Cyclone Tracy and Whitlam’s ‘new’ federalism: implications for the management of natural disasters in Australia

Anita Dwyer

Peer-reviewed Article



Archived Article


The influence of federalism, especially the role of conditional funding by the Australian Government, has significantly shaped how Australia’s state and federal governments approach and manage natural disasters. A review of the political climate around the time Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin in 1974 provides a significant insight into how the relationship between the federal and state governments shaped Australia’s emergency management arrangements. This influence is still evident today and provides an ongoing challenge for developing national programs aimed at achieving comprehensive and effective long-term mitigation.