Records 1987

About 1987 records

An historical overview of the Territory at the time

Steve Hatton is the Chief Minister.

1 January marks the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Northern Territory Public Service, which replaced the former administration from Canberra.

The Northern Territory News begins the year reporting the European Launcher Development Organisation “has concluded that Darwin has unique advantages and is the most suitable Australian mainland site” for a ‘space base’. The newspaper editorial concludes with: “Space. Be in it”.

In February 1987, the all-weather road between Adelaide and Darwin is completed with the sealing of the last section near Marla Bore, 230 km north of Coober Pedy, SA.

On the 7 March, a General Election in the NT returns the CLP to government with Steve Hatton as Chief Minister.

Also in March, the Territory Government responds positively to a Federal Government call for interest in housing a low-level radioactive waste dump. The proposal would see a low level radioactive waste disposal facility built in Central Australia.

The Morling Report tabled in NT parliament on 2 June results in a pardon for Lindy and Michael Chamberlain PDF (4.8 MB).

In October, the Todd Mall in Alice Springs officially opens with a visit from Sir Charles Todd’s great grandson’s James and Mark.

The first transcontinental race by solar-powered cars begins from Darwin on 1 November, with General Motors' Sunraycer the winner.

International actress, Meryl Streep, arrives in Alice Springs to begin filming the movie version of John Bryson’s book about the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain.

[Swearing in of the new Hatton Ministry].<br /> Image courtesy of Northern Territory Archives Service, Department of Chief Minister, NTRS3823, Item BW2617, 22[Beer Can Regatta, 7 June 1987] <br />Image courtesy of Northern Territory Archives Service, Department of Chief Minister, NTRS 3823, Item BW2637, 5.[Solar Cars on display at Casuarina Square, 30 October 1987] <br />Image courtesy of Northern Territory Archives Service, Department of Chief Minister, NTRS 3823, Item BW2685, 30.[Bougainvillea Festival Parade, 13 June 1987] <br />Image courtesy of Northern Territory Archives Service, Department of Chief Minister, NTRS 3822 P1, Folder 37 Slide 315.[Darwin Aerial Views, View over harbour, Stokes Hills Wharf in foreground, 21 October 1987] <br />Image courtesy of Northern Territory Archives Service, Department of the Chief Minister, NTRS 3823, item BW2681, 24.[Opening of the new Katherine Post Office, 5 June 1987].<br /> Image courtesy of Northern Territory Archives Service, Department of Chief Minister, NTRS 3823, Item BW2633, 21

National Scene

Bob Hawke is the Prime Minister.

The year begins with the introduction of the Federal Student assistance scheme, Austudy, on 1 January.

On 23 February 1987, the first mobile phone call in Australia is made.

The West Coast Eagles make their debut in the Victorian Football League on 29 March defeating Richmond.

On 5 April, the infamous Grim Reaper television advertisement promoting awareness of HIV AIDS and safe sex, is broadcast for the first time.

Only 8 weeks after promising no early poll, but unable to resist the opportunity afforded by Coalition disarray, Prime Minister Bob Hawke calls a double dissolution election on 28 May, the trigger being the Senate's rejection of the Government’s Australia Card legislation.

The National Party of Australia's election campaign collapses as Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen is out of the country when the election is called and does not nominate.

Launching a long campaign at the Sydney Opera House, Prime Minister Bob Hawke promises that "no child will be living in poverty by the year 1990" and entices the environmental vote by promising there will be no mining in Kakadu National Park.

In May, the bodies of station workers, James Annetts aged 16, and Simon Amos aged 17, are found in the Great Sandy Desert. The boys had been missing from a Western Australian station where they were employed as caretakers.

After a trial lasting 332 days, 30 members of rival motorcycle gangs are found guilty (nine of murder, 21 of manslaughter) of the "Father’s Day massacre" at Milperra, Sydney.

On 11 July 1987, Prime Minister Bob Hawke's ALP government is re-elected for a third term.

John Howard retains the Liberal leadership, beating Andrew Peacock in the post-election party room spill, however, he is forced to accept his rival as deputy.

On 9 August, seven people are killed and 19 injured when 19-year-old Julian Knight goes on a shooting rampage in Melbourne’s Hoddle Street.

On 3 October, Australia finally acknowledges the contribution of the Vietnam War veterans with a Welcome Home parade held in Sydney, 15 years after the last soldiers and national service men have returned.

The Federal Government announces a Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, following the deaths of 44 Aboriginal people in custody since 1980. The Commission, headed by Justice James Muirhead, begins sitting on 12 November. The final report is tabled in May 1991.

International Scene

In June 1987, while on a visit to Berlin, Germany, U.S. President Ronald Reagan challenges Soviet Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, to tear down the Berlin Wall.

In the Persian Gulf, the USS Stark is hit by two Iraqi missiles killing 37 sailors. The Iraqi Government at the time stated that the attack was an error, that the Iraqi pilot had thought the Stark was an Iranian tanker, and officially apologized to the United States.

Share prices on the Australian Stock Exchange suffer a record fall, in line with the worldwide ‘Black Monday’ stock market crash. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by nearly 23 per cent in a single day, on October 19, 1987. By the end of the month, global markets had lost between 20-45 per cent of their value.

Minnesota celebrates after they defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 to win the 1987 World Series.

Popular Culture

On 9 March, Irish rock band U2 release their studio album, The Joshua Tree.

In April, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) launches its overnight music video show, Rage.

The Simpsons cartoon first appears as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show.

On 19 July, long-running ABC music program Countdown broadcasts its final episode.

On 31 August, American pop star Michael Jackson releases his hit album, Bad.

In November, American soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful makes its debut on Network Ten at 1:00 pm.

On 29 December, 19-year-old Neighbours star, Kylie Minogue, enters the charts with her first single "I Should Be So Lucky".

The top four grossing movies for the year are Three Men and a Baby, Fatal Attraction, Beverley Hills Cop II, and Good morning Vietnam.


NT News publication, various editions from 1987

Centralian Advocate publication, various editions 1987

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Last updated: 14 April 2021

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