Kevin Rudd Launches Whitlam Biography

Kevin Rudd has launched volume two of Jenny Hocking’s biography of Gough Whitlam.

The second volume, titled “Gough Whitlam: His Time” covers Whitlam’s period in government and includes important new revelations about The Dismissal. Rudd’s speech was titled “Labor Politics, Conservative Politics and Australia’s future”.

The launch was held at the Museum of Sydney.

Text of Kevin Rudd’s speech at the launch of Jenny Hocking’s second volume biography of Gough Whitlam.

Labor Politics, Conservative Politics and Australia’s Future

It is nearly four years since I launched Volume I of this important biography of E.G. Whitlam.

I am honoured to have been asked by the author, Jenny Hocking, to today launch Volume II.

Much has changed in Australian politics since then.

Just as many things have not.

The essential narrative of Australian politics has remained much the same for more than a century: Labor in government the party of progressive economic, social and environmental reform, and of Australia’s place in the region and the world. [Read more…]

Malcolm Fraser’s Whitlam Oration

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has delivered the 2012 Whitlam Oration to the Whitlam Institute in Sydney.

Malcolm Fraser

Nearly thirty-seven years after the Fraser-led coalition parties blocked the Budget and Sir John Kerr dismissed the Whitlam government, Fraser remarked that in the 1970s “few people would have believed that Malcolm Fraser would be delivering a Gough Whitlam oration”.

Fraser, 82, spoke mainly about foreign policy and international politics, and issues concerning race, immigration and refugees.

Gough Whitlam was not in attendance but a video message from him was shown:

  • Listen to Malcolm Fraser’s speech (51m)

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  • Listen to Gough Whitlam on Fraser and multiculturalism

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  • Listen to Senator John Faulkner comment on Whitlam and Fraser

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Text of The Whitlam Oration given by Malcolm Fraser.

“Politics, Independence and the National Interest: the legacy of power and how to achieve a peaceful Western Pacific”

I am honoured to be asked to make this speech. During the turbulent years of the 1970’s, few people would have believed that Malcolm Fraser would be delivering a Gough Whitlam Oration. Politics is a hard business. The opposition of one party to another can become toxic. We have had this demonstrated to us all too often in recent years. But it does not always have to be this way.

By any standards Gough Whitlam is a formidable, political warrior. He has inspired an undying loyalty amongst his supporters. He is an historic figure who has made a significant impact on the life of Australia. He had grand ideas, many of which left their mark on Australia. A number of which were embraced by the following government. Others have survived despite the opposition from the other side of politics.

He was the first Australian Prime Minister to recognise China. As Australian Prime Minister he had the confidence and knowledge to recognise the distinct national interests of our country. He established ground breaking enquiries into Land Rights for Aboriginal Australians and also over a number of environmental issues, where reports were later implemented by my government.

As political antagonists we had substantial differences, but as Australians we had shared interests and concerns. [Read more…]

Gillard Speech To Whitlam Institute; $7m Building Grant

The federal government has given $7 million to the restoration of Australia’s oldest public building so that it can permanently house the Whitlam Institute.

Julia Gillard

The historic Female Orphan School building at the Parramatta campus of the University of Western Sydney will also house the Margaret Whitlam art galleries.

The Whitlam Institute was established at the university in 2000.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard spoke today at the Whitlam Institute and paid an emotional tribute to Whitlam’s political memory.

  • Listen to Gillard’s speech (8m)

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Text of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech to the Whitlam Institute.

Friends, this year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Gough’s election to Parliament, which brought into public life one of the finest minds of a great generation.

Gough, who is so well-known for his deep love of literature, was very fond of quoting the last lines of the Inferno, when Dante and Virgil returned from the deep and “came forth to see the stars once again.”

Gough Whitlam is one of those stars, one of those stars for the Australian nation, for the Labor movement and the Labor Party. [Read more…]

Remember When A Labor Government Could Win Re-Election?

8.00pm – Thirty-eight years ago tonight, the Whitlam Labor government won re-election to its second term.

Gough WhitlamThe early election took place just 18 months after the ALP’s historic 1972 victory. It occurred after Whitlam’s abortive attempt to secure an additional Senate vacancy by appointing DLP Senator Vince Gair as Ambassador to Ireland. The coalition threatened to block Supply, so Whitlam opted for a double dissolution.

The ALP polled 49.3% of the primary vote. It was returned to government with a net loss of one seat and a floor majority of 4 seats.

Despite eliminating the DLP from the Senate, Whitlam failed to gain control of the upper house. Eighteen months later, the government was dismissed by the Governor-General after the coalition refused to pass the Supply bills.

The close result in 1974 led to the Liberal leader Bill Snedden claiming that he hadn’t really lost the election. He variously said that the opposition didn’t win enough seats and that it hadn’t “lost all”.

  • Listen to audio of ABC TV’s 1974 election night coverage (90m)

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  • Listen to Snedden’s “concession” on May 29.

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  • More information on the 1974 election

Lionel Bowen, Whitlam Minister, Deputy PM To Hawke, Dies At 89

Lionel Bowen, a minister in the Whitlam government and Deputy Prime Minister under Bob Hawke, has died, aged 89.

Bowen was Deputy Prime Minister for the first three terms of the Hawke government from 1983 to 1990. He was Minister for Trade in 1983-84 and Attorney-General from 1984-90.

Lionel Bowen at the first meeting of the Hawke Cabinet in 1983

Bowen was one of the original Whitlam government ministers, serving as Postmaster-General between 1972-74. He was Special Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister between 1973-75. [Read more…]

The Death Of Margaret Whitlam

Margaret Whitlam died, aged 92, on March 17, 2012.

Parliamentary tributes were delivered on March 19. A memorial service was held on March 23.

Margaret Whitlam Memorial Service

  • Mar 17: Prime Minister Julia Gillard comments on the death of Margaret Whitlam

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  • Mar 17: Remembering Margaret Whitlam
  • Mar 17: Margaret Whitlam Dies, 92
  • Mar 19-20: House of Representatives & Senate Condolence Motion Speeches:
    • Julia Gillard (ALP)

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    • Tony Abbott (Lib)

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    • Tanya Plibersek (ALP>

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    • Julie Bishop (Lib)

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    • Kevin Rudd (ALP)

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    • Malcolm Turnbull (Lib)

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    • Senator John Faulker (ALP)

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    • Senator Marise Payne (Lib)

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    • Senator Bob Brown (Greens)

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    • Josh Frydenberg (Lib)
    • Natasha Griggs (CLP)
  • Mar 23: Tony Whitlam’s eulogy for his mother

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  • Mar 23 Catherine Dovey’s eulogy for her mother

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Margaret Whitlam: 1919-2012

Margaret Whitlam Dies, 92

We Want Gough!

Edward Gough Whitlam is 95 years old today.

Whitlam on the steps of Parliament HouseWhilst it is thirty-five years since Australia’s 21st Prime Minister was dismissed by the Governor-General, his political career contains lessons and his unbounded spirit is missed.

The present Labor government is already nine months older than the Whitlam government was on November 11, 1975. Yet, if it fell today, its record would pale by comparison. The reservoir of good-will would be low and few would hanker for Rudd or Gillard.

Whitlam, however, is loved by his party and many in the community. Affection and loyalty walk arm in arm with him through the pages of history. He is a living lesson in political leadership.

Forty years ago, Whitlam was the Opposition Labor Leader who spoke to a generation of people who had known nothing other than the coalition in power in Canberra. Menzies was long gone and the government of William McMahon was a joke. Only the most rabidly partisan would deny it. The Liberals had disposed of their former leader, John Gorton, and opted for an overweeningly ambitious replacement who wasn’t up to the job. [Read more…]

Gough and Margaret Whitlam Awarded ALP Life Membership

Gough Whitlam, 90, and his wife, Margaret, 87, have been awarded the first-ever life memberships of the Australian Labor Party at the national level.

Gough and Margaret Whitlam at the ALP National Conference, 28-04-2007 The awards were made at the ALP National Conference in Sydney.

Addressing the conference, the former Prime Minister reminded delegates of his famous admonition of the Victorian branch in 1967 when he derided the oppositionist mentality that equated defeat with ideological purity: “Certainly the impotent are pure”.

Forty years later, the nonagenarian Whitlam told the conference, “when I was 50 I could get away with saying things like that.”

Whitlam noted that under his leadership in the 1969 elections, the ALP secured “the greatest swing on record and won 17 seats”. It would not have been lost on conference delegates that in 2007 the ALP needs to win 16 seats to secure a bare majority in the House of Representatives. [Read more…]