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.