COMIC LEGEND: Wolverine was forced to become Australian because of the popularity of Austalian cinema.
STATUS: Leaning Toward True
Rick Hoberg, who had a lot of success working on Marvel animation projects during the 1980s, recalled about Pryde of the X-Men in the book X-Men: The Characters and Their Universe:
I ended up being the voice director on the show, and I was forced to use the Australian version of Wolverine (which coincidentally, foreshadowed the casting of Australian actor Hugh Jackman in the live-action X-Men film), because all of this Australian stuff was popular at the time - the Mad Max films, Crocodile Dundee, and so on - it was going to turn out (in the comics) that Wolverine was an expatriated Australian. The direction of the character however never got beyond the plotting stages and Wolverine remained Canadian in the comics.
Once again, Wolverine was ALREADY Australian seven years before Pryde of the X-Men.
However, Mad Max 2 came out in 1981, so I guess I can believe that the success of that film had some impact on Wolverine's accent in the Spider-Man episode (which Hoberg also worked on, so he could easily be conflating the two) and I don't think the producers would have needed a whole lot of convincing to think that an Australian accent sounded cooler than a Canadian one (no offense, Chad!) and the success of Crocodile Dundee would only solidify the resolve of the producers to keep using the same accent from 1982 in 1989, so I'm willing to believe the basic details of Hoberg's story, even if he is obviously a bit off on a few of the details.
As for Wolverine being revealed to be Australian in the comics, as Hoberg notes, it only would have been that he would have come to Canada from Australia, so I can believe that that would have been a possibility had Pryde of the X-Men led to a regular series. Since it didn't, I don't think it ever went past "Hey, if this series gets picked up, could you put it into the comics that Wolverine came to Canada from Australia originally?" I doubt it was ever fully plotted into the comics.
But really, once again, the key move was in 1982 when the Australian accent for Wolverine was originally chosen, not 1989 with Pryde of the X-Men.
Thanks to David L. for suggesting this one!
On the next page, how did Spider-Woman save Wolverine from a weird origin story?