I know the Almanac is a sporting site, and Gough was not at all interested, but today, I lost an absolute hero.


Rod Oaten


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Amen. He changed our world and I will be forever grateful. Rip gough. Condolences to family

  2. Patrick Skene says

    Rest easy Rod.

    There is a fantastic sports connection with Gough.


    A great innings from the father of modern Australia.

  3. Peter Flynn says

    When Old Mate was giving Gough the brace and bits during an election campaign.

    “Let me make quite clear that I am for abortion and, in your case Sir, we should make it retrospective.”

    Up there with one of the funniest put downs ever.

    Vale EG Whitlam

  4. Peter Flynn says


    “I remember.”

    – In reply to Sir Winton Turnbull shouting: “I am a Country member”.

  5. Education.

  6. The Young Tree Green.

  7. Yvette Wroby says

    Stopped conscription and our involvement in Vietnam meaning my brother was not called up. Agree regarding education and women’s rights yvette

  8. As high-falutin as it might sound, when I first travelled Europe in 1993 I had a few questions in my mind. One was: how do others live? And then: how does that help me understand how we live in Australia? And further: what are the elements of Australian culture: both in the broad sense of the way we live on this land, and in the representation of that way of life through the arts, through institutions, through other endeavours. And: how do we understand all that, and indeed do we need to contemplate it at all, or just get on with things.

    In my mind, the response to the human condition of those who happen to live on the Australian continent was given genuine respect and value by the belief Gough Whitlam (and others) had in the people to find their own understandings, and not resort to those understandings derived from elsewhere. Influenced, of course. But also fresh and alert.

    Gough may be an imagined hero, and many hopes and aspirations may have been projected on to him, but he carried them. This is a mystery of the progressive leader.

  9. Medibank

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Still at High School when he was dismissed (1975 looms large once more), took me a while to appreciate his legacy.

    And only in Australia could N Gunston be found on the steps of Parliament House that day.

  11. No ones mentioned East Timor !


  12. Dave Brown says

    My family moved from Port Augusta to Canberra in 1974 so my dad could take up a junior executive position in the transport department. As my mum had previously worked for the member for Grey at the time, upon their arrival in Canberra he invited them up to Parliament House, took them into the chamber and introduced them to Gough. He warmly welcomed them to Canberra. Now there’s an introduction to a town and a man whose reach far exceeds that of his contemporaries.

  13. Don Meadows says

    He was responsible for my second stab at uni, the one that worked. Always grateful.

  14. Neil Anderson says

    He was responsible for my only stab at uni. As a young married man just starting out, all I had to do was find the $200 for union fees and I was in.
    I will continue to celebrate St Gough’s Day on 2nd December with my mate who thanks to Gough, didn’t have to go in the ‘lucky dip’ to possibly go overseas and kill people.

  15. As to his wit, this one tickled my fancy: Andrew Denton was trying to ask him a question as Gough swept through to an engagement. Denton got in front of Gough, fell to his knees, bowed, while saying, “I’m not worthy”. Gough didn’t miss a step or a beat. He replied, “Lower, lower” and continued on his way.

  16. I was in Grade 4 at Kapunda PS and singing “Big Ted” (about the demise of a much loved pig) along with the weekly broadcast of Singlng and Listening. Part way through the song, the ABC announcer interrupted to declare that Gough and his government had been sacked by the GG. I was nine and knew this was serious, as Singing and Listening was not interrupted without good cause!

    I was among the last beneficiaries of free university education, and am most grateful for this.

    Love The Whitlams song too.

  17. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Vale Gough,
    So many people got a chance to go to Uni because of Whitlam. I was in Grade Prep on the 11/11/75. Teachers were crying. Met him in Queenstown in 1977. Giant of a man who got my dad to vote Labor for the first time. This country wasn’t ready for a Gough. 40 years later, it still isn’t. Here’s hoping…

  18. From Memoirs of a Mug Punter, the tale of a collective called SAMRA, the Salvadore Allende Memorial Racing Alliance, to show how socialism can work in horseracing (of which I was cadre):

    “I remember exactly where I was the morning that Gough was sacked. I was in A17 (at Oakey High School) in a Maths class with Mr. Taylor, a Geordie who lived for Newcastle United and thought Malcolm MacDonald was God. (And I thought Larry Donohue was God.) Mr. Roberts, a colleague, came racing in and said, “The bastards have sacked him.” I was shocked. I’d never heard a teacher swear.’

    [Want to read more? Books available! About a dozen remaining in captivity]

  19. Bob Speechley says

    I was privileged to have met Gough at a Conference I was managing at Melbourne University in the early 80’s. At the Conference dinner he spent about an hour with me and other organising staff chatting informally about everyday matters. I was aware of the significant impact his Government had on Australia and the level of awareness he raised in our community. I was saddened at the Dismissal and even moreso today at his passing.

  20. No football smarts.

    Originally signed on as #1 ticket holder for Geelong in the early 70s.

    Then switched to Collingwood in the same role.

    As always, ahead of his time.

  21. Peter Fuller says

    I’m happy to be corrected but I thought Gough’s fling with Geelong was in 1967 to coincide with the Corio by-election. Sir Hubert Opperman was given a foreign embassy post, after holding the seat for 17 years, which enabled Labor to win it back, and retain it ever since. Perhaps Margaret told him that horizontal stripes aren’t flattering on a man with a fuller figure, and that explained the switch to the Magpies.
    Thank you Patrick for the reminder of Gough’s association with Rale Rasic.
    Given my political allegiance and age, Gough was and is my hero, but there is little need to add to the observations on the thread or the many thousands of words already uttered in tributes. Not a myth only a man, but a great one.
    As for how I heard about it: I was a graduate student in Stockholm. Our connection with the outside world was the BBC World Service. When I woke 11th Novemebr 1975, before heading to University (8 a.m. there, 5 p.m. Australian Eastern), my wife told me that the BBC carried news of the Dismissal. I think it was the only time in our year in Sweden that news from Australia made the Stockholm newspapers.

  22. “Some men see things as they are and say why; others dream things that never were and say why not.” Whitlam was the greatest dreamer and progressive in Australia’s history. That he achieved all the things we have listed, but was only in power for 2 years and 9 months was remarkable. He had flaws but they were far outweighed by his energy, vision and drive.
    Thinking back the thing that stood out to me was his going to China in 1971 when he was Opposition Leader. He was the first senior western politician to open up relations with China and paving the way for Nixon and Kissinger’s subsequent Ping-Pong diplomacy. He was 40 years before his time in understanding that you could not ignore the size, history and energy of the Chinese people. But he was called a traitor at the time.
    At a personal level I was one year away from having my birthday go into the barrel for conscription to serve in the army in Vietnam when he was elected. I am forever grateful that I did not have to go through that life and death lottery.
    He did a wonderful line in self-deprecating irony and humour, but those without a finely tuned ear mistook it for arrogance. There is a great Whitlam story about rugby league in Queensland:
    “Queensland was the state where Labor was faring worst. Into this strode Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, invited to kick off for the 1974 QRL Grand Final at Lang Park, now Suncorp Stadium.
    Whitlam had been invited by parliamentary colleague Senator Ron McAuliffe, a legendary figure in the Queensland Labor Party and nicknamed “Rugby Ron”. McAuliffe was chairman of the Queensland Rugby League.
    Almost every Australian knew that Whitlam was less than impressed by football, but dutifully he strode to the centre of the ground and ceremonially kicked off.
    The trouble started as he and McAuliffe left the field. A cacophony of boos, jeers and catcalls accompanied Whitlam’s departure and a shower of beer bottles and cans rained down.
    Whitlam was unfazed. Turning to McAuliffe, he declared: “Senator, if I had known that you were this unpopular in your home state I would never have accepted your invitation to be here.”

  23. Interesting timing, as on the same day we heard the AFP wil not follow through any further with the murder of the Balibo Five, during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor.

    A portender of Whitlams passing might have been at Caulfield on Saturday when the sprinter Whitlam ran last in the Caulfield sprint. Whitlam is a horse i generally follow, running a lot of places i usualy get a few $$ back, but being at my bogie track, Caulfield, i wisely did not put any $$ on him.


  24. The day Gough was sacked, I was in Geelong with some of the students from Lorne P/12 School. When we arrived back in the bus, three of the teachers rushed out with the news. Everybody was stunned. I shall never forget that moment and I still maintain my rage.

  25. The day Whitlam was sacked i was at school, a happy form one student. The teachers informed us mid afternoon that something momentous had taken place though they didn’t disclose. I recall goimg home, to find my mother on the phone talking to my aunty Norma. They were both intent on maintaining their rage. I can also recall the victory in 1972, and the pleasure amongst my family at seeing the ALP in power after 23 baren years. This was the first ALP government, federal or state, to that point in my life time.


  26. I like this line from the Whitlams song best Micky;

    “All the artists flew in and all the arseholes flew out in ’72
    For you Gough, you Gough, you Gough…”

    Sadly we let the arseholes back in and they’ve multiplied.

  27. I know Gough stopped conscription and released the remaining conscientious objectors from jail, but I’m not sure mentions here of him pulling Australia out of Vietnam are 100% correct. I thought Oz started pulling out in 70 or 71, but stand to be corrected.

    Onto Gough. My perception is that he got us all interested in politics and where Oz was heading. Prior to that we just didn’t seem to care. My old man loved him.

  28. Spot on nose, most of the troops had returned to Oz, this happening under Billy McMahon. Whitlams position on Vietnam was never so staight forward, only when he could see the level of popular opposition to the war did he make a public stand in opposition to Australias involvement. His earlier stance(s) were more ambiguous.


  29. The Cleaner says

    Whitlam visited Alice Springs in 2001 to open an Aged Care Centre at Yuendumu 300ks north west.

    While visited the local Labor member Warren Snowdon’s office he swept through a door being held open by one of Snowdon’s staffers and promptly farted audibly, turned to the surprised staffer & said, “Consider it a blessing, my son!”

  30. Dennis Gedling says

    Ahem, Patrick, I also wrote about the connection between sport and Gough.


    The withdrawal of troops even went back to Gorton’s influence too.

    I grew up in Rockingham and like most down that way I was on a one-track path to nothingness if not being able to afford to go to university thanks to his changes if I take a romaticised view on how he benefitted my socioeconomic area. I certainly wouldn’t be contributing to sites like this and involved in the arts if I didn’t have these opportunities. He was a profound influence on myself personally even though I was born after the dismissal. Another major influence on others was someone who died 10 years ago this week, the BBC DJ John Peel.

    Like Peter said his flaws were outweighed by his energy, vision and drive. Compare all of that to faux conservatives in his party now. I haven’t spoken to the old man about it yet but this would probably be the most down he’s been since the wall came down.

  31. JD- it’s a great song, and I love the simple optimism of

    Come over have dinner with me, we’ll play chess and drink claret
    Walk slowly down my little street, you can bring Margaret

  32. If anyone is close to their radio this morning, tune in to 3CR, 855am on your dial. From 09-00 Melbourne time ii’ll be talking about Gough Whitlam.


  33. I was one of the few people ever to raise Gough in the already high
    estimation of those who already lauded him. At The Age in the late ’70s,
    as a juinior reporter, I was asked to ring the Great Man for a comment on
    Bill Hartley or someone of such earthshaking significance. Gough was in
    a banquet in Athens at the time: when I got through to the venue, I made the
    person who picked up the phone understand I wanted to speak to the Prime
    Minister. Presently the a stentorian voice boomed across the ether: “Prime
    Minister Papandreou here.” A colleague later swore blue that I’d replied:
    “You’re the wrong prime minister, sir. I wanted Mr Whitlam.” He departed,
    no doubt punctured; Gough soon came on the line, sounding ebullient.
    Vale, Gough: greatest living Australian no longer. But the loss of that adjective only puts you in better company.

  34. Glen, I really enjoyed your tribute to Gough on 3CR today.

  35. Noel Pearson’s eloquent, passionate and stirring eulogy.
    18 mins well spent.

  36. Noel Person’s speech was up there with the Redfern speech by Paul Keating. Truly stirring stuff. The other speeches were bloody fantastic too.

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