The 21st Prime Minister of Australia, from 5 December 1972 – 11 November 1975.
Gough Whitlam came into office in late 1972. The Australian Labor Party (ALP) had been in opposition for 23 years, and Whitlam, who had reformed the ALP's policies, was keen to bring a program of social reform to the people of Australia. He ended conscription, established new Commonwealth agencies like Aboriginal Affairs, Environment, and Urban and Regional Development, and introduced universal health care - the Medibank Scheme. Economic woes and political mistakes resulted in the opposition refusing to pass his government's Budget Bills in the Senate. In 1975 he became the only Prime Minister to be removed from office by the Governor-General.
Edward Gough Whitlam (commonly known by his middle name - Gough) was born in Kew, Melbourne, on 11 July 1916. He was the first of two children of Harry FE Whitlam and Martha Maddocks. Harry joined the Commonwealth Public Service in Melbourne and rose to become the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor. The family moved to Sydney in 1918 and to Canberra in 1928.
Whitlam was educated at Mowbray House and Knox Grammar School in Sydney, then in Canberra at Telopea Park High School and Canberra Boys' Grammar School. He went on to the University of Sydney, from which he graduated in arts and law.
He married Margaret Dovey (1919-2012) in 1942, and they had four children.
Whitlam enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1941, served as a navigator, and was discharged as a flight lieutenant in 1945. He was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in 1947 and practised as a barrister. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1962.
Whitlam entered federal parliament in November 1952 by winning the seat of Werriwa in a by-election. He was elected deputy leader of the federal parliamentary ALP in March 1960. He succeeded Arthur Calwell as leader in February 1967, which made him Leader of the Opposition. “Indigenous affairs was the policy area in which the Whitlam Government effected some of its most transformational change. Under the Whitlam Government, a policy of ‘self determination’ was adopted, whereby the Commonwealth would support decision-making by indigenous communities themselves, and relinquish the paternalistic control that previous governments had wielded over the lives of indigenous people. The Whitlam Government sought to empower indigenous people to claim back the land to which they were entitled, to allow more indigenous input into policy-making, and to abolish discriminatory practices that limited their freedoms and opportunities. Whitlam’s 1972 election campaign speech was clear on the need to accord Aboriginal people the rights, justice and opportunities that had been denied to them for so long. He was committed to ‘legislate to give aborigines land rights – not just because their case is beyond argument, but because all of us as Australians are diminished while the aborigines are denied their rightful place in this nation’. The inequality suffered by indigenous people, Whitlam argued, should cause Australians an ‘unrelenting’ and ‘deep determined anger’. The first indigenous Senator, Neville Bonner-1180 was in the Federal Parliament at this time. Many of the reforms initiated by the Whitlam Government were continued by the Fraser Fraser-1802 Government.”He stood down as Leader after the 1977 election.
In 1983 he was appointed Australian ambassador to UNESCO by Bob Hawke. In retirement Whitlam continued to lecture and comment on political and constitutional issues.
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On 21 Oct 2014 at 04:22 GMT Maryann (Thompson) Hurt wrote:
Time to update him, as he died today.
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