Don Dunstan, Former South Australian Premier, Dies At 72

The former South Australian Premier, Don Dunstan, died on February 6. Dunstan headed Labor governments in South Australia during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.

Regarded by the Labor Party as one of its modern heroes, Dunstan’s death will be mourned by the labour movement generally.

Dunstan became Attorney-General in 1965, following the defeat of the long-serving government of Sir Thomas Playford. He was also in charge of Aboriginal Affairs and Social Welfare.

Dunstan became Premier on May 30, 1967, after Frank Walsh was persuaded to retire. Dunstan beat Des Corcoran in a Caucus ballot by 14-11. His Labor government was defeated at the polls in 1968, but Dunstan became Premier again in 1970 following the defeat of the Steele Hall government.

His government was re-elected in 1973 and again at an early election in July 1975, an election held amidst the turmoil of the last months of the Federal Labor Government led by Gough Whitlam. Dunstan subsequently led his party to victory again in 1977 before retiring on February 15, 1979, due to ill health. He was then 52 years of age.

Dunstan led a government that pioneered Aboriginal Land Rights and social reforms such as the decriminalisation of homosexuality. In recent years, he had been a vocal critic of economic rationalism.

Dunstan died from throat cancer.


Calwell Memorial Lecture: South Australian Premier Don Dunstan Announces Land Rights For The Pitjantjatjara People

The South Australian Labor Premier, Don Dunstan, used a speech in Melbourne on July 24, 1978 to announce that his government would legislate for land rights for the Pitjantjatjara people.

Dunstan delivered the A.A. Calwell Memorial Lecture, named in honour of Arthur Calwell, leader of the ALP from 1960 to 1967. The lecture was hosted by the Monash University ALP Supporters Club and delivered in the Robert Blackwood Hall.

Legislation was introduced after this speech to recognise the traditional land rights of the Pitjantjatjara people. The government lost office before the Bill was passed. The Anungu elders negotiated with the Liberal government of David Tonkin and legislation was finally passed in 1981. South Australia was the first state to recognise land rights with a direct communal title. [Read more…]


Tom Uren And Don Dunstan Address ALP Election Rally At Monash University

ALP Students at Monash University held an election rally for Labor candidates in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs on December 1, 1977.

The rally was addressed by the South Australian Premier, Don Dunstan, and the former Minister for Urban and Regional Development in the Whitlam government, Tom Uren.

The event was organised by the Monash ALP Club and held at the Robert Blackwood Hall. It was hosted by the new state Leader of the Opposition, Frank Wilkes. The ALP candidate for Bruce, Peter Burke, and the candidate for Hotham, Tony Ross, also addressed the rally. [Read more…]