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Getting Things Done

Student introduction

This unit examines how ordinary Australians can make a difference in a democracy.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s a dramatic political confrontation took place over whether a dam should be built on the Franklin River in Tasmania. A group of people who wanted to save the proposed dam area as wilderness, skilfully managed a campaign that resulted in a State premier being toppled, contributed to Tasmanian and Federal governments losing and gaining power and brought the issue to the attention of the whole of Australia, the United Nations and countries around the world. International treaties were entered into and made into law. Later the High Court of Australia was called upon to decide if these laws were constitutional and if the Commonwealth could override a State on heritage law. It was one of the largest and most effective citizens' action movements Australia has ever known.

Tasmanian governments on opposite sides, Labor and Liberal, wanted the dam built as did significant numbers of Tasmanians. Why then was it not built?

Back to 'Getting Things Done - At a glance'

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