I've just received an update from IP Australia that full text searching will initially be launched in a beta environment by the end of 2010. This will allow text searching of publicly available patent specifications back to 1904.
This initial release will include about half of the full collection. It is planned that the full collection will be available by the end of March 2011.
This is good news for practitioners down under. It particularly improves the ability to carry out patent infringement searches, which have always been tricky here.