Wednesday, December 20, 2017

December 20 On This Day in Australian History

1811 - Gov Lachlan Macquarie began humming a Rod Stewart number when he sailed from Port Dalrymple in the Lady Nelson for Port Stephens.

1813 -A public meeting was held in Sydney to form a society to protect Pacific Island natives.

1825 - The new Legislative Council of New South Wales was sworn in.

1826 - Convicts sailing for the tropic climes of Norfolk Island threw a hissy fit, took control of the ship Wellington and set off for NZ....where they were nabbed by the whaling ship Sisters.

1836 - The Executive Council of NSW cleared Major Thomas Mitchell of responsibility after his expedition killed a large number of Aboriginal people on the Murray River.

1836 - Journal entry for Mary Thomas -
This day William, then a boy of fifteen, completed an oven which he made of iron hoops fixed in the ground in a half-circle and covered with a thick coating of clay, afterwards burned. It answered exceedingly well and we not only baked bread in it but pies and puddings, and occasionally fresh meat, when we could get it, but that was seldom. This oven was the first constructed in the colony, and remained in its primitive state, as I was told, long after we quitted Glenelg.

1842 - The brand spanking new Melbourne Council took over from the Market Commissioners who'd been running the shooting match till then....but strangely there was no demand that Swanston Street be turned over to penny-farthing bone-shaker dare-devil racers.

1848 - Constitutional Association formed in Sydney to effect electoral and land reforms.

1859 - Manhood suffrage and secret ballot granted in Qld.

1870 - Victoria became the first state to allow women to own personal property (wages and dividends etc.) independent of their husbands. It followed the passing of an Act of Parliament in Britain earlier in the year.

1879 - Flinders St. to Spencer St. was connected via a road level tramway in consequence of Victoria Railway's purchase of Melbourne & Hobsons Bay United Railway Co's lines radiating from Flinders St.

1889 - Despite the plan of the Queensland government to outlaw the importation of Pacific Island labour after 1890, a Royal Commission reported on this day the labour was essential. It stated that ‘if all coloured labour be withdrawn from the plantations the extinction of the sugar industry must speedily follow’.

1890 - The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Act was assented to in Victoria.

1895 - Law was enacted in South Australia to limit the use of opium by Aboriginal people for medicinal purposes.

1905 - Widespread protests over new restrictive immigration laws.

1907 - Women given the right to vote in Western Australia.

1910 -  Today saw the opening of the branch railway line from Tolga to Malanda (QLD).

1916 - Britain bought the whole of the 1916-17 Australian wool clip at a fixed price.

1917 - A pearl of some repute, called Star of the West, was tripped over in Broome, Westralia.

1917 – The second plebiscite on the issue of military conscription was held; it was defeated.

1917 - Peace Army riots The second conscription referendum failed. The ‘No’ majority was more than double that of the first referendum in 1916. Campaigns were bitterly fought throughout Australia. Women’s Peace Army protestors were arrested in Melbourne. In Warwick, Queensland, an egg thrown at Prime Minister WM Hughes led to his setting up a Commonwealth police force.

1918 - The first Farmers Union was elected.

1921 - British kiddies who were doing without began popping over to Oz under the Barnardo's Home scheme.

1924 - The Kerang to Murrabit Railway line (Vic) opened.

1924 - Longest Sitting Day of the Victorian Parliament concluded at 12.16pm after sitting for 48 hours and 59 minutes. The session commenced two days earlier on Thursday, 18 December 1924 at 11.17am.

1926 - The City Circle Railway line (NSW) was opened.

1928 – Hubert Wilkins made the first flight over Antarctica in his Lockheed Vega San Francisco.

1939 - Australia's first short wave radio broadcast service, "Australia Calling", commenced from Sydney.The station moved to Melbourne the following year.

1947 - Heard and McDonald Islands in Antarctica were transferred from British to Australian administration.

1960 - Lester McDougall had his left thigh lacerated by a 1 metre long Grey Nurse Shark when he dived into water to free his fishing line which had become snagged on a rock at College’s Crossing, 54 miles above mouth of the Brisbane River, QLD.

1961 – Earle Page, the eleventh Prime Minister of Australia (for 20 days) popped his clogs.

1967 - Caretaker PM John McEwen sparked a crisis in the federal Liberal-Country Party coalition when he publicly repudiated Treasurer William McMahon. McEwen bluntly stated that neither he nor his any of Country Party colleagues were prepared to serve under McMahon as PM, although he refused to disclose his reasons, saying only that McMahon knew what they were. McEwen's opposition crippled McMahon's chances of succeeding Holt as Prime Minister, and opened the way for a faction of Victorian Liberals (including future PM Malcolm Fraser) to elevate Sen. John Gorton to the leadership early in the new year.

1967 - US President Lyndon B. Johnson attended a memorial service for Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt in Melbourne.

1969 - The new swimming centre in the parklands in North Adelaide was opened by the Premier, Steele Hall, on this day.

1969 - Mining ended at State coal mines, at Wonthaggi (Vic).

1972 - William McMahon resigns as leader of the Liberal Party. Billy Mackie Snedden is elected to the position.

1972 - Opening of new M.R.E.B. Administration building on the corner of Wood and Gordon Streets, Mackay.

1986 - The Herald, Melbourne, published its final Saturday issue (it was Australia’s last Saturday evening paper).

1991 – Paul Keating became the twenty-fourth Prime Minister of Australia.

2001 - ATSIC said Essendon AFL coach Kevin Sheedy should be commended for his forward-thinking proposal to expand the draft system and allow AFL clubs to recruit an additional two Indigenous players as rookies. Mr Sheedy’s proposal would allow Indigenous players recruited from remote areas more time to adjust to the pressures and demands of a professional lifestyle and big city living.

2001 - Native title, education and law and justice issues were among the priority areas of need identified at the first historic meeting of a new body representing the heads of the major Western Australian Government departments delivering services to Aboriginal people and State ATSIC leaders on this day. WA Indigenous Affairs Minister Alan Carpenter, who chaired the Indigenous Affairs Advisory Committee (IAAC), said the group had the power to improve the lives of thousands of Aboriginal people in the State.

2007 - The Council of Australian Governments (COAG), which includes the leaders of federal, state and territory, and local governments, committed to 'closing the gap' in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians. Importantly, COAG agreed to be accountable for reaching this goal within a specific timeframe. The strategy initiated at this time by COAG has become known as Closing the Gap.

2009 - A male spearfisher  was lucky to receive only lacerations to his hand and forearm from a 3 metre Bull shark at Lamont Reef, QLD.

2011 - When the founder of the Australian chain of Taco Bill restaurants Bill Chilcote died, a lively fiesta was held in his honour for family and friends as the Taco Bill's Mexican Cantina at South Melbourne on this day.

2012 - In the Australasian Chess Masters 2012 tournament the youngest participant 11-year old Anton Smirnov from Australia became the youngest ever winner of this traditional event.

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