Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

Australian film and television chronology

The 1970s

1970: Australian Film Development Corporation launched

The Australian Film Development Corporation Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on 5 March 1970 and was quickly passed by both houses with bipartisan support. The first publicly exhibited film with AFDC funding was the 16mm feature Private Collection (1971). The first 35mm feature supported was Sunstruck (1972). Headed by Tom Stacey, the AFDC provided the entire $250,000 budget of The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972), which proved to be a major financial success. Features with AFDC investment include Stork (1971), Stone (1974), The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) and The Removalists (1975). The AFDC was restructured and relaunched as the Australian Film Commission on 7 July 1975.

Source

Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, pp 14-15.

1970: Experimental Film and Television Fund established

The Experimental Film and Television Fund was the first of the Federal Government’s industry support initiatives to begin operation. On 11 July 1970, money sourced from the Australian Council for the Arts and administered by the Australian Film Institute was loaned to 73 successful applicants. The EFTF’s mission was to support original and innovative work and inexperienced filmmakers who showed promise. The first EFTF funded project to completion was Or Forever Hold Your Peace (1970), which covered the ant-Vietnam War Moratorium held in Sydney. The EFTF also supported the production of Stockade (1971), Stork (1971), Homesdale (1972) and Sunshine City (1973). In December 1978 the EFTF was replaced by the Creative Development Fund of the Australian Film Commission.

Source

Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 9 ‘New Stirrings’, Currency Press, Sydney, pp 235-6.
Chronomedia, 1978

1971: Television comes to Darwin

On 13 August 1971, Darwin became the final capital city to receive television. At 7.15 pm the ABC station ABD6 was officially opened by the ABC Chairman, Sir Robert Madgwick. The first program to air was The Rolf Harris Show. Commercial television commenced in Darwin on 11 December 1971. At 5. 30 pm NTD 8 broadcast Skippy (1966-68), followed by Bandstand (1958-72) and An Evening with Burt Bacharach at 7 pm.

Source

Australian TV Archive
Borchers, W, Technical Advances in ABC Television, ABC Content Services, Chronology 4th Draft.

1971: Newsreels saved from extinction

In 1971 the Gorton Goverment allocated funds to preserve pre-1951 Cinesound and Movietone newsreels shot on fragile nitrate film stock. The decision followed a public outcry when it became known that the old reels were likely to be burned. Restoration and preservation was carried out at the National Film Archive of the National Library in Canberra.

Source

Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 10 ‘Subsidy and Growth’, Currency Press, Sydney, p 276.

1971: Stork leads the ocker movie charge

Tim Burstall’s cheerfully vulgar Stork (1971) initiated a wave of ocker comedies. Assisted by the new 'R’ censorship rating, which permitted much stronger depictions of sex and colourful language, ocker hits of the ’70s include The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972), Alvin Purple (1973) and Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974). Latter day entries in the ocker cycle include Welcome to Woop Woop (1997).

1971: 'R' rating arrives

On 15 November 1971, the 'R’ certificate was introduced by Federal Minister for Customs and Excise, Don Chipp. The R was one of four new categories of film classifications to come into effect: G (General Exhibition), NRC (Not Recommended for Children), M (Mature) and R (Restricted to audiences aged over 18). The first feature given an 'R’ classification was Percy (1971), and the first to screen publicly was Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971). Stork (1971) and The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) were among the first R-rated Australian films. More liberal attitudes to sex and nudity in cinema helped propel many Australian films to profitable box-office performances in the 1970s.

1971: Perth Institute of Film and Television established

In 1971 the Perth Institute of Film and Television was established on the premises of Fremantle Boys’ School. One of the oldest training and production facilities in Australia, the centre later merged with Frevideo and was renamed Film and Television Institute WA. The organisation commenced operating the Lumiere Cinema in 1989. The FTI Animation Centre was founded in 2001 with support from the West Australian Department of Education and Training.

1971: Sydney Women's Film Group established

In 1971 the Sydney Women’s Film Group was formed with the aim of training women filmmakers and making and distributing films on subject matter ignored by mainstream media. The SWFG's first project, Film For Discussion, directed by Martha Ansara, Jeni Thornley and others, was commenced in 1971 and released in 1973. One of the first projects screened was Woman’s Day 20C (1972), directed by Margot Knox, Virginia Coventry, Kaye Martyn and Robynne Murphy, a portrait of a housebound mother addicted to barbiturates. The activities of the SWFG were instrumental in raising the skills, confidence and participation of women in Australian filmmaking.

Source

Chapman, J 2002, Some Significant Women in Australian Film – A Celebration and a Cautionary Tale, Senses of Cinema (viewed May 2007).

1972: Number 96 creates TV rumpus

On 13 March 1972, Channel TEN Sydney broadcast the first episode of its adults-only series Number 96 (1972-78). The event has since become known in popular culture as 'the night Australian television lost its virginity’. The show’s combination of racy themes, full-frontal nudity and satirical humour was an instant sensation and is credited with rescuing the financially ailing 0-10 network. Produced by Don Cash and Bill Harmon with scriptwriter David Sale, the show ran for 1218 episodes before drawing to a close in 1978. A Number 96 movie spin-off was made in 1974, and most Australian baby boomers can still vividly recall 'the bomb blast episode’, along with the show’s high quota of exposed flesh.

1972: Tariff Board inquiry begins

Between 25 September and 29 November 1972, the Tariff Board held a public inquiry into distribution and exhibition in the Australian film and television industries. Submissions by filmmakers protesting against the dominance of American productions largely echoed those of the 1927 Royal Commission and the 1963 Vincent Report. On 30 June 1973 the Tariff Board Report was tabled in Federal Parliament. Of the many observations and proposals it made, the only one to be enacted was the replacement of the Australian Film Development Corporation by an Australian Film Authority, which later became known as the Australian Film Commission.

Source

Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 10 ‘Subsidy and Growth’, Currency Press, Sydney, pp 241-253.

1972: South Australian Film Corporation launched

The South Australian Film Corporation was established to invest in film productions and support the development of a local industry. Its founding Chair was Gil Brealey. The SAFC's first production was Sunday Too Far Away, which won worldwide acclaim and screened in the Director’s Fortnight section at Cannes in 1975. Other notable films supported by the SAFC include Gallipoli (1981), Breaker Morant (1979) and Storm Boy (1976). In 1994 the SAFC ceased investing in productions and has become a support body for the promotion of South Australian filmmakers, locations, crews and post-production facilities.

Source

Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, pp 96, 104.
South Australian Film Corporation

1972: George Miller and Byron Kennedy partnership launched

Over the Easter weekend of 1972, writer-director George Miller – then a doctor who had practised at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital – and producer Byron Kennedy made Violence in the Cinema Part 1. The privately financed 20-minute short took a satirical approach to the topic of screen violence and was picked up for distribution by Greater Union and sold to several overseas territories following its screening at the 1972 Sydney Film Festival. The success of this initial collaboration led to the formation of Kennedy Miller Productions. The company’s first feature film was Mad Max (1979), and it also produced several highly acclaimed TV mini-series including The Dismissal (1983), Bodyline (1984) and The Cowra Breakout (1984). Kennedy Miller’s feature credits include Mad Max 2 (1981), Dead Calm (1989), Flirting (1991), Babe (1995) and Happy Feet (2006). On 17 July 1983, Byron Kennedy was killed in a helicopter crash at Warragamba Dam in Sydney. The AFI award for contribution to the Australian film industry carries his name.

Source

Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, p 241.
The Internet Movie Database

1973: Film Australia launched

The Commonwealth Film Unit was renamed Film Australia. Continuing its primary role of documenting Australian life, Film Australia also became involved in the production of the short dramatic features Flashpoint (1972), Gentle Strangers (1972), Moving On (1974) and the full-length feature Let the Balloon Go (1976). Originally part of the Department of the Media, Film Australia was transferred to the Australian Film Commission in 1975. Following a government review of the organisation, Film Australia was incorporated in May 1988. Under a contract with the Federal Government known as the National Interest Program, Film Australia is one of the largest producers of documentary and educational films. In 2008, it became part of Screen Australia.

Source

Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film 1900–1977, 1st edn, rev. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp 268, 269, 308.
Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 10 ‘Subsidy and Growth’, Currency Press, Sydney, p 266.
Screen Australia, Film Australia subsite

1973: Sydney Filmmaker's Co-op cinema opens

Following several years of screenings at unlicensed venues, the Sydney Filmmaker’s Cooperative established a permanent venue in St Peter’s Lane, Darlinghurst. The Co-op, which formed on 12 April 1966 at a screening of films at Sydney University, grew out of the energy created by the Ubu Films group. The prime mover of the Co-op was Ubu’s Albie Thoms, and its membership included Phillip Noyce, Bruce Beresford and Richard Brennan. The Co-op established the journal Filmnews in 1975 and continued screenings until 1981. Its operations were wound up in February 1986.

Source

Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 10 ‘Subsidy and Growth’, Currency Press, Sydney, pp 241, 256.

1973: The Australian Film and Television School established

The Australian Film and Television School was established in 1973 as part of government strategy to develop a local film industry. Its first director was Professor Jerzy Toeplitz, a former head of the Polish Film School in Lodz whose students included Roman Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski. The first year intake at AFTS included Phillip Noyce, Chris Noonan and Gillian Armstrong. Noyce made his award-winning short Castor and Pollux (1973) at AFTS. Armstrong’s student short One Hundred a Day (1973) was described by Cinema Papers as 'perhaps one of the most powerful and moving films made in Australia’. Noonan’s credits as director include Babe (1995). AFTS was later expanded to include radio and was renamed the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.

Source

Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, pp 200, 206, 215.

1974: Countdown begins

Countdown (1974-87), with Ian 'Molly’ Meldrum, began its 13-year run on ABC TV. Produced in Melbourne, the program became mandatory viewing for teenagers and continued to be transmitted nationally until 26 June 1987. In addition to featuring the first television performances of most Australian bands during its lifetime, Countdown attracted international guests including Prince Charles and Iggy Pop, whose lip-synched performance of I’m Bored in 1979 is still talked about by those who saw it.

Source

Borchers, W 2000, A Pocket History of ABC Television, ABC Archives, ABC Content Services.

1974: Media Resource Centre Adelaide opens

In 1974 the Media Resource Centre began operations in Adelaide. It was one of the first members of the Screen Development Australia national network and was established to provide a facilities base and foster the development of filmmakers and film culture in South Australia. In 1992 the MRC moved into the newly established Lion Art Centre in Morphett Street and opened the Mercury and Iris Cinemas.

1975: Colour television introduced

At two minutes to midnight on 28 February 1975, ABC broadcast the first colour television pictures in Australia. Making a special appearance for the occasion, Aunty Jack (Grahame Bond), Thin Arthur (Rory O’Donoghue) and Kid Eager (Garry McDonald) from The Aunty Jack Show (1972-73) were seen in their Wollongong headquarters attempting to fend off the 'colour monster’. Two minutes ahead of the 'official’ switchover time of midnight, the trio made the transition from monochrome to colour.

Source

Borchers, W 2000, A Pocket History of ABC Television, ABC Archives, ABC Content Services.

1975: Graham Kennedy's crow call

During a live commercial for a hairspray product, Channel 9 Tonight show host Graham Kennedy imitates the sound of a crow. His 'faaaaaaark’ sounds distinctly like a four-letter word and results in Kennedy being banned from live TV.

Source

Blundell, G 2003, King: The Life and Comedy of Graham Kennedy, Pan Macmillan, Sydney, p 313.

1975: Australian Film Commission established

The Whitlam government established the Australian Film Commission to succeed the Australian Film Development Corporation, which had been operating since 1971. The AFC assumed responsibility for all AFDC projects and took control of Film Australia, which had been the Commonwealth Film Unit until 1973. In its first five years the AFC supported approximately 50 feature films. Until 2008, the AFC's activities included production investment, cultural and educational support activities, market analysis, the promotion and marketing of Australian film at international film festivals and responsibility for the National Film and Sound Archive. In 2008, it merged with the Film Finance Corporation and Film Australia to become Screen Australia.

Source

Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, pp 15-16.

1975: Women's Film Fund established

When Germaine Greer failed to use a $100,000 grant to make a film for International Women’s Year, the money was redirected to form the basis of the Australian Film Commission’s Women’s Film Fund. Films with WFF investment include Caddie (1975), The Picture Show Man (1976), This Woman is Not a Car (1982), Serious Undertakings (1982), Don’t Call Me Girlie (1985) and Nice Coloured Girls (1987).

Source

AFC (Screen Australia)

1975: First Government delegation sent to Cannes

In May 1975 the first government-sponsored delegation was sent to the Cannes Film Festival. The Australian Film Development Corporation, the Department of the Media and the Department of Overseas Trade shared the cost of bringing Federal Government officials and more than 50 film and television producers to negotiate sales. The successful venture yielded international sales for the feature films The Man From Hong Kong (1975), Sunday Too Far Away (1975), The True Story of Eskimo Nell (1975), Petersen (1974) and Between Wars (1974).

Source

Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 10 ‘Subsidy and Growth’, Currency Press, Sydney, p 166.

1975: First Australian multiplex opens

Built on the site of the Trocadero nightclub on George Street, the Hoyts Entertainment Centre opened with seven screens. This marked the arrival of the multiplex in Australia and the gradual decline of single-screen cinemas. The largest cinema complex in Australia at present (2007) is the Megaplex Marion in Adelaide, which has 26 screens and houses the world’s largest projection room.

Source

Moran, A & Veith, E 2005, Historical Dictionary of Australian and New Zealand Cinema, The Scarecrow Press, Maryland, USA, p 7.
Greater Union, About Marion Megaplex

1975: Picnic at Hanging Rock wins international acclaim

Following its highly successful Australian release in November 1975, Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock opened to even better reviews overseas. In London, Alexander Walker of The Evening Standard remarked, 'I have not had the same sense of a new talent making its mark in world cinema since, say, Antonioni’s L’avventura (1960) or Bo Widerberg’s Elvira Madigan (1967).’ Rex Reed in the New York Daily News called it 'a spellbinding mystery’. Curiously, Picnic at Hanging Rock did not win a single AFI Award, despite seven nominations. Among the many international awards it did collect was a BAFTA Award for Russell Boyd’s cinematography.

Source

Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, pp 71-74.

1975: Greater Union returns to production investment

The film exhibitor and distributor Greater Union Organisation had not invested in locally-made features since Sons of Matthew in 1949. Encouraged by the recent success of many Australian films, GUO co-produced The Man From Hong Kong (1975) with Golden Harvest Company of Hong Kong. Although the film’s 'R’ rating dented its local box-office tally, it performed successfully in Asian and European territories, and remains a considerable cult item today.

Source

Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film 1900–1977, 1st edn, rev. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp 287-288.

1976: Colour telly jolts cinema box office downward

The number of cinema admissions in Australia fell from 68.4 million in 1974 to 28.9 million in 1976. The introduction of colour television and a period of stagflation (high unemployment and high inflation) were cited as primary causes of the slump. With the surge in home video ownership from the late 1970s adding to the competition for viewers, Australian box-office admissions did not exceed 60 million again until 1994 (when they reached 68.1 million).

Source

Collins, D 1987, Hollywood Downunder: Australians at the Movies 1896 to the Present Day, Angus and Robertson, NSW, pp 264-265.
Screen Australia, Get the Picture

1976: Victorian Film Corporation established

The Victorian Film Corporation invested in feature films including The Getting of Wisdom (1978), In Search of Anna (1978) and Patrick (1978). Its most notable success was The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), which was selected for competition in the Cannes Film Festival. In 1982 the Victorian Film Corporation was renamed Film Victoria.

Source

Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, p 135.

1976: Australian directs the final Hammer horror movie

Expatriate Australian Peter Sykes directed the last (to date) Hammer horror movie, To the Devil a Daughter (1976), an adaptation of Dennis Wheatley’s novel, starring Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee and Nastassja Kinski. Sykes also directed the British comedies Steptoe and Son Ride Again (1973) and The House in Nightmare Park (1973). To the Devil a Daughter (1976) was advertised with the line 'Warning! This Motion Picture Contains the Most Shocking Scenes this Side Of Hell!’

Source

Hammer

1976: Pure S*** creates censorship storm

A key film in the experimental-underground scene of the 1970s, Pure S (1976), created controversy for its explicit depictions of drug taking. Made on 16mm by director Bert Deling, the film was originally released with the title Pure Shit. Described by Andrew McKay in The Melbourne Herald as 'the most evil film I’ve ever seen’, it was initially banned by the Commonwealth Censor. An 'R’ certificate was later granted on the proviso that the title be shortened. Pure Shit was one of 50 features restored in the Kodak/Atlab Cinema Collection project.

Source

Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film 1900–1977, 1st edn, rev. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p 29.
Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, p 278.

1976: The Devil's Playground a success

After screening in the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, The Devil’s Playground opened in Melbourne at the Bryson Cinema on 12 July 1976. It was the feature film debut of Fred Schepisi, who had previously directed The Priest episode in the omnibus film Libido (1973). Set in a Catholic seminary college in the 1950s, The Devil’s Playground won most of the major AFI Awards in 1976 and was received with almost universal critical acclaim. It was a major financial success and is one of the key Australian films of the 1970s. Fred Schepisi’s later films include The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), Iceman (1984), Evil Angels (1988, also known as A Cry in the Dark), Six Degrees of Separation (1993) and Last Orders (2001).

Source

Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film 1900–1977, 1st edn, rev. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p 303.
The Internet Movie Database

1976: Tobacco ads gets the flick from TV

In 1976 tobacco advertising was banned on Australian TV. In 1966 the Menzies government had introduced a voluntary code for tobacco advertising. The code was extended to radio in 1971, by which time both the US and UK had enforced bans on TV and radio tobacco advertising. Mandatory health warnings were added to ads in 1972 – often in the form of a voice-over stating 'Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard’ – and in 1973 the Whitlam government announced a complete tobacco advertising phase-out. When the Fraser government debated the issue in 1975, Federal Health Minister Ralph Hunt outlined the medical evidence against smoking and the financial and health costs to the community. Hunt was opposed by Post and Telecommunications Minister Eric Robinson, whose arguments failed to sway Fraser’s Cabinet. A total ban came into effect on 1 September 1976. Despite the ban, tobacco companies were still able to promote their names (but not specific products) through sponsorship of televised sporting events. This avenue was later closed down.

1976: Caddie plays for a year

On 9 April 1976, Caddie (1976) opened at Greater Union’s new Pitt Centre cinema in Sydney and played for more than a year. Based on the memoirs of a Sydney barmaid, published under a pseudonym in 1953, Caddie was the first film directed by Donald Crombie (who also made The Killing of Angel Street, 1981, and Playing Beatie Bow, 1986) and starred Helen Morse in the lead role. Partly funded by the United Nations Secretariat for International Women’s Year (1975), Caddie grossed more than two million dollars from local box–office receipts and international sales.

Source

Fraser, B and the Macquarie Library 1997, The Macquarie Encyclopedia of Australian Events: Revised Edition, Macquarie Library, p 719.
Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film 1900-1977, 1st edn, rev. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp 297-298.

1977: Suzanne Baker, first Australian woman to win an Oscar

Leisure (1976), directed by Bruce Petty, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Under the prevailing rules, the Oscar was given to the film’s producer, Suzanne Baker, who became the first Australian woman to win an Academy Award.

1977: Tasmanian Film Corporation established

The short-lived Tasmanian Film Corporation produced only two feature films, the historical drama Manganinnie (1980) and the chidren’s adventure Save the Lady (1981). The TFC was abolished in December 1982. It was succeeded by Screen Tasmania in 1999.

Source

Stratton, D 1990, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan Macmillan, Sydney, pp 35, 343.

1977: Peter Finch, posthumous Oscar winner

For his role as TV presenter Howard Beale in Network (1976), Peter Finch became the first Australian to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. Finch died on 14 January 1977 and was the first actor to be awarded a posthumous Oscar (Heath Ledger was the second, in 2009). Finch was also nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) and had won five BAFTA Awards during his career.

1977: NSW Film Corporation launched

The NSW Film Corporation was established by the Wran government. Feature films invested in by the Corporation included Newsfront (1978), The Night the Prowler (1978), My Brilliant Career (1979), Careful, He Might Hear You (1983) and Emerald City (1989). The Corporation was abolished by the Greiner government in 1988 and replaced by the NSW Film and Television Office in the same year. In 1990 the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption launched an investigation into dealings between the NSW Film Corporation and Pepper Distribution Inc, an obscure Panama-registered film distribution company. The rights to distribute and market 20 Australian films for periods of between 15 and 75 years had been controversially granted to Pepper by the Corporation between 1983 and 1987.

Source

Temby, I 1992, Report on Investigation into the New South Wales Film Corporation and Pepper Distribution, Independent Commission Against Corruption (viewed May 2007).

1977: Home video arrives

Following the release of Betamax video in 1975 and VHS in 1976, home video changes the way Australians see movies. One of the first companies to officially distribute movies in Australia was Magnetic Video, which licensed 50 titles from 20th Century Fox. In the 1980s Australia had one of the highest per capita rates of video recorder ownership in the world, leading to a dramatic decline in the number of suburban cinemas and drive-ins.

1977: SBS takes first steps

In November 1978 amendments were made to the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942, paving the way for the establishment of the Special Broadcasting Service. In January 1979 SBS was officially launched and took control of the ethnic radio stations 2EA and 3EA. SBS Television began broadcasting in Sydney and Melbourne on 24 October 1980.

1977: Phillip Noyce arrives via Backroads

On 27 June 1977, Phillip Noyce's first feature film, Backroads, opened at the Union Theatre, Sydney University. The 16mm road drama about a white drifter (Bill Hunter) and a young Aboriginal (Gary Foley) made strong political statements about White Australia’s resposibility for the hardships of Indigenous Australians. It was also the first Australian feature film to be made with the significant creative input of Indigenous Australians. Foley, a prominent black activist, assisted Noyce with direction of the Indigenous cast and was responsible for ensuring the black point of view was accurately expressed. Noyce followed Backroads with Newsfront (1978). His subsequent credits include the mini-series The Dismissal (1983) and The Cowra Breakout (1984), and the feature films Dead Calm (1989), Patriot Games (1992), Clear and Present Danger (1994), The Quiet American (2002) and Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002).

Source

Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film 1900–1977, 1st edn, rev. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp 313-314.
The Internet Movie Database

1977: Nine Network launches World Series Cricket

When the Australian Cricket Board refused to accept the Nine Network’s bid for exclusive rights to broadcast Australia’s test matches in 1976, Nine boss and media mogul Kerry Packer set up his own series by secretly signing leading Australian, English, Pakistani, South African and West Indian players. In the 1977–78 season, World Series Cricket was televised in Australia in direct competition with the official test series between Australia and India. On 30 May 1979, the Nine Network was granted exclusive rights to broadcast cricket in Australia, previously held by the ABC. World Series Cricket revolutionised the administration and marketing of the sport and produced a giant leap forward in the technical sophistication of televised cricket. Innovations included the first day-night matches and the use of coloured team clothing and protective helmets.

Source

Cashman, R et al. (Editors) 1996, The Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
Haigh, Gideon 1993, The Cricket War: The Inside Story of Kerry Packer’s World Series, Melbourne University Press.
McFarline, Peter 1977, A Game Divided, Hutchinson, Australia.
Pollard, Jack 1982, Australian Cricket: The Game and the Players, Hodder & Stoughton, Sydney.
Herd, Nick 2005, 'Australian Television History – Timeline’, unpublished.

1978: This Day Tonight signs off

On 5 December 1978, the ABC nightly current affairs flagship This Day Tonight was broadcast for the last time. The program featured an exclusive interview with former governor-general Sir John Kerr regarding his sacking of the Whitlam government on 11 November 1975.

Source

Borchers, W 2000, A Pocket History of ABC Television, ABC Archives, ABC Content Services.

1978: Division 10B introduced to the Tax Act

To encourage investment in film production, the Fraser government introduced Division 10B into the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936. Under this provision, investors who acquired an interest in the copyright of new, qualifying productions made wholly or substantially in Australia, received a 100 per cent tax concession over two financial years once the film existed and was used to produce income.

1978: First female prime-time TV newsreaders

Margaret Throsby (ABC) and Katrina Lee (Network TEN) were the first women to read nightly news bulletins on Australian television. Mary Kostakidis served as prime-time newsreader on SBS from the mid–1980s until 2007.

Source

Herd, Nick 2005, 'Australian Television History – Timeline’, unpublished.
The Age, Mary walks out on SBS

1979: Mad Max roars into cinemas

On 12 April 1979, Mad Max was released at Melbourne’s East End cinema. Directed by George Miller, produced by Byron Kennedy and starring Mel Gibson in his second credited screen role (following Summer City, 1977), the privately financed film was an instant smash-hit and drew almost universal critical acclaim. A notable voice opposing the film was producer-commentator Phillip Adams. In his article in the 1 May issue of The Bulletin magazine, headlined 'The dangerous pornography of death’, Adams described Mad Max as having 'all the moral uplift of Mein Kampf'. In The Daily Mirror, Bill Collins wrote, 'George Miller has made Australia’s most exciting film of the decade’. Mad Max was the first Australian film to receive a wide release in the US and, with its 1981 sequel Mad Max 2, played a major role in the creation of the 'post apocalypse’ action movie sub-genre which flourished in the US and Europe in the 1980s.

Source

Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, pp 241-244.

1979: Children's broadcasting standards introduced

In 1979 the 'C’ (Children’s) classification and the Children’s Program Committee were introduced to improve the quality, and increase the quantity, of children’s programming on Australian television.

1979: My Brilliant Career launches brilliant careers

In May 1979 Gillian Armstrong's debut feature My Brilliant Career screened to positive reaction at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was an official competition entry. An adaptation of Miles Franklin’s autobiographical novel set in the 1890s, My Brilliant Career was produced by Margaret Fink and starred Judy Davis and Sam Neill in roles which launched their international careers. When the film opened in Melbourne on 17 August 1979, it attracted a minority of mixed reviews and a clear majority of favourable notices. In The National Times, PP McGuinness declared it to be 'among the three or four triumphs of the Australian film industry renaissance … a triumph for its young director Gillian Armstrong’. My Brilliant Career won six AFI Awards including Best Film. Gillian Armstrong’s subsequent features include Starstruck (1982), High Tide (1987), Little Women (1994), Not Fourteen Again (1996), Charlotte Gray (2001) and Death Defying Acts (2007). My Brilliant Career was one of the most popular and highly regarded films to emerge from the Australian New Wave of the ’70s.

Source

Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, pp 217-220.
The Internet Movie Database