Today Australia lost its greatest ever leader. A leader that inspired Australia. A leader that captured Australians imagination. A leader that made all Australians proud to be an Australian.
Elected on 2 December 1972 with a campaign entitled; "It's time" the television add shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jykIqQxEOw still inspires me today as it did 39 years ago.
I must confess like so many other "Baby Boomers" from working class families that I was able to obtain a tertiary education as a result of Gough Whitlam's free education policies. I did not have to participate in the conscription lottery as the Whitlam Labor government was elected only months before I would have been considered for conscription.
However, it is not about the benefit I received from Gough Whitlam and his government. It is about the benefit to all Australians. It is hard to imagine today how opposed the vested interests were to universal health insurance. Labor had to go to a double dissolution election and have the bills passed by a historic joint sittings of the Federal Parliament for Medibank to be introduced. His visit to China at the height of the "cold war" sent the US Nixon Administration and the reactionary forces in Australia "tropo." Mr Whitlam changed Australia forever in its treatment of Australians, Family Law, human rights, foreign policy, health, and immigration.
I remember his bringing Australia's security services to heel with Attorney General Lionel Murphy's visit to ASIO Headquarters in Melbourne reminding them they service Australia through its democratically elected parliament.
Interestingly his dismissal during the constitutional crisis by Governor General John Kerr was predicated on what was known as the "loans affair" as the Whitlam government wanted Australia's resources owned and developed by Australians. Mr Whitlam was a great parliamentarian who demonstrated enormous respect for the parliament and its its conventions.
In his short 3 years as Prime Minister from 2 December 1972 to 11 November 1975 he transformed and inspired a nation with legacies that will last forever. Only great leaders do that. Gough was the greatest. Vale E G Whitlam.