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.

Whitlam may be remembered now for the manner of his removal from office, but Faulkner makes clear that he is not defined by it. Faulkner said: “Tomorrow, 11 July, marks Gough’s 98th birthday, a time to celebrate his longevity, his resilience and his extraordinary contribution to this nation.”

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Hansard transcript of Senator John Faulkner’s speech in the Adjournment Debate.

Gough

Senator FAULKNER (New South Wales) (18:36): A fortnight ago, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Rupert Murdoch had once directed his editors to ‘kill Whitlam’. Notwithstanding that, I am delighted to report that Edward Gough Whitlam is very much alive. Tomorrow, 11 July, marks Gough’s 98th birthday, a time to celebrate his longevity, his resilience and his extraordinary contribution to this nation. [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...]


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.