Mungo MacCallum Not Dead

Some journalists took to Twitter today to tell us Mungo MacCallum was dead, but he wasn’t and isn’t.

Still, any excuse to remember one of my favourite Mungo pieces. It appeared in Nation Review on December 27, 1974.

It was a month after Malcolm Fraser had failed to dislodge Bill Snedden from the Liberal leadership. It’s easy to see leadership changes as inevitable in retrospect, but foretelling the future is fraught at the best of times. [Read more…]


40th Anniversary Of The 1974 Joint Sitting Of Parliament

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Joint Sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, held during the term of the Whitlam Labor government.

The Joint Sitting, the first and only ever held, took place over two days, August 6 and 7, 1974.

Gough Whitlam described the sitting as “a last resort to enable the democratic will of the Australian people to prevail over blind obstruction”.

Joint Sitting

The proceedings took place in what is now Old Parliament House. They were chaired by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Jim Cope. The Liberal Opposition Leader (and future Speaker) was Bill Snedden. The Governor-General was the just-appointed Sir John Kerr.

The only member of either house who attended the Joint Sitting and is still serving is Philip Ruddock. Now the member for Berowra, in 1974 he was the 31-year-old Liberal member for Parramatta and still in his first year as a member of the House.

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The Six Bills

Six bills were submitted to the Joint Sitting, all of which had been first passed by the House of Representatives in 1973, following the election of the Whitlam government. [Read more…]


Political Quotations – Set 2

  1. Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers. – Mignon McLaughlin, author.
  2. When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves. – Confucius (551-479 BC).
  3. At the end of a long and probably very boring meal (at a formal dinner), (British Prime Minister) Macmillan turned to Madame de Gaulle and asked politely what she was looking forward to in her retirement. Quick as a flash the elderly lady replied: “A penis.” Macmillan had been trained all his life never to appear shocked, but even he was a bit taken aback. After drawling out a series of polite platitudes, – “Well, I can see your point of view, don’t have much time for that sort of thing nowadays” – it gradually dawned on him to his intense relief that what the old girl had actually said was “happiness.” – Paul Foot, in the essay A New Definition: The Quality of Life, British Medical Journal, VOLUME 321, DECEMBER 2000.
  4. The moral test of a government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life — the children; the twilight of life — the elderly; and the shadows of life — the sick, the needy and the handicapped. – Hubert Humphrey, Vice-President of the United States 1965-69.
  5. When I joined the Labor Party, it contained the cream of the working class. But as I look about me now, all I see are the dregs of the middle class. When will you middle class perverts stop using the Labor Party as a cultural spittoon? – Kim Beazley Snr to an ALP State Conference, circa 1970.
  6. [Read more…]


The Opposition Leader As A Factor Influencing Voting Behaviour

Australia’s parliamentary elections are increasingly focused around perceptions and packaging of the leaders of the various parties.

The election of Senator Natasha Stott Despoja as the leader of the Australian Democrats in 2001 was an indication of the importance political parties place on leadership as a determinant of the voting patterns of electors.

Prime Minister John Howard’s attacks on Kim Beazley’s supposed lack of “ticker” in the 1998 election was another indication that Opposition leadership can be a factor in elections. [Read more…]


John Howard Takes Liberal Leadership As Andrew Peacock Miscalculates

John Howard became leader of the Liberal Party for the first time at a bizarre meeting of the parliamentary party called to remove him as deputy leader.

The party meeting was called by leader Andrew Peacock in an attempt to remove Howard from the deputy leadership. Peacock had demanded an assurance from Howard that he would not challenge for the leadership but Howard refused to give one.

A contest between Howard and John Moore saw Howard re-elected deputy leader by 38 votes to 31. Peacock then resigned and Howard was elected leader, defeating Jim Carlton by 57 votes to 6. Neil Brown became deputy leader. [Read more…]


Snedden Acknowledges Whitlam Victory But Won’t Concede He Lost

Eleven days after the 1974 Federal Election, the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Snedden, finally acknowledged that he had not won the election, but he claimed he hadn’t lost either.

Snedden said: “We were not defeated. We did not win enough seats to form a government.”

In years to come, Snedden would claim he said, “We didn’t win but we didn’t lose all”, although there is no evidence from the recording that he actually said that. [Read more…]


ABC Election Count: 1974 Federal Election

The audio clip below contains 90 minutes from the ABC television coverage of the 1974 Federal Election count.

It includes the speeches by Opposition Leader Bill Snedden and Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.

The broadcast was hosted by Ken Begg. [Read more…]