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This website is in imminent danger of being shut down. It has been online since 1995, but the personal circumstances of the owner, Malcolm Farnsworth, are such that economies have to be made. Server costs and suchlike have become prohibitive. At the urging of people online, I have agreed to see if Patreon provides a solution. More information is available at the Patreon website. If you are able to contribute even $1.00/month to keep the site running, please click the Patreon button below.


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The Power And The Passion – A Personal View

The ABC has screened the first of a two-part documentary on Gough Whitlam, The Power and the Passion.

The Power and the Passion – A Personal View

by Malcolm Farnsworth

It’s flawed. The incorrect details and dates irritate. The interviews are marred by minor-celebrity bilge. The re-enactments are execrable. It’s hagiography, not documentary.

But last night’s first episode of The Power and the Passion is not that bad. Unreconstructed Whitlamites can rest easy. I lapped it up.

One line stands out: Whitlam had to beat his own side before he could win.

Party structures had to change. Individuals had to be surpassed and sidelined. New policies had to be born. The electorate had to be carried along. There was an inescapable logic to Whitlam’s famous sequence: the party, the program, the people.

For me, the program was a reminder of the inversion that’s taken place forty years since It’s Time. For people like me, the ALP has reverted to its pre-Whitlam shape.

It’s an ugly look the ALP has in 2013. It’s anachronistic and electorally poisonous. In New South Wales, it doesn’t even look like a party anymore, just a criminal enterprise. Nationally, it’s a party controlled by narrow cliques at odds with the electorate. [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.


Anniversaries Galore In The First Week Of December

The first week of December is a big week for political anniversaries.

Today, for example, is the anniversary of the swearing-in of the Rudd Labor government in 2007. Channel 10 News reported it this way:

Looking back at Rudd: [Read more…]


Top 10 Great Labor Speeches

Troy Bramston discusses ten great speeches from Australian Labor history.

Bramston is the author of a new book, The True Believers: Great Labor Speeches That Shaped History, published by The Federation Press.

The video appears on The Australian’s website today.


John Faulkner Remembers Whitlam’s 1972 “It’s Time” Policy Speech

Senator John Faulkner has delivered a speech tonight in honour of the 40th anniversary of Gough Whitlam’s 1972 ‘It’s Time’ policy speech.

Senator John FaulknerFaulkner, the ALP’s unofficial historian and Whitlam confidante, spoke at Bowman Hall, Blacktown, site of the famous campaign launch that propelled Whitlam to the prime ministership.

Faulkner paid tribute to the power of political speeches: “We may be cynical about politics and politicians, we may be sceptical of the motives of those men and women who aspire to represent and to lead us – whether in Parliament, in community organisations and campaigns, or in social movements – but it is still their words which have the potential to express our aspirations, our beliefs, and our deepest sense of collective self.” [Read more…]


Kevin Rudd Launches Whitlam Biography

Kevin Rudd has launched volume two of Jenny Hocking’s biography of Gough Whitlam.

The second volume, titled “Gough Whitlam: His Time” covers Whitlam’s period in government and includes important new revelations about The Dismissal. Rudd’s speech was titled “Labor Politics, Conservative Politics and Australia’s future”.

The launch was held at the Museum of Sydney.

Text of Kevin Rudd’s speech at the launch of Jenny Hocking’s second volume biography of Gough Whitlam.

Labor Politics, Conservative Politics and Australia’s Future

It is nearly four years since I launched Volume I of this important biography of E.G. Whitlam.

I am honoured to have been asked by the author, Jenny Hocking, to today launch Volume II.

Much has changed in Australian politics since then.

Just as many things have not.

The essential narrative of Australian politics has remained much the same for more than a century: Labor in government the party of progressive economic, social and environmental reform, and of Australia’s place in the region and the world. [Read more…]


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”. [Read more…]


Gillard Speech To Whitlam Institute; $7m Building Grant

The federal government has given $7 million to the restoration of Australia’s oldest public building so that it can permanently house the Whitlam Institute.

Julia Gillard

The historic Female Orphan School building at the Parramatta campus of the University of Western Sydney will also house the Margaret Whitlam art galleries. [Read more…]


Remember When A Labor Government Could Win Re-Election?

8.00pm – Thirty-eight years ago tonight, the Whitlam Labor government won re-election to its second term.

Gough WhitlamThe early election took place just 18 months after the ALP’s historic 1972 victory. It occurred after Whitlam’s abortive attempt to secure an additional Senate vacancy by appointing DLP Senator Vince Gair as Ambassador to Ireland. The coalition threatened to block Supply, so Whitlam opted for a double dissolution.

The ALP polled 49.3% of the primary vote. It was returned to government with a net loss of one seat and a floor majority of 4 seats.

Despite eliminating the DLP from the Senate, Whitlam failed to gain control of the upper house. Eighteen months later, the government was dismissed by the Governor-General after the coalition refused to pass the Supply bills.

The close result in 1974 led to the Liberal leader Bill Snedden claiming that he hadn’t really lost the election. He variously said that the opposition didn’t win enough seats and that it hadn’t “lost all”.


Margaret Whitlam: 1919-2012