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16 April 1968 The first Dunstan Labor Government

 16 April 1968   The first Dunstan Labor Government

Don Dunstan's first term as Premier of South Australia came to an end on 16 April 1968 when he lost the election to the Liberals under Steele Hall. This only came about after a delay of six weeks from the election in March. Both parties won 19 seats and it was left to the one Independent, Tom Stott, who, as Speaker, cast the deciding vote in favour of the Liberals at the first sitting of Parliament.

However, Dunstan's period in opposition only lasted two years as the Labor Party was re-elected to Government on 2 June 1970 ushering in what has come to be known as the Dunstan Decade. This only ended when the Premier was forced to resign through ill health on 15 February 1979.

In their periods of office the Labor Government was responsible for many legislative changes in SA. Before he assumed the leadership of the party in the late 1960s Dunstan, as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, introduced several pieces of legislation which gave Aborigines control over their land and other rights previously denied them. Some controversial reforms included the extension of liquor trading hours, the Land Commission, the establishment of a statutory authority to plan Monarto as a satellite city and the MATS plan.

Other controversial issues in this period included the Dartmouth/ Chowilla Dam fiasco, the Vietnam moratorium marches, and the sacking of Police Commissioner Harold Salisbury. It was a lively period after the conservative Playford era.

Andrew Parkin, 'Transition, Innovation, Consolidation, Readjustment:
The Political History of South Australia since 1965', Dean Jaensch (ed), The Flinders History of South Australia Political History, 1986, pp. 293-320.

Tags: Dunstan Don, Labor government