Achievements of the Holt/Gorton/McMahon Era (1966-1972)

Tuesday, 01 August 2006

Prime Minister Robert Menzies retired on the 20th January 1966. For the next six years the Liberal/National Government was led by Prime Ministers Harold Holt, John Gorton and William McMahon.

In this period, the advances of the Menzies period were consolidated and the Liberal Governments moved ahead in the areas of traditional Liberal concern – health, education and welfare.

The period is significant for a number of reasons, including foreign policy and defence initiatives, commitment to the aboriginal people and involvement with the rapidly changing world of technology, energy conservation and the environment.

Initiatives of the period:

  • over half the existing homes in Australia were constructed since 1949
  • urban and regional development programmes begun
  • introduction of Department of Education and Science to take account of new technology
  • support for water conservation projects
  • emphasis on development of Northern Australia with new railways, roads and ports and continued funding for beef roads
  • rapid expansion and support for tourist industry
  • continuation of full employment, high growth rates, exports doubled over the decade to 1969, and the work force rose over a million in the same period
  • continuation of beneficial social security policies (eg assistance to sheltered workshops, handicapped schools, etc) and health policies (eg grants to facilitate home nursing care)
  • continuation of the heavy migration programme and provision of services (eg English language courses) for new citizens
  • initiatives in the fields of the Arts (eg established the Australian Council for Arts and the Australian Film and Television Corporation)
  • increased grants for Aboriginal programmes
  • establishment of energy advisory and environmental bodies
  • new teacher training colleges funded
  • expansion of assistance to secondary schools for science laboratories
  • social service benefits provided to mentally retarded
  • assistance to deserted wives introduced
  • assistance scheme for pensioners wanting hearing aids introduced
  • Aboriginal Affairs Office established along with Council for Aboriginal Affairs
  • legislation introduced to protect against unfair corporate takeover activity
  • established Institute of Marine Science
  • assistance to institutions training handicapped people
  • Meals on Wheels assisted
  • introduction of language courses for migrants
  • aid for the establishment of Ord River Scheme
  • established twelve mile fishing zone
  • carriage of the referendum allowing aboriginals to be regarded as full citizens
  • Gordon River irrigation and conservation
  • funding of housing support for young widows scheme
  • established Bureau of Transport Economics in order to analyse costs of transport facilities