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More Anniversaries: Three Elections, A Floating Dollar And The Redfern Speech

Twenty-nine-years ago today, the Hawke government floated the dollar.

It was a move little understood at the time but now regarded as timely and crucial to Australia’s economic development. Whilst former prime ministers Hawke and Keating still differ over who had most influence on the decision, no-one questions its significance.

The decision was announced late on Friday December 9. On the following Monday, the lead article in the Sydney Morning Herald accurately pinpointed the introduction of foreign banks as another important decision in the pipeline:


Some other anniversaries:

  • December 9, 1961: The Menzies government faced its sixth election since taking office in 1949 and came within an ace of losing. It survived by one seat and led to a marvellous fib from the Liberal member for Moreton, Jim Killen. He claimed that when victory in his seat secured Menzies’s re-election, the Prime Minister told him, “Killen, you’re magnificent”. It wasn’t true. In his memoirs, Killen relates the more prosaic truth:
  • December 10, 1949: The Menzies coalition government swept to power, defeating Ben Chifley’s Labor government. It was the beginning of 23 years of continuous coalition government.
  • December 10, 1955: Menzies secured his fourth straight election victory, defeating Dr. H.V. Evatt’s ALP in an early election called to capitalise on the split in the ALP over communist influence in the trade unions. This was the election that saw the birth of the Democratic Labor Party as an important third force in policis.
  • December 10, 1977: Malcolm Fraser’s coalition government was returned to office for a second term in a massive landslide only marginally smaller than its historic 1975 Dismissal victory. Fraser’s election made December 10 the single most popular date for general elections at the federal level.
  • December 10, 1992: Prime Minister Paul Keating delivered his famous Redfern speech on indigenous issues. Watch, listen and read Keating’s speech here.
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Malcolm Farnsworth
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