Gough Whitlam - The Highs & Lows

Friday, October 24, 2014

There is no doubt Gough Whitlam was a man of immense influence over Australian politics. He rose to return Labor to power after 23 years in the wilderness. His time as PM was a tumultuous period in Australian politics and will be long remembered.

He was a great enough a man to be remembered for what he did, but it seems now he is being credited for all sorts of things he NEVER did. Everyone is  heaping credit on the man, some of it deserved, but let’s not forget he is responsible for other things as well, not all so wonderful.

Gough Whitlam led Australia into a massive economic crisis with his bad management of the economy, leaving Australia broke and in massive debt when he was voted out in 1975. This after just less than three years in power! (remember Kevin Rudd?)

Manufacturing started its massive decline under his guardianship of the economy, something which has continued unfortunately under successive governments, both Liberal and Labor. When Whitlam signed the Lima Agreement it was the beginning of the end for Australian manufacturing and the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Australian workers. The workers Whitlam claimed to represent.

He had many gifted people within the Labor Party, but his cabinet was not as well endowed. Scandal after scandal wracked his government.

Gough did NOT abolish the White Australia policy, as has been spruiked by his adoring followers. That was done by Harold Holt. It was also Holt who started free university courses, not Whitlam.

Whitlam did recognise China, and for this was a significant world leader. Australia could not continue to deny nor recognise over a billion people and Gough knew this. Gough was a social reformer for sure, but no economist. He once asked, after being told Australia had AAA credit rating, “What does that mean?”

The Labor party and the left wing media and commentators love to wring their hands and gnash their teeth over the terrible “injustice” done to Whitlam by John Kerr, that Kerr had somehow done something wrong, immoral or illegal. The Governor General has the constitutional and legal right to dismiss the government. Whether he should have done this or not is of course a matter for debate, but let’s not try to pretend he had no constitutional right to do so. Malcom Fraser urged and argued for Kerr to do it and yet Fraser is now regarded as Whitlam’s “mate” and Kerr never forgiven by Whitlam. Obviously the fact that Fraser turned into a left wing Greenie socialist in later years helped with the forgiveness he received from Whitlam and Labor.

Remember, Whitlam was afraid to go to the people in 1975 (ie. hold an election) because he knew he would be heavily defeated, that the people did not want his policies (or government) any more. Not wanting to face the people of Australia, he hung on to power even though he could not get supply from the hostile senate. He should have called an election and let the people decide. We do live in a democracy after all, and we, the people, should decide, not Gough Whitlam. The Governor General did no more than any good referee would do, blow the whistle and start again, let the people decide at an election. Gough Whitlam had the same chance as Fraser of getting his job back. He still had a fair go, at the election that followed. The people could return him IF they wanted to! The resulting election saw the people not only NOT maintain the Whitlam “rage”, but resoundingly made judgement on him, and kicked him out in a landslide victory to Fraser, and again the following election. Such a pity Fraser was such a poor and weak PM, a chance lost!

Multiculturalism was forced upon Australia by Whitlam without anyone being asked if we wanted it. I am not talking about a multi-racial society, which is what we are, and should be, but the multiple cultures, multiple tribes which are in conflict now in Australia, is the result of the ball he started rolling, and which Fraser also promoted, again with no mandate from the people. Australians have NEVER been asked if we want to have multiculturalism, ie multi societies and tribes and laws and beliefs and values and laws within the country. Look at what is happening right now in Australia, were we ever asked if THIS is what we wanted?

PNG which was given independence far too early by Whitlam, in his desire to show his own social reforms, until this very day is dependent on Australia for funding, and all services are now basically non existent. Services such as basic health care, roads, schools, law and order, which were all working well BEFORE independence are now defunct due to no-one being trained and educated sufficiently to do the job…before they had to do it! In essence PNG was NOT ready! It may have made Gough feel like a hero, but millions of poor villagers, mostly women and children, have had to pay the price ever since, often with their lives. 

Mr. Pias Wingti, a former Prime Minister of PNG, when commenting (23rd October) on the death of Mr. Whitlam, said that in 1968 when Whitlam visited PNG (as the then Opposition Leader) that in regards to independence, Whitlam said  “whether you like it or not, you will have it!”
(note: Jim Savage has lived and worked in PNG for 40 years)

Labor would have us believe the people of Australia were outraged by the famous (or infamous depending on your viewpoint) “dismissal”, well apparently they were most decidedly not, given the election result!

However Gough Whitlam was indeed a great man and a great Australian. Regardless of whether you agree with his politics, his strength of character cannot be denied. Each time we pull out our Medicare card we can remember him. He promoted the arts and this has no doubt contributed to Australia’s growth in this area and our worldwide recognition to our contribution to the arts. China is now our biggest export market. He made big advances in giving Aborigines control over tribal lands, and giving them some self believe and pride.

I doubt we will see another Gough Whitlam any time soon, if ever.



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