November 11, 2005 | Graham

November 11 still very important

November the 11th is an important day for me. It is Armistice Day, the day when the last great European War formally ended, and it is my oldest son’s birthday. It is also the anniversary of the sacking of the Whitlam Government, which compared to the other two is trivial.
I’ve been listening to the coverage of the 30th Anniversary of the dismissal this morning, and dreading the coming 35th, 40th and no doubt 45th and 50th anniversaries. I’m with Lindsay Tanner who said in The Australian yesterday that it is time to move on. That we still commemorate it is tribute to the determined tribalism of the Labor Party and its will to punish enemies over time and across generations. The style of the coverage is also a demonstration of the shallowness of much of the media. All the focus is on Kerr and Fraser, but none on Whitlam. If it was indeed a constitutional crisis (for my part the Kerr part of it seemed to work reasonably well) it was one caused by Fraser and Whitlam, particularly Whitlam’s imperial determination to govern without parliament, à la Charles II.
But the greatest pity of all of this is that at a time when national security is again a real issue, an opportunity to reflect on a real war, such as the Great War of 1914-18 is being obscured by reflections on the faux war of 1972-75. Inquiry into the former might help us understand the present, while reflection on the latter is really a retreat from the present.
But then, the most important thing today is, Happy Birthday Andrew.

Posted by Graham at 9:10 am | Comments (5) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I think you mean Charles I.

    Comment by David Fraser — November 11, 2005 @ 11:54 am

  2. Whoever wrote this item is obviously out of touch with much [if not most] of politically thoughtfull Australians who were alive and thinking in 1975 – it was important and has continuing ramifications.
    That the media [not the ALP] places so much focus upon a thirty year anniversary of a [significant] political event is perhaps indicative of a pre-occupation with what doesn’t matter so much now when so much that does matter now goes unreported or at least un-analysed. This comment probably refers also to the end of the European War which happened before virtually any of us still alive were born. They were important, but so is NOW.
    It doesn’t hurt to be reminded of important historical [yes, even political] events and to reflect on them.
    I think [and hope] that most of us HAVE moved on from both events, though I’m not so sure about the media.

    Comment by Bob James — November 11, 2005 @ 4:19 pm

  3. Bob James I was there and it was and still is obsene that Whitlam distorts history in his fantasy.
    It seems to be popular on the 11th of November for television stations to trot out an interview with Gough Whitlam and invite him to reinvent the history of his dismissal.
    There are those of us who are old enough to have lived through the absolute chaos of the Whitlam years and of those people like me who voted to get him elected then discovered to our despair that the man was a raving idiot, it is very galling for the ritual of the reinvention of history to be continuously repeated.
    For the reporters who reply on the many books that Whitlam has used to discredit everyone except himself, they should note:
    The Whitlam government was one of chaos and disorganisation with ministers replaced regularly when they didn’t conform with his whims.
    The senate had not granted supply and if he had not been sacked he would not have been able to pay public servants and run the country.
    His own party were confused and disorientated and the Senate acting as a “House of Review” we totally justified in their actions of denying supply.
    Whitlam was sacked only after Frazer agreed to immediately grant supply (the conservatives controlled the Senate) and to hold an election which he did on a “caretaker government” basis.
    At the subsequent election the Labor party was decimated with only a handful of members retaining their seats. Surely this is the validation that the actions of the time were in conformity to the will of the Australian people.
    The irony is that Whitlam was followed by Frazer who without doubt proved to be second only to Whitlam as the most incompetent Prime Minister that this country has ever had.
    While Kerr had his problems one of those wasn’t the personal idiocy of Whitlam himself. For Gough to make snide and uncalled for puerile comments about Kerr’s wife and Kerr himself demonstrates the poor class and inability in conceptual values which characterised Whitlam and obviously continues to exist.
    The recent comments of another hated ex Prime Minister , Keating on this topic only goes to show that he also is out of touch with reality and living in fairyland and his comments are below the level we should expect from someone who has attained that high office.
    Please let us not annually pander to stupidity persononified in the form of Gough Whitlam.

    Comment by Tom Hampstead — November 11, 2005 @ 6:55 pm

  4. Bush and the Republicans were not protecting us on 9-11, and we aren’t a lot safer now. We may be more afraid due to george bush, but are we safer? Being fearful does not necessarily make one safer. Fear can cause people to hide and cower. What do you think? What is he doing to us, and what is he doing to the world?
    Our country is in debt until forever, we don’t have jobs, and we live in fear. We have invaded a country and been responsible for thousands of deaths.
    We have lost friends and influenced no one. No wonder most of the world thinks we suck. Thanks to what george bush has done to our country during the past three years, we do!

    Comment by Antibush — February 14, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  5. It was the Whitlam government that ended conscription and withdrew Australian troops from Vietnam, implemented equal pay for women, launched an inquiry into education and funded government and non-government schools on a needs basis, established a separate ministry responsible for Aboriginal affairs, established the single department of defence, withdrew support for South Africa, granted independence to Papua-New Guinea, abolished tertiary education fees and established the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme, increased pensions, established Medibank, established controls on foreign ownership of Australian resources, passed the Family Law Act establishing no-fault divorce, passed a series of laws banning racial and sexual discrimination, extended maternity leave and benefits for single mothers, sought to democratise the electoral system by introducing one-vote-one-value, implemented wide-ranging reforms of the Labor Party’s organisation, initiated Australia’s first federal legislation on human rights the environment and heritage, established the Legal Aid Office, established the National Film and Television School, launched construction of National Gallery of Australia, established the Australian Development Assistance Agency, reopened the Australian Embassy in Peking after 24 years, established the Prices Justification Tribunal, revalued the dollar, cut tariffs across the board, established the Trade Practices Commission, established the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, established the Law Reform Commission, established the Australian Film Commission, established the Australia Council, established the Australian Heritage Commission, established the Consumer Affairs Commission, established the Technical and Further Education Commission, implemented a national employment and training program, created Telecom and Australia Post to replace the Postmaster-General’s Department, devised the Order of Australia to replace the British Honours system, abolished appeals to the Privy Council, changed the national anthem to Advance Australia Fair and instituted Aboriginal land rights.

    Mind you it took them three years… but we were, at the somewhat tumultuous end of Whitlam’s time, a nation re-shaped.

    Comment by Mandel Hymansen — April 10, 2011 @ 4:30 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.