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Big Business Booms and Busts

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Australia II won the America's Cup.  Courtesy Battye Library
Australia II won the America's Cup. Courtesy Battye Library.

The 80s was a time of boom and bust. The first seven years of the decade saw an enormous surge in share prices, property prices and company profits. But it was not to last. In October 1987, West Australians woke to the news that the Wall Street stock market had crashed in what became known as Black Tuesday. Australian share market losses amounted to $55 billion.

The early years saw the announcement that Perth would get a new international airport, while land was earmarked near Curtin University to set up a technology park similar to California's Silicon Valley. In 1982, the $13.5 million Mt Henry Bridge was completed and it became WA's longest at 660m.

In 1983, Australia II won the coveted America's Cup, the world's oldest sporting trophy.

The following year, 54 per cent of West Australians voted against daylight saving in a referendum, and Advance Australia Fair became the national anthem, replacing God Save the Queen.

Offshore Gas 1985 Courtesy Battye Library 004399d
Offshore Gas 1985 Courtesy Battye Library 004399d.

In the same year, the Dampier to Perth gas 1500km pipeline began supplying homes and industry in the State's south-west. Five years later, the North West Shelf liquefied natural gas project was launched.

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The official launch of the North West Shelf gas project was held at the Sheraton Hotel in 1989. Close to $1 million was spent entertaining guests.

In 1985, WA played its constitutional part in moves to sever the nation's legal links with the United Kingdom. A new constitutional agreement was developed after years of consultation involving the Australian and British governments, the States and The Queen.

In March 1986, The Queen signed away the last vestiges of British legal powers over Australia at a meeting of the Executive Council in Canberra. The proclamation of the Australia Acts ended the right of appeals from Australian courts to the Privy Council, and the powers of the British Parliament to legislate for the Australian States. The High Court became the highest court in Australia.

The proclamation signed 'Elizabeth R, Her Majesty, The Queen of Australia' was countersigned simply 'Bob Hawke', by the Prime Minister.

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Perth's new $75 million international airport terminal opened in 1986.

The international sporting world was again focused on the State in 1987 when Fremantle played host to the America's Cup challenge, a battle that was won by the Americans and witnessed by more than 200,000 spectators.