The Whitlam Government 1972-1975
"A frank and expansive book by a literate and visionary statesman is a rarity. The Whitlam Government is such a rarity.
"In this book Gough Whitlam not only draws a vivid portrait of three memorable years in Australia's history. He paints a broad and illuminating canvas of Australia as it was, as it has become and as yet it might be.
"Whitlam brought Labor to power on 2 December 1972 after twenty-three years in the political wilderness, with a commitment to change and reform summed up in the campaign call, 'It's Time.' His Government was dismissed by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, in unprecedented circumstances on 11 November 1975.
"Accounts of the period published so far have emphasised 'a Goverment rich in personal and political drama, not least, of course, in the manner of its destruction'. This book deals chiefly with policies, their development and implementation. It is 'a full account of the aspirations and achievements as well as frustrations of the Whitlam Government.'
"Gough Whitlam's Government was a government of reform and his account shows the Labor administration's concern for Australia's place in a more just world; for the quality of Australian life; for equality of opportunity for all Australians and how those issues were elevated to the national agenda under his leadership."
About the author:
Edward Gough Whitlam, AC, QC, was born in Melbourne in 1916 and was educated in Canberra and Sydney. He was elected to the House of Representatives in November 1952 and served for over 25 years, six as deputy leader and 11 as leader of the Australian Labor Party.
He conducted seven national elections, for the Senate in 1967 and 1970, for the House of Representatives in 1969 and 1972 and for both houses in 1974, 1975 and 1977. He was elected Prime Minister at the 1972 elections and re-elected at the 1974 elections. The Whitlam Government was dismissed by Governor-General Kerr on 11 November 1975.
Mr Whitlam resigned from Parliament in July 1978 to become a Visiting Fellow and then the first National Fellow at the Australian National University. The Hawke Government appointed him as Australia's Ambassador to Unesco in May 1983.
First Paragraph from the Introduction:
It is now a decade since the dismissal of the Labor administration which was elected by the Australian people on 2 December 1972 and again on 18 May 1974. It is now possible to place in perspective what these Governments sought to achieve and what remains to be achieved by their successors. This book is a full account of the aspirations and achievements as well as frustrations of the Whitlam Government.
The books deals chiefly with policies, their development and implementation. In a certain sense I have sought to redress the balance of the accounts of my Government which have already been written. I acknowledge that mine was a Government rich in personal and political drama, not least, of course, in the manner of its destruction. The accounts published so far have emphasised those aspects of the period, tending to gloss over the real work of the Government, which continued steadily and purposefully to the very end. It is certainly true that throughout 1975, and well before, every effort was made by our opponents in and out of Parliament to destabilise our Government. Yet it is equally true that both the Government and House of Representatives from which it derived its authority continued to carry out the administrative and legislative functions and to implement the policies for which each of them was elected. It is in that sense that I intend this book, with its concentration on policy, should redress the balance by setting the actual record in perspective.
From the Viking hardback edition, 1986.
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Last modified: January 30, 2001.