Friday, September 2, 2022



5 Facts About 5 Australian Prime Ministers


Gough Whitlam

(For your enjoyment, Noel . . .😂 . . .)

Edward Gough Whitlam (1916 – 2014) was the 21st prime minister of Australia, in office from 1972 to 1975.

He is the longest-serving federal leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and is the only prime minister to grow up in the national capital, He was dubbed ‘the young brolga’ when he entered parliament, for his height (194cm) and imperious bearing, one of only 2 prime ministers whose lifetime spanned the lives of all 25 prime ministers in Australia’s first 100 years (John Gorton was the other).

Whitlam was on active service in World War II as a RAAF navigator, despite suffering badly from airsickness. In late 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and with a year remaining in his legal studies, he volunteered for the RAAF and, while awaiting entry into the service, Whitlam met and married Margaret Elaine Dovey. He reached the rank of Flight Lieutenant and completed his studies after the war, obtaining his Bachelor of Laws.

Whitlam was responsible for reform of the ALP:

Whitlam believed the Labor Party had little chance of being elected unless it could expand its appeal from the traditional working-class base to include the suburban middle class. With the ALP's governing bodies unwilling to reform themselves, Whitlam worked to build support for change among ordinary party members. He was successful in reducing union influence in the party and was able to reconstruct the problematic Victoria party organisation against the will of its leaders, proving essential to victory in the 1972 election.

He is the only prime minister dismissed from office:

Whitlam became Prime Minister in December 1972, defeating William McMahon. His government, for most of the time it lasted, did not have a majority in the Senate, the upper house of the Australian Parliament. This made it hard for Whitlam's government to make laws but the Whitlam government nevertheless made progress in many areas including free health care for everyone, equal rights for women, equal rights for Aboriginal people including the right to own or control land, no further compulsory military service, trade relations with communist China, free tertiary education, and the chance for people with low incomes to get a lawyer to defend their rights.

In 1975, the government thought about borrowing US$4 billion in foreign loans. One cabinet minister, Rex Connor, had secret discussions with a loan broker from Pakistan. The Treasurer, Jim Cairns, misled parliament over this. Partly as a result, the new leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Fraser, used the Senate to cut off supply, that is, to stop money to the government until there was an election. This meant that the government had no money with which to pay civil servants and carry out administration. In order to end the crisis, the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, acting on the Queen’s representative, dismissed Whitlam. Fraser became the temporary Prime Minister and Whitlam was defeated by Fraser in the election that was held a month later.

Whitlam addresses the crowd on the steps of Parliament House after his dismissal:
"Ladies and gentleman, well may we say God Save the Queen because nothing will save the Governor-General. The proclamation which you have just heard read by the Governor-General’s official secretary was countersigned ‘Malcolm Fraser’ who will undoubtedly go down in Australian history from Remembrance Day 1975 as Kerr’s cur."

Whitlam was defeated for a second time by Fraser at the next election in 1977, and resigned from parliament shortly after.


The two old warhorses and adversaries in later years . . . 

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