Gough Whitlam At 98; John Faulkner On A Life Of Endurance, Longevity, Resilience And Extraordinary Contribution

Gough Whitlam celebrates his 98th birthday today.

Whitlam

Whitlam served as Labor Prime Minister from December 5, 1972 until his dismissal by the Governor-General on November 11, 1975. He was the nation’s 21st Prime Minister and is the longest-lived of all of them.

The ALP’s honorary historian and keeper of the party’s institutional memory, Senator John Faulkner, did not forget Whitlam’s birthday when he rose to speak in the Adjournment Debate last night. The speech followed a day of excitement in the Senate, although the drama seems pale by comparison for those of us who remember the Whitlam years. [Read more…]


Busting The Budget: Greens MP Condones Blocking Of Appropriation Bills By Senate

A NSW Greens MP, David Shoebridge, has advocated a parliamentary process that could see the Senate block the government’s Appropriation Bills, a tactic not employed since the constitutional crisis of 1975 that resulted in the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

ShoebridgeShoebridge today released a paper titled: “Busting The Budget – How to Stop the Abbott Budget”. The former barrister, who has been a member of the NSW Legislative Council since 2010, says the Senate could demand amendments to the Budget, as allowed under Section 53 of the Constitution.

Referring to Section 53, Shoebridge says: “In other words, the Senate can demand the Supply Bill be amended by refusing to pass it unless amendments are made. It can provide those amendments to the House of Representatives and force the Abbott government to either accept the amendments or see the budget voted down.”

Shoebridge says most functions of government would be able to continue, even if the Senate refused to pass the two Appropriation Bills. He says public servants are contracted to the Commonwealth and would receive the “necessary wages payments in due course”. He says: “The effect would be to delay the payment of public servants for the period of any impasse in the Senate.”

Shoebridge says the Senate can “choose the grounds on which to fight the budget” by refusing to agree to cuts to local government, social welfare, education, health and the environment. He says this will “force the Abbott government to either agree to these fair amendments or see its entire budget defeated with the consequential shut down of much of the government”.

What is Appropriation?

Governments cannot spend money without the approval of Parliament. Section 83 of the Constitution says that “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law”. [Read more…]


Peter Harvey, Channel 9 Journalist, Dies, 68

Peter Harvey, best known as a Channel 9 journalist over nearly four decades, has died at the age of 68.

Harvey died from pancreatic cancer.

In a storied career, Harvey became famous for his “Peter Harvey – Canberra” sign-off. He reported politics from Canberra for two decades, starting in 1975 just before the Whitlam Dismissal.

In an interview shown tonight, Harvey remembered standing on the steps of Parliament House supporting his cameraman as Gough Whitlam famously delivered his “Kerr’s cur” speech.



Gareth Evans Maintains The Rage

By Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Sir John Kerr was the worst of Australia’s Governors-General and his legacy was to delay the emergence of an Australian republic, former Labor minister Gareth Evans will tell a seminar today.

Professor Evans will say that Sir John, who dismissed Gough Whitlam from the prime ministership, had a “catastrophic” tenure.

It was not marked by dignity, competence or effectiveness. He showed “far less dispassionate non-partisanship than any politician incumbent of the office [of Governor General].”

Professor Evans, Chancellor of the Australian National University, will open the seminar on “Values and Visions of Australia’s Governors-General,” at ANU. [Read more…]


Today’s Electoral Anniversaries: Hughes And Fraser

Today, December 13, is the anniversary of two federal elections, the first in 1919, the second in 1975.

On December 13, 1919, Prime Minister William Morris Hughes was re-elected, defeating the ALP led by Frank Tudor. Hughes had been prime minister since 1915, first for the Labor Party and then as leader of the Nationalist Party that was formed from the Liberals and Labor defectors after the ALP split over conscription.

The election is historic for a couple of reasons. It was the first general election to use preferential voting, instead of first-past-the-post. And it was the first general election contested by the newly-formed Country Party. Not yet a national party, it consisted of different organisations in the states, but it won 11 seats, eating into Hughes’s majority.

On December 13, 1975, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser led the Liberal-Country party coalition to the biggest ever win in Australian federal history, before or since. The coalition parties won 91 seats in the 127-seat House of Representatives. The ALP won 36 seats, a loss of 30.

Fraser had been prime minister for one month and two days, having been appointed caretaker prime minister on November 11, following Governor-General Sir John Kerr’s dismissal of Gough Whitlam.


John Faulkner Remembers Whitlam’s 1972 “It’s Time” Policy Speech

Senator John Faulkner has delivered a speech tonight in honour of the 40th anniversary of Gough Whitlam’s 1972 ‘It’s Time’ policy speech.

Senator John FaulknerFaulkner, the ALP’s unofficial historian and Whitlam confidante, spoke at Bowman Hall, Blacktown, site of the famous campaign launch that propelled Whitlam to the prime ministership.

Faulkner paid tribute to the power of political speeches: “We may be cynical about politics and politicians, we may be sceptical of the motives of those men and women who aspire to represent and to lead us – whether in Parliament, in community organisations and campaigns, or in social movements – but it is still their words which have the potential to express our aspirations, our beliefs, and our deepest sense of collective self.” [Read more…]


Kevin Rudd Launches Whitlam Biography

Kevin Rudd has launched volume two of Jenny Hocking’s biography of Gough Whitlam.

The second volume, titled “Gough Whitlam: His Time” covers Whitlam’s period in government and includes important new revelations about The Dismissal. Rudd’s speech was titled “Labor Politics, Conservative Politics and Australia’s future”.

The launch was held at the Museum of Sydney.

Text of Kevin Rudd’s speech at the launch of Jenny Hocking’s second volume biography of Gough Whitlam.

Labor Politics, Conservative Politics and Australia’s Future

It is nearly four years since I launched Volume I of this important biography of E.G. Whitlam.

I am honoured to have been asked by the author, Jenny Hocking, to today launch Volume II.

Much has changed in Australian politics since then.

Just as many things have not.

The essential narrative of Australian politics has remained much the same for more than a century: Labor in government the party of progressive economic, social and environmental reform, and of Australia’s place in the region and the world. [Read more…]