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…]


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.


More Anniversaries: Three Elections, A Floating Dollar And The Redfern Speech

Twenty-nine-years ago today, the Hawke government floated the dollar.

It was a move little understood at the time but now regarded as timely and crucial to Australia’s economic development. Whilst former prime ministers Hawke and Keating still differ over who had most influence on the decision, no-one questions its significance.

The decision was announced late on Friday December 9. On the following Monday, the lead article in the Sydney Morning Herald accurately pinpointed the introduction of foreign banks as another important decision in the pipeline:

SMH

Some other anniversaries:

  • December 9, 1961: The Menzies government faced its sixth election since taking office in 1949 and came within an ace of losing. It survived by one seat and led to a marvellous fib from the Liberal member for Moreton, Jim Killen. He claimed that when victory in his seat secured Menzies’s re-election, the Prime Minister told him, “Killen, you’re magnificent”. It wasn’t true. In his memoirs, Killen relates the more prosaic truth:
    Killen
  • December 10, 1949: The Menzies coalition government swept to power, defeating Ben Chifley’s Labor government. It was the beginning of 23 years of continuous coalition government.
  • December 10, 1955: Menzies secured his fourth straight election victory, defeating Dr. H.V. Evatt’s ALP in an early election called to capitalise on the split in the ALP over communist influence in the trade unions. This was the election that saw the birth of the Democratic Labor Party as an important third force in policis.
  • December 10, 1977: Malcolm Fraser’s coalition government was returned to office for a second term in a massive landslide only marginally smaller than its historic 1975 Dismissal victory. Fraser’s election made December 10 the single most popular date for general elections at the federal level.
  • December 10, 1992: Prime Minister Paul Keating delivered his famous Redfern speech on indigenous issues. Watch, listen and read Keating’s speech here.

Malcolm Fraser’s Whitlam Oration

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has delivered the 2012 Whitlam Oration to the Whitlam Institute in Sydney.

Malcolm Fraser

Nearly thirty-seven years after the Fraser-led coalition parties blocked the Budget and Sir John Kerr dismissed the Whitlam government, Fraser remarked that in the 1970s “few people would have believed that Malcolm Fraser would be delivering a Gough Whitlam oration”.

Fraser, 82, spoke mainly about foreign policy and international politics, and issues concerning race, immigration and refugees.

Gough Whitlam was not in attendance but a video message from him was shown:

  • Listen to Malcolm Fraser’s speech (51m)

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  • Listen to Gough Whitlam on Fraser and multiculturalism

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  • Listen to Senator John Faulkner comment on Whitlam and Fraser

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Text of The Whitlam Oration given by Malcolm Fraser.

“Politics, Independence and the National Interest: the legacy of power and how to achieve a peaceful Western Pacific”

I am honoured to be asked to make this speech. During the turbulent years of the 1970’s, few people would have believed that Malcolm Fraser would be delivering a Gough Whitlam Oration. Politics is a hard business. The opposition of one party to another can become toxic. We have had this demonstrated to us all too often in recent years. But it does not always have to be this way.

By any standards Gough Whitlam is a formidable, political warrior. He has inspired an undying loyalty amongst his supporters. He is an historic figure who has made a significant impact on the life of Australia. He had grand ideas, many of which left their mark on Australia. A number of which were embraced by the following government. Others have survived despite the opposition from the other side of politics.

He was the first Australian Prime Minister to recognise China. As Australian Prime Minister he had the confidence and knowledge to recognise the distinct national interests of our country. He established ground breaking enquiries into Land Rights for Aboriginal Australians and also over a number of environmental issues, where reports were later implemented by my government.

As political antagonists we had substantial differences, but as Australians we had shared interests and concerns. [Read more…]


Cabinet Papers From 1982-1983 Released

Cabinet papers from 1982, the final full year of the Fraser coalition government, and 1983, the first year of the Hawke Labor government, have been released.

The papers were formerly released under the thirty-year rule, but this has been reduced to twenty years. Until 2020, two years of Cabinet documents will be released each year.

  • National Archives of Australia – Index to 1982 and 1983 Cabinet Papers
  • 1982-1983: The historical context and issues of interest – Dr. Jim Stokes
  • Listen to Dr. Stokes (22m)

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  • Listen to Bob Hawke discuss the events of 1983 (5m)

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  • Listen to Bob Hawke answer media questions about his government in 1983 (26m)

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