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Igniting Industry and Development

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1970 to 2004

Alumina - Kwinana Alumina Refinery.  Battye Library 003873d
Alumina - Kwinana Alumina Refinery. Battye Library 003873d.

Economic and social gains made in the 60s were consolidated in the era of the 70s. This was a 'decade of doing' and social reform.

The decade began with a bi-partisan move that reduced the minimum voting age to 18. A year later, John Tonkin was elected Premier, ending Sir David Brand's record 12-year term. Sir Charles Court then became Premier in 1974.

During the 70s, industrial development continued to burgeon, including further development of WA's industrial heart along the Kwinana strip, iron ore mining in the Pilbara, and progress in the Ord River scheme.

In May 1972, WA set up the nation's first office of the Ombudsman. The State also led the way with the introduction of legislation to set up the Aboriginal Lands Trust and Environmental Protection Council.

In 1975, WA's Constitution was amended to allow clergy to stand for Parliament. In the same year colour television arrived in WA.

By 1976, WA was exporting iron ore worth $772 million, compared to a combined total of $605 million for wool and wheat. Japan was our major wool buyer and virtually the exclusive market for our iron ore. The following year, the controversial whaling industry came to an end in Australia after an inquiry led to the closure of the Albany whaling station in 1977.

In 1979, the State marked its 150th anniversary. The Prince of Wales was invited to join the WAY '79 celebrations and his tour was then the longest and most extensive ever made to the State by a member of the Royal family.

1970s The era of Women's Liberation. Courtesy of The West Australian
1970s The era of Women's Liberation. Courtesy of The West Australian.

175th TRIVIA

Captain James Stirling said 'that of all the quarters of the world he had seen, Western Australia possessed the greatest natural attraction'.