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South Australian History: Dunstan decade in SA politics

This guide covers a range of topics relating to the history of South Australia, including the South Australian Company, researching Aboriginal history in South Australia, mines and mining, and the South Australian experience of religion and education

Hon. Donald Allen Dunstan, QC

Donald (Don) Allen Dunstan, Q.C. was the Premier of South Australia twice, from June 1967 to April 1968 and from June 1970 to February 1979. In South Australian politics, the seventies have become known as the "Dunstan Decade" because of the impact of social reform and innovation during the time of the Dunstan Labor government. This guide provides selected lists of sources of information on the Dunstan era, including books, newspaper and journal articles and other resources.

Newspaper articles

As Australian newspapers during the 1970s and 1980s have limited indexes, this guide lists some selected newspaper references. The library holds these newspapers on microfilm.


24 April 1976, p.19. Cockburn, Stewart. Playford to Dunstan. Part I.

26 April 1976, p.5. Mackay, Ian. Playford to Dunstan, Part II: Social emphasis in the new order.

27 April 1976, p.5. Cockburn, Stewart. Playford to Dunstan, Part III: Dunstan formula for the good life.

28 April 1976, p.5. Cockburn, Stewart. Playford to Dunstan, Part IV: Dangers that lie ahead for SA.

29 April 1976, p.5. Franklin, Eric. Testing time for Dunstan cabinet.

25 January, 1978, p.5. Steele, Michael. The Salisbury sacking: accounting to the people.

16 February, 1979, p.9. Dunstan, Don. The Dunstan statement. (Statement made by Dunstan to a press conference on his resignation as Premier of South Australia on 15 February 1979).

7 April 1979, pp.17-18. Butler, Chris and Scales, John. Dunstan: a man you loved or a man you hated.

9 April 1979, p.4. Butler, Chris. Dunstan:illuminating thoughts.

10 April 1979, p.4. Butler, Chris. Dunstan:'a rebel' from the start.

11 April 1979, p.4. Butler, Chris. Dunstan:reflections of controversy.

14 April 1979, p.4. Butler, Chris and Scales, John. Dunstan: beating the odds.

5 April 1980, p.11. Haupt, Robert. Flaws in the face of the idol: Dunstan revisited.


7 June 1972, p.11. Nagle, Dominic. The Dunstan experiment. Part I.

8 June 1972, p.9. Nagle, Dominic. The Dunstan experiment. Part 2: Looking for the real Don Dunstan.

9 June 1972, p.9. Nagle, Dominic. The Dunstan experiment. Part 3: Too many liberals call the shots.

10 June 1972, p.13. Nagle, Dominic. The Dunstan experiment. Part 4: The threat from within.

17 June 1975, p.9. Plane, Terry. The Dunstan machine purrs on.

18 September 1976, p.21. Ward, Peter. At 50 Don looks ahead to 15 tough years.

20-21 January 1979, p.4. Ward Peter. Dunstan pins his survival on uranium.

24-25 November 1979, p.11. Ward Peter. Grossly improper embarrassment.

1 February 1980: supplement 'Rising to the Eighties:' South Australia, p.11. Whitlock, Fiona. 'A model for the rest of the world' - Dunstan.

Archival material

Papers of Peter Ward

Research assistant and later Executive Assistant to Premier Don Dunstan.

Tributes to the life of Don Dunstan: Radio 5AN

Recordings of programs broadcast on Radio 5AN during the weeks preceding and following the death of Don Dunstan.

Journal articles

The library provides access to a range of electronic resources, many of which provide access to full-text journal articles. Some of these databases are available through the home access to eResources service.

The years that Dunstan was in politics can still be difficult to research within journal articles, as these years may not be well indexed. Therefore selected journal articles published during the Dunstan era are listed below.

Australian Journal of Politics and History

This journal regularly published a column "Australian Political Chronicle" written for many years by D.H. Jaensch and also John Summers. This column was generally published in the April, August and December volumes each year. The relevant years for this topic are from 1970 to 1979.


3 February 1968, pp.24-5. Buckley, Brian. Dunstan.

18 July 1970, pp25-6. Civil rights: the Dunstan view.

28 June 1975, pp.13-15. Samuel, Peter. Socialism's success story: he did it a special way.

24 September 1977, pp.20-22. Turnbull, Malcolm. Dunstan in on a whinge and a prayer.

28 March 1978, pp. 25-26. Armstrong, David. Rumor machine running amok.

Current Affairs Bulletin

Vol.52, no.3, August 1975 pp.4-14. Jaensch, Dean. Don's party? Labor in South Australia.

Internet resources

The Flinders University of South Australia holds the private papers of Don Dunstan for research purposes. The oral history collection provides online access to transcripts of interviews.

Further sources

Parliamentary Debates South Australia (Hansard)
The Library holds a complete set of the Official Reports of the Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) for both the South Australian House of Assembly and the Legislative Council.


Blewett, Neal and Jaensch, Dean. Playford to Dunstan: the politics of transition. [Melbourne]: Cheshire, 1971.

Cockburn, Stewart. The Salisbury affair. Melbourne: Sun, [1979].

Don Dunstan: the first 25 years in parliament. Comp. by Richard Yeeles. Melbourne: Hill of Content, [1978].

Don Dunstan, 1926-1999: a Labor herald tribute. Ed. Gary Orr. Barton, ACT: Labor Herald, 1999

Dunstan, Don. Australia, a personal view: the Dunstan documentaries. Kenthurst (NSW): Kangaroo Press, 1981.

Dunstan, Don. Australian Labor Party policy speech, state elections, March 1973, delivered at the Norwood Town Hall on February 19th. [Adelaide: A.L.P., 1973].

Dunstan, Don. Extracts from the speech of the Honourable D.A. Dunstan, delivered to the Melbourne Press Club, Melbourne on 16th April 1973. Adelaide: Federation of Adelaide Metropolitan Residents' Association, 1973.

Dunstan, Don. Felicia, the political memoirs of Don Dunstan. South Melbourne: Macmillan, 1981.

Dunstan, Don. Mt Eliza speech and subsequent press release. Feb/March, 1978. [Speech by the Premier, Mr Dunstan, at Mt. Eliza Staff College, Melbourne on Monday 20th February, 1978 - Industrial democracy]. Adelaide: Unit for Industrial Democracy, Premier's Dept., 1978.

Dunstan, Don. Policy speech by the premier, Don Dunstan, delivered at the Norwood Town Hall, 8.00p.m., 24th June, 1975. [Adelaide?: Australian Labor Party?, 1975].

Dunstan, Don. Policy speech for the general state election by the leader of the opposition, Hon. D.A. Dunstan, Q.C., M.P. [Adelaide]: Australian Labor Party: South Australian Branch, [1970].

Dunstan, Don. Policy speech given by the Premier, Mr. Don Dunstan, Festival Theatre, 29 August 1977 [Adelaide?: South Australian Branch of the Australian Labor Party?], 1977.

Dunstan, Don. Televised policy speech, general election, May 30th, 1970. [Adelaide: A.L.P., 1970].

Dunstan, Don. Don Dunstan: politics and passion, selected essays from the Adelaide review, edited by John Spoehr, Unley, S. Aust: Bookends, 2000.

The Dunstan Decade: social democracy at the state level. Ed. by Andrew Parkin and Allan Patience. Melbourne:Longman Cheshire, 1981.

Hodge, Dino, Don Dunstan: intimacy & liberty: a political biography. Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2014.

Parkin, Andrew, "Transition, innovation, consolidation, readjustment" in Flinders history of South Australia. Political history. Ed. by Dean Jaensch. Netley, S. Aust.: Wakefield Press, 1986, pp.302-320. 

Parkin, Andrew, "Embracing the Dunstan decade: a tale of two elections" in Flinders history of South Australia. Political history. Ed. by Dean Jaensch. Netley, S. Aust.: Wakefield Press, 1986, pp.475-485. 

Summer John, "The Salisbury affair" in Flinders history of South Australia. Political history. Ed. by Dean Jaensch. Netley, S. Aust.: Wakefield Press, 1986, pp.339-350.

Ryan, Des J. and McEwen, Mike. It's grossly improper. Dulwich, S.A.: Wenan, 1979.