crash' prime ministerial style soon caused alarm in some Liberal-Country Party circles accustomed to the more stately style of the Menzies era. His appointment of shapely Ms Ainsley Gotto, aged 22, assistant to one of his allies, Government Whip Dudley Erwin, as his Private Secretary, further alienated many of the traditionalists. The appointment of C.L. ('Len') Hewitt as permanent head of the Prime Minister's Department caused worry among senior public servants. Many people believed that the Hewitt-Gotto team made access to Gorton difficult.

1968: Tet ( New Year ) offensive, 30 January, when North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops launch attacks in 36 towns, including Saigon and Hue.

John Gorton's had enough of Vietnam

Australia won't increase its commitment. - Prime Minister John Gorton, Canberra, 12 February, 1968.

• This statement was made at the height of the North Vietnamese-Viet Cong Tet offensive in which they penetrated large areas of the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon. In Australia, military leaders had decided Australia was stretched to the limit and could to commit no more troops. Many conservatives had decided, privately, that the war was unwinnable and that a way should be found to extricate America honourably.


Civil rights leader Martin Luther King shot dead, 4 April, in Memphis, Tennessee.

'May Riots', beginning 2 May in Paris by students and workers threaten Gaullism and Fifth Republic and bring about major social reforms.

Presidential aspirant Robert F. Kennedy (brother of JFK) shot, 5 June, in Los Angeles, died next day.

On the nose

From this Honourable gentleman (Edward St John) emanates an odour of sanctity in this House which is quite nauseating. - Air Minister Gordon Freeth, House of Representatives, Canberra, 10 October, 1968.

• Senior Liberals backed Prime Minister John Gorton against attacks from the puritan Liberal backbencher Edward St John QC.

Gorton gossip helps Liberal Party foes

Nothing is going to happen tonight - it is as respectable as a curate's picnic. - Veteran journalist Alan Reid to Press Gallery President Jonathan Gaul, Canberra, 1 November, 1968.

• Reid, who had undertaken to keep a fatherly eye on a young woman journalist, Geraldine Willesee, left a Press Gallery dinner at a Canberra Hotel early after assuring himself that she was in good hands. In the early hours of the next morning, she accompanied the guest speaker, Prime Minister John Gorton, for invited drinks at the residence of the American ambassador, William Crook. The subsequent controversy over the innocent outing, fuelled by Canberra gossip, gave ammunition to Gorton's foes, particularly the Liberal Edward St John.

He is not old, he is not young,

The Member with the Serpent's tongue,

The haggard cheek, the hungering eye,

The poisoned words that wildly fly,

The famished face, the fevered hand -

Who slights the worthiest in the land,

Sneers at the just, condemns the brave,

And blackens goodness in its grave. - Bowdlerised verse by Bettina Gorton, wife of the Prime Minister, circulated in Canberra, 24 March, 1969.

• The usually reserved, academic Mrs Gorton borrowed a verse from Sir William Watson (1858-1936) in her defence of her husband's conduct in the 1-2 November, 1968, affair against the staid Liberal Edward St John's attacks in Parliament. St John lost his seat in the Federal election later that year.

Southern exposure

We'll have to be extra careful when we bend over to serve passengers at window seats. - Qantas stewardess Janette Freeman, Melbourne, 13 June, 1969.

• Janette modelled Qantas' daring new stewardess uniform. The skirts came to a startling two centimetres above the knee.

1969: President Richard Nixon starts to recall U.S. troops from South Vietnam, January.

North Vietnamese reckon we're just US lackeys

They (North Vietnamese) don't say much about us. The general impression is that we're just lackeys of the US. I got the impression that they think Australia's policy is just stupid rather than aggressive. - Anti-conscription activist Jean McLean, Melbourne, 11 July, 1969.

• McLean, secretary of the Save Our Sons movement, had just returned from Hanoi. On the flight from Sydney to Melbourne she produced an American anti-personnel mine, gravely assuring a nervous stewardess that it had been rendered harmless.

1969: Americans walk on the moon, 21 July.


Isn't it super, super, super! They'll be exposed to all the right kind of boys. - Anglican mother, Geelong, 19 August, 1969.

• She had learned that the ladies' college, The Hermitage, would merge with the exclusive Geelong Grammar.

She's wearing the pants

I'm madly in love, summer's coming and my boss lets me wear trousers to work. - Secretary Ann Briggs, Melbourne, 19 September, 1969.

• Miss Briggs responded to the question, 'Why are you happy?' The Governor-General, Lord Casey, had suggested at a State luncheon that Australians seemed gloomy.

Young Keating's Presidential-style campaign

Bankstown has been hung with 300 three feet by two feet placards: yellow lettering on a blue background and featuring a circular photograph of candidate Keating. The poster is straight from John Kennedy's presidential campaign, he (Keating) said, only the party name and photograph have been changed. - Feature writer Joe Glascott, Sydney Morning Herald , 9 October, 1969.

• Paul Keating, a 25-year-old member of the NSW Labor Right, won the seat of Blaxland at the Federal election next month. He became Treasurer when the Hawke government won office in 1983 and succeeded Hawke as Prime Minister in 1991.

19. 1970-1979

'Well may they say God Save the Queen for nothing will save the Governor General.' - (Gough Whitlam, Canberra, 11 November, 1975)

DR Germaine Greer, an expatriate Australian, published The Female Eunuch in 1970, expressing the notion that most women's supposed acquiescence was akin to the condition of male castration. Her book was a worldwide best seller, but many Australian women had already formed their own ideas about their status and their attitude toward themselves and were actively pursuing change. The early days of the women's movement were behind them; they had liberated the public bars of the Regatta Hotel in Brisbane and the Civic Hotel in Canberra in the mid-1960s; they had taken their places in the front line of the anti-war marches; they had chanted slogans in language that wouldn't have been considered, well, ladylike , a generation before. Australian women embraced the contraceptive pill from the mid-1960s and they were in charge of their own bodies as never before. In 1975, the Family Law Act finally gave them absolute equality in marriage.

Women were at the forefront of an alternative, grass-roots movement which took flower in the 1970s. They moved out of the suburbs, into the country, and built mudbrick houses. Many came back to the city eventually, but just as many remained and became an accepted part of rural society. In 1973, thousands of disenchanted people came to Nimbin, in the coastal hills of northern NSW for the first Aquarius Festival. Nimbin became a symbol of hope for those aspiring for a better way of life, an enlightened peasantry, living in harmony with the earth. Many people stayed on permanently at nearby Tuntable Falls, where they started a cooperative in a 600ha valley. In 1971, in the cities, tens of thousands of Australians expressed their distaste for South Africa's racist apartheid regime by joining in violent demonstrations against the touring Springbok rugby union team, following similar protests in Britain in 1969-70.

Patrick White, probably better-known in the US and Britain than in Australia for his novels, including The Tree of Man (1955) , Voss (1957) and Riders in the Chariot (1961) won the Nobel Prize in 1973. In 1974, White, a member of a traditionally conservative NSW pastoral family, threw his considerable influence behind the already-beleaguered Whitlam Labor government. Labor, elected in 1972 after 23 years of Liberal-National Party rule, was wrestling with deepening economic woes and an intransigent conservative Opposition who apparently refused to concede Labor's right to govern. The matter came to a head on 11 November, 1975, after the 'Loans Affair' with Governor-General Sir John Kerr's dismissal of the Whitlam government and the appointment of Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser as caretaker Prime Minister.

Fraser won the subsequent Federal election, but in its brief time in office the Whitlam government had accomplished much-needed reforms, including the recognition of China, the final ending of the 'White Australia' policy,the introduction of the universal healthy care scheme, Medicare (later Medibank), abolished Imperial honours, and dramatically boosted arts subsidies. Five years after the 1975 dismissal Whitlam and his wife, Margaret, were given a standing ovation at an Opera in the Park concert in recognition of his support for the arts.

Westgate Bridge collapse kills 35

I was welding when I felt the bridge start to shake. Then she went. I went down with the span. I found myself on the ground with cuts to the lower part of my left leg. Some of my mates were dead. Others were moaning, 'help, help, help'. - Welder Nick Grosso, Melbourne, 15 October, 1970.

• Thirty-five men were killed when a span of the half-built West Gate Bridge collapsed. On 3 August next year, a Royal Commission found that the designers, Freeman Fox and Partners, of London, had to bear the greater part of the blame.

Springbok tour violence: police blamed

I think the police have gone berserk. They're trying to kill people. - Anti-apartheid demonstrator Jean McLean, Olympic Park, Melbourne, 3 July, 1971

• About 3000 protesters confronted 700 police in ugly scenes at a rugby game between the South African Springboks and Victoria. Twelve demonstrators and five police were taken to hospital and 138 demonstrators were arrested. There were community concerns that the police had over-reacted. Three days earlier, 80 people were arrested at a match in Adelaide. In Brisbane on 22 July, the future Queensland premier, Peter Beattie, an 18-year-old law student, was among those arrested in a violent police reaction.

Too bad. Didn't they go there wanting to be hurt? They provoked the situation and if they came off second best, that's too bad. - Victorian Liberal Premier Sir Henry Bolte, Melbourne, 5 July, 1971.

• Sir Henry responded to reporters' queries about the possible over-zealousness of police on 3 July.

The (television news) films remind me of demonstrations abroad. The film showed the most violent demonstration I have seen in Victoria. - Victorian Labor Opposition leader Clyde Holding, Melbourne, 5 July, 1971.

• The ugly scenes at Olympic Park on Saturday were followed more violence next day, American Independence Day, when demonstrators marched to the US Consulate in a Vietnam War demonstration.

I am an old man who has seen many things happen in my lifetime, but on Sunday, in St Kilda Road, I witnessed what I consider to be a disgusting exhibition of unnecessary force by the police against a lot of juvenile students who could only be classified as children. Big, massive stormtrooper-type police jumped from cars with batons slung around their wrists, and struck young boys and girls over the head. A voluntary member of the St John Ambulance treated two young girls in front of me on the plantation in St Kilda Road. Is this the same St Kilda Road we marched along last Anzac Day? Such treatment must cease at once! - Reader Rex Palmer, letter to the Age , Melbourne, 5 July, 1971.

We believe the present South African rugby tour should be cancelled immediately. We say this not only because of the very real danger of violence, but also because such an act would be a positive step in combating deep-seated racist attitudes among Australians. - Letter distributed by nine Protestant church leaders, Melbourne, 5 July, 1971.

Aborigines' own magazine at last

We have been slow to grasp the quality of genius for life which aboriginal oral tradition displayed in both its process and content, and we look increasingly to the aboriginal peoples to tell us for themselves more of both. - Commonwealth Council for Aboriginal Affair chairman Dr H. C. ('Nugget'), Coombs, Sydney, 5 July, 1971.

• Coombs spokes at the launching of the national aboriginal magazine, Identity, the first journal for and by aborigines.

Whitlam gets the nod from Chou En-lai

It is possible that if an Australian Labor Party prime minister had visited China 20 years ago, all the destruction and slaughter in Vietnam might have been avoided. At least, there would have been no Australian troops there for the past six years. - Opposition leader Gough Whitlam, Peking ( China), 5 July, 1971.

• Whitlam and other Labor leaders met Chinese Premier Chou En-lai for talks which eventually led to the Whitlam government's recognition of China. Chou said he hoped Whitlam would win the next election.

Headmaster says Wesley's a 'psychiatric clinic'

Very few people are decent enough to have children, but everyone seems to. There is this weakening in the parents' moral life. The boys see this and the effect is to make them deeply worried. - Dr T.H. Coates, retiring headmaster, Wesley College, Melbourne, 2 August, 1971.

• Dr Coates said: We're now running a psychiatric clinic where we once ran a school.

Evonne Goolagong comes home to Barellan

Things are pretty crook for us. I can't get work so I've been hanging around the house, painting it up for Evonne. Mum and dad are pretty worried. They want her to like it. - Larry Goolagong, Barellan (NSW), 4 August, 1971.

• Evonne Goolagong was about to return to Barellan, near Narranderra, after her first triumph in the women's singles tennis final at Wimbledon, but her close-knit family worried that she would find them in difficult financial circumstances.

Plotter McMahon's like 'Tiberius with a telephone'

There he sat, on the Isle of Capri at Surfers Paradise, plotting his (John Gorton's) destruction - Tiberius with a telephone. - Opposition leader Gough Whitlam, House of Representatives, Canberra, 21 August, 1971

• Whitlam compared McMahon to the Emperor Tiberius who retired to the Isle of Capri (off Naples, of course) in AD 26 and, becoming more and more demented, hatched plots against his enemies. In August, 1971, McMahon had dismissed Gorton as Defence Minister, citing as a 'breach of Cabinet responsibility' a series of newspaper articles he wrote in his defence.

Journalist bugged

Oh, God! I wish I were an Italian. - Unidentified Australian journalist, White House Library, Washington (US), October, 1971.

• The journalist's remark was inadvertently taped while he was listening to an embarrassing off-the-cuff speech by Prime Minister William McMahon during a visit to President Richard Nixon.

Drift from the bush biggest since end of goldrush

In some country towns up to 75 percent of school leavers have to leave home to find work or higher education. - Nationwide survey, 6 September, 1972.

• In Victoria, the Liberal government began a programme to attract more industry and population to country areas. It also announced the establishment of universities in country cities. The Australian 'drift from the bush' began when alluvial gold mining began to diminish in the early-1860s. In 1871, 25 per cent of the population lived in the major coastal cities; by 1900, it was 35 per cent and today it is 65 per cent.

McMahon's fateful poll (anniversary of Austerlitz)

The second of December is a memorable day. It is the anniversary of Austerlitz, Far be it from me to wish, or appear to wish, to assume the mantle of Napoleon, but I cannot forget that the second of December was a date on which a crushing defeat was administered to a coalition - another ramshackle, reactionary coalition. - Opposition leader Gough Whitlam, House of Representatives, Canberra, 10 October, 1972.

• Prime Minister William McMahon had announced that the Federal election would be held on 2 December, coinciding, as Whitlam grandly pointed out, with the date in 1805 that Napoleon had his most brilliant victory over the combined forces of Russia and Austria.

Men and women of Australia!

Men and women of Australia! The decision we will make for our country on 2 December is a choice between the past and the future, between the habits and fears of the past, and the demands and opportunities of the future. - Opposition leader Gough Whitlam, Blacktown (NSW) Civic Centre, 13 November, 1972.

• Whitlam opened Labor's election campaign with the same words used by Prime Minister John Curtin in 1943. His aide, Graham Freudenberg ( A Certain Grandeur , 1977), said Whitlam touched him on the shoulder before the speech and said: 'It's been a long road, comrade, but we're there.'

Whitlam states aboriginal policy

The aborigines are our true link with the region. More than any foreign aid programme, more than any international obligations which we meet or forfeit, more than any part we may play in any treaty or agreement or alliance, Australia's treatment of her aboriginal people will be the thing upon which the rest of the world will judge Australia and Australians - not just now, but in the greater perspective of history. The aborigines are a responsibility we cannot escape, cannot share, cannot shuffle off; the world will not let us forget that. - Opposition leader Gough Whitlam, Blacktown (NSW) Civic Centre, 13 November, 1972.

• Whitlam stated the future government's policy towards aborigines and foreshadowed the launching of the National Aborigines Consultative Council in February, 1973. However, some conservatives consider this an early manifestation of the 'brain-washing' of the Australian people which led to the High Court decision on Mabo in 1992 and the ensuing Native Title Act next year. The decision recognised that native title had not been extinguished by British occupation. Conservative commentator Tim Hewat, in his book, Who Made The Mabo Mess (1993), described this 'deliberate brainwashing' as 'that long, drip, drip, drip'.

'Thank you' notes not action-man Gough's style

He just utters sweet murmurs in the dark of night. - Prime Minister-elect Gough Whitlam's wife, Margaret, Canberra, 5 December, 1972.

• Mr Whitlam explained to journalist Claudia Wright that it was not her husband's style to write her formal 'thank you' notes for helping in his election campaign.

Conscription dismantled

An early assessment shows four out of five national servicemen in NSW wants an early discharge. - Press release, Canberra, 11 December, 1972.

• Under Defence Minister Lance Barnard's immediate dismantling of conscription, those wishing to leave the army would miss out on war service and repatriation benefits, but would receive normal benefits of guaranteed employment and retraining.

China recognised as the sole legal government

We have recognised the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China. - Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, Canberra, 22 December, 1972.

• Whitlam had cabled his Ambassador to France, Alan Renouf, and asked him to begin negotiations with the Chinese. Diplomatic relations with Taiwan ceased and the embassy was transferred from Taipei to Peking.

1973: Paris Peace Accord signed, 27 January, under which American combat troops leave South Vietnam.

Labor's urgent reforms touch Australian life

Without precedent in the history of British-style governments, it set out to make up for lost time by immediately implementing its campaign promises. Australians blinked as within weeks we recognised China, ended conscription, abolished race as a criterion of our immigration policy, began reform of the health service, supported equal pay for women, banned racially selected sporting teams, abolished Federal British honours, increased arts subsidies, put contraceptives on the medical benefits list, took the tax off Australian wine, moved to stop the slaughter of kangaroos and crocodiles and searched for a new national anthem. - Journalist Robert Drewe, Australian , Canberra, 4 March, 1973.

Another wool boom brings high rural earnings

Wool is making a large contribution to Australia overseas exchange earnings and is a forerunner in the economic revival and the rural sector of the economy. - Primary Industry Minister Ken Wriedt, Sydney, 23 June, 1973.

• Wriedt, speaking at the Sydney Sheep Show, said the value of Australian wool exports could pass $1500 million, compared with $633 million in 1971-72. During the year, aggregate farm income rose to $1880 million, the highest level since the Korean War wool boom.

Opera House opened, Bennelong and the Queen

I am Bennelong. Two hundred years ago, fire burned on this point. The fires of my people. And into the light of the flames from the shadows all about , our warriors danced ... - Ben Blakeney, Sydney Opera House opening, 20 October, 1973.

• Perched high on a sail of the Sydney Opera House, Blakeney, as Bennelong, opened the magnificent building. Well, the Queen actually opened it, but Bennelong stole the show. 


South Vietnam Government surrenders unconditionally, 30 April, and North Vietnamese tanks occupy Saigon without resistance. Name changed to Ho Chi Minh City.

Richard Nixon resigns as U.S. President, 9 August, thus avoiding impeachment over the Watergate Scandal.

Nobel Laureate Patrick White switches to Labor

Some of you to whom I am speaking may be in a quandary over how to cast your vote, as I, too, found myself in a quandary at a point in the post-Menzies era. Brought up in a Liberal tradition, I realised we had reached a stage where a change had to be made if we were to cure ourselves of mentally constipated attitudes and heave ourselves out of that mental stagnation which has driven so many creative Australians to live in other parts of the world. - Author Patrick White, Sydney Opera House, 13 May, 1974.

• White, Nobel Prize winner in 1973, came from a wealthy NSW pastoral family. He reaffirmed his commitment to Labor in the 1974 election campaign and joined other writers, including Donald Horne ( The Lucky Country ) and Frank Hardy ( Power Without Glory ) in protests after the 1975 dismissal.

Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin

No one can really imagine the state of the place. It is absolutely flattened. There is nothing left. - Cyclone survivor Joy Smith, Alice Springs, 26 December, 1974.

• She was evacuated from Darwin after Cyclone Tracy struck the city. Sixty-six people died and 45,000 were left homeless. Within days, thousands were evacuated by air to the southern capital cities.

Ship hits Hobart's Tasman Bridge, motorists die

Quick, there's no bridge! - Sylvia Manley to her husband, Frank, Tasman Bridge, Hobart, 5 January, 1975.

• Sylvia and Frank were driving over the bridge when it was struck by the bulk carrier, Lake Illawarra , leaving them on a 50-metre precipice. They and their two back seat passengers scrambled to safety, but several other motorists drowned.

It's now a matter of seeing what the skindivers turn up and people reporting relatives that did not come home. - Police spokesman, Hobart, 6 January, 1975.

• Apart from the loss of life, the Tasman Bridge disaster, on the estuary of the Derwent River, severed the link between the main part of the city on the west bank and the smaller eastern part, including the airport.

Jim Cairns' fateful foreign loans letter

The Australian government is interested in exploring available loan funds from overseas. In the event of a successful introduction which may be made or arranged by you, and provided the interest for a term does not exceed eight percent per annum in total, we would be prepared to pay a brokerage fee of two and a half percent deducted at the source to you and/or you nominees. We would need to be satisfied about the sources of the funds and the size of the loan would have to be appropriate to our needs. - Letter from Treasurer Dr Jim Cairns, Canberra, to businessman George Harris, Melbourne, 7 March, 1975.

• This letter, marked 'SECRET', led to the dismissal of Dr Cairns from the Whitlam Cabinet on 2 July for misleading Parliament over loans activities. The letter came into the hands of the Opposition on 4 June and later that day, in reply to a question in Parliament from Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser, Cairns denied having written it.

South Vietnam 's puppet government's surrender

The Republic of Vietnam policy is the policy of peace and reconciliation, aimed at saving the blood of our people. I ask all servicemen to stop firing and stay where you are. - South Vietnamese President Duong Van 'Big' Minh, Saigon, 30 April, 1975.

• The South Vietnamese government, a U.S. puppet, surrendered unconditionally to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces after a war which cost two million lives, including 56,000 Americans and 500 Australians. At the time of the surrender, Australia was no longer involved in the war, but later gave haven to tens of thousand of refugees.

Rex Connor: No apologies over Loans Affair

Throughout my two-and-a-half years as a Minister of the Crown, I have stood in the path of those who would have grabbed the mineral resources of Australia. I have no apologies whatever to make for what I have done. It has been done in good faith; it has been done in honesty. I fling in the face of the little men of the Opposition the words of an old Australian poem:

Give me men to match my mountains,

Give me men to match my plains,

Men with freedom in their vision,

And creation in their brains. - Minerals and Energy Minister Rex Connor, House of Representatives, Canberra, 9 July, 1975.

• Connor replied to increasing, shrill Opposition protests about the so-called 'Loans Affair'. His vision was, indeed, breathtaking. It included using overseas loans to expand coal exporting harbours at Port Kembla, Newcastle, Gladstone and Hay Point; a natural gas pipeline from the Cooper Basin to Perth; uranium enrichment plants; the electrification of heavy freight rail lines in NSW and Victoria. Connor's vision splendid was not shared by Treasury, which preferred traditional methods of raising overseas funds, rather than go through intermediaries such as Tirath Khemlani. The people of Australia were treated to an extraordinary series of 'leaks' casting Connor in an unfavourable light, which appeared to emanate from Treasury. (His poetic lines came, in fact, from an American poem, The Coming American , by S.W. Foss).

Joh's bizarre choice of a Man in Canberra

I don't think homosexuality should be spoken about in the Senate. - Newly-appointed Queensland Senator Albert Field, Senate, Canberra, 10 September, 1975.

• Field was appointed by Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen to a Labor Senate vacancy. Bjelke Petersen claimed Field was a Labor man, but he rapidly proved otherwise. His ability to debate issues other than homosexuality were never really tested.

Liberals (and Melbourne Herald ) trap Whitlam

Is there any authority outstanding for any money lender, intermediary

or agent to raise a loan for the Australian government? If so, what are the details? Are any of your senior Ministers presently involved in major overseas loan raising? - Deputy Opposition leader Phillip Lynch, House of Representatives, Canberra, 8 October, 1975.

• Whitlam replied, 'No', but he was trapped. That afternoon, the Melbourne Herald carried a story saying Tirath Khemlani claimed he still had Connor's go ahead. Connor resigned on 14 October and Opposition leader Malcolm Fraser announced he would block Supply.

Constitutional row: 'We will not yield to blackmail'

I make it clear that the government will not yield to pressure. We will not yield to blackmail. We will not be panicked. We will not turn over the government of this country to vested interests, pressure groups and newspaper proprietors whose tactics would destroy the standards and traditions of parliamentary government. The business of government will go on. - Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, national television address, Canberra, 14 October, 1975.

• Australia's great constitutional battle had begun. On one side, there was Whitlam, with a united Labor Party, demanding his right the govern for his full term. On the other, there was Fraser, continuing to defer or delay the Supply Bills. Fraser still had to win the support of a substantial bloc of 'small-l' Liberals who continued to waver over the propriety of using the Senate in this way. In the end, the Governor General, Sir John Kerr, would make the decision for everyone.

G.G. Kerr sacks Whitlam, appoints Fraser PM!

In accordance with Section 64 of the Constitution, I hereby determine your appointment as my Chief Advisor and Head of the government. It follows that I hereby determine the appointments of all Ministers in your government. You have previously told me that you would never resign or advise an election of the House of Representatives or a double dissolution and that the only way in which such an election could be obtained would be by my dismissal of you and your ministerial colleagues. As it appeared likely that you would today persist in this attitude I decided that, if you did, I would determine your commission and state my reasons for doing so. You have persisted in your attitude and I have accordingly acted as indicated. I attach a statement of my reasons which I intend to publish immediately. It is with a great deal of regret that I have taken this step in respect of yourself and your colleagues. I propose to send for the Leader of the Opposition and to commission him to form a new caretaker government until an election can be held. - Letter of termination handed to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by Governor General Sir John Kerr, Government House, Canberra, 11 November, 1975.

The bastard's sacked us. - Dismissed Prime Minister Gough Whitlam to senior Ministers and staff members, The Lodge, Canberra, 11 November, 1975.

Australian situation likened to Pinochet's Chile

The situation in Australia today is very similar to the situation that existed in Chile when the Allende government was destroyed. - Tom McDonald, NSW secretary, Building Workers Industrial Union, Sydney, 11 November, 1975.

• The bloody 1973 military coup in Chile when the moderate Marxist government of President Salvador Allende was overthrown by the apparently loyal army commander, General Augusto Pinochet, was still very fresh in the minds of Australians. The reformist Allende died and the new dictator had 130,000 Chileans arrested or 'disappeared'. McDonald and other union leaders called mass protest strikes against Kerr's action.

Bob Hawke's caution to stunned Australians

But I believe Mr Whitlam has to accept that (Kerr's) decision. - ALP national secretary Bob Hawke, Melbourne, 11 November, 1975.

• Hawke, who became Prime Minister in 1983, was shocked by the dismissal, but was a voice for moderation in a stunned Australian community.

'... nothing will save the Governor General'

Well may they say 'God Save the Queen' for nothing will save the Governor-General. - Dismissed Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, Parliament House steps, Canberra, 11 November, 1975.

• Whitlam was correct insofar as Kerr became one of the most reviled men in Australia. On 17 February next year, Labor members boycotted the opening of Parliament and he was jeered by hundreds of people. Doubts about the legality of his actions in the dismissal still linger.

The party which the Prime Minister (Fraser) leads does not have a majority in the House of Representatives. - Sacked Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, House of Representatives, Canberra, 11 November, 1975.

• Whitlam moved successfully (64-54) a motion of no confidence in the new Fraser government. He also moved that the Governor General should call upon 'the member for Werriwa' (himself) to form a new government. Speaker Gordon Scholes announced that he would take the motion to Government House forthwith, but Kerr refused to see him.

'Mr Fraser's day of shame': Whitlam

Men and women of Australia, the whole future of Australian democracy is in your hands. The decision you make on 13 December goes far beyond who shall govern Australia for a few months or a few years. It goes to the heart of how Australia is to be governed into the 21st century. Remembrance Day, 1975. Remember that day. Mr Fraser's day of shame - a day that will live in infamy. - Opposition leader Gough Whitlam, Festival Hall, Melbourne, 24 November, 1975.

• Whitlam launched Labor's election campaign with rallies in Sydney and Melbourne on 24 November. There were huge and emotional crowds of supporters at both meetings. But Labor's wise heads were not fooled. These were traditional Labor voters. The consensus was that Labor's fate was in the hands of the swinging voters.

'What about a fair go for Australia?': Fraser

On 13 December, we can start helping all those people who have been harmed by Labor. We have heard about a fair go for Labor. A fair go for the most hopeless government in our history? A fair go for a man who had to be sacked because because he was prepared to damage the nation rather than face the people? They've had a fair go. What about a fair go for Australia? - Caretaker Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, Dallas Brooks Hall, Melbourne, 27 November, 1975.

• Fraser began his election campaign confidently. He was in the position of displaying the trappings of office as interim Prime Minister, although there had been concern among some public servants in Treasury at his willingness to use documents to damage the Whitlam government.

Whitlam concedes defeat, regrets lost colleagues

We've lost a very great number of seats and the Liberals have won a very great number of seats. Let me congratulate them on their success. Let me also say how much my colleagues and I appreciate the magnificent spirit shown by the Labor movement during the past couple of months. I'd like to express in particular my profound regret regret at losing so many colleagues who were in the prime of their political life, and whose contribution to this country's political life has been interrupted. - Opposition leader Gough Whitlam, Tally Room, Canberra, 13 December, 1975.

• At 11pm, Whitlam formally conceded. A huge swing to the Liberals, particularly in outer metropolitan Sydney and Melbourne, had been evident from early evening.

Fraser restores Brit honours, hires another butler!

All the work, all the jobs are ahead, all the problems are still to be solved. - Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, Southern Cross Hotel, Melbourne, 13 December, 1975.

• Fraser and his wife, Tamara, arrived at 10pm to attend the celebratory party and receive a phone call of congratulations from Gough Whitlam. One of the first 'jobs ahead' was the restoration of the British honours system and the reinstatement of God Save The Queen as an alternative national anthem to Advance Australia Fair. He also restored a Menzian tradition by hiring a butler for The Lodge.

'It's the middle of the night and I'm still sober.'

Is it safe for me to cross the road at four o'clock? - Elderly woman's call to Melbourne's Eye and Ear Hospital, 23 October, 1976.

• The total eclipse of the sun, the last until 2020, gave Melbourne the jitters. At the zoo, lions began howling and one hotel drinker at the Chevron, in St Kilda Rd, marvelled: It's the middle of the night and I'm still sober.

Granville train disaster kills 83

The people sitting on the lefthand side of the train had some chance of survival. But those on the righthand side are all dead. - Local priest Father Michael Campion, Granville (NSW), 18 January, 1977.

• The nation's worst train disaster, when a commuter train from the Blue Mountains crashed into a concrete bridge pylon, killed 83 people. Many were trapped by falling masonry.

Australia 's health and welfare crisis

One sees in health and welfare in Australia a system out of control - part of a larger crisis in administration, certainly out of the control of the individuals it is supposed to serve and of the institutions and political agencies to which we look for national management. - Report of an all-party Parliamentary Committee, Canberra, 3 May, 1979.

• The committee found that the health and welfare system was 'piecemeal, arbitrary' and like 'a giant jelly'. The committee, chaired by Liberal Senator Peter Baume, a medical doctor, said it did not have answers to many of the questions raised in the report.

20. 1980-1989

'Then you are gone. You are a banana republic' - (Treasurer Paul Keating, 14 May, 1986)

On 20 February, 1981, one of Australia's most bizarre legal cases seemed to have been concluded when the Alice Springs Coroner, Denis Barritt, found that baby Azaria Chamberlain, had been killed by a dingo while the family was camped at Ayers Rock. But on 20 November, Mr Justice Toohey, of the Northern Territory Supreme Court, ordered a new inquest and, on 2 February, 1982, the baby's mother, Lindy Chamberlain, was committed for trial for murder. She was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment on 29 October. A subsequent appeal to the High Court failed but, on 7 February, 1986, she was released from jail after identifying a baby's jacket found at Ayers Rock as similar to one worn by Azaria. The case continues to fascinate Australians and led to the making of the film, Evil Angels .

Meanwhile, there were other evil portents in NSW and Victoria in 1983. In January, bushfires swept through large areas of the two states, killing four people. On 8 February, a severe dust storm descended on Melbourne from the parched north, blotting out the sun and depositing 11,000 tonnes of topsoil on the city. And on 16 February, the awful Ash Wednesday fires tore through Victoria and South Australia, taking 72 lives and destroying 2000 homes

On the political front, there was a change of mood. From 1981 to 1990, there were 22 Federal and State elections with Labor winning 17 and non-Labor five. Bob Hawke led a revived Labor Party into office in 1983 and, in concert with his Treasurer, Paul Keating, began extraordinary financial reforms whose positive effects were still being enjoyed by the succeeding Howard Liberal-National government in the late-1990s. Late in 1983, Keating floated the Australian dollar and continued the process by licensing 16 trading banks in 1983. But many of these reforms were tempered by a cult of greed among the new-rich entrepreneurs, not helped by the New York stock market crash of 19 October, 1987, which rippled through world markets. In June that year, New Zealand forced an end to the Anzus alliance when it passed its Nuclear Free Zone Disarmament and Arms Control Bill.

The Port Arthur mass murders of 1996 were foreshadowed in 1987 in Melbourne when the gun-obsessed Julian Knight shot five people dead in Hoddle Street on 9 August and Frank Vitkovic murdered nine in a city office building before throwing himself nine-storeys to his death in Queen Street. Australia's Bicentennial Year, 1988, was a happier year for most. On 9 May, Queen Elizabeth officially opened Australia's new Parliament House in Canberra, surgeons at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne performed the first heart transplant on a child, a 14-year-old boy, and on 15 September, Lindy Chamberlain and her husband, Michael, were finally freed of all charges arising from the disappearance of their baby, Azaria. Next year was less happy. The protracted airline pilots dispute led to the standing down of pilots and the loss of some $300 million in tourism revenue. The Pacific Highway in northern NSW claimed 56 lives in two separate bus crashes and on 28 December, an earthquake at Newcastle took 12 lives.

Howard shows alarming early signs of thick skin

When Mr Fraser hands over questions to Mr Howard, the Opposition says things like, 'We want the organ grinder, not the monkey.' Mr Howard sails through it all, and indeed often displays a boyish delight in the whole business. He is certainly an ideal lieutenant for Mr Fraser, and may even be a future leader. At the age of forty, he has plenty of time to prove it. - Commentator Mungo McCallum, Australian Financial Review , 5 March, 1980.

• Howard entered Federal Parliament for the Sydney seat of Bennelong in 1974. He became Treasurer under Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser in 1977. He was a rising star in the Liberal Party and, eventually, began to field questions on Fraser's behalf. After waiting patiently, he became Prime Minister in 1996.

Wide combs split shearers: 3000 strike

If the matter of wide combs is not cleared away, there is a grave danger that the award will disintegrate and the union is not going to take that chance. There are a few fleas - irresponsible dissidents on both sides who want to interfere with the award. They are not going to alter the union's stand that the award is inviolate. - Australian Workers' Union Riverina-Victoria secretary Ian Cutler, Wagga (NSW), 2 December, 1981.

• Three thousand shearers in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia struck over the introduction of wide combs which many woolgrowers - and shearers - believed hastened shearing. Pastoralists claimed about half of the shearers refused to join the strike. Eventually, wide combs became acceptable.

Drought weakens incomes on 80,000 farms

About 80,000 farms, or 60 per cent of rural Australia, were now drought-affected, the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Peter Nixon, told a special meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council in Melbourne this week.- Weekly Times , Melbourne, 8 September, 1982.

• The net value of rural production was estimated to be down $1300 million on the previous year.

Bill Hayden forced out as Leader for Bob Hawke

You have, unhappily, a difficulty in working with colleagues, but it in no way diminishes their respect for your political career. I believe that your respect and affection would be greatly enhanced if you stepped down from the leadership. - Letter from Labor Senator John Button, Melbourne, to Opposition leader Bill Hayden, Brisbane, 28 January, 1983.

• Hayden resigned as Labor leader on 3 February. Bob Hawke, the new leader, became Prime Minister in the Federal election in March. Button, the Senate deputy opposition leader, was the principal influence in convincing Hayden that Hawke had overwhelming popular support.

I believe that a drover's dog could lead the Labor Party to victory the way the country is and the way the opinion polls are showing up. - Resigning Opposition leader Bill Hayden, Brisbane, 3 February, 1983.

• Hayden's resignation statement after five years as leader was seen as an aside at Bob Hawke, the former ACTU president who supplanted him. Public opinion polls had shown a consistent Labor lead, but even Hayden's closest allies conceded that Hawke was most likely to became the Prime Minister. Hawke had not concealed his leadership ambitions since winning endorsement for the Victorian seat of Wills in September, 1979.

Horrifying Ash Wednesday bushfires take 71 lives

It's easier to count the houses that remain. You can't count those that are lost. - Victorian Premier John Cain, Melbourne, 17 February, 1983.

• Cain flew over parts of Victoria devastated by bushfires the day before, Ash Wednesday. In Victoria and South Australia, 71 people died and 317,000 sheep and 11,000 cattle were lost.

Crowded under Australia's beds

Under Labor, it'd (people's savings) be safer under your beds than it would be in the banks. - Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, election rally, Melbourne, 22 February, 1983.

• Asked to respond, Opposition leader Bob Hawke replied: 'They can't put them under the bed because that's where the Commies are.' He was referring to early-1950s conservative propaganda suggesting that Communists lurked under every bed waiting to burst out and do dastardly deeds.

Counting Ash Wednesday's shocking toll

The number of homes destroyed rose to 1780. According to Red Cross officials, about 12,500 people have registered as fire evacuees, but there are still several thousand more who have not contacted them. The Victorian government will provide up to 100 granny flats for on site emergency housing for bushfire victims. - Weekly Times , Melbourne, 23 February, 1983.

• The worst of the Ash Wednesday fires were around Warrnambool in the State's southwest, but throughout Victoria 280,000ha of State forest was destroyed. For a time, there was a critical shortage of stock feed.

Bob Hawke wins Prime Ministership

We are going to change the face of decision making in this country and the way government cooperates with important sectors of the Australian community. - Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Canberra, 11 March, 1983.

• Labor won office with a 25-seat majority in the House of Representatives. Malcolm Fraser resigned as Liberal leader and was replaced by Andrew Peacock. Hawke and Treasurer Paul Keating moved very quickly to bring in two key planks - deregulation of the financial system and the Accord with trade unions. The new government promised to protect wages, while at the same time giving financial institutions great freedom. The latter led to greater competition among banks, but also spawned such entrepreneurs as Alan Bond and Christopher Skase.

Hawke's historic economic summit

The first problem is how to arrest the explosion in unemployment and then move towards its steady reduction with the ultimate goal of genuine full employment - the bipartisan goal adopted for the first three decades of the post-War era. - Prime Minister Bob Hawke, National Economic Summit, Canberra, 11 April, 1983.

• At the historic summit, Hawke won the agreement of the nation's most influential businessmen to the centralised age fixing of the Accord and Labor's approach to fighting inflation.

Brave words?

The time has come when we have to turn Mr Justice Higgins on his head ... there is, to me, no area in the Australian economy which is more in need of a new approach, an overhaul, and some radical thinking, than the area of wage fixation. - Deputy Opposition leader John Howard, Canberra, 31 August, 1983.

• Howard suggested to the National Press Club, very bravely, some thought, that it was time to challenge the traditions of the arbitration system, as laid down by Justice Higgins in the 'Harvester judgment' of 1907. Howard's view was likely to be opposed by both unions and employers, who preferred industrial harmony.

$A floated: Australia moves to globalisation

The Reserve Bank has announced that dealing in foreign currencies by Australian banks has been suspended for the time being. Banks' authorities to deal in foreign currencies have been withdrawn except that they may at their discretion meet the needs of bona fide travellers for essential travel needs. - Reserve Bank announcement, Melbourne, 9 December, 1983.

• The bank acted to neutralise the anticipated inflow of a huge amount of foreign currency by floating the Australian dollar. The sensational move took the Australian economy further along the path to globalisation.

This means that the Reserve Bank will no longer announce a trade-weighted index or indicative exchange rates for the Australian dollar and the US dollar. Nor will the banks be required to settle their foreign exchange positions at the end of each day. In future, exchange rates will be determined by the market. These reforms of the exchange rate management system will also assist the conduct of the government's monetary policy. - Treasurer Paul Keating, Canberra, 9 December, 1983.

• Keating announced the floating of the Australian dollar and the abolition of currency control despite the fierce opposition of the Treasury Secretary, John Stone. Political writer Paul Kelly described the decision as 'arguably, the greatest blow struck against the protectionist, introverted, regulatory apparatus of the Deakinite Settlement in the eighty years since its inception'.

1984: President Mikhail Gorbachev introduces economic and structural reforms ( perestroika ) in the Soviet Union.

Blainey's coloured view of immigration

I do not accept the view, widely held in the Federal Cabinet, that some kind of slow Asian takeover of Australia is inevitable ... At present, the government is shunning a vital section of public opinion. It is in the interests of those Asian immigrants already here, and especially those who have contributed so much to this country, that the pace of Asian immigration should be slower. - Professor Geoffrey Blainey, Age , Melbourne, 20 March, 1984.

• Blainey, an eminent historian, shocked many people with his apparent call for a return to White Australia. He claimed that the Australian policy of multiculturalism could ruin social stability.

We are a country of just over 15 million people in a world of seven and a half billion, but in a region of billions of people. We have to understand as Australians that is where our future lies. It is where our capacity to provide a better future for our children and their children lies ... anything that this country does which is, in fact, or which is seen to be, in terms of prejudice against that region would be not only immoral but also manifestly against the present and future best interests of the people of this country . - Prime Minister Bob Hawke, House of Representatives, Canberra, 8 May, 1984.

• Professor Geoffrey Blainey's comments about Asian immigration in March had prompted a furious debate in Federal Parliament. Hawke offered the government view.

Treasurer Paul Keating licences trading banks

And they said it couldn't be done! - Treasurer Paul Keating, press conference, Canberra, 28 February, 1985.

• Keating announced the approval of licences for 16 new trading banks, freeing the economy more. He had foreshadowed the move in June when he said: 'Banking is the artery of the economy and we've had hardening of the arteries for too long in this country.'

Meanwhile, Howard denies Liberal leadership plot

The situation is absurd because John Howard is simply the most indispensable member of the Opposition front bench. He is the only person there who even pretends to stay on top of the key function of contemporary government - economic management. For the Liberals to put this rare nugget of talent on the backbench would be the ultimate triumph of the politics of personality - in this case Andrew Peacock's - over considerations of total Party welfare. - Columnist Max Walsh, Sydney Morning Herald , 5 September, 1985.

• Howard, defeated by Andrew Peacock for Liberal leadership after the fall of the Fraser government in 1983, had denied he was secretly plotting for the job. But he told colleagues that if anyone ran against him for deputy leader, he would move to the backbench. Later that day, Peacock resigned as leader and Howard was elected in his place.

Mrs Janette Howard speculates prematurely

Next stop, the Lodge! - Janette Howard, Sydney, Saturday evening, 7 September, 1985.

• Mrs Howard made her declaration during a celebratory party at home after John Howard became Liberal leader. Ten years later, her fervent dream became reality.

Journal says Keating 'world's greatest treasurer'

There is no doubt that Paul Keating is the political star of the year, if only because he absolutely refuses to accept that the numerous policy defeats he suffered during the year are anything but the flick of wings of inconsequential flies. - Canberra correspondent Peter Costigan, Melbourne Herald , 4 November, 1985.

• Keating's greatest setback during the year had been the dismantling of his tax reform plans, which included a consumption tax. Nevertheless, the influential magazine, Euromoney , had named him finance minister of the year in September, 1984.

Keating rejects Labor 'lore' of the 1950s-60s

Those who allege that the current administration has questionable Labor credentials fail to understand the very essence of the Labor tradition and have been misled into thinking that the views and objectives that developed in the party's aberrant period of the 1950s and 1960s more correctly reflect the party's true direction. - Treasurer Paul Keating, conference, Sydney, 1 December, 1985.

Keating had learned much of Labor lore from his early mentors, the controversial former NSW Premier Jack Lang and Whitlam Minister Rex Connor. But he was very much a pragmatist whose global vision alarmed many traditional Labor supporters. One historian, Bede Nairn, described the Keating approach as 'civilising capitalism'.

The term socialist has had its day ... it has been appropriated by the communist bloc. But let them have it, let's use some other term like equity or social justice. - NSW Labor leader Bob Carr, Sydney, 14 April, 1986.

• Carr was a friend of Treasurer Paul Keating from his younger days and shared his view that Labor must be dragged into the future, distancing itself from the moribund days of Evatt-Calwell leadership in the 1950-60s.

Keating prophesies 'banana republic' ... comes true, 2005?

If this government cannot get manufacturing going again and keep moderate wage outcomes and a sensible economic policy, then Australia is basically done for, we end up being a third-rate economy ... Then you are gone. You are a banana republic. - Treasurer Paul Keating, radio interview, Melbourne, 14 May, 1986.

• Keating made this remark on Sydney announcer John Laws' programme, expressing his alarm at the blow-out in the current account deficit the previous month. He said: We are importing about $12 billion more than we are exporting on an annual basis. The suggestion that Australia could become a banana republic shocked the public. In fact, he had used the expression earlier that year at a business lunch in London.

In March, 2005, it was revealed that Australia's current account had reached a staggering $15.2 billion. Writing in the Age on 2 March, 2005, commentator Tim Colebatch said:

In the next ten years (after Keating acted to curb the current account deficit ) the volume of exports more than doubled, and manufactured exports more than quadrupled. Had those trends continued, by now the current account problem would be behind us.

But in 1996 the Coalition won office and abandoned or gutted most of Labor's programs. It thought we didn't need to build up exports and manufacturing. It even put a new $400 million a year tax on manufacturers.

'White shoe brigade' shoves Joh towards Canberra

I am determined to turn politics upside down in Australia. I am Joh Bjelke-Petersen of Queensland with a lot of experience and I know what I am doing. - Qld Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Wagga Wagga (NSW), 1 February, 1987.

• Bjelke-Petersen spoke at a rally of supporters at the beginning of his extraordinary 'Joh for Canberra' campaign. The 75-year-old had been urged to run for Prime Minister by the Gold Coast 'white shoe brigade' and other zealots, but with serious misgivings from his own National Party. It was a time of serious divisions in the Federal Liberal leadership. Bjelke-Petersen's push failed by early June.

Peacock bags Howard over not-so-private phone

I've got to sit in a chair about four or five rows from the front and allow Howard to come down sit next to me and be photographed together smiling. - Liberal frontbencher Andrew Peacock in a tapped car phone conversation with Victorian Liberal leader Jeff Kennett, Melbourne, 22 March, 1987.

• This conversation, containing a fulsome quantity of expletives, gave Howard the chance to dismiss Peacock from the shadow Cabinet, ending some of the destabilising.

1987: Stock crash burns corporate cowboys

In the broadest sense, the ability of the capitalist world to manage its affairs better than it did 58 years ago is at stake. Another disaster of 1929 dimensions would be a blow to the reputation of the Western economic system. - Editorial, Herald , Melbourne, 20 October, 1987.

• The worldwide sharemarket crash brought much of corporate Australia to its senses and exposed the schemes of many of the hungry entrepreneurs of the period..

Keating says Liberals have 'come a gutser'

Where you all come a gutser is, over here, we think we're born to rule YOU. And we're going to keep on doing it. And let me tell you this: it's been ingrained in me from childhood, I think my mission in life is to run you. And the Prime Minister thinks his mission in life is to run you. And let me say, the Labor movement thinks its mission in life is to run Australia. - Treasurer Paul Keating, House of Representatives, Canberra, 26 May, 1988.

• Keating felt inclined to challenge the Liberal Party's perceived 'born to rule' philosophy. The previous day, his economic statement had been well-received and his clear line of accession to the Prime Ministership had been reinforced. His views were directed at an Opposition led by John Howard who would be defeated for the leadership by Andrew Peacock in 12 months in a coup by members of the Victorian Liberal establishment.

Howard perceived as anti-Asian immigration

The issues of race and multiculturalism have been important, indeed fundamental to me, in many years of active politics. Those concerns are not new. I believe it possible that the Liberal Party runs the prospect of being divided on these issues. - Former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, Melbourne, 19 August, 1988.

• Liberal leader John Howard had caused alarm, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, with remarks made on 1 August that were construed as anti-Asian migration. In a series of interviews, he stubbornly refused to withdraw. Fraser intervened on 19 August. On 21 August, Prime Minister Bob Hawke said: These comments are unprecedented in contemporary Australian politics in their discriminatory references to races. They are as ugly as they are blatant. And yet they stand unretracted by those who utter them.

Recession we had to have

We are running through the largest investment phase in our history. Investment is higher than we've ever had since we began keeping the records, and that was from 1948. So we are now re-equipping the place for a better side-supply response to the current account. This country doesn't have a huge producer goods industry. It doesn't have a major mainframe computer industry. It doesn't own the Boeing aircraft company. All those things have to be imported. At some point, the Australian economy had got to take a knock on the current account to re-equip itself. Its been doing that for the past two years. We've got the investment phase now we've been after for two decades. - Treasurer Paul Keating, Euromoney magazine, April, 1989.

• Australia, as Keating put it, had slid into 'the recession we had to have'.

Peacock's shock defeat of Howard

This is very difficult. But an overwhelming number (of Liberals), more than 40, want the leadership raised tomorrow. There will be a spill motion. - Liberal member Andrew Peacock to Opposition leader John Howard, Canberra, 8 May, 1989.

• Peacock advised Howard of his shock challenge for the leadership. Peacock's supporters had carefully counted the numbers and Howard was beaten easily next day. But Peacock's conspirators boasted of their coup on a television programme later in the week, and Peacock lost much support.

1989: Collapse of Berlin Wall, 9 November, means end of the Cold War.

21. 1990-1999

'Driving through Dili is like a scene from a Mad Max movie.' - (UN official Patrick Burgess, Darwin, 14 September, 1999)

On 28 April, 1999, the grim days of the 19th century stone Tasmanian convict settlement, Port Arthur, now a popular tourist destination, were revisited when a tall, blond young man, Martin Bryant, stood among the chattering crowd, said, 'There are a lot of WASPs around here, not a lot of Japs, are there?' and began a shooting rampage that resulted in the murder of 35 people. Bryant was captured the same day and eventually sentenced to 35 life terms in Hobart's Risdon Jail. The newly-elected Prime Minister John Howard, reacting to huge public pressure, moved quickly to implement a gun-buyback scheme to remove many of the military-style weapons favoured by gun enthusiasts.

In April, 1990, Bob Hawke's Labor government retained office over Andrew Peacock's Liberals. Peacock resigned promptly and was replaced as Opposition leader by Dr John Hewson, an economist who introduced the Fightback! economic policy to restore Australia's flagging fortunes. He lost the 1993 election, to the surprise of many, to Hawke's successor, Paul Keating. Hewson resigned and, after a brief flirtation with Alexander Downer, the Liberals turned to John Howard, considered by many commentators to be one of yesterday's men. He finally won the Prime Ministership in 1996 in a landslide, but the margin was cut sharply in the 1998 election. Howard moved to amend the previous Labor government's initiatives on native title and refused to apologise to the aboriginal people over past wrongs. His government's introduction of a goods and services tax (GST) would be tested upon its introduction in 2000. Howard, an enthusiastic monarchist, tasted victory towards the end of 1999 when Australians voted 'no' in a referendum asking them if they would like Australia to become a republic within the Commonwealth.

In September, 1999, Australians almost unanimously endorsed in the decision to send a 4000-strong Australian force to lead a military intervention in East Timor after the United Nations Security Council authorised its establishment. The professionalism of this force under the command of Major General Peter Cosgrove, in the face of threats by pro-Indonesia 'militias' impressed international observers and the situation appeared well in control.

Liberal merry-go-round: Hewson ousts Peacock

I believe very strongly in leading by example and I'll expect everybody to put in their 100 percent as well and they will. - New Opposition leader Dr John Hewson, Canberra, 3 April, 1990.

• Hewson easily beat Peter Reith for the Opposition leadership following Andrew Peacock's resignation after the coalition's fourth successive election loss.

Basically, it (the Opposition) has to come to grips with a perception growing in the community that Labor is the natural party of government. In a reversal of roles, the Liberals must now confront the problems which loomed over the Labor Party when Sir Robert Menzies became entrenched in the Prime Ministerial Lodge. - Editorial, Hobart Mercury , 4 April, 1990.

John Hewson' horrifying heresy!

I'm not committed to Menzies' policies. - Opposition leader John Hewson, Sydney, 19 October, 1990.

• Hewson was a free market purist and economics professor who had only joined the Liberal Party in the mid-1980s. As leader, he initiated the coalition's Fightback! policy but was beaten by Paul Keating's Labor Party in 1993. In turn, Hewson resigned and was replaced by Alexander Downer.

Hawke refutes 'Kirribilli pact' deal with Keating ...

I now make it clear that I will lead the party to the next election with the intention of going through that term. I'm giving you my commitment, you see, for some five years. - Prime Minister Bob Hawke, press conference, Canberra, 11 December, 1990.

• Hawke made his statement despite a secret 'Kirribilli pact' he had made with Keating to hand over the leadership. However, Keating and members of the Labor Party had different ideas, particularly with the Opposition showing a consistent lead in the opinion polls.

... and Bob Hawke beaten by Keating

I hope they (Australians) still think of me as the Bob Hawke they got to know, the larrikin trade union leader who perhaps had sufficient commonsense and sufficient intelligence to tone down his larrikinism and behave in a way that a Prime Minister should. - Outgoing Prime Minister Bob Hawke, national television, Canberra, 19 December, 1991.

• Hawke spoke after he had been beaten 56-51 in a leadership challenge by Paul Keating.

I want to get back to doing what we do best - that is creating jobs and making the Australian economy grow, but doing it in a way that preserve the great gains in a way the benefits all Australians. - Prime Minister-elect Paul Keating, Canberra, 19 December, 1990.

• Keating was dubbed 'Mr Recession' in the West Australian newspaper, which said his policy of high interest rates had 'bludgeoned' Australia into recession.

1991: Poorly-executed coup attempt in Moscow by old guard Communists, 19-21 August, seeking a return to traditional values, leads instead to the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Aboriginal deaths in custody

Those who died were not victims of isolated acts of violence or brutality. Rather, they were victims of entrenched and institutionalised racism and discrimination. Their deaths were the tragic consequence of two centuries of dispossession, dispersal and appalling disadvantage. - Robert Tickner, Federal Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Canberra, 31 March, 1992.

• Tickner commented on the findings of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The commission had found in 1991 that the racism under which aboriginal people labour is institutionalised and systematic and resides not just in individuals or in individual institutions but in the relationships between the various institutions.

High Court's Mabo decision confirms native title

In the result, six members of the court (Dawson J. dissenting) are in agreement that the common law of this country recognises a form of native title which, in the cases where it has not been extinguished, reflects the entitlement of the indigenous inhabitants, in accordance with their laws or customs, to their traditional lands, to their traditional lands and that, subject to the effect of some Crown leases, the entitlement of the Murray Islanders in accordance with their laws or customs is preserved, as native title, under the law of Queensland. - High Court of Australia judgment, Canberra, 3 June, 1992.

• Thus began the historic Mabo judgment which, for the first time, gave recognition to the fact indigenous ownership existed in Australia before European settlement in 1788. It overturned the notion of terra nullius, that the land previously belonged to no one. The action was initiated by Eddie (Koiki) Mabo and others who sought a ruling that the Merian people of the Murray Islands, in Torres Strait, should have the traditional right to posses, live on and enjoy most of their lands. Eddie Mabo, who died six months before the decision was handed down, was born on Mer, one of the lands in the group, in 1936. The Mabo judgment was followed in 1993 by the Native Title Act and, in 1997, by the Wik judgment, which held that native title and pastoral leases on Cape York peninsula could co-exist. In May, the Prime Minister, John Howard, amended the law with his 'ten point plan', saying that the Wik decision 'pushed the pendulum too far in the aboriginal direction'.

PM Paul Keating: 'We committed the murders'

We took the traditional land and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases, the alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion. The past lives on inequality, racism and injustice. - Prime Minister Paul Keating, Redfern (NSW), 10 December, 1992.

• Keating launched the International Year for the World's Indigenous People.

I'm black and I'm proud. - Footballer Nicky Winmar, Collingwood (Vic), 18 April, 1993.

• Winmar, a star footballer with the St Kilda team, made a proud stand, baring his chest and pointing out his colour to the Collingwood fans. He had finally tired of their racial abuse. The dramatic moment was captured by a photographer from the Age newspaper and led to a decline in racial villification.

Reith tells Queen about Keating's republicanism

Mr Keating wants us to believe that he is a modern visionary and that a republic will be good for us. He publicly claims that by becoming a republic and severing our ties with you that somehow this will make Australia more acceptable to our Asian neighbours. When he throws you this line - do not deceived. He only wants to establish a republic because he thinks it will be good for Paul Keating. His other claim is that we need a republic so Australia can be independent. The governor-general is an Australian and is appointed by the Australian government. As you know, the governor-general is formally your representative, but acts independently. - Letter from Liberal backbencher Peter Reith, Melbourne, to Queen Elizabeth, London (published in the Melbourne Herald-Sun ), 10 September, 1993.

• Prime Minister Paul Keating, a vigorous supporter of the republic, was about to meet the Queen at Balmoral Castle, in Scotland. Reith, then an Opposition backbencher, wrote to her in defence of the status quo. In July-August, 1999, then Workplace Relations Minister and claiming to be a concerned republican, Reith came to prominence by expressing concern about the forthcoming November referendum on the republic. Many people saw this as an attempt to wreck the republican cause and as a means of advancing his prospects for future Liberal leadership against his perceived rival, Treasurer Peter Costello. Commentator George Megalogenis, writing in the Weekend Australian on 7 August, 1999, said: Reith has had more positions in his 15-year political career than the Kamasutra.

Prince Charles: Australians to decide on republic

It is, therefore, perhaps not surprising that there are those who would wish to see such a rapidly changing world reflected by a change in Australia's institutions. And perhaps they are right. Personally, I happen to think that this (the republican) debate is the sign of a mature and self-confident nation to debate these issues and to use the the democratic process to re-examine the way in which you want to face the future. - Prince Charles, Australia Day speech, Sydney, 26 January, 1994.

• The heir to the British throne expressed Buckingham Palace's position that any decision to become a republic belonged to the Australian people, without any interference from the Crown.

PM Howard rises from ashes, offers everyone help

I can but make a simple promise and a simple commitment that from now on I will do all I can to advance the welfare of all the Australian people. - Newly-elected Prime Minister John Howard, Sydney, 2 March, 1996.

• Howard, whose prime ministerial ambitions were considered to be in tatters a year earlier, won a landslide victory in the Federal election. Paul Keating resigned as Labor leader and was succeeded by Kim Beazley. The new members included Pauline Hanson, a Liberal candidate disendorsed by the party for alleged racial remarks. She won the seat of Oxley in Queensland as an independent.

I think Labor is finishing ... with a very proud record. We've opened the country up and turned it towards the world as never before. - Outgoing Prime Minister Paul Keating, Sydney, 2 March 1996.

• Keating conceded that the 'It's Time' factor may had convinced the electorate to change government after 13 years of Labor rule. In later years, many commentators suggested that the Hawke-Keating economic initiatives of the 1980s were responsible for Australia's easy ride in the turbulent period that followed the Asian economic 'meltdown' of the mid-1990s.

Voters selected 'earnest nerd', says newspaper

In the battle between the earnest nerd and the guts-and-glory incumbent, a largely apathetic public felt relaxed and comfortable about opting for a change. - Political commentator Brad Couch, Sunday Tasmanian , Hobart, 2 March, 1996.

Mass murder of 35 people at Port Arthur, Tas.

There are a lot of WASPS around today, not a lot of Japs, are there? - Mass murderer Martin Bryant, Broad Arrow cafeteria, Port Arthur (Tas), 28 April, 1996.

• With these words, Bryant, aged 28, calmly killed 35 people with a semi-automatic military-style rifle. Bryant was sentenced to 35 life sentences. An eyewitness said later: He was quite a tall boy and very slim. Very blond hair, sticking out strangely, like a surfer come in from the salt water. And he was so pale and so pretty. But nothing in his face. There was nothing at all, no expression, no hate, no joy. And no noise, no screaming, no anger.

There were all these gunshots going off and everyone was running up the hill screaming. At first we thought it was staff in period costumes firing blanks, but we realised it was not a joke because there were hysterical women. - Tourist Rob Atkins, Port Arthur (Tas), 28 April, 1996.

Jason had got up and was going to the servery to get some food when this guy with the gun just walked in and shot him. No warning, nothing, and then this guy just kept on shooting. - Tourist Tim Goddard, Port Arthur (Tas), 28 April, 1996.

• Jason Winter, a winemaker, was visiting Port Arthur, that pre-eminent symbol of Australia's convict heritage, on a day trip with his wife, one-year-old son, and father when he was shot dead.

People will try to make us wear the guilt for what happened in Tasmania today and we are not guilty. We are not guilty and refuse to be made responsible. - Sporting Shooters' Association president Ted Drane, Melbourne, 28 April, 1996.

The appalling tragedy in Tasmania is an inevitable consequence of having guns in our society. We shall hear in the coming days the usual calls for greater controls, the usual lying sophistry from the gun lobby and the usual platitudes as politicians run for cover. - Letter to the Age , Melbourne, from reader Andrew Watkins, 30 April, 1996.

• Horrified Australians demanded tighter gun laws, although organised shooters strongly resisted their demands. The Howard government acted to implement gun legislation, and thousands of weapons were handed in under amnesties. However, it was believed that tens of thousands of illegal weapons remained in the community.

Pauline Hanson 'fed up' with black 'privileges'

This nation is being divided into black and white, and the present system encourages this. I am fed up with being told, 'This is our land.' Well, where the hell do I go? I was born here, and so were my parents and children. I will work beside anyone and they will be my equal but I draw the line when told I must continue paying for something that happened over 200 years ago. Like most Australians, I worked for my land. No one gave it to me. - Independent member Pauline Hanson, maiden speech, House of Representatives, Canberra, 10 September, 1996.

• This speech struck a chord of discontent with tens of thousands of white Australians, principally in rural areas, who felt disadvantaged by changes in society. Seven months later, she formed Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party.

Aborigines, pastoralists can co-exist, court finds

Out of here we go, no one being a loser. - Gladys Tybingoompa, outside High Court, Canberra, 23 December, 1996.

• Tybingoompa, a member of the Wik people of Cape York peninsula, celebrated the High Court's Wik decision, by dancing outside the High Court. The court held that native title rights and the right of pastoralists could co-exist under a land claim by the Wik people. But in the event of any conflict between the pastoralists and indigenous peoples, the pastoralists' rights would prevail.

Farmers' anti-Wik television campaign

Can black and white Australians live in harmony when the High Court's Wik decision on native title has created uncertainty, especially for farmers? Whose land is it? Who can use it? Farmers want their rights restored and control of their future. - Australia-wide television campaign, May, 1997.

Talk-back 'shock jocks': sell 'moral panics'

Laws and co. make a career out of creating what sociologists described as 'moral panics'. This may involve the amplification of community concerns over paedophilia, or orchestrated outrage about wimpish sentences imposed by liberal judges or magistrates ... A few imperial tirades will be enough to panic the politicians. We finish up with so many knee-jerk reactions that our parliamentarians look like the dancers in a chorus line. - Commentator Phillip Adams, Talk-Back Emperors of the Air , (Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1997).

• In his book, Adams referred in particular to the Sydney announcers, John Laws, Stan Zemanek and Alan Jones, and the Perth announcer, Howard Sattler. Their form of rightwing 'radio demagogy', aimed at reinforcing the prejudices of mainly elderly, alienated people, did not exist in Melbourne, where audiences apparently were more discerning.

Arthur Boyd, painter, dies at 78

(Arthur Boyd) is very much about about Australian painting in the 20th century and he is leaving us as the 20th century closes ... it is almost as if they are stepping back and saying the path is clear for the next Arthur Boyd to come along. - Artist Peter Churches, Melbourne, 26 April, 1999.

• Boyd died in Melbourne, aged 78, on 24 April. He was one of a handful of surviving painters from his period - John Percival, Albert Tucker and Charles Blackman were the others.

Boyd and his peers represented an enormous burst of creativity in Australian art which was previously only comparable to the artists of the Heidelberg School. - National Gallery of Victoria Curator Geoffrey Smith, Melbourne, 26 April, 1999.

Humans beat British here, says expert

What we can now say is that people were here sometime, I think, well before 60,000 years ago, but whether that 70,000 or 100,000 I don't know. - Archeologist Dr Alan Thorne, Canberra, 20 May, 1999.

• In 20 years, archeologists had extended homo sapien's existence on the continent, thus confirming the High Court's Mabo finding that Australia was, indeed, occupied when British settlement began in 1788.

People smugglers

All the young people around here are smoking drugs, heroin, there's nothing else for them to do. Except go to Australia. - Chin Bring, aged 23, Dodgy fishing village, China, 22 May, 1999.

• She spoke after the arrest of 69 illegal Chinese immigrants on a cargo ship off the NSW coast a few days earlier. The Chinese paid gangsters, known as 'snake heads', between $1000 and $50,000 to smuggle them into Australia. Of the 3500 illegal 'boat people' detained on the Australian coast since 1989, 40 per cent came from China. They were usually deported by plane.

The Great Australian loneliness in ageing world

These figures (Australian Bureau of Statistics) are demonstrating the loneliness and insulation that occurs in our suburbs. People who have lost their partner and lost contact with their friends are living in streets where the landscape of the street has fundamentally changed. - Aged Care Western Australia president Vaughan Harding, Perth, 25 June, 1999.

• Australians were realising that the ageing of the population and changing social conditions demanded an urgent rethink of our society. ABS figures showed that the proportion of the population aged more than 65 would reach 21 per cent by the year 2030 and they would spend up to 80 per cent of their time alone. In 1999, the ABS said people aged 65-plus spent, on average, 12 hours 26 minutes of their waking hours alone. Other surveys had shown that this loneliness phenomenon was confined to the Anglo-Celtic community. Other ethic groups, particularly the large Italian and Greek elements, had a greater place for the role of their elderly.

330,000 people addicted to 21 per cent of world's pokies

I think gambling is a significant social evil in Australia, and there is no point in beating about the bush when you have got a situation where we gamble twice as much as the Europeans and the Americans. - Prime Minister John Howard, Radio 5DN, Adelaide, 22 July, 1999.

• Howard responded to a report by the Productivity Commission that Australia had 21 percent of the world's gambling machines. He said it was 'an achievement of which I am ashamed'. The commission report said that 330,000 Australians had gambling problems.

Australia admitted 'large number of Nazis'

I think you should keep in mind Australia is the only major Western country which admitted large numbers of Nazi war criminals and has failed to successfully convict a single one. The worst of Hitler's henchmen were given a red carpet to Australia. What we have been trying to do is convince the Australian government to change its tactics and start stripping these people of their Australian citizenship and deport them. - Efraim Zuroff, director, Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Jerusalem ( Israel), 23 July, 1999.

• Zuroff's comments followed revelations that Nazi hunters were investigating an Adelaide invalid pensioner, Antanas Gudelis, 88, a former Lithuanian army officer for alleged complicity in the murder of Jews in two villages in German-occupied Lithuania. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre believed 20 per cent of the Nazis who fled to Australia settled in South Australia. They are believed to have been among the 170,000 European refugees who came to Australia between 1947 and 1950. Only three men have been charged. All were Ukrainian and all lived in South Australia. One, Ivan Polyukhovich, stood trial for the murder of 850 Jews, but was acquitted. The charges against two others were dropped.

Founding Father's descendant opts for republic

I think the Queen and the royals don't have much to do with my life at all. - Melani Piggins, aged 18, Corowa (NSW), 30 July, 1999.

• Melani, a descendant of Frederick C. Piggins, one of the delegates at the Corowa Conference of July-August, 1893, which helped the impetus towards Federation in 1901, declared she would vote for a republic at the November, 1999, referendum.

Banks, talkback announcers condemned

Banks and talkback radio announcers may both experience a decline in the number of people saying that they are 'doing a good job for Australia' in the light of the negative publicity both have received since the disclosure of the alleged deal. - Gary Morgan, Morgan Poll, Melbourne, 3 August, 1999.

• A poll showed 44 per cent of Australian said banks were doing 'a poor job for Australia', compared with six per cent in 1983.

Heroin dealer dodges deportation

You'd have to say she (Thi Hiep Tran) earned hundreds of thousand of dollars. She's not a user of heroin at all. She's just a professional dealer. - Senior police officer, Melbourne, 12 August, 1999.

• Victoria Police expressed their frustration at not being able to deport a twice-convicted Vietnam-born dealer who made 20 heroin deliveries a day while her toddler was in child care. She avoided deportation under Department of Immigration regulations which said a foreigner must be sentenced to more than 12 months' jail in the first 10 years of permanent residency to be expelled from Australia. The controversy came amid growing community concern over the effects of illegal drug use. Traders in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray were threatening to use video cameras and citizen arrest against dealers. In April, a survey showed a change in attitude by the Sydney 'shockjocks' (commercial radio announcers) who had campaigned vehemently against a proposed 1997 heroin trial in the Australian Capital Territory. Another survey showed that $500 million a year was spent Australia-wide on drug law enforcement, but police estimated they seized only 10 percent of heroin entering Australia.

Subsidised erections

It is not for recreational use. It is about quality of life. - Veterans Affairs Minister Bruce Scott, Canberra, 11 August, 1999.

• Scott announced the the Federal government would subsidise the erection-inducing drug, Viagra, for 4000 ex-servicemen.

Monarchist Howard's (successful) last stand

It is a regret to us that we have been forced into this position by a Prime Minister who has made it very clear time and time again that he does not want a republic. - Australian Democrats leader Senator Meg Lees, Senate, Canberra, 12 August, 1999.

• The Senate finally passed both questions to be put to the people at the referendum on 6 November. Howard refused to budge on his final words, but the Democrats were anxious to pass the questions so the referendum could go ahead.

Tragedy in East Timor

Indonesia lost its legitimacy in East Timor at the weekend not because of the huge vote for independence, but because of its callous indifference to the welfare of the territory's people. The best thing that can happen now is for Indonesia to quit the territory, It cannot maintain security; indeed, its security forces are a significant part of the problem. - Correspondent Don Greenlees, Australian , Djakarta ( Indonesia), 5 September, 1999.

• A week earlier, the people of East Timor (pop. 680,000) had voted overwhelmingly in a UN-sponsored ballot to become independent of Indonesia. The province, previously a Portuguese colony, had been invaded by Indonesian forces in 1975 and declared Indonesia's 27th province. The UN disputed the legality of the Indonesian takeover and an independence movement, Fretilin, began an armed struggle. Indonesia suppressed any dissent brutally. Growing international pressure forced Indonesia to accept the 1999 ballot, but it became obvious that Indonesian armed forces were supporting the activities of pro-Indonesian terrorists, known as 'militias'.

Nobody in his wildest dreams thought that what we are witnessing could have happened - I don't think even the press or anyone. I know that we knew it was going to be difficult. We knew there were security problems, but not the carnage and chaos we have seen, with the military and police totally unable or incapable of doing anything. - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, New York (US), 10 September, 1999.

• Annan was shocked at the appalling destruction and death wrought in East Timor by pro-Djakarta militias, under the benevolent eye of Indonesian troops.

Independence spokesman appeals for world help

I appeal to the UN, to the 'willing nations' who have already identified themselves, and to others around the world - please act now. You accepted Indonesia's assurances that it would keep the peace in East Timor. Its so-called security forces are actively promoting and participating in genocide instead. - Juan Carrascalao, senior East Timor independence spokesman, Sydney, 5 September, 1999.

• There was a clamour for urgent UN armed intervention in East Timor to protect the people against the excesses of pro-Indonesian militias.

If Indonesia does not end the violence, it must invite the international community to assist in restoring security. - US President Bill Clinton, Washington (US), 10 September, 1999.

They hate the Timorese people, and they particularly hate them now they've had international support. The more international support they get, the more they hate them. - Australian observer Dr Andrew McNaughton, Darwin, 10 September, 1999.

Dili. It was trashed . - British police sergeant Phillip Caine, a member of the UN observer group, Darwin, 10 September, 1999.

• Pro-Indonesian militias were reported to have destroyed 60 per cent of the buildings in the province's capital, Dili.

This week, Australians faced the contradiction between wanting to rescue the East Timorese from slaughter and our military and political inability to save them. As Dili burned, Australia faced its worst foreign policy failure since the incorporation of East Timor in 1975. But this is not just a humiliation for the Howard government - it represents a much deeper failure by Australian society as a whole. - Commentator Paul Kelly, Australian , Sydney, 11 September, 1999.

Even the small children, they shot them. Some of them are not dead yet and they throw their bodies on the fire. - East Timorese refugee Sabastao Guterres, Darwin, 12 September, 1999.

• Guterres spoke to UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson at a processing camp. Mrs Robinson said she had proposed establishing war crimes tribunals similar to those held after conflicts in Rwanda and Yugoslavia. In Djakarta, protesters outside the Australian Embassy burned an effigy of Prime Minister John Howard and carried signs that read: 'War - Australia versus Indonesia'.

Driving through Dili is like a scene from a Mad Max movie. Complete destruction, there are no people around, just a few mangy dogs. They've driven the entire population out and destroyed all their property. - UN official Patrick Burgess, Darwin, 14 September, 1999.

• Burgess left Dili on 14 September with 1500 refugees from the UN compound airlifted to safety in 12 flights by RAAF and RNZAF Hercules aircraft.

It's ridiculous to think Indonesia will deal with these crimes. The military has impunity - there is a culture of impunity, State impunity here. - National Human Rights Commission member Asmara Nababan, Djakarta ( Indonesia), 14 September, 1999.

• Human rights groups were concerned not only with the activities of the Indonesian military on East Timor. Killings of students in Djakarta in 1998 and of dissidents in the provinces of Aceh and Irian Jaya also remained unresolved.

UN Security Council endorses international force

(The Security Council) authorises the establishment of a multinational force under a unified command structure with the following tasks: to restore peace and security in East Timor, to protect and support UNAMET in carrying out its tasks and, within force capabilities, to facilitate humanitarian assistance operations and authorises the States participating in the multinational force to take all necessary measures to fulfil this mandate. - UN Security Council Resolution, New York (US), 15 September, 1999.

• About 2000 troops, mainly from the Australian Ist Brigade, were expected to land in East Timor by the weekend. Australia was anxious to have a component of 'Asian faces' in the force to ease regional sensitivities. There was opposition on the streets of major Indonesian cities to the intervention of 'peace enforcers', particularly Australian.

There is a strong feeling of animosity towards Australia, rightly or wrongly, from the pro-integration forces in East Timor. If the UN peacekeeping forces are made up of Australians, they will be singled out. That is my fear. - Indonesian presidential advisor Dr Dewi Fortuna Anwar, Djakarta ( Indonesia), 15 September, 1999.

• Her warning came amid private concerns among senior officials in Australia that Asian peacekeepers might feel disinclined to use sufficient force against the pro-Indonesia militias.

It's their habit. They are happy for a chance to pressure their neighbour, to run down their neighbour. That's their way. - Malaysian president Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Kuala Lumpur ( Malaysia), 15 September, 1999.

• Mahathir was expressing his usual dislike of Australia, but said Malaysia would contribute to the peacekeeping force if the Indonesian president B.J. Habibe wished it.

What we have done is go through our broad plan and be transparent to each other. - Australian Major-General Peter Cosgrove, commander of InterFET, Dili ( East Timor), 19 September, 1999.

• Cosgrove flew to Dili, with other commanders of the peacekeeping force, ahead of the troops to make certain with Indonesian commanders that there would be no misunderstanding when InterFET arrived. Next day, 2000 Australian and British Ghurka soldiers were flown to the island from Darwin, while much of their equipment was brought across the Timor Sea by a fleet of multinational navy ships.

'Howard Doctrine' angers Asians

One of the errors we have made (in our relations with our Asian neighbours) is that we have operated on the basis that we cannot afford to be offside. I would rather turn it around and say it is very desirable to have a friendly relationship, but it has to be built on practical foundations. It cannot be composed of a starry-eyed notion that we can have a special relationship with them. We have had too many special relationships with too many countries over the years. - Prime Minister John Howard, interview, Bulletin , 23 September, 1999.

• Howard expounded the 'Howard Doctrine' to journalist Fred Brenchley. It was an acknowledgement that Australia's relationship with Indonesia would never be the same after the East Timor crisis. However, his doctrine, which suggested Australia should become the region's 'deputy sheriff' to the US 'world policeman' was attacked by Asian leaders as racist and a threat to regional ties. Indonesian political analyst Salim Said said: Howard is like a 19th century European standing on a beach and thinking he will have to watch out for the little brown uncivilised neighbours that lie in the north.

We have to make it clear that we Australians remain deeply committed to Indonesia, to it development and to its democratisation; that we share the interest we have proclaimed for a couple of decades in Indonesia's success. - Former Australian ambassador to China, Ross Garnaut, Australian National University, Canberra, 27 September, 1999.

• Garnaut reacted with concern to the 'Howard Doctrine'. The same day, the Prime Minister attempted to ease regional alarm by saying that Australia would not play the role of the US's 'deputy sheriff' in Asian affairs.

East Timor : Militias die, Diggers wounded

I want to make it plain that InterFET soldiers will not tolerate this. I feel a sadness for those who attacked InterFET soldiers. They obviously came worse off and that will continue to be the case until they negotiate and surrender their weapons. - Major General Peter Cosgrove, InterFET commander, Dili ( East Timor), 6 October, 1999.

• Two pro-Indonesian militias were killed and two Australians slightly wounded during a militia ambush of a convoy of Australians, British and New Zealand troops at Suai, near the West Timor border. They were the first Australians wounded in action since the Vietnam War.

High Court puts croc on menu

Me and the brothers are going out tonight and hunt down a croc, and then we are going to stand with arms around each other outside the Burketown police station where all this began. I want to ask the current policeman - he's not a bad bloke, this one - if he will lend me his hand cuffs, and I will be photographed handcuffed to the croc outside the cop shop. - Murrandoo Yanners, Burketown (Qld), 7 October, 1999.

• The High Court upheld the right of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to hunt, gather and fish for protected species. Yanner, an Aboriginal activist, had been prosecuted in 1995 under the Queensland Fauna Conservation Act, which declares all fauna the property of the Crown. He used a traditional harpoon to catch two small crocodiles in Cliffdale Creek, near the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Brits ruled offside ...

It would have been good to play England in the final. We could stuff them on the field and stuff them in the vote. I think it's great, the history we've had, and the connection with Britain. But to all intents and purposes, Australians make the decisions about Australia - and there's not a lot of relevance to the monarchy. - Wallaby captain John Eales, Dublin ( Ireland), 12 October, 1999.

• Eales, who was in Ireland for the World Cup, declared his republican sentiments after voting at a special referendum booth at the Australian Embassy.

... but Queen okay

Her Majesty has a tremendous interest in these issues. We are aiming to bring her up to date on how aborigines are faring under this (Howard) government ... On the eve of the centenary of Federation, and as Australia considers its constitutional ties with the Crown, and reconciliation with indigenous people, it is timely to explore the unfinished business of the historical relationship between Britain and Australia's first people. - Aboriginal leader Pat Dodson, statement, London (UK), 12 October, 1999.

• Dodson, former chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, spoke before aboriginal leaders had a private meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The meeting, timed to coincide the lead up to the Australian republic referendum, was seen as potentially embarrassing for Prime Minister John Howard.

East Timor : three more militiamen killed

The engagement resulted in approximately three militias killed in action and three militia reported as wounded ... I think the tactics they're employing now show a level of training, a level of aggression. - InterFET spokesman Colonel Mark Kelly, Dili ( East Timor), 15 October, 1999.

• An Australian patrol of five soldiers had encountered about 20 pro-Indonesian militias near the village of Marko, about 15km inside the border of East Timor. The Australians were evacuated without loss by Black Hawk helicopters. In Djakarta, a military spokesman, Major-General Sudjadrat, denied Indonesian army involvement.

'People's choice' Gusmao back in East Timor

Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, be happy but in sorrow. There are so many heroes we have to give our respect to. But East Timorese people have, no matter the sorrow, found what they have searched for. We have shown the whole world, and the Indonesians, and ourselves, that East Timorese people have had the courage to fight during the 25 years until today. We are the winners. We will be independent forever. - Resistance leader Jose 'Xanana' Gusmao, Dili ( East Timor), 22 October, 1999.

• Gusmao, who had been imprisoned for seven years in Indonesia, came to Australia and was flown back to Dili secretly by the RAAF on 21 October. An emotional crowd greeted him outside the former Portuguese colonial government house. On 26 October, Britain piloted a motion through the Security Council which allowed the UN to take control of East Timor in its transition to independence. The UN would deploy 9000 troops under UNTAET (UN Transitional Authority for East Timor), replacing the Australian-led InterFET force.

Murray River salinity crisis ... more talk

We really need major revegetation programmes - and I mean really major - if we are to have any hope of stabilising ( Murray- Darling basin salinity) for the long term. I hope Australians will listen. It is not just a question of productivity and the potential loss of productivity, it is also a major environmental issue. Most of the salt will be caught in the lakes and the billabongs, which will become more saline and as a result an enormous quantity of our biodiversity will be lost forever. - Federal Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill, Canberra, 22 October, 1999.

• Many Australians had become aware some 30 years early that the crucial Murray-Darling basin was becoming increasingly saline. This was caused by excessive tree removal, combined with the effects of irrigation. The Deputy Chief of CSIRO Land and Water, Dr John Williams, said Australia faced major land changes in land use to combat the problem. Cropping and grazing might switch to agroforestry, while irrigating thirsty crop such as cereal and rice might be recognised as unsustainable.

Republic: Howard says 'no'

I hope (the people) will reject the republic. It will not produce a better Australia ... Their cause is not my cause .... I oppose any change to the present system ... If the republican model on offer, whereby the president is chosen by two-thirds of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament, it will be there forever. -Prime Minister John Howard, Canberra, 27 October, 1999.

• Howard reaffirmed his commitment to the monarchy in a 3000-word message to his electorate at a time when national opinion polls were showing a movement against changing the status quo. However, the former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke was about to embark on a concerted television drive in favour of the republic model.

Republic: Costello says 'yes'

I think when conservatives come to look at this and look back on it, they will see this as an opportunity to preserve the best of the past and modernise for the future, an opportunity which may not come again. - Liberal Treasurer Peter Costello, Melbourne, 27 October, 1999.

• Costello, launching the Conservatives for an Australia Head of State campaign, firmly rebutted his leader's arguments. But commentators detected a hint of pessimism in his speech.

Vatican 's bitter pill in Australia's drugs struggle

I appreciate and understand the decision of the Vatican and I accept that. But these facilities (heroin injecting rooms) will be in place in Victoria on trial in the future, if councils agree with it, if their communities agree with it as well. Look, they're (the Catholic Church) going through the same anguish we're all going through. It's very difficult to know what to do, but this is one thing which the experts are saying should be trialled and we want to give it a go to see if it does work. - Victorian Premier Steve Bracks (a Catholic), Melbourne, 29 October, 1999.

• A row had erupted within the Catholic Church after the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had barred the Sydney Sisters of Charity from any involvement in the country's first heroin 'safe house' in Sydney.

The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr George Pell, a member of the Congregation, said: 'We should not encourage governments to use this approach to avoid their wider and more costly responsibilities to discourage the drug culture and rehabilitate victims.'

Prime Minister John Howard supported the Vatican's position, saying: 'I also happen to agree with the result. I don't support injecting rooms. I never have and never will.'

Father Peter Norden, director of Jesuit Social Services In Melbourne, called for more compassion from the Vatican, claiming drug addicts were using church toilets and school grounds to inject themselves. An estimated 800 Australians die each year from heroin overdoses.

Republic referendum defeated (except in Victoria)

Whatever else John Howard achieves, history will remember him for only one thing. He was the Prime Minister that broke this nation's heart. He was the man who made Australia keep a foreign queen. All of us who voted yes can be proud tonight. What we did was right and when, in years to come, our children or our grandchildren ask us why Australia has the Queen or King of England as our head of state, we can look them in the eye truthfully and say, 'on November the 6th, 1999, I voted yes for our republic. - Australian Republican Movement chairman Malcolm Turnbull, Sydney, 6 November, 1999.

• Turnbull conceded defeat in the referendum to become a republic. Fifty-four per cent of Australians voted no and Victoria was the only State to narrowly endorse the republic. Australians appeared divided on socioeconomic lines: anti-republican sentiment was strongest in rural areas, while affluent metropolitan seats tended to favour a republic.

Growing alarm over illegal boat people

It's got all the makings - and this doesn't necessarily mean we won't support it - but it's got all the makings of a knee-jerk response likely to have exactly the opposite effect to that for which it is claimed. - Opposition leader Kim Beazley, Perth, 20 November, 1999.

• Beazley responded cautiously to a call from Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock, for Labor support for new laws aimed at deterring potential illegal refugees. In the previous 19 days, 840 illegal immigrants had landed on the mainland or the Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island. Another 2500 were expected over the next nine months. The old army barracks at Woomera (SA) were refurbished to receive the boat people.

Koala bites back

He fooled me completely, because just as I approached him and went to grab his back legs to sort of drag him off the road, he turned around and got stuck into me. - Koala victim Jack Higgs, aged 78, Ballarat (Vic), 30 November, 1999.

• Higgs was hospitalised after he was attacked by a koala he thought he'd run over and killed on the Western Freeway. The koala was recovering well in a Ballarat veterinary clinic.

22. 2000-2009

'Many of them feel quite hopeless, they feel they have lost any control over their own lives' ... - Harry Minas, refugee advocate, Sydney, 27 January, 2002.

Water, cool, clear, water. They even began worrying about water in downtown Sydney by the year 2005. There was were even damning pictures of water flowing over a suburban cliff into the Pacific Ocean. Wasted water. In the bush, they'd known about Australia's future great crisis, oh, forever. They realised, secretly, that water, precious water, was being wasted there, too, on grasping crops such as cotton and rice, through evaporation from old and inefficient channels. Some newly-informed city folk asked: Why didn't people in Sydney and Melbourne have rainwater tanks? Why aren't the politicians in Canberra doing something? After all, it's the fruit bowl of Australia that's principally at risk, the Murray-Darling-Murrumbidgee system. Where? Over there, out west, out of sight, out of mind.

Some people were trying to awake awareness. On 4 February, 2004, businessman and philanthropist Richard Pratt, chairman of Visy Industries, pledged $100 million in guaranteed bank loans to farmers who converted their irrigation systems to more efficient systems. Using drip irrigation, he said, farmers might use 80 per cent less water.

The whole purpose is to use less water on their properties to grow the crops that they're growing now, and consequently the water flows will be greater for the rivers if they only use 50 per cent of the water that they are presently using to water their crops. The water rights that they've been given will adequately cover what they want to grow.

Alison Caldwell, reporter on the ABC's AM programme, asked: Now you said some time ago, over 12 months ago, that if the (Federal) Government was prepared to spend billions of dollars on water, you would commit $100 million. Now you've done that; but has the Government risen to the challenge?

Pratt replied: Well, the Government's got a large agenda of people coming to them asking for money and we certainly support whatever the Government's doing , but we'd like them to put pipes rather than open irrigation channels, for example, right through all the irrigation areas of Australia.

You know what the politicians were talking about on 4 February, 2004? The fact that Saddam Hussein did not really have weapons of mass destruction, that's what. So they took no notice of Richard Pratt. He was a voice in the wilderness. But, eventually, his ideas will be adopted. The same as Fred Kinred.

Hardly anyone remembers a settler named Fred Kinred, who arrived in Tumut, on the northwest side of the Snowy Mountains in 1874 from the Isle of Man. Fred began badgering the NSW Government about irrigating the inland. He was supported by Philip Adams, NSW Surveyor General, who happened to have a vineyard near Albury. Then, early in the 20th century, far-sighted people noticed Samuel McCaughey's 320km private complex of irrigation channels at North Yanco, in southern NSW, steam-pumping water from the Murrumbidgee River. In 1906, the NSW Government finally acted and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area was born.

Those early ideas on the Murrumbidgee, around Mildura and Renmark might not be looked upon fondly by today's environmentalists. But that least they had ideas.

Australia survives the Y2K Bug!

If that money hadn't been spent, there would have been the potential for failures risking people's lives. - Senator Ian Campbell, Federal Parliamentary secretary in charge of Y2K preparations, Canberra, 2 January, 2000.

• Australian business and government spent $12 billion over two years preparing for anticipated computer failures when the clock turned to 2000. There were only minor glitches, such as occasional transport ticking machine breakdowns.

Barefoot runner at Uluru

My ancestors never ran in shoes ... It's a sign of respect for my people. They've given me strength to get to where I have today and that's why I ran barefoot. - Olympic gold medalist Nova Peris-Kneebone, Iluru (Ayers Rock) (NT), 8 June, 2000.

• Peris-Kneebone was the first Olympic torchbearer in the 99-day relay from Uluru to Sydney. Runners, aboriginal and white, carried the flame around the world's largest monolith.

Sydney 's stunning Olympic Games opening!

A girl in a pink dress spinning high above the stadium. Thundering horses, jellyfish and marching bands, Kimberley tribes and Captain Cook on a bike. The opening ceremony was a triumphant Australian tapestry, a perfect introduction to the greatest show on earth. - Australian newspaper, Sydney, 15 September, 2000.

• Sydney's Olympic Games opening celebrations, witnessed by 10.2 million television viewers in Australia and 3.6 billion worldwide, were a breathtaking spectacular. The previous night, the Opera House and Sydney Harbour were on show as the Olympic flame grew closer to the stadium at Homebush. On the big night, the world was captivated by the aerial stunts of 13-year-old Nikki Webster and moved by a cauldron-lighting ceremony featuring Olympic greats Betty Cuthbert, Raelene Boyle, Shirley Strickland and Debbie Flintoff-King and, finally, Cathy Freeman who lit the flame in a way which caught the world's imagination. One writer said: Memories will surely fade of ticket scandals, marching band fiascos and other Olympic family dysfunctions, but we'll never forget the little girl who, on Australia's biggest night, was able to fly like a feather and sing like an angel.

Cathy's gold! Giant step to reconciliation?

I was part of a very special race tonight. I was privileged to have run with Cathy. I'm over the moon. - British bronze medalist Katharine Merry, Sydney, 25 September, 2000.

• A gracious Merry came third to Catherine Freeman in the final of the Olympic 400 metres. Freeman carried the burden of a nation's expectations in the race. In her victory lap, she carried the Australian and Aboriginal flags, indicating her strong desire for reconciliation between the races. Washington Post writer Michael Wilbon wrote: For Australia, a nation that only recently acknowledged two centuries of uncivil treatment of its indigenous people to suddenly have a national hero who is black is a stunning departure from history and was virtually unimaginable before these Games. Many liberal commentators in Australia were more cautious, aware that a strong racist element existed in some sections of the community. Indeed, this emerged in comments made by some National Party members and Immigration and Reconciliation Minister Philip Ruddock's references in Le Monde and the Washington Post in the week after the Games that the Aborigines had a predisposition to a stone age lifestyle before the arrival of Europeans. Opposition leader Kim Beazley saw the surge in national pride as an opportunity to revive the Republican debate.

'Best Games ever'

They could not have been better. Therefore, I am proud and happy to proclaim that you have presented to the world the best Olympic Games ever. - IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, Sydney, 1 October, 2000.

• The Sydney Olympic Games were a triumph of goodwill and organisation.

Reconciliation 'unstoppable', says spokewoman

Reconciliation is squarely on the national agenda. It is now an integral part of our national spirit. The momentum towards reconciliation is unstoppable. About one million Australians have said so by walking for reconciliation across bridges in all parts of the land. - Chairwoman of the Aboriginal Council for Reconciliation Evelyn Scott, Canberra, 7 December, 2000.

• Ms Scott presented the council's final report after a decade of consultation. Its recommendations included a treaty with indigenous people. But Prime Minister John Howard rejected any notion of a treaty.

Centenary of Federation, 1 January, 2001

Today, of all days, we should be mindful of how our constitution originally excluded the aboriginal peoples of our country from both the national census and the power of parliament to make special laws ... Let us be honest and courageous about the failures and flaws which mar those achievements and which together we can address and overcome: the damage we have done to the land, its rivers and coasts, notwithstanding our love of its beauty; the unacceptable gap between the have and the have nots in this land of the fair go for all. - Governor General Sir William Deane, Centennial Park, Sydney, 1 January, 2001.

• At the end of the year, after a Federal government advertising campaign costing $140 million in taxpayers' dollars, a television street poll showed only one in five people could name Edmund Barton as Australia's first Prime Minister.

Tampa Incident splits the nation

The Howard Government has embarked on the most cynical, costly, dishonest, dangerous and destructive foreign affairs and defence adventure in the recent history of this country, certainly my 22 years of paying serious attention. - Greg Sheridan, Foreign Affairs Editor, Australian , 6 September, 2001.

• Late in August, The Norwegian container ship, Tampa , en route from Fremantle to Singapore, rescued 430 asylum seekers, mainly Afghanis, from a sinking vessel north of the Australian territory of Christmas Island. After the refugees refused to be put ashore at an Indonesian port, the Tampa 's captain tried to land them at Christmas Island. John Howard's government refused to accept them, apparently wishing to send a message to people smugglers while at the same time seeking to exploit a strong anti-refugee sentiment among some element of the Australian community with an election looming. Australian special forces boarded the Tampa and the refugees were transferred to an Australian troopship and moved to Port Moresby, then New Zealand and Nauru. Howard's popularity rose and bullets and detonators were mailed anonymously to the Opposition Leader Kim Beazley and two other politicians who had dissented from Howard's action. Other Australians who demurred were called 'traitors' by their conservative fellow countrymen. The Australian Government's decision drew worldwide condemnation.

Terrorist attacks on U.S. kill at least 4000

Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will not be defeated. - President George W. Bush, Barksdale, Louisiana, US ,11 September, 2001.

• Two hijacked American passenger jets crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, in New York, a third into the Pentagon, in Washington, and a fourth in a field in Pennsylvania. It was thought that passengers on the fourth jet had overpowered the hijackers. The attacks were blamed on the Saudi-born but Afghanistan-based terrorist Osama Bin Laden, wealthy leader of a global Islamic fundamentalist organisation, Al Qaeda (The Base).

Ansett Airlines collapse!

My number one priority is getting food on the table and those planes flying. - Ansett administrator Mark Mentha, Melbourne, 18 September, 2001.

• Ansett's parent company, Air New Zealand, placed the airline into receivership on 13 September. Ansett planes flew for the last time on 5 March.

Australians join Afghanistan 'war on terror'

The danger, particularly for those people who go on the ground, will be high, very much higher than in East Timor. - Prime Minister John Howard, Sydney, 18 October, 2001.

• Australian ships, planes and SAS troops began to leave for deployment in the Afghanistan region. American planes had been bombing Kabul, Kandahar and suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda bases since 8 October while the so-called Northern Alliance prepared to attack from the north.

'Race electioneering' blasted, but Howard wins

I don't remember a time when there has been an election with such a clear moral issue, but treated by the major parties with such clear amoral electioneering. - Rev Tim Costello, president of the Baptist Union, Melbourne, 8 November, 2001.

• John Howard's Liberal-Country Party coalition government was returned with a slightly increased majority at the election on 10 November. The conservatives benefited from the return of many One Nation voters heartened by Howard's strong stances against refugees and aboriginal reconciliation; equally, Labor lost huge numbers to the Greens of its traditional leftwing humanitarian supporters who were dismayed by leader Kim Beazley's copy-cat support of Howard's approach to refugees. During the campaign, Howard and Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, won support for their refugee stance with claims that some refugees had thrown their children overboard to force their entry to Australia. These claims were later proved to be false ( see 14 February ). Beazley resigned from the leadership after the poll and his place was taken by Simon Crean.

Fears of deaths at Woomera refugee detention

Many of them feel quite hopeless, they feel they have lost any control over their own lives and in those extreme circumstances people shouldn't be surprised that people will take extreme actions. - Harry Minas, member of the government's Independent Detention Advisory Committee, Sydney, 27 January, 2002.

• Fears were growing that detained asylum-seekers, some of whom had already sewn their lips together and begun hunger strikes in protest at government inaction, would take their own lives. One newspaper said 370 were on a hunger strike in Woomera, 17 in Port Hedland, five in Curtin and 35 in Maribyrnong. Protesters had gathered at Port Hedland, Maribyrnong and Villawood, and at Woomera, an ABC journalist was arrested and expelled from the town when officials extended the barrier against the media.

Kangaroo's off the menu

If they're having an Australian zoo, it may not be in the best interests to be having kangaroo on the menu. - Susan Hunt-Jones, marketing manager, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Coolum (Qld), 4 February, 2002.

• The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, to be opened by Queen Elizabeth, was to be held at the resort from 2 March. A special Australian zoo was to be created for the visitors. It was considered to be in bad taste to serve kangaroo in the restaurant, as well as feature scantily-clad bikini girls in the guests' information kits.

UN intervenes on refugees' desert prisons

There are certainly human rights concerns. Very serious human rights concerns that I would like to have fully clarified. - Mary Robinson, UN Human Rights Commissioner, Geneva ( Switzerland), 5 February, 2002.

• Mrs Robinson expressed her concern, particularly about the detention of children, to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in person. Mr Downer told her that the policy was very popular in Australia, but Mrs Robinson explained to him that popularity did not come into the question of human rights. The Australian Cabinet would consider whether to permit the former Indian Chief Justice Rajendra Bhagwati to make the inspection. Earlier, the aid organisation Ozfam Community Aid Abroad said Australia was treating poor Pacific neighbours 'like prostitutes' by paying them to house asylum seekers.

Howard is torpedoed by the truth

Yours is a government which has lied, spied and denied. - Opposition leader Simon Crean, Canberra, 14 February, 2002.

• Crean was moving a censure motion against Prime Minister John Howard on revelations that there was no evidence to support government claims during the recent election campaign that asylum seekers had thrown their children overboard. The claims, first made on 7 October - two days after Howard called the election - were an important part of the campaign which secured Howard a third term in office. Howard, who had promoted the baseless claims, sought to distance himself by placing responsibility on civil servants for not informing him. He also claimed to have had conversations with the then Defence Minister, Peter Reith.

Howard's 'children overboard' woes deepen

If it's proven that he lied, he must go. - Opposition leader Simon Crean, Melbourne, 15 February, 2002.

• One of Prime Minister Howard's staunchest allies, the recently-retired Defence Minister Peter Reith, disputed that he had conversations with him about the 'children overboard' claims on 10-11 October, 2001. Reith's denial further weakened Howard's position. Senior Democrats Senator Meg Lees said a large question mark stood over the issue. Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, who was the first to promote the 'children overboard' issue, dismissed any suggestion that he should resign.

Generous Poms embarrass miserly Aussies

We're very anxious not to appear to be whingeing. The Australian Government has been very generous in the past, but we are disappointed, particularly as the fact that the maintenance money has gone. - English Colonel (ret) Tony Pinder, volunteer manager of the Fovant Badges Society, Wiltshire (UK), 12 May, 2002.

• The Fovant Badges Society had spent $A67,000 restoring a huge Rising Sun badge carved into a chalk hillside by convalescing Diggers in 1916. The Australian Federal Government did not respond to a request for $5000 towards the project and, in fact, withdrew $1000-a-year paid for maintenance.

Legal threat to Australian way of life

Warning. Life is Dangerous. - Beach sign suggested by Waverley ( Sydney) Councillor George Newhouse, 13 May, 2002.

• Newhouse was only half-joking when he suggested the placing of the above sign at Sydney's famous Bondi Beach when the NSW Supreme Court awarded a paraplegic swimmer $3.75million after he collided with a hidden sandbar. A rash of such claims, encouraged by lawyers, caused dramatically increased insurance premiums and threatened many traditional Australian outdoor activities. Some councils considered closing their beaches.

Kangacide! 40,000 roos to be shot!

Dry conditions have left the kangaroos little food and there are carcasses lying everywhere. - Anonymous worker, Puckapunyal army base, central Victoria, 13 May, 2002.

• Authorities discovered too late that the wild kangaroo population on the 45,000ha base had ballooned to 80,000 in a time of drought. The Defence Department said it would hire professional shooters to kill half of them. Animal lovers protested vehemently.

East Timor : world's newest nation after 400 years

Today, we all agree that the strains in our dealing was a result of an historic mistake, which now belongs to history and to the past.' - Independence hero and first president Xanana Gusmao, Dili, East Timor, 19 May, 2002.

• East Timor, a Portuguese colony for 400 years until its brutal invasion by Indonesia in 1975, finally achieved independence at midnight. Gusmao's remarks to Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri were seen as an appeal to forget the past and assist the poverty-stricken nation in the future. Indonesia sent six warships to Dili on the eve of independence, an action regarded as provocative. But the UN promised its troops, comprised largely of Australians, would remain in East Timor for as long as necessary.

Roos fart sweeter than sheep, cattle, say boffins

Methane from the rear ends of farm animals accounts for about 15 percent of Australia's greenhouse gas production. Yet kangaroos, feeding on the same sorts of grasses, produce no methane at all . - Richard Black, BBC Science Correspondent, London ( UK), 3 June, 2002.

• Black said researchers in Australia believed it might be possible to reduce methane gas exhalations by replacing the bacteria in the stomachs of sheep and cattle with that in kangaroos.

Once more for our great and powerful friend! (etc)

We have taken our place beside you in the war against terrorism knowing beyond all doubts that it was an attack upon ourselves and our way of life as surely as it was upon your own. - Prime Minister John Howard, Washington (US), 12 June, 2002.

• Howard addressed the US Congress, fulsome in his praise for President George W. Bush's actions since the events of 11 September, and complaining but modestly about US farm protectionism which denied export opportunities for Australian farmers. His speech followed a similar line to those made by Liberal Prime Minister Robert Menzies, Howard's hero, in 1955, and Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke, in 1988.

Commenting later, Australian Strategic Policy director Hugh White said: 'The standard Australian procedure on these issues is to get into the issue early, talk it up in a big way and then not actually do very much.'

All the way with the USA? Not again!

Clearly, Iraq's behaviour has been - in relation to weapons of mass destruction - offensive to many countries, including the United States and Australia ... there will be a lot of commitment on our part. - Prime Minister John Howard, Washington (US), 13 June, 2002.

• Howard made this questionable commitment to support any US military action against Iraq at a press conference with US President George W. Bush. His statement recalled for many the Liberal Prime Minister Harold Holt's 'all the way with LBJ' statement, also in June in Washington in 1966 at the height of the Vietnam War. Howard's comments came at a time of growing international unease at the ineptitude and honesty of sabre-rattlers in the Bush administration's 'war on terrorism'.

Australia rushes to back US!

You don't wait until you are attacked. That's the principal lesson of September 11. The United States is clearly no longer going to allow problems to fester and threats to remain unresolved. The need to act swiftly and firmly before threats become attacks is perhaps the clearest lesson of September 11, and is one that is clearly driving US policy and strategy. It is a position which we share, in principal. - Defence Minister Robert Hill, Canberra, 18 June, 2002.

• Australia became the first country to endorse a controversial US policy of pre-emptive strikes against real or perceived enemies. At the same time, the US Administration's qualified go-ahead to the CIA to murder Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was causing considerable unease in humanitarian circles in Australia and abroad.

Handicapped actor made it in the Old Dart!

Despite the impediments of a glass eye and a strong Australian accent, he became a regular performer there ( London's Old Vic) and at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford. - BBC obituary, London (UK), 23 July, 2002.

• The well-known British radio network recognised the loveable Sydney-born Leo McKern's contribution to theatre and television, particularly as Rumpole of the Bailey. He died in Bath (UK) at the age of 82.

Platypuses come to town

There is no reason why we can't have platypuses living close to people, travelling under major roads and living next to floodlit playing fields. - Platypus conservation biologist Geoff Williams, Melbourne, 22 August, 2002.

• Platypuses had begun returning to streams in the outer suburbs, such as the Yarra at Eltham and Diamond Creek, that had been free of the duck-billed mammals for decades. Williams suggested that the might be found, one day, in such inner suburbs as Abbotsford. Millions of dollars spent on rejuvenating the city's waterways was having the desired effect.

Keepers miss work targets, but, animals don't!

Something stinks at the zoo and, come tomorrow, the public will be able to witness it for themselves. - Russ Collison, union state secretary, Sydney, 26 September, 2002.

• Keepers announced they would refuse to clean up animal dung at Taronga Park Zoo after they were refused a three per cent pay rise given to other public sector workers. Management, who gave themselves the pay rise, said it was because the keepers had failed to meet productivity targets.

War on Iraq ... have we forgotten Vietnam already?

Australia, it seems, has learnt nothing from the Vietnam experience. -NSW State Labor MP Meredith Burgmann, anti-war rally, Sydney, 28 September, 2002.

• There was, in fact, growing alarm in the community over the Howard government's 'all the way with the USA' apparent blind support of US President George W. Bush's desire to invade Iraq and replace the dictator, Saddam Hussein. Ms Burgmann spoke at a rally of 1500 people, but in England, whose Prime Minister Tony Blair was the other enthusiastic Bush supporter, some 250,000 people marched against the planned war. Even in the US there was increasing concern in both sides of politics about the projected invasion and Bush's thinly-veiled verbal assault on the United Nations. Senator Edward Kennedy, a veteran Democrat, said there was no evidence that Saddam was any closer to achieving a nuclear capability than he was 20 years ago. In Australia, three former Prime Ministers, including the Liberal, Malcolm Fraser, and former defence force chiefs signed a letter urging caution. At least one Liberal back bencher had publicly expressed his worry, and many formerly solid Labor supporters were planning to vote Green as long as their Federal Parliamentary Party refused a conscience voter on the issue. Basically, people thought that the loss of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives and the destabilising of the Middle East for decades was hardly worth the price of guaranteeing US oil supplies. (A Channel 4 opinion poll in Britain the same weekend showed 43 per cent thought Saddam Hussein was the greater threat to world peace, while 37 per cent nominated George W. Bush).

'An unjustified and unnecessary war'

Why is Iraq such a huge threat now in 2002 and it wasn't in 2000 or 1999? I think it is contained and has been contained for years. What we're really seeing is a massive propaganda campaign to, in a sense, create a public opinion in favour of what I think is still an unjustified and unnecessary war. - Richard Woolcott, former Australian ambassador to the U.N., Sydney, 29 September, 2002.

• Woolcott added his influential to the anti-war chorus, although rightwing commentators remained firmly in favour. One, Janet Albrechtson, of The Australian decried the U.N. as a 'theme park'. However, Prime Minister John Howard said a suggestion by Defence Minister Robert Hill that a war tax might have to be imposed were 'ludicrous'.

Yorkshiremen to send send coal to Newcastle

If the option is a sun-kissed beach in Australia rather than a desolate pit village here, there may be one or two takers. - Dave Douglass, mineworkers' union branch secretary, Hatfield, Yorkshire (UK), 1 October, 2002.

• Mount Isa Mines had advertised for coal mining engineers and supervisors facing redundancy in the Yorkshire coalfields. MIM said it expected to double production to 38 million tonnes by 2002, and some of the coal would be exported to Britain. Selby coal mine, in Yorkshire, was due to close in less than two years with the loss of 2000 jobs, mainly due to foreign competition. Mr Douglass said: 'It's sad when it comes to this when we've got 1000 years coal-mining here.'

For gorssakes, speak English, can't ya!

An analysis of the 2001 Census figures reveals about 240 languages are spoken in Australian homes - a language other than English is spoken in 27 per cent of Melbourne homes, and 29 per cent of Sydney homes. - Melbourne University study, 2 October, 2002.

• The study showed Australia now had more Filipino speakers than German, more people fluent in Hindi than Dutch or Maltese, and as many versed in Tamil as Hungarian. But there were still few who could pass the Scottish Gaelic dictation test imposed by the then Attorney-General Robert Menzies in 1934 when he tried the bar the alleged East European leftist radical, Egon Kisch.

Skin and bone and not worth a bullet

They don't hop away from you, they're too dazed because they're just skin and bone and they rattle when they move. - Kangaroo shooter Tony Latham, White Cliffs ( Western NSW) 5 October, 2002.

• Latham described the condition of kangaroos as a big drought began to take hold in the marginal areas of NSW and Victoria. In good times, licensed shooters took up to 50 animals a night at $10 a head, but their poor condition made shooting worthless.

'War' splits Australian homes as women say 'no'

This means not only Australians are divided, but families are split, too. - Bruce Hawker, managing director of Hawker Britton pollster, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October, 2002.

• A poll had shown that women were 62 per cent against, 20 in favour of war with Iraq. Most voters overall were opposed to any war, but the poll showed less men were opposed. Cheerleaders for the war seemed confused; US president talked of Iraq-inspired 'mushroom clouds', while Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer conceded that the Iraqi nuclear programme was 'embryonic'.

Multicultural misunderstandings

We are extremely disappointed that the company would begrudge an employee 10 minutes to connect with God . - Keysar Trad, Lebanese Muslim Association spokesman, Sydney, 10 October, 2002.

• An Australian Muslim complained to the Industrial Relations Commission that an internet company had threatened to dismiss him for taking 10 minutes off work a day to pray. In Melbourne, a young women intervened when a man 'of Asian appearance' indicated he intended to eat a Staffordshire terrier pup. Its rightful owner, another young woman, said it was not the done thing in Australia to eat pups. Australians, she said, preferred meat pies.

Devastating Bali bomb: terror at our doorstep

I saw people on fire. Many people were carrying others. Most were bleeding. Everything was on fire. It was chaos. There were bodies all over the floor of the bar. - Richard Hechnier, holidaymaker, Kuta Beach Ten, Bali, 13 October, 2002.

• A huge car bomb, probably planted by Islamic extremists, killed at least 185 people on the predominantly-Hindu Indonesian resort island of Bali. About 20,000 Australians were on Bali at the time and deaths were expected to be high. Australian medical teams were flown to the mainly-Hindu enclave and RAAF Hercules began to evacuate the most seriously injured. Ten days later, the Australian death toll was 95, including those missing. In the aftermath, most Australians saw the need for a closer engagement with Asia, particularly Indonesia and its complex politics. One opinion poll, conducted for the television station, SBS, showed the number of people who did not wish Australia to join in any American military adventure in Iraq had remained steady after the Bali atrocity. One Fairfax commentator, Ross Gittins, wrote: 'Last week was a brutal reminder to get back to minding our own business in our own backyard. The fact is we often know more about what's happening in our own region than the Big Boys do.'

Waving flag about a land girt by sea is a bit limp

I don't think you imbue a sense of nationalism by making kids stand outside in the heat and look at a lousy flag. - Prominent Australian republican Greg Barns, Canberra, 24 October, 2002.

• Barns was commenting on a suggestion by Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson, supported by Prime Minister John Howard, that morning flag-raising ceremonies should be reintroduced in school as a way of raising pupils' civic awareness. Barns likened the ceremonies to 'sugar-coated American-style patriotism'.

3000km of dust dumps the Outback into Pacific

We've seen small dust twisters in the western United States but I've never seen anything on this scale. We're now thinking we'll have to come back when it's a bit wetter and like it normally is. - Disappointed British tourist Rob Grimmond, Cairns (Qld), 24 October, 2002.

• Grimmond's view of Cairns was obscured by a vast dust storm which covered the east coast from southern NSW to the Coral Sea and carried an estimated 2 million semi-trailer loads of topsoil far into the Pacific Ocean from the drought-affected Outback.

Children wake to loud police and big handguns

We heard this loud bang and we all woke up. All of a sudden, our door broke down and all these policemen with big handguns screamed at us to get down. One of them pushed me and told me to get down on the floor. He pointed the gun at my face. - Yulyani Suparta, 17, daughter of a Muslim family, Perth, 31 October, 2002.

• Police and ASIO agents began a series of pre-dawn raid across Australia, apparently targeting family member who had attended lectures on Islam in Australia by the Indonesian cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, who was awaiting questioning in Indonesia. Attorney-General Daryl Williams dismissed protests by civil liberties group who counselled against the use of stormtrooper tactics and the frightening of children. The intensified 'War Against Terror' since the 12 October Bali bomb blast reminded some of the Menzies anti-Communist scares of the early-1950s. Commentator Mike Carlton, writing in th e Sydney Morning Herald , agreed that ASIO's task was to root out terrorism, but confessed to unease about the policies. He wrote: But already the usual media ratbags - the radio drama queens, the wine-sodden tabloid columnists - are strutting to the fore to declare that our civil liberties can and must be thrown to the winds in the purging of people they do not like. Some of them, I think, would enjoy nothing better than a Muslim Kristalnacht.

Aust Muslim raids: ASIO efficiency questioned

We've had 40 raids by ASIO since 11 September (2001 World Trade Centre attacks) and not one has resulted in an arrest or charge in relation to terrorist activity. One has to now start questioning the efficiency of ASIO in the light of having all these raids in Australia when our favourite resort was blown up under their noses. - Lawyer Stephen Hopper, representing a raid victim, Sydney, 2 November, 2002.

• Attorney-General Daryl Williams said the recent raids were on the homes of Muslims suspected of having terrorist links with the now-outlawed Jemaah Islamiah organisation. He said the group's spiritual leader had visited Australia 11 times to try to spread its influence. Mr Hopper said the raids were vulgar examples of racial profiling of innocent people who were made scapegoats. Leaders of Australia's 300,000 Muslims publicly condemned the attacks.

Brand new Aussie tells cop to 'F... off', acquitted

I didn't swear at you. I swore in front of you. I just became an Australian citizen today and this is the kind of welcome I get. - Conversation between newly-naturalised Mark Peterson, 35, and a policeman, as related in court, Sydney, 5 November, 2002.

• Peterson was charged with telling the policeman who arrested him in Oxford St, Darlinghurst to 'F... off.' The magistrate said the remark had been delivered in a non-threatening tone outside a restaurant and was not offensive. He dismissed the charge. The court heard the thoughtful policemen removed Peterson's handcuffs so he could sign a credit card chit for his share of his celebratory citizenship lunch.

Federal Government revisionists nail Dirk Hartog!

It's so far from the open ocean that you'd run into the mainland before you found it. - Kieran Wardle, farmer, Dirk Hartog Island, Western Australia, 17 December, 2002.

• Wardle was speaking of nearby Faure Island in Shark Bay which, along with Dirk Hartog Island, had been secretly excised from the Australian migration zone so sneaky refugees could not land there and claim asylum. Dirk Hartog Island, of course, was the place where the Dutch captain Dirk Hartog and his crew accidentally landed in 1616, becoming the first Europeans to set foot in Australia. They nailed a pewter plate marking the occasion to a tree.

Remote detention centres ablaze

We are not going to change our policy because people set fire to detention centres. - Prime Minister John Howard, Sydney, 30 December, 2002.

• Refugee detention centres in Port Headland, Port Augusta and Woomera (and later Sydney and Christmas Island) were set on fire, apparently by protesting inmates, causing $4 million damage. Some people called for the immediate deportation of the alleged arsonists, but since several had fled Iraq, which Australia apparently intended to invade (along with the U.S.), this presented certain moral and logistical dilemmas. Others suggested that the refugees' actions might be the result of an inhuman government policy under which they were incarcerated without knowing their ultimate fate.

New faces in the street in Henry's hometown

Visitors even asked us if we had organised the locals to be friendly and talk to them. But that is just the way we are here. - Mayor Maurice Simpson, Grenfell (NSW), 4 January, 2003.

• Grenfell, 372 kilometres west of Sydney and Henry Lawson's birthplace, worried about its declining population so city folks were persuaded to visit the town (pop. 2000) and consider living there. Two dozen families took up the offer, particularly of cheaper housing and a less stressful lifestyle.

An exciting, 21st Century Crusade!

We have made a very strong commitment to disarming Iraq. We have done so because we believe it is in Australia's long-term national interest. We do worry about the ultimate and fateful coming together of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism. - Prime Minister John Howard, Canberra, 20 March, 2003.

• America, Britain and Australia invaded Iraq, purportedly to disarm it of weapons of mass destruction which the three countries claimed it had. It was Australia's first unprovoked attack on a sovereign country since the ill-fated excursion to Gallipoli on 25 April, 1915.

War commences ... but did U.S. tell the truth?

Seven days into the war on Iraq and the United States-led coalition has set land-speed records in the race towards Baghdad. A fighting force of almost 100,000 troops has chewed up more than 80 kilometres a day - by any measure, a dramatic advance. - Tony Parkinson, Age International Editor, Melbourne, 26 March, 2003.

• American troops seized Baghdad and British forces took Basra, in the south, a few days later. Resistance was sporadic at best and most 'Coalition of the Willing' casualties were self-inflicted. Iraqi deaths and injuries were unclear at first, but were later thought to number about 6500 military and civilians. What became clear as the weeks after the invasion passed was that no Weapons of Mass Destruction were found. Their alleged presence had been a principal excuse for invading Iraq. Late in May, a growing number of U.S. intelligence professionals began accusing the Pentagon of skewing intelligence to favour hostilities. In England, the Guardian newspaper on 31 May said there was evidence that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and British Foreign Minister Jack Straw had held a private meeting in New York on 5 February at which both expressed misgivings about the intelligence.

G.G. steps aside over rape allegation

It remains my view that the Governor-General has not done anything during the tenure of his office as governor-general to warrant my recommending to the Queen that his commission should be terminated or his appointment ended. - Prime Minister John Howard, Sydney, 11 May, 2003.

• Hollingworth, a Howard appointee, stood aside after a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss allegations brought before the Victorian Supreme Court that Hollingworth had raped a woman in central Victoria in the mid-1990s. The woman had committed suicide recently. Hollingworth strenuously denied the charges. Hollingworth had been under pressure to resign over his handling of child sex abuse in Queensland while he was Archbishop of Brisbane. The Governor of Tasmania, Sir Guy Green, became Administrator of the Commonwealth. On 22 June, Howard announced the appointment of retired army general, Michael Jeffrey, as Governor-General.

Hollingworth quits over child sex abuse cover-up

Despite the misplaced and unwarranted allegations made against me as Governor-General, it is clear that continuing public controversy has the potential to undermine and diminish my capacity to uphold the importance, dignity and integrity of this high office that I have been privileged and proud to occupy. - Resigning Governor-General Peter Hollingworth, Canberra, 25 May, 2003.

• Hollingworth finally succumbed to public pressure to relinquish the post of Australia's 23rd Governor-General since Federation. Pressure had been building steady - some polls said 80 percent of Australians demanded his resignation - since 18 February, 2002, when, on ABC TV's Australian Story , he appeared to condone sex between a priest and a 14-year-old girl. He implied that she had initiated it. Earlier in May, 2003, a 40-year-old allegation of rape against Dr Hollingworth was withdrawn in the Victorian Supreme Court. Conservative commentators said Hollingworth was the victim of a witch hunt. But commentator Michael Gordon, in the Age newspaper, said : 'Clearly, sadly, he still doesn't get it.'

Ex-G-G hits the super jackpot

I discussed it, I accept responsibility for it, it was my decision in the end. - Prime Minister John Howard, Sydney Radio 2GB, 27 May, 2003.

• Howard said he consulted four Cabinet ministers before deciding to appoint Hollingworth. Later, one of them, Senator Robert Hill, said he had some reservations about the church-state implications of the appointment, but they were outweighed by Hollingworth's long service with the Anglican charity, the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Hollingworth, it was revealed would receive a pension of $187,000 a year for life after his 23 months as Governor-General.

Iraq 's Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Big Lie?

On the basis of what we understood, the action was the right action to take. If it turns out there were flaws in what we understood, we ought to say there were flaws. - Defence Minister Robert Hill, Singapore, 1 June, 2003.

• The excuse for the 'Coalition of the Willing' going to war against Iraq was rapidly losing substance. The allies had failed to find any of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) with which Iraq allegedly threatened world peace. Hill tried to hose down criticism of the Australian government, but the U.S. and British governments were coming under increasing pressure. Certainly, the allies had achieved 'regime change' at a cost of at least 6000 Iraqi lives and disruptions to social order. Many people questioned the Americans' real motives. Was it really about oil? Or was it part of their quest for world domination? On 14 June, commentator Michael Carlton said in the Sydney Morning Herald : 'If weapons of mass destruction are not found in Iraq pretty soon - say by about sunset tonight - then a reasonable person might conclude that George Bush and Tony Blair are bare-faced liars and that John Howard was, at best, their willing dupe.'

Labor's new champion! Latham becomes Leader

He might well crash and burn one day, but if he does it will be because he's trying like blazes and not because he's sitting there, like a rabbit in the headlights, waiting to get run over. - Political columnist Alan Ramsey, Sydney Morning Herald , 2 December, 2003.

• Mark Latham, a 42-year-old former firebrand from Sydney's Western suburbs, was elected Federal Labor Leader in a surprise 47-45 win over a 54-year-old former Leader Kim Beazley. The election came about when the incumbent Leader, Simon Crean, stepped down on the advice of colleagues after disappointing opinion polls. Latham's victory surprised the Coalition Government, whose members immediately began to deride him. Latham had a colourful record, having described the Prime Minister John Howard as an 'arselicker' of the U.S. and questioned the competence of the U.S. President George W. Bush. Ramsey wrote: Despite the bravado, Latham scares the bejesus out of the Coalition. He really does. He is not another Labor leadership patsy and the Government knows it. Whatever you've heard, and whatever self-serving hysteria the Government goes on beating up, Latham is the real thing. He is not Simon and Dead or Kim the Wimp. After his election, Latham assured voters that he favoured the Australia-U.S. alliance and received a congratulatory phone call from the U.S. Ambassador, Tom Schieffer.

Towards a more colourful language ...

At the end of the day, there's just a bee's donger in it, but you've got to win by just one vote. - Labor MHR Gavan O'Connor, Canberra, 2 December, 2003.

• O'Connor commented on the outcome of the Caucus election in the colourful vernacular of his central Victoria electorate of Burke.

Kiddie Kapers

My question is to the Prime Minister, and I refer him to compelling research showing that if parents read aloud three storybooks a night to their infant children, those children will be literate and do numbers by the time they reach school age . - Opposition Leader Mark Latham, Canberra, 3 December, 2003.

• Latham, a youngish (42) father of two boys invited Howard, 64, father of three, to join him in a 'bipartisan initiative to encourage parents to read book to their infant children' and provide literacy programmes to parent unable to do so. Howard replied: 'Some of my most vivid recollections of the early years of being a father to my three children were the stories I made up.' To which a Labor interjector said, 'You are still telling stories' and a colleague offered, 'Tell us the one about the children being thrown overboard'.

Unappreciated heroes

Recovering from illness, I've had time to amble through our public parks taking note of the monuments there. On the way home from the physiotherapist, I noticed that to a man (and I use the term advisedly), the statues depict politicians and soldiers - people whose mission is to cause pain. There isn't, as far as I can see, a single tribute to physiotherapists - people who relieve pain. I propose that, in the interest of equity, we pull down half the icons honouring obscure men on horseback, and replace them as soon as possible with statues of physiotherapists. - Letter to the Editor from Loretta Re, Age , Melbourne, 8 December, 2003.

Saddam captured: our pollies back execution

The details of what he did should be spelled out detail by detail, slaughter by slaughter, death by death. - Prime Minister John Howard, Canberra, 15 December, 2003.

• Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was found skulking in a 'spider hole' near his home town of Tikrit eight months after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. The 66-year-old was bearded, unkempt and aged (commentator Philip Adams said he looked more like the country singer Willie Nelson than the so-called Butcher of Baghdad). Saddam was caught within sight of the birthplace of the greatest Muslim warrior king, Saladin, in 1137AD. Saladin fought the Western allies to a draw in an earlier Crusade led by Christian fundamentalists. But whereas Saladin died in bed in Damascus, Saddam emerged to humiliation by an American checking his hair for lice on worldwide television. One commentator suggested that the Americans might regret not killing him, in view of the revelations he might make about their involvement in certain squalid military adventures in the 1980s against the Kurds and against Iran. John Howard, speaking on the American television network CNN, said Saddam should be tried by Iraqis in Iraq and that he would not oppose a death sentence. Opposition Leader Mark Latham agreed with him.

Lawyer finally gets access to Australian prisoner

It appears to me Saddam Hussein is going to be afforded a fairer system of justice than what David Hicks will receive. - Lawyer Stephen Kenny on ABC radio, New York, 18 December, 2003.

• Kenny, an Adelaide lawyer retained by Hicks' father, was the first defence counsel given access to one of the prisoners being held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Hicks was captured while fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan against the Northern Alliance. He was handed over to the Americans as a prisoner of the 'War On Terror' and, to date, had not been charged with anything. Kenny said Hicks had not been ill-treated at Guantanamo Bay, beyond the denial of his basic human rights. He said he believed Hicks would be charged with conspiracy when he finally faced a military commission.

Libs, facing backlash, retreat at Point Nepean

It really is a very good result and has shown that the strong position we adopted has paid off. - Victorian Labor Environment Minister John Thwaites, Melbourne 18 December, 2003.

• The Federal Government's decision to offer a private Queensland property developer an 80-year lease on Victoria's beloved, sensitive and historic Point Nepean, at Port Phillip Heads, former Commonwealth defence land, caused outrage. There were fears that the local Liberal Federal member, Greg Hunt, might actually lose the seat of Flinders in an electoral backlash from many of his silvertail constituents. He frantically lobbied his party colleagues. An anonymous family donated $10 million. The Libs were out of a hole. The Liberal Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Fran Bailey, herself a Victorian, denied she had bungled.

Nauru's refugees at medical, emotional flashpoint

The last thing we want it for these people to die on our soil ... We don't want Nauru to be remembered as a place where people were put to death. -Nauruan Finance Minister Kinza Clodumar, Sydney, 6 January, 2004.

Conditions in the camps on Nauru are dire. First hand reports have been received by Amnesty International from Nauru detainees is that there is fresh water for only two hours a day, limited access to health care, children have been denied access to educational facilities, and there are insufficient activities for people to pass the time. Some people have been living in these conditions for over two years without any prospect of release. Ongoing detention without any access to judicial review in considered by Amnesty International to be arbitrary and contrary to international law. - Amnesty International, Sydney, 6 January, 2004.

• The Pacific Island of Nauru, which was desperately poor, agreed to accept thousands of people who had sought refuge in Australia, in return for $20 million aid as part of the Federal Government's 'Pacific Solution' Late in 2003, many of the refugees began a hunger strike in protest at their alleged neglect by the Australian Government. Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone said they were not the Australian Government's problem, but that they had the option of returning home (Afghanistan) with government assistance. However, growing violence in Afghanistan, with 11 deaths in a bombing, made that option increasingly unattractive. Amnesty International urged the Australian Government to permit an independent medical team to visit Nauru.

Howard's schools attack: outrage, dismay

Prime Minister John Howard's attack in a newspaper interview on 19 January on public (state-run) schools, describing them as 'politically-correct and values neutral' caused deep concern in the Australian community. Seventy per cent of children attend such schools. Even the Victorian Education Union (VEU), which represent teachers at non-government schools, defended the public schools ... All schools have core values that reflect the particular school and it's a nonsense and and an insult to any school to say that they're value free. Certainly do and have always chosen to send their children to non-government schools because of the values, in particular the religious school, but to say that state schools are value-free are nonsense and it's divisive.' - Tony Canaan, general secretary, VEU, 20 January, 2004.

The Federal Government's education funding policies are entrenching inequities and creating a two tiered system of education. They pour two thirds of Federal funding into private schools, including many elite schools, and only one third into public schools. Why are universities putting up fees? Because private schools have overtaken universities as the Government's prime area of education spending. TAFE funding is frozen for the same reason. - Rob Durbridge, Federal secretary, Australian Education Union, 21 January, 2004.

• Durbridge suggested Howard's remarks might be a coded call for mainstream Anglo-Australian society to place its history, traditions and culture above others in the Australian community.

Pollies shift blame on Iraq's phantom WMDs

Prime Minister John Howard justified going to war on Iraq, with US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on the grounds that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons which posed a threat to international security. On 3 February, 2004, amid worldwide pressure, Howard conceded that the 'Coalition of the Willing' may have gone to war on the basis of flawed intelligence ...

If you're asking me the question, 'Did we have intelligence supporting our decision?' the unequivocal answer is yes, we did; as did Tony Blair and George Bush. Whether the intelligence was wrong, the jury is still out on that. - Prime Minister John Howard, Perth, 3 February, 2004.

John Howard's assertion that almost all the intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction came from US and British sources does not alter domestic responsibilities for the decision to send forces to war. - Editorial opinion, The Age , Melbourne, 3 February, 2004.

Let's be clear about Howard's reasons for war. In the legal opinion he tabled last March, the only reason canvassed was to eliminate Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. No humanitarian reason was advanced. 'Liberating an oppressed people' has been a rationalisation advanced by the Prime Minister after the WMD argument came unstuck. - Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd, writing in The Australian , Sydney, 4 February, 2004.

Where do you even start? Perhaps with the comedy of George Bush demanding 'to know the facts' about Iraq's non-existent arsenal of weapons of mass destruction - casting himself as an aggrieved American voter, somehow hoodwinked into the war with Iraq. No doubt we should brace ourselves for Bush pounding his fist on the table, demanding to know 'who ordered this goddamned war anyway?' And to think, he could have known all the facts without firing a single shot - if only he had let Hans Blix and his team of UN inspectors finish their work.

Or perhaps we should begin with the hilarious sight of Colin Powell, who exactly a year ago treated the Security Council to a show-and-tell exposé of Saddam's terrifying arsenal, now admitting that, had he known Baghdad had no WMD, he would have had his doubts about going to war. With rather elegant understatement, he concedes it would have changed 'the political calculus'.

Maybe the right starting point is closer to home, with the alternative comedy of Tony Blair insisting as late as last week there could be no inquiry, no inquiry, no inquiry - until Bush ordered one in Washington and suddenly London saw the entire question in a new light. Now there is to be an inquiry. What was an unnecessary, ludicrous proposal last week when the Tories and Lib Dems demanded it is suddenly a rather good idea now that Mr Bush has smiled upon it. - Jonathan Freedland, Guardian , London, 4 February, 2004.

• Bush planned to set up an independent, bipartisan commission to report on intelligence; Blair would appoint a cross-party committee of MPs and peers; in Australia, a bi-partisan Parliamentary Committee report on 1 March broadly cleared the Howard Government of exaggerating the Iraq threat, but said ministers had not always exercised the caution conveyed by intelligence agencies. The Government announced a further inquiry.

Richard Pratt's plan for saving our rivers

On 4 February, 2004 businessman and philanthropist Richard Pratt, chairman of Visy Industries, pledged $100 million in guaranteed bank loans to farmers who converted their irrigation systems to more efficient systems ... using drip irrigation, he said, farmers might use 80 per cent less water.

The whole purpose is to use less water on their properties to grow the crops that they're growing now, and consequently the water flows will be greater for the rivers if they only use 50 per cent of the water that they are presently using to water their crops. The water rights that they've been given will adequately cover what they want to grow.

Alison Caldwell, reporter on the ABC's AM programme, asked: Now you said some time ago, over 12 months ago, that if the (Federal) Government was prepared to spend billions of dollars on water, you would commit $100 million. Now you've done that; but has the Government risen to the challenge?

Pratt replied: Well, the Government's got a large agenda of people coming to them asking for money and we certainly support whatever the Government's doing, but we'd like them to put pipes rather than open irrigation channels, for example, right through all the irrigation areas of Australia.

• Pratt's imaginative proposal was lost amid the public furore surrounding John Howard's excuses for taking Australia to war in Iraq. But there were many in the Australian community who believed his plan would eventually succeed.

Can this really be the missing Beagle ... ?

The Royal Navy survey ship HMS Beagle is most famous for taking Charles Darwin on his five-year voyage from 1831 during which he formulated his theory of evolution. In the 1840s, the ship played an important part in charting northern Australia. Then, in the 1870s, the Beagle disappeared ...

I am quietly confident we have found the Beagle. Most of the upper part of the ship may have gone, but we have the lower part and hull, and who know what remains of Darwin's trip may still lie down there. That is why this ship is most intriguing. - Marine archeologist Dr Robert Prescott, Pagglesham, Essex (UK), 15 February, 2004.

• A ship, thought to be the Beagle , was discovered by radar under mud in the estuary of the River Roach. The ship was commissioned in 1820 as a 10-gun brig, later converted to a survey ship. After its three major voyages, it became a floating office for the Coast Guard at Pagglesham before it was sold to scrap dealers about 1870. A St Andrews University ( Scotland) team planned to raise the vessel.

Centenary of the world's first Labor government

Labor Party leaders gathered in Melbourne to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Chris Watson's Labor government, the world's first and launch Ross Mullin's book, So Monstrous A Travesty , the story of Australian conservatives' outraged reaction. Some speakers took the opportunity to find current perspectives ... The truth is, my friends: no Australian prime minister has ever put this country at greater risk, and for the wrong reason, than John Howard with his lock-step performance with George Bush on Iraq.- Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Melbourne, 27 April, 2004.

Pregnant pause as mums-to-be grab cash

If you've got a booked caesarean or a booked induction, you'd be silly not to try to pick up a few extra thousand dollars just for a couple of days. - Brisbane obstetrician David Molloy, Qld president of the AMA, 14 May, 2004.

• Women were reported to be delaying their babies' births until after 1 July to collect a new $3000 maternity bonus promised in Treasurer Peter Costello's election-eve Federal Budget.

Matthew James Larkins, 27 November, 1970-2 June, 2004

Adelaide tempts British migrants

I'd liken it to Blackpool, without the pleasure beach. It seems small, but it's not a country town . - British-born Adelaide Advertiser journalist Michael Diggins, Adelaide, 1 July 2004.

• Diggins gave a British perspective to the charms of Adelaide while explaining an Australian government initiative to attract more skilled migrants.

Ex-Canberra insider opens a can of worms!

Prime Minister John Howard's repeated claims early in November, 2001, that refugees had thrown their children overboard from a boat were regarded as vital in an election subsequently won by his government. The election was fought largely on the issue of refugees, and their fitness to live in Australia. However, on 15 August, 2004, the matter came back to haunt Howard when this letter appeared in the Australian newspaper ...

The controversy around the issues raised by 43 signatories of the recent open letter has at its centre the vital issue of truth in government. It is perhaps timely that I add to the public record on this matter. The report of the Senate committee inquiring into a Certain Maritime Incident - the children overboard affair - found the inquiry had been "significantly hampered" by my "refusal" to testify before it. The salient issue for the committee was "the extent of the Prime Minister's knowledge of the false nature of the report that children were thrown overboard" and therefore "the extent to which the Government as a whole wilfully misled the Australian people on the eve of a federal election". The report noted the committee's "inability to question Mr Scrafton on the substance of his conversations with the Prime Minister therefore leaves that question unresolved". The reasons for my non appearance are mixed. Prominent among them was the failure of the committee to subpoena me to appear. It was also significant that both the then secretary of defence (Allan Hawke) and the office of the former Minister for Defence, Peter Reith, advised me there had been a Cabinet decision directing that I not appear.Having resumed my position in Defence as a public servant following the election, these factors naturally weighed heavily in my decision. I have since retired from the Commonwealth Public Service. Also, I hold the conviction that public comments on controversial matters by senior public servants should only be made with reluctance and then only in exceptional circumstances. However, a small footnote to the history of the 'children overboard affair' may now be appropriate. For the record, I was in Peter Reith's office as a seconded public servant on the same basis that I was attached to the previous Defence Minister's office (John Moore). The conditions were that I had no involvement in electoral politics and dealt only with matters of Defence policy and public administration. During the election campaign, I remained in the Canberra office managing the ongoing business of the "caretaker period" while Reith and the political staffers, except for the chief of staff, relocated to Melbourne. I did not see the minister in person during that period. Consequently, as the Senate report demonstrates, I was involved in many conversations with the minister, his press secretary, the chief of staff, the Prime Minister's Office, the Department of Defence and the Australian Defence Force from the first release of the photographs purporting to be of children in the water. What would I have told the Senate committee? On the evening of November 7, 2001, after having viewed the tape from the HMAS Adelaide at Maritime HQ in Sydney, I spoke to the Prime Minister by mobile phone on three occasions. In the course of those calls I recounted to him that: a) the tape was at best inconclusive as to whether there were any children in the water but certainly didn't support the proposition that the event had occurred; b) that the photographs that had been released in early October were definitely of the sinking of the refugee boat on October 8 and not of any children being thrown into the water; and c) that no one in Defence that I dealt with on the matter still believed any children were thrown overboard. During the last conversation, the Prime Minister asked me how it was that he had a report from the Office of National Assessments confirming the children overboard incident. I replied that I had gained the impression that the report had as its source the public statements of the then minister for immigration, Philip Ruddock.When queried by the Prime Minister as to how this could be, I suggested that question was best directed to Kim Jones, then the director-general of the Office of National Assessments. - Mike Scrafton, Melbourne, 15 August, 2004.

The 43 signatories Scrafton referred to were former senior diplomats and defence force officials who wrote an open letter questioning Government politics. The letter was dismissed by Howard and his ministers. One referred to them, disparagingly, as 'daiquiri diplomats'. This was their response on 16 August) to Scrafton's letter ...

Former RAAF chief Ray Funnell: It's gratifying because the aim of our letter was to ensure the Australian people are properly informed and this is an incident about which the Australian people have not been properly informed ... if it brings about a change in politicians behaviour, then we feel vindicated.

Former Department of Foreign Affairs secretary Richard Woolcott: When a call for truth in government is made, it is not surprising other examples will come forward.

Former Office of National Assessments analyst Andrew Wilkie (Greens candidate in Howard's own seat of Bennelong): It is confirmation that he (Howard) is a liar. All these new revelations support my concern that the Government is dishonest.

Howard disputed the accuracy of the claims, but Scrafton said he was prepared to take a lie detector test.

Ex-colleague backs whistleblower's version of events

The former head of Defence Department's Public Affairs and Corporate Communications division, Jenny McKenry, supported Scrafton's story (see above) on 17 August. She said she had received a phone call from Scrafton on the morning of November 8, 2001, in which he discussed the release of HMAS Adelaide video of the incident: He said to me in the course of that conversation that he'd told the Prime Minister there had been nothing conclusive about the video and that there was no evidence to support the children overboard story.

Howard dismissed calls for him to follow Scrafton's example and take a lie-detector test. Scrafton submitted to a test publicly on a Nine Network television programme and passed. Howard said (17 August): I will submit myself to the great lie-detector test in Australian politics and that is the collective judgment of my fellow Australians. The Australian people will make a judgment about those matters at the right time.

Opposition Leader Mark Latham said (also 17 August) Howard was not fit to be Prime Minister. He said: He also owes the Australian people a huge apology for the acts of deceit, the acts of deliberate dishonesty, in the days leading up to the last federal election, and the fact that this cover-up and these lies have been maintained in the period since.

• On 29 August, Howard called a Federal Election for 9 October which, he said, would be fought on the issues of 'trust'.

Virgin applicants supposed to sing, dance, as well!

It became very clear that if you weren't young, blonde, gorgeous and with legs up to your armpits, you had no chance. - Virgin Airlines flight attendant applicant Carol Dowling, (aged 56), Brisbane, 18 August, 2004.

She was one of eight experienced female flight attendants taking the airline, Virgin Blue, to the Queensland Special Anti-Discrimination Board over the stereotype of the youthful trolley dolly. Ms Dowling said her interview to become a Virgin Blue flight attendant amounted to little more than a meat market with a song and dance thrown in. Virgin Blue head of strategy and communications David Huttner said: ... I can tell you that we have people not just in the office but also on the front line, like cabin crew and check-in staff, of a wide variety of ages and background.

• At an earlier hearing of the case, the tribunal in May upheld Virgin's right to request a song and dance from applicants, demonstrating the 'Virgin Flair' as part of its recruitment process. In 2001, Virgin Blue angrily denied claims by the Flight Attendants Association of Australia that it had asked female flight attendants to wear G-strings, after several attendants had complained to unions about the requirement.

Aussie journo wins long distance gold in bloody canter!

The formal Olympic charter, which runs into 108 printed pages, contains more bullshit than a convoy of cattle trucks travelling nonstop from Mackay to Margaret River. - Columnist Matt Price, Australian , Canberra, 21 August, 2001.

• Price was commenting, generally, on the ethics of the Lausanne-based IOC, which had the rights to the Olympic Games, currently being held in Athens. He said the Games themselves were 'infuriatingly enchanting'.

Shocking truth about Australia's 'white Stolen Generation'

There were times I had to leave the hearings, because it was too much, but the Hansard reporters and the people recording sound and vision were the ones I was worried about because they couldn't leave. It was such inexplicable abuse of the most vulnerable people in our society, and it was so shocking to allow it to happen. Like the Stolen Generation, it's part of our history we have to face up to - children were removed from their families, and those people have to be helped. - Senate Community Affairs Committee chairwoman Senator Jan Lucas, Canberra, 30 August 2004.

• The committee released the first part of an enquiry enquired into what happened to 500,000 children placed in institutional care over the past 100 years. Senator Andrew Murray, himself a former British orphanage inmate, said there were about 20,000 wards of state throughout Australia today and he says the focus must now shift to them, ensuring the crimes of the past are not repeated. He added: I think what this report exposes is a naivete and trust that governments and churches would do what they were set up to do and that, in the case of the churches, they would always follow the mission of Christ. Religious institutions who were trusted were shown to attract sadists and pedophiles. The evidence is that the same things were happening with the Salvation Army, the Anglicans and the Catholics.

Our Foreign Policy chickens come 'home to roost'

There are more people with more anger seeking to direct their anger against us for what they think is a war against Islam. We know it's not, but that's how it is represented in much of the Islamic press. - Allan Behm, former head of the Defence Department's policy and strategy division, Canberra, 9 September, 2004.

• Behm was commenting after powerful bomb earlier that day exploded outside the Australian Embassy in Djakarta, killing eleven people, all Indonesians, and injuring a five-year-old girl who was being taken to collect her Australian passport. A former Australian intelligence officer, Warren Reed, said: I think we've been a bit too far up-front there for a country of this size, which has huge Islamic neighbour like Indonesia. I think this might be one of those chickens coming home to roost.

The worm turns for John Howard

I'm glad the worm doesn't have a vote. - Prime Minister John Howard, Sydney, 12 September, 2004.

• Mr Howard had just concluded a pre-election televised debate with the Opposition Leader Mark Latham. The 'worm' he referred to was an electronic device that reflected a studio audience's reaction to his remarks. It had shown disfavour when he talked about his government's policies on Iraq.

Downer explains how diplomacy works

If the Indonesians rang us up and said there's a terrorist group in the Kimberleys who are planning to launch an attack on Kupang, and we said: 'Well, we really don't care, that's your problem, pal, and we're not going to do anything about it', and they sent an F-16 over and bombed the terrorist group, you could understand that. I fact, it would be very surprising if their attitude was. 'Well, then we shall just ... prepare the coffins'. I mean, I don't think any country is going to do that in the end. - Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Radio Top F-M, Darwin, 24 September, 2004.

John Howard's fourth successive election triumph

This is a proud nation, a confident nation, a cohesive nation, a united nation. A nation that can achieve anything it wants if it sets its mind to it. - Prime Minister John Howard, Wentworth Hotel, Sydney, after winning his fourth successive election, 10 October, 2004.

Howard's staunch ally, US President George Bush, said: The people of Australia voted today, And I want to congratulate my good friend, Prime Minister John Howard, who won a great victory.

David Fickling, writing in London's Guardian newspaper, said: The result gives him a remarkable mandate. Australian governments rarely increase their majority at elections, but Howard has now managed to lengthen his lead over the opposition twice in succession and last night won a swing of more than 3 per cent in his favour.

Initial indications suggested he might also gain a working majority in the Senate, a situation which no Australian government has enjoyed since the mid-1980s.

Opposition Leader Mark Latham said: Tonight is not our night, it's not the night we were hoping for. We'll make sure the government is held to account. Thank you very much and I'll see you again.

Labor needed to win 12 seats to take the election, but its four victories from Howard's Liberal-National coalition were outweighed by the eight seats it lost to them.

Fickling said: The result challenges the notion that voters will inevitably punish governments who support the Iraq war. Howard was lucky that Australia suffered no fatalities from its largely cosmetic involvement in Iraq, and he also scored on the fact that Australian voters are rarely swayed by foreign affairs outside their immediate region. In Australia around 40 per cent of people still believe the conflict was worthwhile.

• Labor sources attributed to loss largely due to voters' perception of Latham's inexperience, and a Government scare campaign over the possibility of interest rate rises under Labor.

2004: George W. Bush defeats John Kerry, 4 November, to win a second term as U.S. President.

Did Frank Sinatra water the Trevi Fountain?

Did Moses pose for Michelangelo; was the Colosseum built as a ruin; and just where is the grave of Christ? If you are thinking of coming to Rome, the city's chief tour guide, Mario Colzi, has a suggestion: you might bone up on the answers before you arrive. - London Times report, Rome, 9 November, 2004.

• Colzi said Australian tourist were fairly uninformed about Rome, but they were not the worst offenders. That honour went to Italian-Americans who frequently referred to the Sistine Chapel, named after the 15th century Pope, Sixtus 1V as the 'Sixteen Chapel'. Colzi said: They ask me where the other 15 are.

Fatter, happier ... and growing older

Older Australians are fatter and more content than ever before, but rely heavily on pharmacological help. A snapshot of the nation's elders shows they report less psychological distress than younger people, but are more likely to use sleeping tablets and anti-depressants. - Australian , 10 November, 2004.

• The Bureau of Statistics reported around thirteen per cent of our population is now over the age of 65 and the proportion is tipped to reach 30 per cent by mid-century. Women born today could expect to celebrate their 82nd birthdays, but would experience increased disability in their later years. Men could hope to hit 77, but faced an increased risk of suicide if they survived beyond 85.

Begonia burghers blast Brunswick brothel's blue billboard

I have two young granddaughters living here and that's just inappropriate for them to be reading. Ballarat is an absolutely wonderful place to live. It's a very family-oriented city. - Ballarat (Victoria) resident David Westaway, 12 November, 2004.

• Mr Westaway objected to a billboard advertising: SEX: Chocolates and flowers not required . It had been erected on the main highway through Ballarat (where begonias are the preferred flower) for the Brunswick ( Melbourne) brothel, Pickwick Lodge. On November 24, the City Council had the sign removed under the Pollution Control Act. We are going to seek damages and losses , said brothel owner Andrew Hewinson.

Tripping the light fantastic

On 14 November, Queensland medical entomologist Scott Ritchie, describing the use of fluorescent dust to study dengue mosquitoes, came up with the scientific quote of the year:

If you use a fluorescent black light, they show up like dandruff on a disco dancer.

2004: Tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, 26 December, caused by a 9.0 Richter scale earthquake 30km beneath the ocean floor off the Indonesian province of Aceh, kill 150,000 people in Sumatra, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Somalia and small island groups.

Earth movement: 'Three centuries ... in an instant'

The combined tsunamis of Boxing Day, 2004, have been described as a catastrophe of 'biblical proportions'. A week after the disaster occurred, 150,000 people were known to have died and tens of thousands were missing. In the Weekend Australian of 1-2 January, journalist Robert Lusetich described what happened ...

At 7.58am, local time, off the coast of Sumatra on the morning after Christmas, an hour short of a year after the Bam earthquake that killed about 30,000 in Iran, nature again reminded humanity of its indiscriminate and merciless power.

Within the so-called Ring of Fire - a zone of constant seismic and volcanic eruption - the earth shook with such fury that it caused the entire planet to wobble momentarily from its axis by up to 2.5cm and shortened the length of December 26 by three microseconds. It is almost beyond the ken of humankind to understand the power necessary to shift 1200km of fault line at 30km below sea level 15metres. Such equations are usually restricted to university physics lectures: utterly theoretical and practically meaningless.

But the repercussions were very real when the India plate - which is part of the Indo-Australian plate and is drifting northeast an average of 5cm a year - suddenly slipped 15metres beneath the Burma plate, the seabed of which, in turn, was thrust upwards by 10metres. It would normally take three centuries for the India plate to move as much as it did in that instant. The gigantic slip triggered the fourth largest recorded earthquake in the world since 1900: only the great Chilean earthquake of 1960 (9.5), the 1964 Good Friday earthquake in Alaska and a 9.1 quake, also in Alaska in 1957, were bigger.

12pm-12.30pm: The first waves struck the northern tip of Sumatra (150km from the epicentre), the Nicobar and Andaman islands, then the resort of Phuket, Thailand. 2pm: Coasts of India, Sri Lanka and northern Thailand. 3pm: Maldives. 5.15pm: Bangladesh (tremors). 6pm: Penang , Malaysia . 27 December, 2am: Somalia.

A brief history of recent tsunamis (Japanese for 'harbour' and 'sea'): 27 August, 1883: Krakatoa tsunamis kill 36,000 in Java, Sumatra; 15 June, 1896: East coast of Japan, 27,000 killed; 1 April, 1946: Alaska earthquake causes Hawaii tsunami, killing 150; 9 July, 1958: two fishermen killed in Alaska; 22 May, 1960: Earthquake in Chile causes tsunami killing 1500 in Chile and Hawaii; 27 March, 1964: Earthquake in Alaska triggers tsunami killing 100, some in California; 8 August, 1976: Tsunami, southwest Phillipines kills 8000; 17 July, 1998: 2200 die in Papua New Guinea.

Disaster diary ...

The Howard Government's mega-aid package was expected to run to at least $500 million and possibly more for longer-term reconstruction. It was be mostly targeted at Indonesia, spread over several years, and include grants, loans and help in kind.

This is on top of the $60 million already pledged for immediate aid. The package will be presented at Thursday's multi-nation summit in Djakarta, attended by Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. - Age , Melbourne, 3 January, 2005.

As I walked through the hundreds of sleeping bodies on the floors of the corridors, I was struck with the realisation that these people had nowhere to go, and would probably live here until they rebuilt everything, which in this part of the world is very little. - Survivor Ranee Sinniah, 23, from Castlemaine (Vic), Kerala ( India), 2 January, 2005.

All I'm trying to do is get the families reunited with the bodies so they can at least take them home. As tragic as it is, it's actually a blessing to find a body, a relief because there are thousands that will never find them. - Volunteer Jess Maulder, 20, a second-year medical student from Monash University, Krabi, Thailand, 2 January, 2005.

You were the first to phone. You were the first to have aircraft on the ground. That is a gesture I will never forget. - Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Djakarta ( Indonesia), 6 January, 2005. Howard told reporters: I'm like any other person. I'm human. I mean you're reduced to tears. Our home is this region and we are saying to the people of our nearest neighbour that we are here to help you in your hour of need.

Howard announced an aid package of $1 billion to be provided directly to Indonesia, and not through the U.N.

Stop blowing your trumpet, Australia. The Government aid to the victims of the tsunami will be financed from the billions in profit from the oil and gas we are stealing from the poor people of East Timor. - Letter to the Age from John Murray, Cheltenham (Vic).

Habib freed from Guantanamo without charge

It remains the strong view of the United States that, based on information available to it, Mr Habib had prior knowledge of the terrorist attacks on or before September 11, 2001. Mr Habib has acknowledged that he spent time in Afghanistan, and others there at the time claim he train with Al-Qaida. - Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, Sydney, 11 January, 2005.

• The U.S. announced it would release Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen held at the notorious U.S. detention centre in Cuba for three years. His Sydney-based lawyer, Stephen Hopper, said: We think it's about time. It vindicates what we have said all the time, that he is innocent and he has been unlawfully detained in Guantanamo since his arrest in Pakistan. Mr Habib has alleged he was tortured in the presence of Australian and American officials in Pakistan. He would be repatriated to Australia.

Australia 's other Guantanamo captive, David Hicks, remained at the detention centre. His father, Terry, said: I think it comes down to the fact that the Australian government, if they asked for David back, they (the US) would probably send him.

Tragedies in South Australian firestorm

It's been a shocking day. The fire was merciless in its rampage across the lower Eyre Peninsula. We still have a number of people who are unaccounted for and we are endeavouring to establish their whereabouts ... but at this stage, they're listed as missing. - SA police chief inspector Malcolm Schluter, Adelaide, 11 January, 2005.

• Grass and bushfires killed nine people, including two children. It was a most deadly outbreak of fire on a day of strong winds and temperatures of more than 40deg. The death toll was the greatest since the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 killed 75 people in Victoria and South Australia. SA Metropolitan Fire Service spokesman Bill Dwyer said: We know that there's in excess of 100,00 hectares that's been affected.

Repainted 'Bomber' Beazley zooms back for Labor

I'm still here. I'm still here. And I'll tell you something, mate. I never give up, I never give up. And I never will give up. I'm a man who's committed to the political process for life. I'm the same age now that John Howard was when he became leader of the opposition for the last time. And I'm of that age on becoming leader of the opposition for the last time. 'Cause next time, I'll be Prime Minister. - Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, Canberra, 28 January, 2005.

• Beazley was re-elected after Mark Latham resigned, citing ill-health.

2005: Prince Charles, heir to the British throne and thus future King of Australia, announces, 10 February, that he intends to marry Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles, his long-time mistress. Monarchist Prime Minister John Howard send his congratulations, but Australian Republican Movement claims a surge in popularity.

The shameful case of Cornelia Rau

There is a 'lock up first, ask questions later' culture running through the (Immigration) Department. The Immigration Department's zeal for detaining people, and then obstructing their path out of detention is deeply worrying. - Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, Canberra, 15 February, 2005.

• Cornelia Rau, a 38-year-old Australian citizen, former Qantas steward, diagnosed schizophrenic, ran away from a psychiatric clinic in Sydney and was taken into custody by police in Coen, on Cape York Peninsula. None of her friends knew of her misfortunes. She was mistaken for a German illegal immigrant and was eventually transferred to the Baxter detention centre in South Australia. Intervention by other detainees and her family led to her release. Treasurer Peter Costello, on 14 February, said: I'm sorry for what happened, but the starting point is (that) who's responsible is the Federal Government And that requires an apology. Prime Minister John Howard, of course, refused to apologise, citing legal reasons. But a poll conducted on behalf of the Age newspaper said 70 per cent of Australians believed she deserved an apology.

Kyoto takes effect ... without U.S. and Australia

Until such time as major polluters of the world, including the U.S. and China, are made part of the Kyoto regime it is next to useless, and, indeed, harmful for a country such as Australia to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol. - Prime Minister John Howard, House of Representatives, Canberra, 16 February, 2005.

• The Kyoto agreement, with 114 signatories, came into effect on this day. Member nations agreed to reduce their harmful greenhouse emissions. The U.S., the world's greatest polluter, and Australia, were the only two developed economies not to sign. Howard said Kyoto would disadvantage Australia economically.

Howard breaks a promise, sends more soldiers to Iraq

The Government believes that Iraq is very much at the tilting point and it's very important that the opportunity of democracy, not only in Iraq, but also in other parts of the Middle East, be seized and consolidated. - Prime Minister John Howard, Canberra, 22 February, 2005.

• Howard said 450 men would be sent to guard Japanese military engineers in the southern province of al-Muthanna. On 4 October, 2005, five days before the Federal Election, he had said: We're maintaining the general level of forces that we've had there. We don't have any plans for a dramatic increase.

Howard said the decision was made after a request by the Japanese when the Netherlands decided to withdraw its 1400 soldiers guarding the Japanese (who were not permitted to bear arms). But independent strategic analysts, including Hugh White, scoffed at the idea. They recalled Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies responding to a US inspired 'request' from South Vietnam (see 29 April, 1965), which resulted in a rapid escalation of Australian troops numbers at a time America seemed pressed for friends. Commentator Garry Woodward said in an article in the Melbourne Age on 25 February, 2005: The US is a demanding, even voracious, ally. In Vietnam, Australia started off with instructors, then a battalion (1965) of ground troops of about 1000. Within weeks of the battalion's arrival, the US asked for more. Ultimately, our ground commitment grew eightfold.

M UM'S the words when Aussie wins Oscar

I think my mum will be very pleased. - Actor Cate Blanchett, Hollywood (US), 28 February, 2005.

• Blanchett, 35, a former pupil at Methodist Ladies College, in Melbourne, had just won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator.

Australia's monarchical end foretold, sadly

I haven't felt like this since Charles was in Hong Kong in 1997 for the handover to China. It was pouring with rain, and there was this sense of sadness, of irreversible change. - Unnamed English journalist to Age journalist, Michael Shmith, Government House Ballroom, Perth, 1 March, 2005.

• Shmith was part of the media pack at a reception for Prince Charles, future monarch of Australia, who made a six-day tour of Australia. Shmith wrote: As this curious caravanserai of Prince, security men, aides-de-camp, women in purple frocks that once fitted, men with florid faces in thick-weave suits that were once fashionable ... I began to realise how poignant all this was ... Charles hasn't changed, but we have. And that is why the republic is now assured.

Desperation dredging of the Murray mouth

The Lower Murray is a basket case and dredging (of the mouth) is just a symptom of industry's overuse of water from the Murray. - Paul Sinclair, director of Environment Victoria's Healthy Rivers Campaign, 23 March, 2005.

Dr Wendy Craik, CEO of the Murray Darling Basin Commission said: We expect to dredge for up to fifty per cent of the time in the future ... The mouth was closed in 1981, and almost closed in 2002-03. For nearly two years, two dredges have cost $7 million a year. Records show that the four years to February were the driest on record for basin ... The current combined impacts of drought and (water diversion for agriculture result in extremely low flows in the lower murray. In the recent dry period, we have seen the lowest water allocations to irrigators on record. Flow on effects to local communities can be considerable.

On 12 April, SA Premier Mike Rann warned of a 'full-blown catastrophe' if funding shortfalls led to a delay in the restoration of the Murray's health.

None of us should underestimate the importance of this national project, and nor should we allow anyone top undermine the cooperation for the project we received last year.

Indonesian helicopter crash kills nine

The man at the door waved his hand. He did not survive. It was the people in the back that survived. The back of the helicopter was broken and we pulled them out through that. - Eyewitness Benatr Giawa, Nias Island off the Sumatran coast, 3 April, 2005.

• Nine young Australian service personnel, seven men and two women, died when a Sea King helicopter from HMAS Kanimbla crashed during a mercy mission. They were assisting survivors of an earthquake which followed the Boxing Day tsunami. Dale Grant of the US Geological Survey said: There's been seismic activity throughout this zone that has been going on for the past three months. This is an aftershock of the great quake which is something we see as the earth tries to settle itself.

2005: Four British-born Muslim suicide bombers simultaneously attack the London Underground and a bus, 7 July, killing 56 people, including Australian Sam Ly, and injuring hundreds.

PM Howard begins long winter of the workers' discontent
In the winter of 2005, Prime Minister John Howard commenced the realisation of his long-held dream by announcing the beginning of 'reforms' to Australia's industrial relations. It was an ambition he revealed as early as early as 31 August, 1983, when, as Deputy Opposition Leader, he told the National Press Club in Canberra it was time 'to turn Mr Justice Higgins on his head'.
He was referring to Justice Henry Bourne Higgins who had laid down the traditions of the arbitration system with his historic 'Harvester Judgement' in 1907.
In July, 2005, the ACTU began an $8 million television advertising campaign warning workers of the dangers in the forthcoming legislation, particularly in relation to the general abandonment of unfair dismissal agreements and in the perils of workers signing individual contracts. Howard's popularity slumped dramatically.
Howard began a $20 million taxpayer-funded advertising campaign and brought in newly-elected Liberal Party heavyweight Andrew Robb to head a taskforce promoting his amendments. On 15 July, Robb said:
What we are going to do is demonstrably good for Australia. We will not be bumped off course by a bunch of self-serving union officials. I think it's fair to say we've been surprised by the extent to which the unions have been prepared to put millions of dollars behind blatant lies in order to protect their fiefdom.
Many people thought the so-called reforms could lead to a cheaper, more acquiescent work-force, allowing manufacturers to compete with foreigners. Some political historians were keenly aware that when an earlier conservative leader, Prime Minister Stanley Bruce tried to abolish the Arbitration Commission, he was swept from office in 1929 and even lost his own seat of Flinders.
On 29 October, Howard's newly-appointed head of his 'Fair Pay' Commission, Ian Harper, said he would do 'God's will'. He told the Australian Christian Lobby Conference: I'm a Christian. I believe in God. and I believe that God's will is important to be done in the world. It means I hold very dear to the values of fairness, justice, honesty, integrity in the process that I'll use to be making a decision with my fellow commissioners. Howard's industrial laws finally passed the Senate, which the government now controlled, in December.

Pagans over the moon, says spooksman
There'll be several thousand Melbourne pagans celebrating this news under the full moon. Nobody will now be able to vilify witches and pagans, and then try to claim the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act doesn't apply to them. - Pagan spokesman Gavin Andrew, Melbourne, 21 July, 2005.
• The Victorian Government announced it would repeal parts of the 'Dickensian' Vagrancy Act which discriminated against the State's 2091 pagans.

Fresh outbreak of the 'Ned Kelly wars'
Ian Jones, Australia's premier Ned Kelly historian became involved in robust debate with some new players on the Kelly field in July-August, 2005. Jones accused the authors Jennifer Castles and her late father, Alex Castles, of 'persistent vilification' in their book, Ned Kelly's Last Days: Setting the Record Straight on the Death of an Outlaw.
On 30 July, Jennifer Castles said: My father did not have a 'psychotic hatred' of Ned Kelly. Alex's only interest was in getting to the truth. After seven years of working with Alex on this project, I can testify to the fact that he was neither 'pro' nor 'anti' Ned, much as I tried to get a commitment from him. He wanted to get past the myths and the hype, to return to the original sources and those events and characters that have been largely ignored by the popular histories, and let the evidence speak for itself. What my father did hate was when people used Ned to push their own agendas, making him out to be something he was not, refusing to accept that Ned was flesh and blood with good qualities and failings like any man. This, he felt was one of the greatest injustices of all.
Alex Castles was emeritus professor of law at Adelaide University. His daughter completed the book after his death in December, 2003.

Hills Hoists, Aussie icon, to be made in China
You can pick up Chinese clotheslines in places like Bunnings for about $90 now. And they're getting cheaper. We've got to make sure we stay in front. In the future, we will focus more on design and innovation with a larger proportion of our products sourced from lower cost environments. - Bob Hill-Ling, chairman of the Hills Group, Adelaide, 9 August, 2005.
• The Hills Hoist, an Adelaide innovation in 1945, followed another Australian icon, the Victa motor mower, to the factories of China. Most of the Adelaide workers were placed elsewhere in the Hills Group. The rotary clotheslines accounted for just $20 million of the company's $828 million revenues, which came largely from satellite television discs.

Great migratory birds lost without rime or reason
Seventeen albatrosses wearing electronic tracking devices were lost, all feared dead, somewhere in the Indian Ocean off the Australian coast.
There is quite debate about the fate of the albatrosses. They may have crashed into a fishing vessel. A boat strike is a major issue for seabirds. At night they sleep on the wing and can run into the side of boats or tankers and break their necks. - Craig Bohm, Australian Marine Conservation Society, Hobart, 13 August, 2005.
• The birds were on their annual migration from Tasmania to Africa. They were sponsored by several celebrity conservationists, including Nicholas Coleridge, a descendant of Samuel Coleridge (1772-1834), who wrote Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Experts feared the birds may have been victims of long-line fishing.

2005: A catastrophic earthquake on 8 October measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale kills an estimated 70,000 people in Pakistan, many in Kashmir.

PM Howard accused of crying wolf on terror ...
Changing that word would definitely stop any terrorists in their tracks. I could see the mullahs going out and finding Osama somewhere in his lair and saying, 'Stop! Stop! The Senate has changed 'the' to 'a'. - Democrats Senator Andrew Murray, Canberra, 3 November, 2005.
• John Howard interrupted debate to on the government's controversial industrial reform legislation by announcing he had received 'specific' intelligence of a terrorist threat somewhere in Australian. Counter-terrorist legislation was rushed through Parliament and public attention was diverted from his industrial legislation.

But no! Police grab terror suspects in Sydney, Melbourne!
We believe we've disrupted a large-scale operation which, had it been allowed to go through to fruition, we certainly believe would have been catastrophic. - NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney, Sydney, 8 November, 2005.
• Police arrested 17 men said to be planning a chemical attack on a railway station somewhere. They included Abu Bakr, a radical Muslim cleric who had praised Osama Bin Laden. Federal Treasurer Peter Costello said: This does really illustrate that the threat of terrorism is real, that we cannot be complacent about it. It's no consolation to wait until after an event and then try to pick up the pieces. Melbourne lawyer Rob Stary, who represented eight of the men, said they had been charged with being members of a banned organisation. He said: These had nothing to do with the laws passed last week.

Nguyen Tuong Van hanged in Singapore
Don't have anything to do with drugs. Don't use them, don't touch them, don't carry them, don't traffic in them and don't imagine for a moment - for a moment - that you can risk carrying drugs anywhere in Asia without suffering the most serious consequences. - Prime Minister John Howard, radio interview, Sydney, 2 December 2005.
• Nguyen, from Melbourne, who was arrested in 2002 carrying 400g of heroin in transit at Changi Airport, was executed at 6am at Changi Jail, despite huge protests from the Australian people.

Race riots among macho ferals in Sydney's south
These criminals have declared war on our society and we are not going to let them win. I won't allow Sydney's reputation as a tolerant, vibrant international city to be tarnished by these ratbags and criminals who want to engage in the sort of behaviour we've seen the the past 24 hours. - NSW Premier Morris Iemma, Sydney, 13 December 2005.
• Forty-eight hours of lawlessness involving alcohol-fuelled 'Anglo' youths and men and 'Lebs', those of 'Middle East appearance' broke out on Cronulla beach and, less violently, at Maroubra. About 20 men were arrested and several were treated for injuries.

The rightwing 'shock jock' Alan Jones was blamed for urging the 'Anglo' reaction to anti-social behaviour by the 'Lebs'. A spokesman for the Lebanese human right organisation, Cedarwatch, said: Deep in your hearts there are two matters that are hurting you today. One is 2GB and the moronic manner that gargling boofhead has been berating you and denigrating you. The airwaves are useless if they are used by people such as that. The other is newspapers such as The Australian. (Alan Jones is an announcer on radio 2GB).

The riots on Sydney's beaches - Anglo-Australians (Aussies) vs Lebanese (Lebs) - have repercussions far beyond a drink-fuelled punch-up on a sweltering summer weekend. They have revealed that the 'lucky country's' historic racism lingers on, like a sun cancer, just below the skin. - London-based Australian journalist Philip Knightley, The Independent (UK), 14 December 2005.

On 20 December, Fairfax newspapers published an ACNeilson poll showing that three-quarters of Australians believed their countrymen were racists. John Howard repeated an earlier assertion that Australians were not racist: There are some people in the Australian community who are racist, but I do not believe the average Australian is racist.

Media mogul Kerry Packer dies age 68
The Australian business tycoon Kerry Packer who has died age 68 following a long period of ill-health, loved gambling, where in the boardroom or casino. In doing so, he transformed a magazine and television business worth millions into a diversified enterprise worth billions, became his country's richest person and, in the late 1970s, gained a last reputation as the man who transformed cricket, making the one-day international an established feature of the sport. In the words of the former Australian captain and commentator Richie Benaud, 'It's because of what happened then, cricket is so strong now.' - Obituary, Guardian, London, 28 December, 2005.
• Packer died at home in Sydney on Boxing Day. The family accepted Prime Minister John Howard's offer of a taxpayer-funded State service.

West Papuan activists flee to Australia
The grounds for requesting asylum for these people are baseless. -Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Witayuda, Djakarta, 18 January, 2006.
• Forty-three asylum seekers from West Papua arrived at Mapoon on Cape York after escaping by outrigger canoe from the troubled province. In April, apparently to appease Indonesia, the Howard Government announced it would resume sending asylum-seekers who landed in Australia to off-shore centre for assessment.

Howard's 'ignorance' on wheat deals: a British view
There was no more steadfast ally of George Bush and Tony Blair in the invasion of Iraq than John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia. Mr Blair, in particular, was full of praise for his 'strength and leadership' and his willingness to get 'stuck in'. Just a month before the war began, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, informed Mr Howard that Britain was 'in exactly the same position as the Australian government in respect to Iraq'.
Not quite, we hope. Mr Howard has now become the first Australian Prime Minister in 23 years to be called to account before a judicial commission after it emerged that a company exporting wheat to Iraq under the UN's food-for-oil programme had been paying huge kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime right up to the start of the invasion. It is by no means inconceivable that some of this money paid for weapons that were then used to fight Australian troops.
The company, AWB (formerly known as the Australian Wheat Board), had exclusive rights for bulk wheat exports from Australia. It was Iraq's largest single suppliers under the oil-for-food programme and also, it now emerges, Saddam's largest supplier of bribes - to the tune of £125 million.
Although a series of 21 diplomatic cables dating back almost three years before the war had warned the Australian government that the AWB was suspected of paying bribes, Mr Howard denies that he received or read any of them. Even though he made a speech just a week before the war accusing Saddam Hussein of cynically exploiting the oil-for-food programme in order to buy weapons, it apparently never occurred to him that AWB might be involved. 'I always believed the best of that company,' he told the judicial commission. Mr Howard's Foreign Minister and his Trade Minister have also succumbed to ignorance and/or amnesia as far as the warning cables are concerned. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told the commission that he had 'no specific recollection' of the crucial messages, and that he gets so many cables he tends not to read them all unless 'I'm stuck on a plane and I've run out of reading material'.
Not surprisingly, this is stretching the tolerance of voters and has caused a sharp dip for Howard in the opinion polls. It may not bring down his government, but but it does make his principled stand against Saddam's dictatorship look distinctly grubby and will do little for the morale of Australian troops still risking their lives in Iraq. - Guardian, London, 15 April, 2006.
In November, 2006, an enquiry in Sydney recommended that criminal charges should be brought against 12 present or past AWB employees. It exonerated any Government Minister of wrong-doing.

'Eyes wide shut' on climate change
We've just had the hottest year on record. Atmospheric CO2 is at its highest for 650,000 years. The seas are rising, the ice melting. Most scientists believe we have underestimated the impact. Yet we do nothing. The clever country, if we ever were that, has succumbed to waste, greed and denial. This is just not laziness. It's officially required, as the ABC's Four Corners demonstrated in February, documenting government scientists to zip up on climate. - Elizabeth Farrelly, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July, 2006.

Yuk! Toowoomba townsfolk reject recycled drinking water
I think it's probably the psychological concern about drinking treated water. I mean, the reality is it happens in London, it happens in Washington DC, it happens in California.' - Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, Brisbane, 29 July, 2006.
• Beattie said the question of drinking water recycled from human sewage would be put to a vote of the people of southeast Queensland after 61 percent of Toowoomba residents voted no. It was seen as a litmus test for the whole of Australia.

Signs of life
He's already had a sponge bath. If the nurse who gave him a sponge bath was the same young one in the ward yesterday, the monitors would be beeping. - Teri Raudonikis, Sydney, 29 July, 2006.
• Teri's husband, the rugby league legend, Tommy, 56, was recovering in St Vincents Hospital from a heart bypass operation.

Inflation bends prices upwards in Banana Monarchy!
What happened was that people shifted to buy other fruit because there were no bananas available and not only did bananas go up but the other fruit went up as well. - Prime Minister John Howard, ABC Radio, Sydney, 30 July, 2006.
• Howard blamed a surge in the price of bananas after Cyclone Larry earlier in the year destroyed the crop in parts of north Queensland. Bananas cost more than $15 a dozen in some ships, pushing up the Consumer Price Index. Inflation sat on four percent and the Reserve Bank was expected to raise interest rates.

2006: Lebanon comes under increasing air attack as the Israelis seek to destroy Hezbollah rocket-launching sites. The Lebanese civilian death toll reached 750 after 30 children died in one attack on 30 July.

Australian households 'borrowed to the eyeballs'
We now have the second-highest interest rates in the industrialised world. We now have an Australian community borrowed to the eyeballs with very high level of household debt. Another interest rate will be crippling to a lot of people. - Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, Sydney, 1 August, 2006.
• Victorian Supreme Court figures showed that the number of Victorians defaulting on their their mortgages rose by 50 percent this year, from 1474 claims for repossession from 968. The figures came a day after Prime Minister John Howard would stand for his fifth term of office in 2007.
In NSW, the Sydney Morning Herald reported 'the pain will come from several other sources: beer prices rising about 10 cents a schooner, including taxes and other costs; cigarettes up by as much as 29 cents a packet; taxis up by 66 cents on the average seven-kilometre trip; and the median price of Sydney housing rising 1.2 percent in the same quarter'.
The Reserve (Central) Bank raised rates by 0.25 percentage points on 2 August, but Howard dismissed the possibility of a recession: I heard some very misguided talk this morning from somebody about recession. For anybody to be even uttering that in the present circumstances with the strength of the economy, they are being misguided to say the least.

Ace Melbourne pollster's potted Guide to Human Frailty
He's likeable, but he's weak. I find most likeable people are fairly weak. - Morgan Gallop poll proprietor and defeated candidate, Gary Morgan, Good Weekend magazine, 12 August, 2006.
• Morgan was discussing Melbourne's popular Chinese-Australian Lord Mayor, John So. Morgan's own poll showed So had a popularity rating of 66 percent.

Stem cell research breakthrough?
The research is quite an important breakthrough. In this instance a sperm and egg embryo has had one of its cells removed and that cell has been used to derive embryonic stem cells, then allowing the embryo to go and developed normally. That research that has been reported in America is not currently permitted in Australia under our legislation. - Statement by Professors Ian Kerridge and Ian Lockhart, Sydney, 24 August, 2006.
• Stem cell research had been a hot issue with opposition led by the Federal Health Minister, Tony Abbott, a conservative Catholic. Federal Parliament was expected to debate therapeutic cloning, a technique that does not involved fertilised embryos in September.

Embracing Aussie values
Australian politicians have made it clear that Muslims aren't welcome unless they speak English, treat women as equals and drink until they spew on weekends - sorry, I mean embrace Australian values. - Columnist Emma Tom, Australian, Sydney, 4 October, 2006.
• There had been much talk on both sides of politics of the righteousness of 'Australian values' ... whatever that means.

Ships to ferry water across from Tasmania?
There has always been difficulty trading with Tasmania because of the separation of the island state, but of course if they can find a way to be part of that trading I think that is a good thing. - Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, Melbourne, 11 October, 2006.
• Bracks was commenting on a proposal to ship water from Tasmania to the drought-stricken mainland. The Tasmanian Government was discussing this new export opportunity with Solar Sailors, a company chaired by former Labour Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
In Melbourne, the city's last six fountains were switched off on 2 November after the driest October since 1914.

Alarm grows over climate change
The only things that will ever replace the current dirty power stations are cleaner uses of uses of fossil fuel or nuclear power. You will never replace them with solar or wind. - Prime Minioster John Howard, Canberra, 30 October, 2006.
• Howard confirmed his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol despite a British Governmenty-commissioned report showing a $9 trillion economic catastrophe if nothing were done to stop global warming. In the British report, Sir Nicholas Stern, former World Bank chief economist said: Some countries are currently unwilling to participate in intergovernmental emissions trading, including the USA and Australia, and there are real difficulties in enforcing quota allocations between governments under international law.
Greenpeace spokesman Danny Kennedy said: The Stern report make it clear that action on climate change must happen now and must happen fast. The Federal Government must stop its nuclear scheming and dabbling in so-called clean coal technologies. In Melbourne, a meteorologist, Matt Pearce, said the city had had its driest October - nine millimetres compared with an average 67mm since 1914, but the results were due to an El Nino weather pattern.
In London, the Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, wrote: Climate change is not just a moral question: it is the moral question of the 21st century. There is one position even more morally culpable than denial . That is to accept that it's happening and that its results will be catastrophic, but to fail to take the measures needed to prevent it.

Academic lists 'Great Mistakes' of Australian History'
Brisbane academic Martin Crotty published a book this week (early November) on our worst errors. He lists them as:

  1. Loss of life in World War One.
  2. Aboriginal 'Stolen Generations'.
  3. Introduction of cane toads and foxes.
  4. Misuse of pastoral land.
  5. Inflexibiliy of the Constitution.
  6. World War Two Singapore strategy.
  7. Denial of Aboriginal rights.
  8. Burke and Wills' expedition.
  9. Sydney Cahill Expressway.
  10. Wartime internment of enemy aliens.
  11. 1849 closure of the settlement at Port Essington.
  12. Australian Immigration Minister Arthur Calwell's unsuccessful bid to deport non-European war refugees after World War Two.
  13. Gough Whitlam's misreading of Sir John Kerr's intention to dismiss his government in 1975.

Patrick White's private papers saved for National Library
The late Nobel-prize winning author Patrick White left orders for his unpublished manuscripts and private papers to be destroyed after his death. But his agent, Barbara Mobbs, kept them and passed them to the National Library early in November. Curator Marie-Louise Ayres said: I don't think he did it out of spite [that he wished to have them destroyed]. He was a deeply serious man, deeply serious about his writing. I think he did truly believe that his final works were what he wanted to judged on, and fair enough.

In the U.S., Democrats gain control of the Senate and the House of Representatives on 9 November in the mid-term elections in a result seen as a repudiation of George Bush's Iraq policy.

Military coup in Fiji, but Australia won't intervene
I think what has happened is a tragic setback for democracy in Fiji. The Prime Minister (Laisenia Qarase) has behaved with great courage; I wish I could say the same about the President of Fiji (Josefa Iloilo), who does not appear to have upheld the constitution of the country. - Prime Minister John Howard, Canberra, 5 December, 2006.
• Fiji's military chief, Frank Bainimarama, seized control and held the Prime Minister under house arrest. Prime Minister Howard declined a request from his Fijian counterpart to send Australian troops. It was Fiji's fourth military coup in 20 years. On 8 December, an urgent meeting suspended Fiji's membership of the Commonwealth.

Kevin Rudd begins to unveil his vision for Australia
It's time to rehabilitate the word compassion - New Labor Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd, Federal Parliament, Canberra, 5 December, 2006.
• Rudd, 49, was speaking the day after defeating incumbent Kim Beazley in a caucus ballot. Julia Gillard, 45, was elected deputy. Opinion polls taken at this time indicated that the Rudd-Gillard team would beat the Coalition in an election. According to Matthew Franklin, writing in The Australian: on 6 December: The new Opposition Leader will build his campaign to oust the Prime Minister in next year's Federal Election on a pact with Labor Premiers to end what he calls that "blame game" on health and education.

Human embryo cloning ban lifted
This work's being done in Sweden, England, the United States, in Japan ... I didn't see how we could accept any treatment derived from this in the future if we didn't allow the research here in Australia - Kay Patterson, sponsor of legislation allowing human cell cloning, House of Representatives, Canberra, 6 December, 2006.
• The legislation passed both houses of parliament after members were allowed a conscience vote. Prime Minister John Howard and Labor leader Kevin Rudd voted against the Bill.

Year ends ... with wildly fluctuating views on climate
Australia's climate future was either good or bad, depending on where you got your news on 30 December, 2006:
Journalist Richard Macey, in the Sydney Morning Herald: Satellites have been used to map all of Australia's fresh water for the first time, and the picture is bleak. In just three years, the continent suffered a net loss of 46 cubic kilometres of fresh water - enough to fill Sydney Harbour more than 90 times.
Historian Geoffrey Blainey, writing in The Australian: Our collective memory has forgotten how dry was the period during and after the long Federation drought. Counting the deserts as well as the dairy lands, Australia received less rainfall during the first half of the 20th century than has fallen in the most recent-half century.
An informal online poll in the SMH indicated the Australians were equally divided over Prime Minister John Howard's latest push for nuclear power stations as part of the solution to global warming. Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd said: Mr Howard's plan for 25 nuclear reactors is too expensive, too dangerous, too slow when it comes to the impact of greenhouse emissions.

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein hanged about 0600 local time in Baghdad, 30 December, 2006, after an Iraqi court sentenced him to death on 5 November for the killing of 148 Shias in the town of Dujail, Iraq, in 1982. He was ousted by a US-lead invasion in April, 2003. His execution happened the day the number of U.S. service personnel killed in Iraq reached 2996.

Howard attacks U.S. Democrat Presidential candidate
If I were running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March, 2008, and be praying as many times as possible for a victory not only for (Barack) Obama, but also for the Democrats. - Prime Minister John Howard, Sydney, 11 February, 2007.
• Howard attacked Obama's policy to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. In reply, Obama said: I think it's flattering that one of George Bush's allies on the other side of the world started attacking me the day after I announced (his candidature). I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is that Mr Howard has deployed 1400, so if he is to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he called up an other 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq.
Howard's remarks were widely reported in the American media and concerns were expressed in Australia that Howard's pro-Republican remarks would affect Australia's relations with a future U.S. Democratic administration. An online poll in the Fairfax papers showed that more than 80 per cent of respondents agreed that he 'had put his foot in it'. Howard's statement came the same weekend an AC Neilson poll showed his Coalition government trailed Kevin Rudd's Labor badly.
Former Prime Minister Paul Keating, defeated by Howard in 1996, said: He's become like a desiccated old coconut, hasn't he, and he stayed too long. He had a chance to get out, give it to Costello, but he wants to hang on. Prime Ministers have got Araldite (glue) on their pants, most of them, and you either put the sword through them or you let the public do it.
Four days after Howard's extraordinary attack on Obama, Rudd said a staged withdrawal from Iraq would best serve the U.S.'s strategic interests. In a separate article in the Australian magazine, The Diplomat, Rudd promised that a Labor government would have a more independent approach to the U.S. alliance. Labor does not believe in an alliance which mandates automatic compliance with every aspect of U.S. foreign policy. It is an agreement between two nations, underpinned by a common set of values and shared way of looking at the world.

Britain begins Iraq troops pull-out, Australia soldiers on
Britain announced, on 21 February, 2007, the withdrawal of the first 1600 of its 7100 soldiers in Iraq, leaving open the possibility of removing all by the end of 2008. Denmark said it would also withdraw all its troops, bringing to 18 the number of countries which have abandoned their Iraq commitment. A total of 132 British servicemen died in Iraq.
But Prime Minister John Howard remained a steadfast American ally, saying: A reduction (of British forces) has been in the wind and the reason I understand Mr Blair will give is that conditions have stabilised in Basra, so that there can be this decision taken.
Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd said: If the British have a withdrawal strategy from Iraq, the Australian people ask themselves a pretty basic question: Whay doesn't Australia now have a withdrawal strategy from Iraq?
Howard's statement came on the eve of a visit to Sydney by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, a 'Uber Hawk' and enthusiastic neo-conservative proponent of the foreign involvement in Iraq. His visit, apparently, was to thank Howard for his loyalty. Cheney's bodyguard of U.S. Secret Service officers was given special permission to carry firearms in Sydney at the request of the Federal Goverrnment.
In his one speech in Australia, Cheney told a select audience that Islamic terrorists aimed to establish 'a caliphate covering a regions from Spain, across North Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, all the way to Indonesia - and it wouldn't stop there.' His audience seemed unimpressed.
In another development, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson drew derision for likening the Australian presence in Iraq to the desperate defence against the Japanese on the Kokoda Track and at Milne Bay in New Guinea in 1942! He criticised Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd for failing to appreciate the strategic gravity of the Iraq situation. Rudd's position in the opinion polls continued to improve.
(In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair faced a major problem when the Queen's grandson, Prince Harry, threatened to resign from the army unless he was allowed to see frontline action in Iraq with his Blues and Royals Regiment. It was feared he would become a magnet for terrorists, turning the operation into an even greater farce. The Defence Ministry said he could go, as long as he was accompanied by his private secretary, a former SAS officer.)
• And in yet another development, a high-profile former ABC and Bulletin journalist, Maxine McKew, announced her Labor candidacy for the Prime Minister's Sydney seat of Bennelong in the forthcoming House of Representatives election. On 3 March, it was disclosed that anonymous death threats against Ms McKew had been made to the National Security Hotline.

Japan and Australia sign a worrying security pact
The purpose of this is to express a common desire of Japan and Australia to work ever closer together to contribute to security in the region. - Prime Minister John Howard, Tokyo, 14 March, 2007.
• The pact designed to enhance military co-operation was greeted with some caution in Australia, in view of the possibility that it could be seen as isolating China. Japan also has a pact with the U.S. However, the Australian's Greg Sheridan, a Howard enthusiast, wrote: Australia should warmly endorse the idea of expanding the trilateral security dialogue into a quadrilateral group including India.
Some commentators cautioned against alienating China, particularly if the U.S. found some pretext to start a war over Taiwan.
Some Australians were also concerned over the unresolved question of Japanese military brutalities during World War 11. Historian Professor Rikki Kersten, writing in the Sunday Age on 18 March, said: The security declaration signed last week between Australia and Japan was truly historic. In forging a defence agreement, it was as if the last taboo between two wartime enemies had gone ... Memory of war defines contemporary Japanese society in a fundamental way. If we are to make this new relationship with Japan work, we must understand how war memory moves and constrains the politics and culture of our ally.
Kirsten said Australians may not be aware that many Japanese were active in attempting to have the wrongs committed in China and elsewhere in Asia in the 1930s-40s recognised in Japan.
Howard further clarified his views on foreign alliances on 21 March when he made a speech pleading with Australians to have patience over the war in Iraq and warned that U.S. plans to restore security must be given time to work.

Hicks faces U.S. kangaroo court, declines interpreter (!)
Today, he had dark, sunken eyes and he looked very tired. - Australian lawyer David McLeod, Guanatanamo Bay, Cuba, 27 March, 2007.
• Australian suspect David Hicks, held without charge in Cuba by the U.S. military for five years after his capture in Afghanistan, finally faced a military tribunal charged with supporting terrorism. The hearing began with one of Hicks' American lawyers storming from the court and another being disqualified from the case.
Hicks declined the offer of an interpreter, but informed the judge he might have difficulty understanding him because he spoke he spoke 'Australian English'. Millions of Australians, concerned for Hicks' welfare, were following the case.
Later, at a reconvened hearing, Hicks pleaded guilty to the terrorism agreement, clearing the way for a plea bargain and his return to Australia. The U.S. chief prosecutor, Colonel Morris Davis said later: Someone asked me a long time ago if it was possible that he would be home before the end of the year, and if I was a betting man I'd say the odds were pretty good.
On 28 March, the Melbourne Age commented: Supporters of the United States' incarceration of alleged terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay and the judicial process the U.S. established there will see the Hicks guilty plea as evidence of culpability. On the surface it is. If someone pleads guilty, therefore they did it. That conclusion may be sustainable in a recognised court of law in the U.S., Australia or Britain. But the military procedures at Guantanamo Bay have been anything but ordinary. Indeed, the legal foundations on which they were built have been condemned worldwide - although not by the Australian Government - and have been challenged successfully through the court system.
On 31 March, 2007, the military tribunal sentenced Hicks to seven years jail, all but nine months suspended, and ordered that he be returned to Australia by 29 May to serve the time in an Australian jail. As part of his plea bargain deal, Hicks agreed to give evidence against other terrors suspects and withdraw allegations he had been abused while in custody.
A U.S. civil rights group, the Centre for Constitutional Rights, accused Washington of a cover-up. Executive Director Vincent Warren said: The government is attempting to silence criticism and keep the facts of the torture and abuse of detainees from the public.
Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said: This is more about saving Mr Howard's political hide than about justice for Hicks. It is clearly a fix arranged between Mr Howard and the Bush administration to shut up Mt Hicks until after the (Australian Federal) election in November.

BIG, horny male toad caught en flagrante in Darwin
The biggest toads are usually female, but this one was a rampant male. He is huge. I would hate to meet his big sister. - Frogwatch leader Graeme Sawyer, Darwin, 27 March, 2007.
• A massive cane toad 20cm long was caught on the job during a 'community toad bust' at suburban Lee Creek, one of the foul pests who have migrated from Queensland and placed the timid gecko lizard on the endangered list. The toad would be keep alive for study and display purposes, Mr Sawyer said.

Aussies catch sharks from balconies, Poms told
A species of deadly shark has become so numerous in Australia that locals can catch them by dangling a line from apartment balconies and back gardens. Bull sharks are so prevalent in the creeks and canals of the Gold Coast in Queensland that 'high-rise' hunters are snaring three or four a night as they watch television, play pool or drink beer. - Nick Squires, London Daily Telegraph correspondent, Sydney, 24 April, 2007.

And eat pussy casserole ... yum!
An Australian has come up with a novel solution to the millions of feral cats roaming the Outback: eat them, says an English report ...Wild cats - the escaped descendants of domestic cats - kill millions of small native animals each year. Now the tables have turned and they find themselves on the menu. A bush tucker competition held at the weekend in Alice Springs, in the Red Centre of the continent, featured something new: wild cat casserole. 'It's a white meat,' said Kay Kessing, who came up with the recipe. 'They vary a lot. The first cat I cooked didn't have a strong flavour. I put a lot of ingredients with it and made a beautiful stew. This cat that I've cooked is slightly larger. It has a slightly stronger flavour, but not as strong as rabbit.' (In some Outback towns, regular cat-shooting evenings are held. Extra points are allocated to shooters who bag pussies wearing collars).

Genuine emergency ... or 'Black Children Overboard'?
Prime minister John Howard announced a dramatic move on 22 June, 2007 to fight aboriginal alcoholism and child abuse in the Northern Territory. Most people welcomed his intervention, but many saw it as a tricky ploy to bolster his election chances later in the year.
The apparent vote-gleaning terrorism investigations into the Gold Coast-based Indian doctor, Mohamed Haneef, in July caused mounting community concern, particularly when Haneef was found to have had no involvement in some bungled British terror attacks.
Howard made other vote-grabbing interventions in State matters, including the Murray-Darling rivers drought crisis, Tasmania's Mersey Hospital finances and a Queensland initiative to merge local councils. But the opinion polls remained consistently in Labor's favour.
On 12 November, at the Liberal Party campaign launch in Brisbane, Howard pledged a staggering $9.3 billion in promises to try to win back disenchanted voters. But many saw this as 'middle-class welfare', bribes aimed at both marginal electorate swinging voters ('Howard's Battlers') and the wealthier private school-oriented class.
Political historian Dr Ross McMullin expressed the view of Howard's despised 'elites' when he wrote in the Age next day: John Howard, the leader who said in opposition he would make a priority of restoring trust in politicians, has in office placed himself in a class of his own for deceitfulness in modern Australian politics. Since Federation, in fact, only Billy Hughes who was prime minister from 1915 to 1923 could be ranked with Howard for public untruthfulness (short-lived prime minister Billy McMahon was regarded as a notorious liar, but it seems this was more evident in private than in public).

2007: Australia's estimated population at 20 June, 2007 was 21,017,200. Immigration accounted for 56 percent of Australia's growth, while 272,900 births, minus 134,800 deaths, made up 44 percent of the increase, according to the Bureau of Census and Statistics.

' ... one of the family rang ... they had found Uncle Jack's bones'
It puts a finish to the story. It knocked the wind out of my sails a little bit when one of the family rang me to say they had found Uncle Jack's bones. - Soldier's descendant Mollie Millis, Brisbane, 3 September, 2007.
Mollie's Uncle Jack was Private John Hunter, who died in the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917. His and the bones of Sgt George Calder, from Victoria, were unearthed after 90 years, identified with DNA (including Mollie's) and buried at Belgium's Buttes Cemetery on 4 October, 2007.

Security guards wouldn't stomach Louie's humour
The APEC conference of Pacific leaders was held in Sydney amid high-security in September, 2007 ... When a joke can get you into trouble: according to Anne Jovi, a caterer's van was stopped at Circular Quay on Monday morning, and much hoo-ha followed as photos were taken and many questions asked. To hear Anne tell it, 'driver Louie Velovski was stopped because the vehicle featured a sign which read, Weapons of Mass Digestion'. - Sydney Morning Herald, 7 September, 2007.
The conference was notable for Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd addressing the Chinese delegation in fluent Mandarin, much to the chagrin of Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, PM John Howard assuring President George Bush: Our commitment to Iraq remains (reminiscent of PM Harold Holt's 'All the way with LBJ' remark on 30 June, 1966 [see full quotation under 'lbj']), and The Chaser television satirists breaching the wall of security posing as the Canadian delegation.

Frequent Flyer v. Excess Baggage
An OECD report shows Australia to be the fifth most obese nation, after the US, Mexico, Britain and Greece ...I fly Sydney to Perth - five hours - and being totally disadvantaged by some huge person next to me literally flopping over into my seat. Why should I pay the same as them?" - Nutritionist Dr John Tickell, Sydney, 12 November, 2007.
Dr Tickell believed airlines should charge obese people more. He said it was important to start highlighting Australia's obesity crisis. I think we're a bit too nice, we're a bit too precious about minority groups. I think the majority group must have something to say too, he added.
But the chief executive of the Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity, Dr Tim Gill, said penalty charges should not be imposed on overweight passengers. It's not fair to single out those people who have a problem, which is already impacting greatly on their life, and make them feel like pariahs, he said.

Kate's stolen revolver turns up at auction
A 32-calibre revolver thought to have been taken from the drunken Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick during a struggle with the Kelly family in 1878 fetched $78,000 at auction in Melbourne on 13 November...
There's no value for something like this. It's simply what it gets on the day, said auctioneer Paul Sumner.
The revolver, found concealed in the former house of Kate Kelly, Ned's sister, was found in Forbes. NSW. It bore the mark of the Royal Irish Constabulary, to which Fitzpatrick originally belonged, and Kate's initials, K.K. Later, some people contested the origins of the revolver. Fitzpatrick's had been returned, they said. So where did Kate Kelly get her gun? Was it part of the proceeds of Ned's murders of police at Stringybark Creek ...?

Did Prime Minister Harold Holt take his own life?
Harold Holt disappeared in the ocean off Cheviot Beach, Portsea (Vic) on 17 December, 1967, and former Country Party leader Doug Anthony says there is a growing belief that he killed himself.
Anthony found Holt so deeply depressed -- over intrigue and treachery in government ranks -- that he just didn't care,said an article in the Bulletin magazine (14 November) ahead of the 40th anniversary of Holt's disappearance.
The article says Holt's briefcase, left in his car at Cheviot Beach, contained four highly confidential pages that had just been released (November, 2007) by the National Archives.They reveal treachery by his friend and treasurer, Billy McMahon, along with a threat by Holt to cut relations with Japan, which had just taken over from Britain as our biggest trading partner, the article says.
Journalist Evan Whitton claimed the husband of one of Holt's mistresses, Portsea neighbour Marjorie Gillespie (on the beach at the time), was rumoured to be going to divorce his wife and name Holt. That's why, the PM acted so recklessly, diving into the treacherous tidal waters that morning without ever looking back, the article said (see keywords 'Holt drowns' for 1967 reports).
But Holt's Army Minister at the time, former PM Malcolm Fraser, dismissed the speculation, saying Holt had discussed ambitious future plans for Cabinet with him.

Election sensation! Murdoch's Telegraph goes for Kev!
On Sunday, 18 November, six days before the Federal Election, Rupert Murdoch's populist Sydney Sunday Telegraph declared for Labor's Kevin Rudd. The paper, home to some of Australia's most heartfelt Howard-huggers, including rightwing columnist Piers Ackerman, said in an editorial ...THIS time next week, Kevin Rudd could be Prime Minister of Australia. Will Australia have made the right choice?
Mr Rudd has displayed in his 12 months as opposition leader an ability to lead, even though he has stumbled occasionally along the way.
At times he performed poorly, such as when he was put under pressure by the Anzac fake dawn affair.
But on the whole, he has dusted himself off and stayed true to his message.
Mr Rudd, whose life-long ambition is to be Prime Minister, has committed himself to improving life for middle Australia.
Australians like him and accept, despite his burning ambition, that he has their interests at heart.
The Sunday Telegraph believes he now stands on the precipice of the Prime Ministership because of the Coalition's WorkChoices legislation.
Prime Minister John Howard's badly promoted industrial-relations policy is loathed by the very people who have kept Mr Howard in power for 11 years: the so-called Howard's battlers.
Those Howard battlers have defecteden masse to form "Rudd's regiment''. They turned on the Coalition because WorkChoices threatened the prosperity the Coalition gave them in the first place.
Under Mr Howard, they upgraded their homes and stuffed them full of booty such as new cars, flat-screen televisions, computers, games rooms and designer kitchens with European appliances.
Then the crunch came: rising interest rates and grocery prices on top of WorkChoices. The IR laws hovered above these families as they watched the balance tip further in favour of the boss at work.
The overwhelming perception was they could lose their jobs at any time, leading to the loss of everything a decade of prosperity handed them.
At the same time Mr Rudd arrived as a safe, and trustworthy, alternative.
He looked like Mr Howard and acted like him. Bar WorkChoices, climate change and education reform, he copied his policies.
"Me-too''. Importantly, he was not Kim Beazley or Mark Latham or Simon Crean.
It is a tribute to John Howard that Mr Rudd has performed as well as he has.
Indeed, the Opposition Leader has learned from the master.
Mr Howard does not deserve to be tossed out of office- but politics is a brutal business and he has made mistakes.
The admission he will stand down in 18 months has rendered him a lame duck.
Voters are correct to think a vote for John Howard is a vote for Peter Costello.
Eleven years of government has also taken the spark out of the PM's appeal to the electorate.
It has stopped listening.
Over the past five weeks the Coalition has campaigned poorly as it wandered off message, handing out bribes to special interest groups. But Mr Howard has been a great prime minister and the country should thank him for the work he has done. He is owed our gratitude.
After several false starts, he had a shot at the top job and became Australia's second-longest-serving prime minister, winning four straight elections.
The introduction of the GST, his handling of the crisis in East Timor, the crackdown on guns and the (belated) intervention in indigenous communities have all made significant contributions to our way of life.
But now there is a mood for change.
The Sunday Telegraph accepts readers believe it is finally time to give Labor a go.
But Mr Rudd needs to guarantee our nation several things.
He must stare down a Labor cabinet inhabited by many with union and factional allegiances.
Labor is restless after four terms in opposition and, with no real factional allegiance or support himself, Mr Rudd has to impose himself on the party.
He must stand before them and tell them it has been he who delivered government and it will be he who drives the agenda. Not factions. Not unions.
If they do not want to play it his way then they can challenge him and toss him out. If not, then stay out of his way as he delivers his promised agenda.
Mr Rudd must surround himself with a loyal team that will help him deliver on his promises.
During 2007, under the grinding weight of opinion polls in favour of the new boy, Mr Howard has faltered with endless giveaways to make us ever more dependent on government, which is already far too big.
The Sunday Telegraph advocates a vote for Labor, provided Mr Rudd gives these assurances.

The Melbourne Sunday Herald-Sun, another tabloid member of the Murdoch stable, took a different view ... indicating the the proprietor was not enforcing a common line:
IT IS time. Not to change governments, but to resist temptation. It is time to acknowledge that the Coalition is the safe bet in a political contest in which the new, despite its superficial allure, offers less than the familiar.
On election eve, 23 November, the Telegraph's sister broadsheet, The Australian, came out for Labor (the first time since Gough Whitlam in 1972), the Melbourne tabloid Herald-Sun went for Howard, thel Fairfax broadsheet, the Sydney Morning Herald endorsed Labor, and its stablemate, the Melbourne Age, sat on the fence and had a bob each-way.
The Age said, pompously, our fundamental responsibility is to subject whichever party forms government to continuous independant (their spelling) scrutiny and measure words against actions.
But the Age's political correspondent, Michelle Grattan, on 23 November, wrote Howard would have to wear much of the blame in the event of a coalition loss ...
In the campaign, the Coalition made more, and more damaging, mistakes than Labor. The Opposition had Peter Garrett's big mouth; the Government had the leak of Malcolm Turnbull's unheeded advice to sign Kyoto, and Tony Abbott's multiple gaffes. Anyone would have thought Howard, after the criticism of his excessive spending in the 2004 "launch", would have avoided a repeat. But he spent even more this launch, received a worse beating, and left himself wide open to Rudd cleverly under-spending him. Local Liberals' attempted fit-up of Labor with a fake leaflet in Lindsay, which said Labor wanted the Bali bombers forgiven, was the cap on this blighted campaign.

Stylish architectural review
... But what you probably wouldn't do is spot the real front door, tucked away behind a half-pregnant curve like a navel beneath an overhanging muffin-top. Even the large-lettered up-front ENTRANCE sign mightn't do it, being silver on lavatorial white - Except from a review by Elizabeth Farrelly, in the Sydney Morning Herald, 21 November, 2007, of the opening of the new Ian Thorpe Aquatic Central, in inner city Ultimo.
For the uninitiated, an 'overhanging muffin top' refers to the belt of wobbling flab exposed above a Sydney socialite's low-cut trousers. The quality of this journalism was matched in the same part of town on 21 December, 1806, under the heading 'Exclusive Outing Reported by Media Sycophant'.

Criminally unfunny? Libs try seriously grubby election eve dirt
A Liberal Party 'dirt unit' was caught delivering fake Labor campaign leaflets in the marginal NSW seat on Lindsay, centred on Parramatta, just 'three sleeps' before the election ...
The Australian Labor Party has accused senior Liberal Party members of being involved in the distribution of fake flyers which attempted to link the ALP with support for the Bali bombers. Fake flyers supposedly from the non-existent 'Islamic Australia Foundation', were distributed in the marginal Sydney seat of Lindsay.
The fake pamphlet says 'we gratefully acknowledge Labor's support to forgive our Muslim brothers who have been unjustly sentenced to death for the Bali bombings' and calls for more mosques to built. One of the men allegedly caught distributing the bogus flyers is Gary Clark, husband of the seat's retiring Liberal MP Jackie Kelly. Another is a member of the Liberal state executive, Jeff Egan. But the New South Wales director of the Liberal Party, Graeme Jaeschke, says it was all done without the authorisation or the knowledge of the party -
ABC Radio News, 22 November, 2007.
The New Zealand-born Ms Kelly (described by columnist Michelle Grattan, as an 'airhead'), whose orthodontist husband, Gary Clark, was caught in the act, was elected in John Howard's electoral triumph in 1996, served as a Minister, and was said to be the subject of his fondest admiration. Mr Howard denied any knowledge of the illegal electoral activity.
Senior Liberals said Greg Chijoff, husband of their candidate, Karen Chijoff, would be expelled from the party over the scandal. Mr Chijoff was said to be a major rightwing powerbroker. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police.
And a reader's opinion in the Letters Page of the Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November ... The events in Lindsay speak to the organisational culture of the Liberal Party and how it views Australians, preying on their greatest fears and worst qualities. No amount of economic prosperity justifies support of this kind of thing, and let's call a spade a spade here: it is flat-out, white-sheet-on-their-head racist. - Michael Davis, Balmain. In the Federal Election on 24 November, Lindsay fell to Labor with a swing of nearly 10 percent.

PM loses his seat in Kevin Rudd's smashing election victory!
By 9pm on Saturday, 24 November, it was clear that Labor had achieved a sweeping victory ...
The early numbers spoke of momentous swings. At Kevin Rudd's election night party in Suncorp Stadium, this cavernous home of rugby league in Brisbane's inner west, the party faithful had barely begun to congregate when the electoral landscape began to rumble. An earthquake had struck.
Some Labor hardheads refused to believe their ears. But the characteristically conservative ALP frontbencher Stephen Smith stunned onlookers when he threw caution to the wind at 6.15pm.
"I think we're going to win this election campaign," he told the ABC.
- Reporter Misha Schubert, Melbourne Age correspondent, Brisbane, 24 November, 2007.
Labor was back in office after nearly 12 years of John Howard's conservative Liberal-National Party coalition government. Howard lost his own Sydney seat, Bennelong (only the second Prime Minister to do so), to Labor's Maxine McKew. (see 14 October, 1929).
Glenn Milne, writing next day in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph, said: Australian voters last night fundamentally re-wrote national political history. From this day forth no government can rely on the successful management of the economy to guarantee its re-election. The message from election 2007 is that long-serving governments must demonstrate the will to renew both their ideas and their leadership to survive in the modern electoral era. In this context, this Coalition defeat is a terrible indictment of John Howard's judgment and a vindication of Labor's collective courage in backing Kevin Rudd.

Confusion and despair in Liberal ranks
Former Labor minister and a man regarded as one of the Party's 'National Treasures', Dr Barry Jones, said the Howard Government would be remembered for its vindictive behaviour towards anyone who questioned its agenda. A Rudd government would take a different approach and would not seek to publicly smear its critics. He said: I think the worst feature, the worst legacy of the Howard years has been an ongoing meanness - picking out enemies, an attitude of taking no prisoners and a kind of quite ruthless mendacity in pursuing the policies of the government. And if you take a dissenting view, you're either marginalised, trivialised or trashed. I don't think we'll have that kind of approach under Rudd.
Amid confusion and despair in the losing Liberal camp the day after the election, Mr Howard's nominated successor, ex-Treasurer Peter Costello said he would not stand for the position, while the wealthy Sydney lawyer, Malcolm Turnbull (an avowed republican), said he would nominate.
The tabloid Melbourne Herald-Sun, Australia's biggest-selling daily (but, effortlessly, not the nation's intellectual arbiter) mourned in its editorial on 26 November: A great Prime Minister deserved better than to go out losing his own seat.
Britain's left-leaning Guardian said: The defeated Liberal leader appealed to the meaner side of the national character which was not generous: an Australia that defied the world on climate change, and sought refuge from its own history on race and the rights of its indigenous people. At its worst the Howard government represented a distasteful reaction to modernity, and its repeated exploitation of this to achieve electoral success offered an unhealthy example to the political right around the world. That is why Mr Howard's defeat has a significance that runs beyond Australia. The politics of progress beat the politics of retreat.
Rudd announced Australia would sign the Kyoto Protocol immediately (ratified, in fact, on 3 December), and would draft a national apology for past wrongs to the Aboriginal people, both moves doggedly resisted by Howard. The Rudd Labor Government was sworn in by the Governor-General, Major-General Michael Jeffrey on 3 December.

The death of asbestos hero Bernie Banton, aged 61
Campaigner Bernie Banton, who helped win a $4billion payout to asbestos victims, died in his sleep at home early on 27 November. Bernie was praised by Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd in the Labor leader's election victory speech on 24 November:
Mate, you are not going to be forgotten in this place. When so many were prepared to cast you to one side, Bernie Banton, you have been a beacon and clarion call for what is decent and necessary in life and I salute you.' He lauded the Australian trade union movement for the help it had given him. Family relayed the praise to Bernie, who had been in Sydney's Concord Hospital receiving palliative care for the terminal asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.
Five days before he died, he won a confidential payout as compensation for his terminal mesothelioma, after he was awarded $800,000 compensation for asbestosis in 2000. The case was settled early to finalise it in his lifetime, give him some closure and provide a leg-up to other asbestos victims claiming similar exemplary damages. Bernie Banton had been employed by James Hardie Industries. Bernie Banton received a State Funeral.

Artworks hidden from losers after 24 November 'Ruddslide'
Bureaucrats in Canberra's Parliament House made sure that valuable artworks didn't disappear when losing Coalition MPs cleaned out their offices, the BBC reported ...
Hillary Penfold, Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services, said many of those offices were decorated with some of the 5000 works of art from the National Collection. She added: We do make sure we take out all our artworks, all the Parliament House's art collection that are in people's offices, before too much disappears.
Meanwhile, on 29 November, the thumped Liberals inexplicably elected the former Defence Minister, Dr Brendan Nelson, as their new Leader over the widely-anticipated Malcolm Turnbull.
The former Education Minister, West Australian Julie Bishop, became Deputy Leader. The Liberal leadership deal meant Dr Nelson was beholden to a block of rightwing WA MPs who made him promise he would not apologise to the Aborigines, and would oppose any Labor changes to the Liberals' WorkChoices legislation. A seriously divided Liberal party was anticipated.

There'll be no 'sorry' from new Lib leader
We are very proud of what our forebears did at Gallipoli and other campaigns. That doesn't mean that we own them. Similarly, we feel a sense of shame in some ways of what was done in the past where Aboriginal people were removed from what were often appalling conditions. We, in my view, we have no responsibility to apologise or take ownership for what was done by earlier generations. - New Liberal Party Leader, Dr Brendan Nelson, ABC 7.30 Report, 29 November, 2007.
It didn't matter. The new Labor Government intended to apologise, anyway, on behalf of the nation. Nelson's stance placed him in the Australian minority.

Australia's 'back on the map' in climate change struggle
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd moved to reverse the previous government's refusal to ratify Kyoto just hours after being sworn in on 3 December. The new Climate Change Minister, Senator Penny Wong, said: Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol puts Australia back on the map.
Australia will now become a full member of the Kyoto Protocol early next year.
During the United Nations Climate Change (UNCC) conference in Bali, delegates broke into spontaneous applause when news of Australia's decision was announced.
Senator Wong said the decision set Australia up for a leadership role at the conference:
The world now knows that this nation is prepared to do its bit and be part of the global solution to climate change. This gives us an impetus to go into the Bali conference to set that leadership role.
The purpose of the Bali conference is to set out the road map for what happens post the Kyoto period.
We want to ensure that what we agree in Bali gives Australia and the world the best chance to moving towards a solution on climate change.

Mr Rudd, Senator Wong, Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Treasurer Wayne Swan were preparing to go to the Bali summit the following week.

Julia Gillard become our first Acting PM ...
On 11 December, 2007, while PM Kevin Rudd was away at the Bali conference, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard became the nation's first female Acting PM ...
I'll just be trying to make sure that I'm minding the store while Kevin's away. It's kind of an exciting day but it's also business as usual, I will be in a lot of meetings with a lot of paper work. I will be working from Parliament House today, making sure that we are implementing all of our policies and plans. We have obviously been working particularly hard on our education plan.
Ms Gillard, 46, suggested that many Australian women would acknowledge how far women have come, but said there were still battles. She had been criticised for being unmarried and childless.
I think that there have been some unusual things that have happened to me along the way. I think women are still making their way into politics - obviously a lot's changed for women but there's still a few things to change still - that there's been more attention on private life questions for me than perhaps male politicians. I think that one of the problems for women is that historically there's been no right answer - if you don't have kids, then people say you can't understand everyone else's life experience, and if you do have kids, then people say who's looking after the kids while you're doing all of this. I think what we've got to recognise is that whether it's men or whether it's women going into politics it brings a lifestyle strain.

And Penny Wong takes Australia forward on global warming
Dramatic agreement was reached at the UN 190-nation conference on climate change in Bali when the United States finally agreed to consensus on 15 December ...
We know that building a global consensus on this issue of climate change will not be easy ... but Australia is here for the long haul. We said that we would play a constructive role now and in the future and that is precisely what Australia has done, Senator Penny Wong, Australia's Minister for Climate Change said. Senator Wong played a pivotal role in bringing about agreement and assuring Australia of a voice in future negotiations on carbon emissions.
The Age newspaper summarised the outcomes of the Bali Conference as:
The Bali talks agreed to launch negotiations on a new global warming pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Bali was essentially "talks about talks".
The deal, after two weeks of negotiations, is one step towards slowing global warming.
The Bali meeting approved a "road map" for talks to adopt a new treaty at a meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.
Kyoto binds all industrialised countries except the US to cut greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012. Developing nations are exempt.
The new negotiations will seek to bind all countries to emission curbs from 2013.

PM Kevin Rudd says 'Sorry' for great wrongs against aborigines
On 12 February, 2008, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stood in Federal Parliament and made an unconditional apology to Australia's First People for abuses they had endured since European settlement 220 years and 17 days earlier ...
Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing culture in human history.
We reflect on their past mistreatment.
We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.
The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.
For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.
We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.
A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.
A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.
A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.
A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

Opposition in Napoleonic disarray, apparently shot to bits
Clad in filthy shreds of once proud uniforms, gun carriages mired immovably in mud, cannon balls spent and horses dying, racked by pneumonia and tuberculosis, reduced to foraging for scraps in a frozen wasteland, the Federal Opposition retreats through the bitter snows of defeat. - Columnist Mike Carlton, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 February, 2008.
The former conservative (Liberal-Country Party coalition) government, under new leader, Dr Brendan Nelson, was finding Opposition difficult. They quickly agreed to abandon several initiatives sacred to the previous government and supported Labor in the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the Apology to indigenous Australians, the abolition of the Pacific Solution for refugees and the scrapping of WorkChoices.
Carlton continued: Six months ago Kyoto was anathema. Work Choices and Australian Workplace Agreements were all that stood between us and the anarchy of the union thugs. The Pacific solution would secure our borders. An apology to indigenous Australians would be merely the contemptible gesture politics of the chardonnay-sippers.
All gone now. Stone dead. Brendan Nelson and his shattered band have surrendered the lot with barely a whimper. The final humiliation for yesterday's colonels and captains came in the hand-wringing confessions of their political impotence on Four Corners (ed. a television current affairs programme) last Monday. Only Lord Downer lunches on regardless, as carefree as a chateau general.
The cause of all this horror, the Hermit of Wollstonecraft (ed. John Howard), has taken himself off on what will no doubt be a lucrative global speaking tour. First stop Nigeria, of all places. The way things have been going lately, that might bomb, too.

Several Ministers from the previous government, now on the back benches (including ex-Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, the subject of Carlton's First World War reference), retire after some months, a development welcomed by several of their colleagues.
Dr Nelson was replaced in September as Opposition Leader by Malcolm Turnbull, a wealthy Sydney Lawyer and former merchant banker.

Wrecks of Sydney, Kormoran found after 66 years
The Australian cruiser, HMAS Sydney, and the German raider, Kormoran, which sank each other in 1941, were found in deep water off the Western Australian coast early in March. The ABC reported on 19 March ...
The wrecks of HMAS Sydney and the German raider Kormoran will be protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act. Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett will issue an interim protection declaration today after the dramatic discovery of the two ships.
The Sydney and the Kormoran were discovered 10 nautical miles apart off Western Australia's mid-west coast after a two-and-a-half week search. Until now, the only trace of the Sydney has been a life raft and jacket, now housed in the National War Memorial, and the remains of a sailor washed up on Christmas Island. The search team is now almost certain the man was from the Sydney. Finding Sydney Foundation spokesman Ted Graham says it was important the wreck sites be left undisturbed. 'They contain the remains of many people (Sydney had a crew of 645) and our view is firmly that they should be left alone,' he said.

Our first female G-G ('slender granny' etc), woman Anglican bishop ('slim blonde')
I grew up in a little bush town (Ilfracombe) in Queensland of 200 people, and what this day says to Australian women and to Australian girls is that you can do anything, you can be anything. It makes my heart sing to see women in so many diverse roles across our country in Australia. - Australia's first woman Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, Brisbane, 13 April, 2008.
Ms Bryce, 65, was to become the 25th governor-general on 5 September on the retirement of Major General Michael Jeffery She was a prominent feminist and campaigner for women's rights, and lawyer specialising in anti-discrimination and human rights law before becoming the governor of Queensland in 2003. Ms Bryce, married for 43 years to the designer and architect Michael Bryce, had two daughters, three sons and five grandchildren.
Her appointment as the next governor-general was announced days after it was confirmed that Australia would get its first female Anglican bishop, Kay Goldsworthy, 51, married with twin sons and the archdeacon at St George's Cathedral in Perth.

Professors' plea on Australia's booming fatties
A group of medical professors wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd about having the national obesity crisis included on the agenda for the 2020 Summit, held over the weekend of 19-20 April ...
In the 120 days since the Government took office, Australians have gained 2.4 million kilos between them. Along with this weight gain has come disease and disability, as well as personal and societal trauma - Age, Melbourne, 18 April, 2008.

Unease over the Canberra leg of the Olympic Torch Relay
Many Australian commentators expressed unease at the manner in which a large Chinese contingent, mainly students, intimidated a much smaller group of pro-Tibet supporters during the Canberra leg of the Olympic Torch Relay on 24 April.
A letter of instruction, circulated among he Chinese students, and translated by the website, said: Discipline: obey orders, act collectively. Prevent all actions that can be detrimental to the image of China, including words, comments and provocative behaviour, or any use of force. When confronting provocation, you must be aware that the media will exaggerate even your most minor actions ... Maintain a smiling face to onlookers, the media and other peaceful demonstrators. Demonstrate the good behaviour of the Chinese.
And one Australian woman observer's view: We must thank the Chinese embassy for organising Thursday's cultural exchange experience in Canberra. For those of us who missed out on the experience of the Red Guards in the 1960s, it was enlightening to experience exactly how they operated; the blind subservience to the demands of the state, the moronic chanting, the jingoistic militarism and the violence, - Age reader Jane Salmon, Lindfield, NSW, 26 April.
The Olympic torch moved on to Japan where four people were injured in scuffles between Chinese and Tibetan factions. Meanwhile, China initiated talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama to discuss the unrest.

'Up close and personal ...'
... The scene in the Australian trenches, packed with wounded or dying, was unexampled in history of the AIF. In one night, and the hours preceding it, the 5th Division had lost 5533 men, of whom 400 were prisoners ... C.E.W. Bean, Anzacs to Amiens.
The Battle of Fromelles, France, from 19-21 July, 1916 was the first fought by Australians on the Western Front and 5,533 Australian soldiers were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. The operation, a total failure, was described by the Australian War Memorial as 'the worst 24 hours in Australia's entire history'.
In May, 2008, Glasgow University archeologists (from the university's specialist Centre for Battlefield Archeology), accompanied by Australian officials and descendants of some of the dead soldiers, uncovered a grave believed to contain the remains of British and Australian soldiers ... It's going to be very emotional, I think, by the time we get into pit five tomorrow ... There are up to 400 men in there. I am used to battle sites, sites of conflict, but this is going to get really up close and personal for us as we work down in there over the next few weeks ... Archeologist Dr Tony Pollard, Fromelles (France) 28 May, 2008.
The Age commented: The battle represented the first time that colonial troops had seen action on the Western Front and is seen as an example of how the Empire was prepared to sacrifice its colonial troops with little thought about the consequences.

Australia and world economic gloom
A world economic crisis brought on largely by the loose lending habits of Wall Street bankers, swept the world in the southern winter/autumn of 2008. Australia escaped relatively unscathed because of prudent money regulation ...
On 7 October, the Reserve Bank of Australia slashed interest rates by one percentage point because of the severe international financial conditions, the bigger-than-expected reduction is the largest in more than a decade, and taking the cash rate to 6 per cent.
The Australian share market rebounded from earlier losses after the Reserve Bank's surprise decision.The ASX 200 closed 1.7 per cent higher at 4,619, after diving more than 3 per cent in early trade.The All Ordinaries index gained 53 points to 4,598.About 4:30pm AEDT on 7 October, the Australian dollar was trading at 72.33 US cents. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, welcomed the RBA's rates decision and said the Australian economy has responded well to the global financial crisis, and mortgage holders deserved some relief.
'Given the pressures borrowers face there should be absolute maximum pass-through to working families and small business and the reason is we want to make sure that those who are currently borrowers get relief but at the same time maintaining the stability of Australia's banking system.'
On 10 October, Australian shares had their worst day since the crash of 1987, losing more than eight percent as mounting recession fears sent equity markets tumbling around the world. The benchmark S&P/ASX-200 stock index recorded its biggest one-day loss in its 16-year history, dragging the value of the main share index below $1 trillion. The broader All Ordinaries recorded its worst day since the October 1987 crash.
On 12 October, Rudd announced that the Federal Government would guarantee all bank, building society and credit union deposits, a total liability of $700 million.

Official: the worst drought on record
On 11 October, 2008, Asa Wahlquist, The Australian's rural correspondent reported: Bureau of Meteorology head of climate analysis David Jones said the 12-year drought that was devastating southwest Western Australia, southeast South Australia, Victoria and northern Tasmania was 'very severe and without historical precedent'.Drought has gripped the Murray-Darling Basin since late 2001. It has worsened this year, as rainfall totals for the past three years have set record lows in many regions, including many critical to the Murray River.Dr Jones said the rainfall figures were similar to the severe drought that lasted from 1939 to 1945, and the Federation drought, which ran from 1895 to 1903.
'Those three droughts, in terms of rainfall, are comparable,' he said. 'But this drought is a lot hotter than those two previous droughts. And those two droughts finished, whereas this one is continuing.'
He said temperatures were about 1C hotter than the previous droughts.
'That is substantially hotter, and that one degree is a global warming signal,' he said.
Dr Jones said the data suggested that for every degree of warming, there was a 15 per cent decline in run-off, or river flow, in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Inflows into the Murray system have been critically low, with new records continuing to be set.
Inflows in the two years to the end of August were just half the previous record low, set in 1943 to 1945. Storages in the Murray Darling are now at 28 per cent.
The Australian Alps, in north-eastern Victoria and southern NSW, have recorded their lowest three-year rainfall on record. This area is critical to the Murray River. It covers less than 1.5 per cent of the catchment, but on average provides 39 per cent of the water flowing down the Murray River.
Dr Jones said the rainfall deficiencies for Victoria were the largest on record, with the state effectively missing out on two years of rainfall over the past 12 years.
'Across Victoria as a whole, if you add up how much rainfall has been missed in 12 years, it is now up around 1300mm or 4ft of rainfall -- a very, very large rainfall deficit,' he said. The most dramatic impact has been on Melbourne, which has just recorded its driest September on record.
'If one looks at the history of data we have for Melbourne, we have rainfall records going 150 years,' Dr Jones said. 'We simply have not seen anything like what we currently have, not even close.'
He said similar drying patterns had been observed in the Mediterranean, and the southwest US. 'There are currently some very severe droughts in those regions, and also substantial rainfall declines,' he said.

21 January, 2009: Democrat Barack Obama inaugurated 44th President of the United States

Victoria counts its losses
On 5 May, 2009, The Age reported: The worst of Victoria's catastrophic bushfire season is over, authorities say. Rain across the state has brought an unofficial end to a ruthless summer.
Many residents forced to flee are now safe to return home. About 1000 interstate firefighters are also going home. So, too, are 121 from New Zealand, Canada and the US. One hundred and fifty NSW police went home yesterday, while 50 from South Australia arrived to reinforce local numbers.
Exhausted CFA volunteers are headed home, while professional firefighters will continue the battle to tame four monster blazes that have burned since Black Saturday, but have calmed since receiving about 20 millimetres of rain.
CFA deputy chief fire officer Steve Warrington said the rain had not extinguished the fires, but he was confident that containment lines would not be tested again. All the lines held in gale-force winds of up to 125 km/h on Tuesday night, except a two-hectare outbreak in Bunyip State Park.
"Mother nature threw everything at Victoria (on Tuesday night)," Mr Warrington said. "We had winds, we had storms, we had rain, we had fires.
"I think Victorians should be proud of the emergency services but also be proud of themselves and the way we've held up through what's been fairly horrific circumstances." More than 100,000 households lost power on Tuesday night and yesterday morning. There were mass blackouts in Werribee, Melbourne's outer east and between Colac and Apollo Bay.
About 2500 were still without electricity yesterday afternoon. The State Emergency Service and MFB received 820 calls for help.
Emergency Services Commissioner Bruce Esplin said the period of extreme weather was finished.
"It's an opportunity for communities of Victoria to start their grieving, start their process of rebuilding without the ever-present threat of fire that's been there in the last month," he said. "It's been a deeply distressing period. Particularly, the events of Black Saturday have left a scar on all of us that will never go away."
Victoria Police forensic teams who withdrew from Marysville, Narbethong, Wandong, Kilmore and Kinglake because of bad weather resumed their efforts yesterday to identify human remains.
Restrictions on access to the fire-devastated areas, ordered by the State Coroner, are expected to remain for up to three weeks. Jennifer Coate made the order after several sets of remains were found on February 20 in areas that had already been searched.
Deputy Police Commissioner Kieran Walshe yesterday met Kinglake residents frustrated that they had not been allowed to return because the town was being treated as a crime scene.

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