Brian Harradine, Long-Serving Independent Senator Expelled By ALP, Dies, 79

Brian Harradine, an influential independent senator from Tasmania, who was expelled by the ALP in 1975 following a long and bitter dispute in the aftermath of the 1950s Labor Split, has died at the age of 79.

Harradine was elected as an independent senator from Tasmania at the 1975 double dissolution election following the dismissal of the Whitlam Government. He was re-elected five times (1980, 1983, 1987, 1993 and 1999) and served for 30 years. He chose not to contest the 2004 election and left the Senate on June 30, 2005.

At various times, Harradine’s vote was a crucial balance of power factor in the Senate, especially between 1996 and 1999 when he was instrumental in supporting the Wik legislation and voting to privatise Telstra. He voted against the Howard government’s GST legislation in 1999.

A socially conservative Catholic, Harradine was an organiser with the Federated Clerks Union in the 1950s. He was Secretary of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council and a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions executive from 1964 until 1976. He founded the Tasmanian division of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association in 1967. [Read more...]


Paul Keating Turns 70

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating turns 70 today.

Keating was 25 when he entered the House of Representatives as the Labor member for Blaxland in October 1969. He was 47 when he became Australia’s 24th prime minister in December 1991. He remained PM until March 1996 when he was defeated by John Howard’s coalition.

Keating

Keating’s first ministerial appointment came in the dying days of the Whitlam government. Following the sacking of Minerals and Energy minister Rex Connor, Keating became Minister for Northern Australia on October 21, 1975, serving for three weeks until the government was dismissed by the Governor-General on November 11. He is the youngest of the eleven surviving ministers of the Whitlam governments. [Read more...]


December 10: Most Popular Federal Election Date

Today, December 10, is the single most popular day for federal elections in the history of the Australian federation.

Federal elections were held on this day in 1949, 1955 and 1977.

All three elections held on December 10 resulted in substantial victories to the Coalition.

In 1949, Robert Menzies swept the Chifley government out after 8 years of Labor rule.

In 1955, in the aftermath of the ALP Split, Menzies called an early election and won his fourth consecutive victory.

In 1977, Malcolm Fraser won a second term in office, defeating Gough Whitlam in a near-repeat of his 1975 landslide.

December is also the single most popular month for federal elections. Twelve of the 44 federal elections since 1901 (27%) have been held in December. The last was on December 1, 1984.

Two elections have been held on December 13, in 1919 and 1975. Two elections have also been held on December 16, in 1903 and 1922. Two elections have been held on August 21, in 1943 and 2010.


Noel Pearson’s Whitlam Oration: In Honour Of The Old Man

Noel Pearson has tonight delivered a stunning Whitlam Oration, honouring “the old man” who led the reforming government of 1972-75.

Pearson

Pearson called not just for Indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution but elimination of the race power in Section 25 and the insertion of a provision outlawing racial discrimination.

Pearson, a lawyer and land-rights activist, is Chair of the Cape York Group. He comes from the Guugu Yimidhirr community of Hopevale on South Eastern Cape York Peninsula. He played a central role in the establishment of the Cape York Land Council in 1990 and came to national prominence for his advocacy of Native title cases including the Wik decision.

Speaking directly to Whitlam’s son Tony, Pearson asked him to convey his great affection, “nay love”, to “Australia’s greatest white elder” and “friend without peer” of Aboriginal people. [Read more...]


Gough Whitlam Votes In ALP Leadership Ballot

Gough Whitlam has voted in the ALP’s rank-and-file leadership ballot.

The ABC’s Melissa Clarke has published on Twitter a picture of Whitlam’s voter declaration.

Declaration

The ballot to elect the ALP’s next federal leader closes tomorrow. It pits the former Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, against the Minister for Workplace Relations and Education, Bill Shorten.

The ALP Caucus voted this afternoon. The Caucus result will be weighted at 50%, as will the rank-and-file ballot.

The result will be announced on Sunday.

Whitlam is 97. He was Prime Minister between 1972 and 1975.


Medicare 30th Anniversary

Medicare is 30 years old today.

MedicareThe legislation to establish the universal health insurance system was passed on this day in 1983, six months after the election of the Hawke Labor government.

As it still still does today, Medicare is partly funded by a 1.5% levy on all taxpayers. It allows doctors to provide medical care at no cost to patients through bulk billing. Alternatively, Medicare reimburses patients 85% of a scheduled fee which allows doctors to determine their own charges with patients paying the balance. Medicare also provides for basic public hospital cover with patients able to take out additional private insurance. Health professionals with a Medicare provider number are also included in the scheme.

Medicare’s history begins with Gough Whitlam in the 1970s. The health insurance scheme was developed by health economist Richard Scotton and John Deeble. Under Whitlam, the scheme was called Medibank and was a major plank in Whitlam’s 1972 election platform. [Read more...]


Woof Woof!

I can’t resist it. Whenever I hear someone say “woof woof”, I always think of a famous exchange between Gough Whitlam and Billy Snedden in 1975.

Today’s email from Crikey alerted me to this tweet from Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Saturday:

Gillard

At least Gillard was only expressing her delight at the 9-point victory by the Western Bulldogs over Port Adelaide.

In the House of Representatives on February 19, 1975, however, the same words were uttered by the Liberal Opposition Leader, Billy Snedden. They came during a discussion of one of the most contentious constitutional issues of the Whitlam years. Snedden was ridiculed by Whitlam and the incident contributed to Liberal unease over Snedden’s leadership. He was replaced by Malcolm Fraser a couple of weeks later. [Read more...]