It’s time now Gough

whitlamGough Whitlam, the 21st Australian prime minister, passed away earlier this morning. He served as PM between 1972 and 1975 before being sacked by the Governor-General and subsequently, by the electorate,  at the 1975 general election. As a young Infantry Sergeant I was called before my Officer Commanding and formally asked if I would continue to serve without pay in the event that Fraser maintained his attempt to rid Australia of Whitlam and his decaying government and supply dried up. I answered in the affirmative recognizing the country needed to stave off bankruptcy and only suggested if the stalemate continued then the Army needed a plan to feed my wife and child. I have dreaded this day, not so much because of the man's demise, but more because we now have to endure weeks of canonization by the media of a man who, at best, we can say, his road to hell was paved with good intentions. The Left, and those who either ignore facts or make them up, will be working overtime to give him credit where none is due and to wash over his errors. And they start; He was good for women Tanya Plibersek:
Gough’s reforms for women were landmark. They included the election of the first Labor woman to the House of Representatives, Joan Child, in 1974.
She means other than Dame Enid Lyons who was elected to the House in the early 40s. He cut Tariffs  Sure did.  Tim Colebatch explains;
John Stone, deputy secretary of Treasury at the time, wrote recently that the committee's existence was kept secret even from Treasury. Stone wrote a memo endorsing lower tariffs as a goal, but arguing that an indiscriminate cut would leave excessively protected sectors unharmed, but close more vulnerable plants.
And sure enough;
A year later, after the tariff cuts, import volumes jumped by a third, and the current account deficit was here to stay. Manufacturing lost 138,000 jobs in two years, and high unemployment became entrenched. The tariff cuts were only one factor in all this, but they symbolised the defects in Whitlam's "crash through or crash" style of decision-making.
He instituted free Uni education. Sure did and those who gained by that move have reason to be complimentary to Gough but in life there are no free dinners and someone had to pay.  The taxpayer paid and in due course Hawke adjusted the scheme and brought in costs to students. He brought the troops home from Vietnam. No he didn't.  All he did was bring home the few Training Team guys still left in country.  1 ATF had been withdrawn by the McMahon government before Whitlam cam to power. From Wikipedia;
On 18 August 1971, Australia and New Zealand decided to withdraw their troops from Vietnam, with the Australian prime minister, William McMahon, announcing that 1 ATF would cease operations in October, commencing a phased withdrawal.
I've almost given up correcting Whitlam lovers on this one but as they maintain the rage, I will maintain telling them the truth. Financial management. Whitlam-Legacy As mentioned above, his road to hell was paved with good intentions, but, like the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government the great programs were never placed against the balance sheet to see if we could afford them. We couldn't. In this graph from Catallaxy file Professor Sinclair says, Australia never recovered from the Whitlam era.  I might add Whitlam tried to fund his grandiose schemes but did so by trying to borrow money from the Arabs.  The Khemlani Affair put the icing on the cake as it became apparent to all that they were out of control.  It gave Fraser the impetus to deny supply that ended in Whitlam's dismissal  Whitlam opened up dialogue with China. Yep. he sure did.  He visited China as Opposition leader in  June of 1971 and whereas establishing diplomatic relations with China had to be considered, I would have preferred he wait until our troops had been withdrawn or otherwise recovered from, or died of their wounds.  Troops were still in Vietnam (4RAR left in October 1971) and while our troops were being killed or wounded by the VC or North Vietnamese, these communist soldiers were just aiming the rifles.  China was busy making the AK 47s and loading the magazines and for the years from 1972 thru to 1975,  they rearmed North Vietnam, in partnership with the USSR, to enable the 1975 invasion. I took it that Whitlam favoured the Chinese communists over the sacrifice of the Diggers and while he later had Jim Cairns as his deputy I can understand why.  If Whitlam was iffy, Jim Cairns was an out and out communist and did all he could to assist the communists to win the war. I thought recognition was a bit early - wait until my mate's bodies are cold in their grave, I thought at the time. He instituted Multiculturalism. Yep he did.  With the exception that the South Vietnamese who fought his communist mates weren't included in his version of multiculturalism. He is quoted as saying;
"I’m not having hundreds of fucking Vietnamese Balts coming into this country with their religious and political hatreds against us!"
If the Vietnamese hated anybody, other than the communists who were busy murdering and raping their countrymen, it could only be politicians who said such things.  The religious Vietnamese he talks about were, on the main, Catholics with some Buddhists thrown in.  The only reason he could hate them so is because they were fighting the communists. As a further example of his political leanings he denied any reports of violations in communist SE Asia;
‘In September 1978, Whitlam addressed a conference in Canberra where he declared that he did not accept the validity of any of the reports about human rights violations in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos. He was particularly emphatic about Cambodia, declaring: “I make bold to doubt all the stories that appear in the newspapers about the treatment of people in Cambodia.”‘
He supported Jim Cairns until he had to sack him over treasury matters.  He never sacked him while he was courting the communists.
Australia’s Dr Jim Cairns and the Soviet KGB by John Ballantyne National Observer (Council for the National Interest, Melbourne), No. 64, Autumn 2005, pages 52-63.
When he was a senior Cabinet minister in the Whitlam Government, Cairns set out to use his high office to promote Soviet foreign policy aims. In 1973, when he was Minister for Overseas Trade and Secondary Industry, he sponsored a visit to Australia of representatives of communist North Vietnam. On April 26 — the day after Anzac Day — Cairns was photographed with his guests in the Sydney Town Hall, surrounded by Viet Cong flags and a huge picture of dictator Ho Chi Minh.
In 1974, official letterhead stationery of the Australian WPC described Cairns both as President of the Committee of World Peace Councillors in Australia and as Deputy Prime Minister. One such letter, dated 2 September 1974, advertised a visit to Australia later that month of a WPC delegation, headed by long-time KGB agent and WPC leader, Romesh Chandra.
It is worth remembering that Australia’s Constitution (section 44) clearly states: “Any person who … is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power … shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or member of the House of Representatives.” Cairns’s loyalties to a foreign power — and an enemy foreign power at that — should have automatically disqualified him from sitting as a member of parliament, let alone from becoming Deputy Prime Minister.
It is little wonder, then, that when Cairns became Deputy PM on 10 June 1974, the then US Ambassador to Australia, Marshall Green, warned Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam of Washington’s alarm that Cairns might have access to classified information on US bases in Australia. Whitlam assured Green that Cairns had not asked about the functions of the US bases and would not be briefed on the matter.
I never looked up to him, always thought he and I were on different sides but he certainly caused a lot of debate and even though he could never fund his grandiose ideas he did at least have them.  It wasn't an untimely death but I dread the media over the period between now and his state funeral and will stay away from the ABC lest I throw something at my expensive TV in frustration at the lies that are about to wash over us. November 11 1975 was a big relief and a highlight in my life. Vale Gough.


  • Your post is out of step with the opinion of most of the rest of the country, Kev. And it’s not just the ABC. The country is fittingly mourning the passing of a giant, an individual who dragged Australia kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

    A few points – I took it that Whitlam favoured the Chinese communists over the sacrifice of the Diggers

    I doubt that an airman who saw active service in WW2 in the RAAF (like my father) would disregard the sacrifice of the diggers. His opinions were similar to those of my father at the time. The anger was directed at the government of the day which politicized your service (voluntary) and mine (conscripted) and largely created the bitterness directed towards returning Vietnam veterans.

    And politicians of the same stamp that sent us to SVN are now disregarding the sacrifice of the diggers big time by effectively cutting their pay.

    The religious Vietnamese he talks about were, on the main, Catholics with some Buddhists thrown in.

    And if you go back to Vietnam now (Hue, for example) you’ll find that you can go into a Catholic Church and hear mass –

    It wasn’t an untimely death but I dread the media over the period between now and his state funeral and will stay away from the ABC lest I throw something at my expensive TV in frustration at the lies that are about to wash over us.

    Reflect on the fact that none of the Whitlam era policies have been wound back, with the possible exception of free university attendance which has morphed into HECS.

    His brief three years in office changed this country for the better, and along the way, changed my live substantially.

    Twelve months after my return from Vietnam, and after teaching children with disabilities for that period, I attended the University of Queensland on a scholarship granted though the then Department of Labour and National Service as a post-discharge benefit.

    I did well (straight Distinctions) as a consequence of being able to focus completely on study, and was encouraged to continue part time when I went back to teaching in 1973.

    Plugging away at study, by 1981, had two degrees (Arts and Education) which stood me in good stead for the rest of my career.

    This university attendance would not have been possible without Whitlam’s removal of university fees, and ironically without my call-up and service.

    In 1976, as a serving teacher, I was selected for a full-time post graduate course in the education of students with disabilities at Griffith University (then known as Mt Gravatt College of Advanced Education).

    These courses were financed by Commonwealth money which was part of support for the states to provide equal educational opportunities for children with disabilities across the country.

    This Commonwealth support for students with disabilities continued after the demise of Labor in 1975, because it was embedded in Whitlam’s human rights legislation, the first federal legislation on human rights enacted in this country.

    Many years later, another tranche of this historical Commonwealth funding built a new special school which I opened in Townsville in 1987. Prior to that, in 1982, I had been taken off-line for six months to prepare a design brief for the school, and to negotiate with the board of the North Queensland Society for Crippled Children (now the Cootharinga Society) to ensure that the children it was built to accommodate would be allowed to attend.

    Back then, not everyone (including some members of the board of the society) shared Whitlam’s conviction that these children had the right to receive an education. I remember a conversation at the time with a board member who told me that these children were “unreceptive to education”. He also told me he voted Coalition. The Cootharinga Society has come a long way since then.

    By the end of 1987 all the children resident in the nursing home were traveling daily by bus to their new school, in the same way as their able-bodied peers. These days, the nursing home doesn’t exist as the children are living in the community thanks to the sterling work done by the society using the funds which originated in the Whitlam era support human rights for people with disabilities.

    Whitlam’s administration introduced the concept of human rights for people with disabilities, an achievement often forgotten. It transformed their lives utterly.

    You’re correct, Whitlam is often wrongly credited for withdrawing our troops from Vietnam. McMahon had seen the writing on the wall.

    It could be argued, however, that Whitlam’s success in creating a viable opposition, and promoting the abolition of conscription and withdrawal from Vietnam as policies strongly influenced that decision. The Coalition was heading for defeat, and conscription and our involvement in Vietnam were a large part of the reason for that.

    It came a bit late for the people in my intake, of course, and the fact that as a serving soldier I was denied an opportunity by the army to vote for Whitlam’s policies – which had a strong bearing on my immediate future – in the 1969 federal poll, is a reflection of the sclerotic attitudes prevailing at the time. These attitudes were swept away by Whitlam in about two months after December 1972.

    The improvements in the quality of life of people with disabilities, which I have closely observed and lived through since 1970, saw their origin in Whitlam’s three years in power.

    That achievement alone honours his memory.

    • Your post is out of step with the opinion of most of the rest of the country, Kev Only the bits you read or watch. There is any amount of honest discussion and comments about the myths of the legend.

      The anger was directed at the government of the day which politicized our service
      You always say that but the truth is that anger was generated by the communists ably led by Jim Cairns, the Deputy PM during the period. He wanted the communists to win in Vietnam and did everything in his power to achieve that aim.
      I will never forgive the ALP of the time for that, just like you will never forgive the only Lib MP in the western world to criticise a digger for his Vietnam service.

      There is no question he had some positives but it was all overshadowed by the chaos of their operational procedures and absolute non-consideration of finances.

  • From the file:

    During the Whitlam years, productivity rose 1%, wages 70%, size of the public service 12.6%, parliamentary salaries 36%, federal spending 80% while inflation touched 20%.

    Nevertheless, I still nominate Fraser as our worst PM. He won 91 seats in 1975 versus Labor’s 36, yet lacked the spine to put Australia back on track. We are still paying for his ineffectiveness.

  • I agree…Fraser was useless in that he didn’t capitalize on his majority and fix up Whitlam’s stuff ups and get us back on track but what is worse – creating problems or not fixing them – good question.

  • Menzies in fact scrapped Uni fees and introduced scholarships in the 1960’s. On completion of my service in October 1970, I took up a further education course which was offered free through the then Department of Labour and National Service.
    Just a couple of facts that I know actually happened in reality.

  • Forgot to mention that the deputy at the time Dr Jim Cairns, who would have been a close advisor to Whitlam, was also heavily involved with the Russians, and would have been greatly influential on the happenings in Vietnam from his comrades there. So could he have been saving Vietnam for Russia rather than being seen as saving Australian lives.

  • You always say that but the truth is that anger was generated by the communists

    My father was never a Communist, but he was very angry about our participation in Vietnam. A very large number of Australians were the same.
    To say that Australians who opposed conscription and our involvement in Vietnam were Communists is absurd, given that by the time 1972 came around they were in the majority.
    The simplicity of that idea (that all who opposed the war in Vietnam were leftists) has as much credibility as the notion that all Australian soldiers were baby killers. Both are nonsense, but one myth was a reaction to the other. It’s way past time to cling to these notions. It’s time for reconciliation.

  • I said the anger was generated by the communists, not that everyone who disagreed were communists.

    Read some more – Early convenors of Save our Sons were Jean McLean, Joan Coxsedge, Irene Miller, Chris Cathie and Jo McLaine Ross.

    Jean McLean’s story is still holy leftwing writ at the ABC. Her father a socialist, her mother a communist, she never had a chance to join the real world and was surprised when the ES &A bank let her go when her mother was outed in the press. I can understand a Bank Manager not wanting staff who wanted communist forces to kill Australians and Americans.

    Joan Coxsedge, now a former state Labour MP from Victoria (the home of left-wing Labor) spends her days in such anti-Australian pursuits as the Australian–Cuba Friendly Society. What do they discuss, for Christs sake. How many Cubans have starved to death or disappeared, or how many political dissenters are in goal.[1] I wonder if she has ever though of starting an Australian chapter of the Gulag Appreciation Society.

    You know, sort of take over from Jim Cairns

    The women who marched behind these women were looking to save their sons. The women at the front were looking to help the Communists win the war and this was a good way to do it.

    Jim Cairns, an out and out communist, set up the moratoriums as his way of winning the war for his mates. Gullible uni students who believed everything their lecturers told them, uni students looking for social contact (I have a mate who attended because that’s where the girls were), young hippies following the aroma of marijuana and old hippies who just hated the US. A great day out, organized by Jim.

    So, just to recap, the movement was lead by communists and people followed for various reasons, not because they were communists but because, in their ignorance and gullibility or political leanings, wanted the the communists to win.

    Of course with the war, over they all went on to other pursuits and cared little when the communists invaded a few years later.

    Jim Cairns, the Save Our Son communists and other sundry useful idiots won and the poor Vietnamese suffered.

  • Jim Cairns, an out and out communist, set up the moratoriums as his way of winning the war for his mates. Gullible uni students who believed everything their lecturers told them, uni students looking for social contact (I have a mate who attended because that’s where the girls were), young hippies following the aroma of marijuana and old hippies who just hated the US. A great day out, organized by Jim.

    Let’s look at the facts.
    Jim Cairns (an ex copper who worked as a lecturer for the army for a time) was never a member of the Communist party.
    Your mate’s talking bullshit. In the years I attended U of Q, (1972 – 1980), I never heard any lecturer advocate Communism or speak out against the war in Vietnam. I do recall an American history lecturer who came into a tutorial in tears when the attempt to rescue the Iran hostages in April 1980 failed. We were sympathetic, but I remember thinking at the time that she was employed to teach us, not demand our sympathy. Most of us were too bloody busy trying to get through our assessments to be bothered with politics. I also never smelt pot on campus – another hoary myth. If I had, I would have recognized it, having seen a couple of Yanks puffing away on tokes on R & R in Bangkok in 1970.

    Resurrecting historical cliches is a waste of time, but historical facts are instructive. Consider these –
    1. Until the demonstrations against our commitment to the war in Iraq, the Vietnam moratoriums were the largest peaceful demonstrations in Australian history.
    2. The largest group participating in the moratoriums were not hippy style uni students, but middle class Australians. A glance at the photos taken at the time show that pretty clearly.
    3. By 1969, opinion polling at the time showed more Australians favored bringing our troops home, than sending them to Vietnam. They did not want “communist forces to kill Australians and Americans”. They wanted the troops home. There’s a vast difference.

    It’s worth noting that when Australians come on to the streets to protest against involvement in war, they’re usually on the money. The march of history has shown this in the case of both Vietnam and Iraq.

    As for attending uni to meet young women – another hoary myth. I met my wife at the Yeronga bowls club with a bunch of special ed teachers at a Friday afternoon drinking session………….

    • Starting any comment saying Jim Cairns wasn’t a communist indicates you don’t read enough or you are in denial.
      We’ve had this discussion before and if you still deny the facts then so be it. I’m not going there again.

      They did not want “communist forces to kill Australians and Americans”. They wanted the troops home

    • Jim Cairns was an ex copper and every copper I ever knew hated him as a communist who was prepared to do anything to ensure that the Australian Forces were treated like pariahs when they returned home from Vietnam. Nothing he said in support of the enemy and their backers caused him to feel any shame and his subsequent actions proved him to be a communist. I don’t think membership of the Communist Party is a prerequisite to being an activist for the ideology….just ask any Russian of the time or any person currently living in a Communist country.


    I don’t think he’s in denial Kev, I think he just lies.

  • Starting any comment saying Jim Cairns wasn’t a communist indicates you don’t read enough or you are in denial

    If stating a fact (that Cairns was never a member of a the Communist Party) puts me in denial, logic and reason has gone shrieking away from this discussion.

    What I get is the difference between fact and opinion.
    Shouting won’t change that.

  • Just read his blog Kev, always good for a laugh, and he still continues with the lies.

  • FFS Numbers – Jim was a Communist – get over it.
    If you’re referring to me – Numbers?? – I don’t have anything to get over.
    Read your article from end to end. Nowhere does it say Cairns was a Communist.
    It waffles on about the WPC, but explains that by the time of the moratorium, Cairns was no longer affiliated with it. Guilt by association is an old trick used by the Right.
    I’ll give you some advice for free. If you want to understand history, avoid polemic – read history.
    If you can’t tell the difference, look at the adjectives and adverbs as they refer to individuals – “Cairns disingenuously claimed” – “a militant communist-aligned ALP senator” – “Cairns’s later disingenuous claims” etc.
    These are labels applied by an author with an axe to grind.
    That is not history. History is a narrative and analysis of events. Good history scholarship allows the reader to make up his/her own mind.
    Here’s an example –

    An extract – The most popular conservative justification for Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, that Australia was directly threatened by developments there, derived from the domestic political and economic advantages of propagating racism (the ‘Yellow Peril’) and anti-communism (the ‘Red Hordes’). These were neatly combined in paranoia about Chinese expansionism, toppling dominoes down to Darwin. In the context of the continuing cold war, such arguments also had an appeal in the right of the ALP. But it had virtually no factual basis. Cairns provided a good account of the essentially nationalist position of the forces opposed to the USA and South Vietnamese regime. Objectively the levels of threat to Australian territory were very low: none of the countries in the region had an interest in armed conflict with Australia and, even if they had, their military capacity was small compared with Australia’s own. The Minister for the Army noted in his diary in mid 1965 that ‘The threat to the Australian mainland remains remote till at least 1970’.

  • 1735099…..the trauma suffered by you at the hands of that polling booth attendant was obviously significant enough to destroy your long term memory. I would hate to think that an educated person such as yourself had selective memory loss, fabricated stories or has an agenda to rewrite history. I actually attended one of your “peaceful” demos in Melbourne in 1972. The vast numbers of uni-students there for the opportunity to indulge in violent behaviour achieved just that the demo broke out into violent skirmishes with the Police and the supposed object of the demonstration was quickly forgotten. The subsequent arrests made and court appearances of the scum involved created quite a furore in Victoria and was broadcast even as far as Toowoomba. I therefore have no doubt you became aware of the nature of what became a nationwide embarrassment. A school friend of mine was arrested at an earlier demo where there were running battles with Police and that particular confrontation received nationwide press and TV coverage and set the tenor for the following demonstrations in relation to Vietnam and our presence there. Demonstrations called in relation to other matters utilised the pyramid system of recruiting at a speed unseen before. I ring you, you ring five mates and each of them rings five etc. within an hour we have hundreds of uni-students and other assorted rabble happy to confront the coppers. Yes there were mums and dads and grand-parents there but the violence incorporated by the thugs was undeniable….in total contrast to your claims. I know, I was there. Mum and dad bundled up grandparents and kids and got out of the way, but made good press for your lot. I was married, working and unable to utilise the public purse, as you did, to further my educational quals to enable me to once again work for the government, as you did. By the way there is no such thing as free education now and there was no such thing when you got the free ride…..taxpayers did without other services or payed higher taxes to afford you that privilege and you wasted it by only taking in the lefty view of life and attempt at every opportunity to rewrite history. I hate to think of the damage you have caused your students over the years.

  • I actually attended one of your “peaceful” demos in Melbourne in 1972.

    If you care to climb down from your ideological high horse for a moment, you might like to note that my references to peaceful demonstrations were made about the Vietnam Moratorium marches which occurred in 1970 and 1971. To refer to something you may have observed in Melbourne as associated with Cairns (or for that matter Whitlam) in 1972 is typical Rightist conflation. The Moratorium marches were indeed peaceful, which was just as well, given the numbers involved.

    I was married, working and unable to utilise the public purse, as you did, to further my educational quals to enable me to once again work for the government, as you did.

    Again, you wheel out more Rightist boilerplate. I’m proud of the work I’ve done paid through the public purse. The fact that you can’t make a quick quid out of teaching kids with disabilities makes the public service necessary.
    The logical conclusion to that train of thought is the privatization of all public entities including the police force, emergency services and to take it to the extreme, the ADF. That was tried by the neo-cons in Iraq.

    It did not end well –

    • You are correct when you say you cherry picked the moratoriums as against the anti-war movement demonstrations as a whole. The demo I attended was in Melbourne in April 1972. I have checked my previous acquaintance and the arrest previously mentioned was at an anti-war protest not included in the moratoriums. I still believe that to insinuate that the anti-war stance held by many previously mentioned persons was peaceful is disingenuous in the extreme. Comrade Cairns was unambiguously a Communist and acted against the interests of his country of birth, even if as you say he did not put up the funds to enable him to advertise the fact. If as you claim the people involved in this movement were intent on getting the troops out of Vietnam, rather than have them lose the war,why were the troops not well-received on return when the coalition pulled them out?

  • When you start linking to the loonies at the League of Rights, your real political affiliations are revealed. They’re Nazi sympathizers and violently anti-Semitic. The League’s publications(1) have described the Holocaust as a “hoax”.
    They’re well known as Harpics*.

    *clean round the bend…………

    (1)See – Holocaust Denial as an International Movement By Stephen E. Atkins

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