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Tue Oct 21, 2014, 12:26 AM

Vale Gough Whitlam

One of Australia's greatest Prime Ministers,who stopped Conscription and gave us FREE Uni courses and many other GREAT things passed away over night.
He was 98 years young.
RIP Gough

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Reply Vale Gough Whitlam (Original post)
peakhillfm Oct 2014 OP
Matilda Oct 2014 #1
Fairgo Oct 2014 #2
Matilda Oct 2014 #3

Response to peakhillfm (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 11:26 PM

1. Obituary: Gough Whitlam's Ideas Must Live On

Excellent, thoughtful article from Bel Eltham In New Matilda. By his own admission, he's too young to remember Gough as an active politician, but he's researched carefully and summed up the time very well.

"When it came, he seized it with both hands, embarking on a whirlwind of legislative change that has never been matched, before or since. Appointing himself and deputy Lance Barnard to all the cabinet positions for the first fortnight of his government, Whitlam ended conscription, recognised communist China, applied sanctions against South Africa, and embarked on an ambitious program of support for the arts."


"Since 1975, Whitlam’s achievements have never been under greater attack than today. The Abbott government is re-privatising higher education, and is attacking universal health care with a $7 co-payment. It has already had a go at rolling back the Racial Discrimination Act. It remains viscerally opposed to environmentalism, to feminism and to any meaningful advance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander equality.

"Indeed, Whitlam’s passing shows that the ideas that he stood for – of social democracy, of universal social provision, of progressive law reform and of a cradle-to-grave welfare state – are now in eclipse. Just as in the 1950s, a conservative government is making Australia a less equal society. The Labor opposition is helmed by a weak and ineffectual leader, and there is a 1950s split in the progressive vote between Labor and the Greens (although at least the ALP can still rely on Greens preferences)."


I hope - how I hope - that somehow, Shorten will be rolled as Labor leader before the next election, because I fear that, however bad Abbott is, there is nothing appealing about Shorten to most voters; not in personality, eloquence, or passion. A second Abbott term will finish off the Australia Whitlam left us, and the damage may never be undone.

What a pathetic turnaround – from Gough Whitlam: big man, big intellect, big ideas, big personality, to Tony Abbott: an intellectually challenged little runt, with no original ideas or policies, on sale to the highest bidders; a stumbling, stuttering, bandy-legged second-rater, locked in the past of the mother country where he really belongs.

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Response to Matilda (Reply #1)

Fri Oct 24, 2014, 08:03 PM

2. Gough

As i neophyte on these political shores, Labor's past is still a mystery to me. I arrived to see the last modicum of the famed Aussie fair go negotiated to a nub in the debacled fumble that was the rise of Rudd. To be introduced to Gough in his passing is poetic...he was a great man of action it appears, a kindred spirit to Huey Long in his gutsy populist strategy (but more focused and principled than the Kingfish). I start to understand what i am watching in Labors dissolution and the liberal debauchery under Abbot...more the tragedy in his shadow, I think.

Do you see any heroes? Do you see the spirit of Gough manifest in any movement? Is there still hope for Labor?

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Response to Fairgo (Reply #2)

Sun Oct 26, 2014, 08:20 PM

3. The problems Gough faced haven't really changed.

Then, as now, Labor is still ruled by its factional leaders. It takes courage to take them on, and high public approval to pull it off.

Gough did initially. Like Rudd later, the public loved him, but the party didn't. So when he stumbled, the factions pounced, In his case, it was the left insisting that their man, Jim Cairns, was put in place of Lance Barnard as deputy leader. Cairns was too weak and flawed for the role, and helped no end in Whitlam's downfall.

Rudd tried initially - he wasn't beholden to either faction, but had enormous public support. But he lacked Gough's courage, and failed to "crash through or crash" on the introduction of an ETS. When he faltered, it was this time the right who pounced and knifed him.

I don't see a Gough at the moment - or a Keating for that matter. Keating never enjoyed Gough's popularity (until they made a musical about him), but he's the only recent politician with a true vision of where he wanted to take Australia.

We have some capable Labor leaders in Chris Bowen, Anthony Albanese and Tony Burke. I think Albo is probably the only one whose heart would really be in tune with Gough, but he's more of a Labor scrapper than the grand visionary. It's certainly not Shorten - once again, the right-wing flexing its political muscles and giving Labor the leader the people don't want.

Gough saw what was needed and went ahead and did it. Today's pollies seem to spend too much time counting their numbers and looking at the polls to give serious thought to something as fundamental as what is good for the country.

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