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Gough and Margaret Whitlam Awarded ALP Life Membership

Gough Whitlam, 90, and his wife, Margaret, 87, have been awarded the first-ever life memberships of the Australian Labor Party at the national level.

Gough and Margaret Whitlam at the ALP National Conference, 28-04-2007 The awards were made at the ALP National Conference in Sydney.

Addressing the conference, the former Prime Minister reminded delegates of his famous admonition of the Victorian branch in 1967 when he derided the oppositionist mentality that equated defeat with ideological purity: “Certainly the impotent are pure”.

Forty years later, the nonagenarian Whitlam told the conference, “when I was 50 I could get away with saying things like that.”

Whitlam noted that under his leadership in the 1969 elections, the ALP secured “the greatest swing on record and won 17 seats”. It would not have been lost on conference delegates that in 2007 the ALP needs to win 16 seats to secure a bare majority in the House of Representatives. [Read more…]

1975 Cabinet Papers Released

The National Archives of Australia has tonight released Cabinet documents from 1975.

The documents cover the period of the Second Whitlam Government until its dismissal on November 11, 1975, and the First and Second Fraser Governments from November 11 and December 22. [Read more…]

Mal Colston, Venal Politician, Labor Rat, Dead At 65

Mal Colston, the former Labor senator, whose name has become synonymous with politicians’ rorts, has died, aged 65.

ColstonColston was elected to the Senate in 1975 and sat as an undistinguished backbencher until 1999. He resigned from the ALP in 1997 after failing to secure nomination for the deputy presidency of the Senate. His vote gave John Howard the majority he needed to pass legislation to privatise Telstra.

Following his departure from the Senate following the 1998 election, Colston faced 28 charges relating to travel rorts. On medical advice that he had only months to live, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions dropped the charges in 1999.

There have been intermittent calls for the charges to be reinstated, but two weeks ago the current DPP, Damian Bugg QC, said Colston’s condition was deteriorating and no further charges would be brought. Colston reportedly had cancer of the bile duct. [Read more…]

Howard Defends Sir John Kerr

In a radio interview with John Laws today, Prime Minister John Howard has reiterated his support for the current system of constitutional monarchy and defended the role played by Sir John Kerr in the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam Government.

In defending role and actions of the Governor-General in the crisis brought about by the blocking of the Whitlam government’s budget in the Senate in October 1975, Howard said:

“And whatever may now be retrospectively said by both Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser about 1975 what the late Governor-General then did was to remit the matter to the Australian people. And within a few weeks the Australian people could decide whether or not they agreed or disagreed with Mr Whitlam or Mr Fraser.

Now, that is the essence of a democracy and it worked on that occasion. And, of course, the other irony about 1975 is that the republicans are supporting a model which they say would still allow the future Australian president to do what John Kerr did. So, I mean, I am lost as to quite what they are getting at.

I thought for some of the Labor republicans maintaining the rage was the only thing that mattered in life yet they are now purporting to carry forward into a new republican constitution the reserve powers of the Crown, it’s like having a monarchy without the monarch which is an interesting proposition within itself. But that’s for them to answer.

I thought what Sir John Kerr did in 1975 at least provided a democratic outcome. I mean, if you look back on 1975 the last person who, in my view, should be criticised is the late Governor-General. I think if people felt strongly about 1975 they should direct their criticism either against Mr Fraser or Mr Whitlam.”

John Howard’s 2UE Radio Interview with John Laws

This is the text of Prime Minister John Howard’s interview with John Laws on radio 2UE.

Howard discusses the referendum on an Australian republic at some length and outlines the reasons for his opposition.

Transcript of John Howard’s interview with John Laws on radio 2UE.


Prime Minister good morning and welcome.


Good morning John. Good to be on your program.


Thank you. That’s nice of you. Has this whole debate helped shape the succession of the Liberal Party leadership? [Read more…]

Whitlam and Fraser, Old Foes, Unite For “YES” Vote

Gough WhitlamGough Whitlam, dismissed as Prime Minister by the Governor-General in 1975 has united with the man who defeated him, former Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, to support a “YES” vote in Saturday’s referendum.

Whitlam and Fraser are apprearing together in television commercials this week.

At one point, Whitlam turns to Fraser and says: “Malcolm, it’s time.” Fraser responds, “it is”.

Gough Whitlam On A Republic And Blocking Supply

This an an audio clip of Gough Whitlam commenting on the republic issue and the Senate’s power to block Supply.

Whitlam was dismissed by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, on November 11, 1975. [Read more…]

Keating And Hewson Exchange Words Over Death Of Kerr

Sir John Kerr died in Sydney on March 24, 1991.

The former Governor-General, responsible for the Dismissal of the Whitlam government on November 11, 1975, was 76.

During the Condolence motion in the House of Representatives, the then Treasurer, Paul Keating, intervened in the debate after hearing the Opposition Leader, Dr. John Hewson, speak.

Audio and video of Hewson and Keating appears below. [Read more…]

Sir John Kerr Drunk At The Melbourne Cup

In 1977, the Melbourne Cup, the so-called “race that stops a nation”, was stopped in its tracks by a drunken appearance from the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr.

Just two years since the dismissal of the Whitlam government on November 11, 1975, Kerr presented the Cup to the connections of Gold and Black. The horse was trained by Bart Cummings and ridden by John Duggan. [Read more…]

Sir John Kerr Booed By Crowd In South Australia

This is audio of the reception Governor-General Sir John Kerr received from a crowd in South Australia.

My records failed me on this occasion and I don’t know the precise date. I have dated it August 1 for filing purposes.

This event took place around 18 months after Kerr’s Dismissal of the Whitlam Government on November 11, 1975.

Kerr retired at the end of 1977 and died in 1991.

  • Listen to Kerr and the South Australian crowd