A referendum to determine if the ACT would become self-governing was the big news on this day in 1978.
A poll of ACT voters would decide if the territory would have self-government, a form of local government, or if the status quo of federal oversight of the ACT should remain.
The preferential system would ask people to rank the options. It was stressed that under self-government control the National Capital Development Commission (nowadays the NCA) would stay with the Commonwealth. Reaction to the announcement was hostile, to say the least.
Of particular contention around the announcement of the referendum was that elections for the ACT Legislative Assembly (at that time an advisory body) would be held on the same day.
The obvious question asked of the federal member responsible for the territories, Bob Ellicott, was: what if members opposed to self government were elected and we had a "self-destructive" Assembly?
The leader of the Liberals in the Assembly, Mr Leedman, said it was ludicrous to expect candidates to offer themselves for election not knowing if they were going to be "part-time members of a debating society or full-time members of a government".
Labor was unhappy too, arguing the federal government was planning to keep all the power but give none of the details.
With all this anger at the referendum, it was not surprising it was comfortably defeated, with 63 per cent favouring the status quo, ahead of 30 per cent wanting self-government.
As we know, despite the referendum results, the federal government handed the ACT self-government and the first proper elections were held in 1989.