Textbook Topics: Metric Units & Metrication in Australia

Chapter 5 of my textbook (the longest chapter) is all about measurement.

Exercise 5.01 focused on metric units and converting between metric units (i.e. converting cm to mm, g to kg, kg to t, and so on). Although there weren’t any questions on converting metric units to imperial units or vice versa, this exercise made me think about metrication in Australia.

Metrication in Australia officially commenced in 1970 with the introduction and implementation of the Metric Conversion Act, which facilitated the adoption of the metric system in Australia and the establishment of the Metric Conversion Board. However the benefits of the metric system in Australia were first shown with the adoption of decimal currency four years earlier.

Australia converted from the Imperial System to the International System of Units (SI). SI is the first total, all embracing system of measurement designed for general measurement, trade, commerce, science, technology and educational use. The International System of Units has been adopted by almost every country in the world. As of 2020, only three countries officially still use the Imperial System – the United States of America, Liberia and Myanmar.

Following the successful conversion to decimal currency in 1966, it became apparent that Australia as a whole wouldn’t be able to fully reap the benefits of this success without converting to the metric system. It was from there that the government decided pave the way for the conversion. Although the opinions of how to go about the conversion differed, the benefits of the impending conversion were obvious to most people, including but not limited to: the simplification of international trade and commerce, the metric system being easier to teach, learn and remember, the easier exchange of scientific information and technology, and overall being easier to use in day-to-day life.

Although steps towards metrication were seen as far back as the first Parliament after Federation, the conversion truly started to take place from 1970. By 1974 most industries had converted, which included road laws and the car industry, with speed signs converting from 1 July 1974.

Metrication in Australia was completed in 1988 once Western Australia converted and imperial units were removed from general legal use.

Other metrication and decimal currency videos can be found below:


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