Tuesday, October 21, 2014

God Gough is Dead

It is a sad day for true believers. His self belief in his own greatest can be summed up by this quote from Fairfax Press, which I rather like.

Director of the Australian National Gallery, Betty Churcher, informed Whitlam of a plan - fortunately kyboshed - which would have made him appear to walk across water to the opening of an exhibition. "Comrade," Whitlam replied, "that would not have been possible - the stigmata have not yet healed." His fans found it hilarious but it confirmed the worst fears of his critics. Here was Whitlam literally challenging the Almighty.

Whitlam was only Australian Prime Minister from 1972 unitl 1975, but we still benefit from many of his legacies.
Try these just to start with.

  • universal healthcare
  • free university education
  • Indigenous land rights
  • end to conscription
  • abolition of the death penalty
  • diplomatic recognition of China - first PM to visit China
  • racial discrimination act
  • family law act
  • no-fault divorce
He died today at the age of 98. Long may we remember you, comrade.
This brillinat political ad went to air in 1972 and it changed Australia forever.

21 comments:

  1. I hoped someone would pay tribute to this brilliant man today. I should have known it would be you. Thank you. And a tradie and I have just mourned for what is gone - he heard and recognised that ad.

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    1. EC, I expect there are now many around, but I am pleased I got in early. I assume tradies are of a certain age, so I am surprised that he knew the ad.

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    2. He is a master tiler so of an age to remember. And from a migrant family who supported Gough from the time they landed in Oz. And now wondering how he is supposed to keep working until he is seventy with his back and bones already paying the price for hard physical work...

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  2. He certainly left a wonderful legacy

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    1. That The Abbott would take glee in destroying.

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  3. He also increased the Child Endowment amount, (now called family payment or something) which greatly improved my standard of living at the time. I was very much in favour of the free university program too, it gave me hope that my kids could go one day. As it turned out they all found school boring and got jobs instead.
    He had great visions for Australia and managed to do a lot of good while he was PM. He'll be missed.

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    1. Thanks for the personal memory River, about how he improved you life.

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  4. The slaughter in the Vietnam War was going on and on, and protest marches and sit ins had no effect. I left Australia in disgust, with hundreds of thousands of young compatriots for London.

    Then Whitlam came to the Lodge in 1972 and the war was ended on his first day! He changed our world! RIP, Gough.

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    1. Hels, so many left Australia's conservatism, as you say. I'm afraid to say, I did not have direct experience of the conservatism, being a bit young. But I certainly remember the elation of 'our boys coming home'. Later edit: Rather that our boys would not be sent off to fight in silly foreign wars that we had nothing to do with.

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    2. Andrew

      I had only one personal contact with Gough and Margaret back in 1975. Just before the final election, they were touring Perth, speaking to voters, and came to the Women's Health and Community Centre where I was the psychologist. We had half an hour together in a staff meeting (8 women) and then I had half an hour to show them around the centre and to answer questions.

      It was the best hour of my very political life.

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    3. You are privileged indeed Hels. I have heard in the past that Margaret was very down to earth.

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  5. Just watching a documentry about Gough right now Andrew.. Enjoying very much.

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    1. Grace I saw most of it. Had to go to bed.

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  6. I've been following this story all day; it was hard to concentrate at work. I came to your blog because I figured you would say something about Gough's passing.
    I was only a young child when he was PM but he made a lasting impression on me. It saddened and angered me today that much of his celebrated legacy is slowly being whittled away. I can only hope that the masses who have taken to the airwaves and internet to express sadness at the loss of Gough and their dismay of Australia's current political landscape demand more from politicians on both sides before it's too late.

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    1. Wombat, The Abbott had the gall to stand in Parliament and praise Whitlam and his achievements when Abbott would like nothing better than to undo most of them. Uni fees are on the rise again, leading to greater HEX debt. TAFE fees are impossibly high and private operators are rorting the system. Medibank Private to be privatised which nobody wants to happen. Oh, I am getting cross now.

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  7. He seems to be fantstic man who lived almost one hundred

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    1. Gosia, he was also very knowledgeable about European and ancient history.

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  8. Now that he is dead I can say that Mr Whitlam called me 'Comrade' when I had dealings with him there.

    I was interested to hear on the radio this morning a number of callers criticising 'no fault' divorce which I had imagined was a positive thing. All those callers were either an affected spouse or child in such a divorce. Their perspective was very different.

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    1. Hehe Victor, or comrade should I say. I can't believe people would really want to turn back the clock to the spying and the set ups, and contrivances that were part of getting a divorce. Mind, you have reminded me that my grandparents were against no fault divorce. My parents benefited from its introduction.

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  9. Wow. What a powerful song! And what accomplishments. That "walk-on-water" entrance would have been hilarious and so incredibly inappropriate.

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    1. Mitchell, all the participants in the clip were famous in one way or another. Don't worry, the walk on water idea did not die and was taken up by a subsequent PM.

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