Australian Events

Posted in 1949

  • Work on the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme beginsPetrol rationing ends in June.
  • July: The Chifley Government establishes the Snowy Mountains Authority to develop and construct the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
    The Macquarie Book of Events, 1983 p 350.
  • Work begins on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, one of the world's most ambitious engineering feats and Australia's single biggest building project. The principal aim is for electricity production, but water would also be used for irrigation along the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers. It would take 100,000 workers from 30 countries 25 years to complete.
  • Aboriginal people who had served in the war are permitted to vote.
  • "Troops in the mines: In a major coalmining strike between June 26 and August 15, 1949, eight union leaders were gaoled and fines of more than 5,000 pounds were imposed and collected. There were severe power cuts and 123,000 workers were stood down. The original issues were increased wages for the miners, long service leave and a 35-hour week. The strike collapsed when troops were brought in to operate the mines: it caused deep divisions in the trade union movement."
    The Macquarie Book of Events, 1983 p 265.
  • Menzies Government, (see Australian Prime Ministers) December 19: The Liberal and Country parties form a coalition government after being swept to power in the general election on 10 December.
  • Population 8 million.
  • Soprano Joan Sutherland (later Dame Joan) wins the Sydney Sun Aria contest. This is the beginning of a remarkably successful international opera career until her retirement in 1990.