I remember Aussie in Gough’s time as PM, when I visited on holiday. It was a time when people were looking forward to a more inclusive, caring, and egalitarian society: a time of hope.
That was all ended with his controversial sacking by the governor general. Many in Austrialia saw this as a US-CIA-backed coup.
Gough Whitlam, who was prime minister for just three years but became a defining political figure of modern Australia, has died aged 98.
The election of his government on 2 December 1972, with the famous “It’s time” election campaign, ended 23 years of conservative rule and its dismissal by the governor general Sir John Kerr on 11 December 1975 remains one of the most controversial events in Australian political history.
But in just three years the Whitlam government instituted sweeping changes that transformed Australian society as the baby boomer generation came of age.
In a rapid program of reform it called “the program”, the Whitlam government created Australia’s national health insurance scheme, Medibank; abolished university fees; introduced state aid to independent schools and needs-based school funding; returned traditional lands in the Northern Territory to the Gurindji people; drafted (although did not enact) the first commonwealth lands right act; established diplomatic relations with China, withdrew the remaining Australian troops from Vietnam; introduced no-fault divorce laws; passed the Racial Discrimination Act; blocked moves to allow oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef; introduced environmental protection legislation; and removed God Save the Queen as the national anthem.
Now that is truly aspirational!
This image accompanies Julia Gillard’s article today in The Guardian: “Julia Gillard on Gough Whitlam: a giant of his era, he will live on in our nation”
Well, it is of its time.
An inspirational Labor leader.