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Greatest Australian PM Gough Whitlam has died

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Arksy

Member
Why was he only in for three years?

Long story short, he failed to accrue supply (money to run the government, think back to the recent US shutdown) from Parliament because his budget was blocked by the Senate, an ability that only the Australian upper house possesses. Under constitutional conventions if the government fails to attain supply it must immediately resign. He refused to resign, citing the fact that he still had confidence of the lower house (which he did)...and to be fair it's a pretty weird aberration that the upper house is able to block supply...especially when he still had the confidence of the house of representatives..which is the house which is the final arbiter on who is PM.

The governor general used his reserve powers (he's effectively the sovereign here in Australia) to vacate both houses of Parliament and call an election to block the impasse. Whitlam agreed to stand down, fearing riots and violence..and head to an election.

He installed the opposition leader as caretaker prime minister in the hopes of being able to gain the supply to go to an election. It's a general rule in most Westminster democracies that the government can't spend a dime until Parliament says they can. This is again, incredibly odd because the opposition leader didn't have the confidence of the lower house..well it wasn't tested...but he wouldn't have...but they sort of let it happen because an election was happening and he was only installed as a caretaker.

He lost that election in a landslide. He was never technically "fired" as some people like to claim. He was forced to go to an election and had the opportunity to garner public support. There's a lot of misinformation about this issue, and because of it's highly political nature it still stirs up a lot of passion in people...but as to the events...that's what happened.
 

freddy

Banned


'Well may we say "God save the Queen", because nothing will save the Governor-General!'

And thanks for the pat on the head when I was a little tacker, Gough.
 

bomma_man

Member
SMH said:
Gough Whitlam is perhaps best known for the manner in which he prematurely exited from power rather than how he chose to wield it

But wield it he did. Whitlam's short three-year shelf life as prime minister is generally recognised as one of Australia's most reforming governments.

Conservative government has been the norm in Australian politics since federation and the preference is for reform by increment rather than by rush. Consequently, much of what Gough Whitlam built – such as a free university education – has been torn down by successive governments on both sides of the political spectrum.


But what remains continues to shape Australia's national life like a guardian angel. Here is some of the Whitlam legacy:

● His government extricated Australia from the Vietnam War and abolished conscription. Australia had been fighting in South Vietnam since 1962. Two years later conscription was introduced but the first wave of baby boomers rebelled and eventually they, and their elders, took to the streets in moratorium nationwide marches that saw mass civil disobedience reflect the prevailing view. Labor's anti-war policy became one of Whitlam's most powerful election campaign assets.

● Whitlam took the demonology out of foreign policy, recognising China after the Coalition had refused contact with Beijing for 24 years. Whitlam ripped the rug from beneath Bill McMahon when he led a Labor delegation to China in July 1971 and the Coalition prime minister accused him of being a Communist pawn only to see United States President Richard Nixon announce his proposed visit to China a week later. Whitlam also attempted to redefine the alliance with the US.

● Medibank, the precursor to Medicare, was established.

● Social welfare reforms included the supporting mother's benefit and welfare payment for homeless people. Before 1973 only widows were entitled to pension payments, so other women who were raising children alone faced invidious choices. But the pension payment gave single mothers choices and options around the raising of their children. It also helped remove old stigmas around single mothers.

● Equal pay for women: One of the first acts of the Whitlam government was to reopen the National Wage and Equal Pay cases at the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The 1972 Equal Pay case meant that Australian women doing work similar to that done by men should be paid an equal wage. Two years later the commission extended the adult minimum wage to include women workers for the first time.

● The Postmaster-General's Department was replaced by the twin-headed Telecom and Australia Post.

● The Australian Legal Office and Australian Law Reform Commission were set up.

● The death penalty for Commonwealth offences was abolished. Melbourne escapee Ronald Ryan was the last man executed in Australia on February 3, 1967, for shooting a prison guard. Victoria and some state governments (not NSW which abolished capital punishment for murder in 1955) remained proponents of the death penalty. Whitlam's reforms led to the 2010 federal legislation prohibiting the reinstatement of capital punishment in all Australian states and territories.

● The Family Law Act providing for a national Family Court was enacted, and simplified, non-punitive divorce laws were introduced.

● The Whitlam government also established needs-based funding for schools after appointing Peter Karmel to head a committee examining the position of government and non-government primary and secondary schools throughout Australia. Karmel's report identified many inequities in the funding system, which for the first time led to the federal government providing funding to state schools.

● A free university education was briefly available to all Australians. In Whitlam's three years of government, participation in higher education increased by 25 per cent, to 276,559 enrolments. The main beneficiaries were women.

● Amid widespread business and union opposition, in 1973 the Australian economy was opened to the world by a 25 per cent cut in tariffs across the board. An early forerunner of the Productivity Commission was established as was the Trade Practices Act and a predecessor of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

● The Australian Assistance Plan to fund regional councils and employment projects continues in the concepts of "social planning" and "community development".

● The National Sewerage Program connected suburban homes to sewerage. The government spent $330 million on the program before it was cancelled by the Fraser government but in Sydney the backlog of unsewered properties fell from 158,884 in 1973 to 95,505 in 1978. Similarly, in Melbourne, the backlog was reduced from 160,000 in 1972-73, to 88,000 in 1978-79.

● The Whitlam government reduced the voting age to 18 and provided the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory with representation in the Senate.

● It replaced God Save the Queen with Advance Australia Fair as the national anthem.

● Queen Elizabeth became Queen of Australia when she signed her assent to The Royal Style and Titles Act 1973. The legislation also deleted the traditional reference to the Queen as Head of the Church of England by removing "Defender of the Faith" from her Australian titles.

● An Order of Australia replaced the British Honours system.

● The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 conferred rights to equality before the law and bound the Commonwealth and the states to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.

● The Department of Aboriginal Affairs was set up and the first Commonwealth legislation to grant land rights to indigenous people was drafted. The subsequent Malcolm Fraser government passed the legislation.

● Land title deeds were handed to some Gurindji traditional lands owners in the Northern Territory in 1975, a real and symbolic gesture that became a touchstone for the land rights movement.

● The Whitlam government also established the National Gallery of Australia, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Heritage Commission. It introduced FM radio, pushed for the setting up of 2JJ, a radio established to support Australian music and connect with young Australians. It set up multicultural radio services – 2EA Sydney and 3EA in Melbourne – and issued licences to community radio stations for the first time.

● The Australian film industry flowered and the Australian Film and Television School, an idea of a previous Coalition prime minister, John Gorton, was opened.

● The reorganisation and modernisation of Labor's policy platform saved the ALP from its past.

● Papua New Guinea became independent on September 16, 1975, after being administered from Australia since the First World War.

It's really hard to believe quite how much he did. I'm not sure it it's unprecedented in a modern western democracy, but it'd come close.
 

markot

Banned
Australians dont like too much change sadly. (That and the oil crisis in the 70's really screwed things up >.<)

Whitlam was great. Not perfect. But he was a kick in the butt the country needed.

I think Australians (All people?) are generally conservative by nature. Change is scary, and it really only happens reluctantly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs0dTxTEoW0
 

DrSlek

Member
Long story short, he failed to accrue supply (money to run the government, think back to the recent US shutdown) from Parliament because his budget was blocked by the Senate, an ability that only the Australian upper house possesses. Under constitutional conventions if the government fails to attain supply it must immediately resign. He refused to resign, citing the fact that he still had confidence of the lower house (which he did)...and to be fair it's a pretty weird aberration that the upper house is able to block supply...especially when he still had the confidence of the house of representatives..which is the house which is the final arbiter on who is PM.

The governor general used his reserve powers (he's effectively the sovereign here in Australia) to vacate both houses of Parliament and call an election to block the impasse. Whitlam agreed to stand down, fearing riots and violence..and head to an election.

He installed the opposition leader as caretaker prime minister in the hopes of being able to gain the supply to go to an election. It's a general rule in most Westminster democracies that the government can't spend a dime until Parliament says they can. This is again, incredibly odd because the opposition leader didn't have the confidence of the lower house..well it wasn't tested...but he wouldn't have...but they sort of let it happen because an election was happening and he was only installed as a caretaker.

He lost that election in a landslide. He was never technically "fired" as some people like to claim. He was forced to go to an election and had the opportunity to garner public support. There's a lot of misinformation about this issue, and because of it's highly political nature it still stirs up a lot of passion in people...but as to the events...that's what happened.

I believe Whitlam also made allegations that the CIA was involved in his downfall in some way.
 

bomma_man

Member
Australians dont like too much change sadly. (That and the oil crisis in the 70's really screwed things up >.<)

Whitlam was great. Not perfect. But he was a kick in the butt the country needed.

I think Australians (All people?) are generally conservative by nature. Change is scary, and it really only happens reluctantly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs0dTxTEoW0

The oil crisis fucked us all. I mean what could supply side/Chicago economics do about that that Keynesian couldn't? Nothing. Carter and Whitlam were just really unlucky.

Edit: even John fucking Howard admitted that was the cause
 

magenta

Member
Australia is going to need a man of his caliber in the near future. Unfortunately I don't see any on the horizon :(
 
RIP Edward Gough Whitlam. My family and I are forever grateful for the policies you instituted during your brief but awesome tenure as Prime Minister.
 

Darklord

Banned
According to left-leaning voters, probably Abbott.
According to right wing, anti-science, inbred, misogynistic racists who voted for Abbott, it would be Julia Gillard. Although if you asked them the same question 10 years ago they would have said Whitlam and still been wrong.

This post looks completely unbiased.
 
D

Deleted member 231381

Unconfirmed Member
This post looks completely unbiased.

I mean, the inbred part is unfair, as is the racist one in the sense of intentional direct racism, and probably only applies to a small subset. The other two... seem pretty true, given Abbott's policies.
 

bomma_man

Member
Cheistopher Pyne said:
“I remember my mother was ironing, I was watching Adventure Island and my mother started crying. I thought I wonder why?

“I have to let you in on a secret, she wasn’t crying out of sadness when she heard the Whitlam government had been dismissed. She was crying out of joy.”

Potent imagery in many ways.
 

hidys

Member
The upcoming Victorian election has reminded me that if it wasn't for him the Vic ALP would still be the unelectable mess it was post '55.

It's crazy to think that before he was elected people thought he was a moderate that could have belonged in either party, hence the assistance from Murdoch in the early days.
 

D.Lo

Member
According to left-leaning voters, probably Abbott.
According to right wing, anti-science, inbred, misogynistic racists who voted for Abbott, it would be Julia Gillard. Although if you asked them the same question 10 years ago they would have said Whitlam and still been wrong.
Haha great answer.

I'd say Howard though. He created the negative, me-me, protect the rich attitude, wasted an economic boom, exploited racism and fear for electoral gain, and ultimately achieved very little in 11 years. In Howard's time in office, his achievements were:

1. Gun control - gotta acknowledge this.
2. Involvement in East Timor - good or bad depending on who you ask, but overall okay
3. GST. Which he promised to 'never ever' do, and it's an attack on the poor, since they spend more/all of their income, while the rich put it in the bank.
4. Racist border protection.
5. 'Paying off government debt' which they did with literally no effort - a booming economy created by Keating led to more income tax for the government.
6. Middle class welfare as election bribes
7. Iraq war to find the WMDs - well done there little Johnny.
8. Workchoices, we know how that went.

A pretty unimpressive list. Three reforms (guns, GST, work choices) in 11 years, one good, one was a stinker, and the other got them kicked out of office and the PM lost his seat.
 

Dryk

Member
^ Privitisation of Telstra. So important that new negative consequences keep cropping up even now.

EDIT: It'd be interesting to see the world where they didn't and the NBN delays were much shorter
 

D.Lo

Member
^ Privitisation of Telstra. So important that new negative consequences keep cropping up even now.
True, and also sold Sydney Airport. But privatisation of a particular asset isn't really a policy or achievement pre-se, so doesn't make that list. It's certainly not a 'reform'.

That said, it's another way their 'paying off government debt' thing was bullshit. They sold the house to pay off the car.
 

Fredescu

Member
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