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Dreamtime with Whitlam

Michael Davie, 4 September 1986

The Whitlam Government 1972-1975 
by Gough Whitlam.
Viking, 788 pp., £17.95, July 1986, 0 670 80287 5
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... Towards the end of last year, shortly after Mr Gough Whitlam, the former Australian prime minister, had finished writing these memoirs, I had the pleasure of dining with him at the best hotel in Sofia. The occasion was less exotic than it sounds. Unesco was holding an acrimonious meeting in Bulgaria, and Mr Whitlam was present as Australia’s ambassador to Unesco ...

Having Charlie

Tim Rowse, 15 August 1991

Charles Perkins: A Biography 
by Peter Read.
Viking, 352 pp., $30, October 1990, 0 670 83488 2
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... could actually feel my brain moving and throbbing.’ Then the government changed. Prime Minister Gough Whitlam promised to enact the OAA’s proposals, including granting land rights to Aborigines. That Perkins was quickly promoted in the new department only encouraged his outspokenness, fighting public service proprieties in the name of accountability ...

Bob Hawke’s Australia

Michael Davie, 6 October 1983

... great physical presence and even greater political cunning? The answer, when it finally came, was Gough Whitlam. He was a man of commanding height, a middle-class barrister like Menzies, a skilled debater, supremely self-confident, a platform speaker who could rouse even an Australian audience. He became Labor leader in 1967 and Prime Minister in ...

What makes Rupert run?

Ross McKibbin: Murdoch’s Politics, 20 June 2013

Murdoch’s Politics: How One Man’s Thirst for Wealth & Power Shapes Our World 
by David McKnight.
Pluto, 260 pp., £12.99, February 2013, 978 0 7453 3346 5
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... Murdoch’s papers, notably the Australian (a national daily he had founded in 1964), supported Gough Whitlam. There is, though, a psychological and temperamental unity, a commitment to a ‘radicalism’ that forms a thread between his fitful youthful progressivism and his later, prolonged aggressive conservatism. Murdoch has always seen himself as an ...


Ian Hamilton: Two weeks in Australia, 6 October 1983

... on his mind, something very local and very specific, and each was determined to be heard. The Gough Whitlam spirit was still alive, and much of the talk was therefore about cash: about how much more of it each magazine felt that it deserved. This was more or less to be expected. What made the thing somewhat eerie was the general air of rancour, of ...


C.K. Stead, 15 October 1981

Flaws in the Glass: A Self-Portrait 
by Patrick White.
Cape, 272 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 9780224029247
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... in public life, taking sides with Labour, making speeches, supporting dismissed Prime Minister Gough Whitlam against Governor-General Sir John Kerr (whom he describes as ‘a rorty farting old Falstaff’), declaring himself a Republican, and writing a play with strong social over-tones. But when the Nobel Prize was awarded to him in 1973 he refused ...

Impressions of Nietzsche

Keith Kyle, 27 July 1989

The Lives of Enoch Powell 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Bodley Head, 518 pp., £16, April 1989, 0 370 30871 9
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... to delete the word “the” and substitute the word “a”.’ This came back to mind on seeing Gough Whitlam, former Prime Minister of Australia and former pupil of Professor Enoch Powell, recollecting on television his perplexity that anyone could have been able to make Herodotus sound boring. But this is the same man, animated by the same regard for ...


Karl Miller: London to Canberra, 25 June 1987

... I spoke to had been disappointed by Hawke’s Administration; and for them the dismissal of Gough Whitlam was still a very bitter memory. I feel they will be worse than disappointed if Hawke’s opponents succeed. Australia is a place where the men and women do not go about together – unless there was something peculiar about the week I was ...

Pareto and Elitism

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 3 July 1980

The Other Pareto 
edited by Placido Bucolo.
Scolar, 308 pp., £15, April 1980, 0 85967 516 5
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by G. Lowell Field and John Higley.
Routledge, 135 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 7100 0487 7
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Elites in Australia 
by John Higley and Don Smart.
Routledge, 317 pp., £9.50, July 1979, 9780710002228
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... interviews were conducted in the autumn of 1975, the autumn in which, on 11 November, Gough Whitlam, the Prime Minister, was removed from office by the Governor-General. His reply is not recorded but may safely be presumed to have been the same.) Undeterred by this responsive disarray, although conceding by page 261 that a survey may not ...

Carnival Time

Peter Craven, 18 February 1988

The Remake 
by Clive James.
Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 224 02515 5
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In the Land of Oz 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 380 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12110 8
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... James show exhibited to us the familiar landmarks of our Australian heritage (ex-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, Les Murray himself) defamiliarised by his own innocent view of the Australian subject or perhaps simply by the deficiencies of his Australian team of researchers. Whatever the case, the Australian-made James show was easy to resist because it ...


Tom Nairn: Australian Blues, 18 November 2004

... fallen apart into Lilliputian factions. Even worse, the elder statesman of the Labor Party, Gough Whitlam, appeared to counsel patience on his protégé Mark Latham, who recently became the Labor leader. The gaffer prognosticated that a full two sessions of zombiedom might have to elapse before the progressives get another chance. Had not he ...

Meritocracy v. Democracy

Bruce Ackerman: What to do about the Lords, 8 March 2007

... of a challenge by the Lords to the Commons. The great cautionary tale comes from Australia. Gough Whitlam’s election victory in 1972 marked Labour’s return to power after a quarter century in the wilderness. Within eighteen months, conservative resistance to Whitlam’s legislative programme led him to ...

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