Gough Whitlam, right, with his father, Fred, mother, Martha and sister, Freda, circa 1924. Gough Whitlam, right, with his father, Fred, mother, Martha and sister, Freda, circa 1924.
Gough Whitlam marries Margaret Dovey at St Michael’s Vaucluce in 1942. Photo: Fairfax Library
Gough Whitlam, centre, with members of his RAAF bomber aircrew.
The new Member for the Federal seat of Werriwa.
Leader of the Labor Party Arthur Calwell, left, with his new deputy, Gough Whitlam in 1960. Photo: F. BURKE
Meets Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, inset, far right, in Peking.
Gough Whitlam wins the 1972 general election.
Gough Whitlam meets US President Mr Richard Nixon in 1973.
Gough Whitlam meets Chinese leader Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1973.
Campaigning during the 1974 election. Photo: The Age
Gough Whitlam with Lionel Murphy in 1974. Photo: R. Rice
Gough Whitlam stands behind David Smith, the secretary to the Governor-General, as he reads the proclamation dissolving parliament following the dismissal of the Whitlam government. Photo: Peter Wells
The Whitlams attend a farewell dinner at the Blacktown Civic Centre in 1978. Photo: W. Gibson
Gough and Margaret Whitlam Photo: Rick Stevens
1916, July 11: Born in Kew, Victoria.
1921: The Whitlam family moved to Sydney where young Gough attended Knox Grammar.
1926: The family relocated to Canberra and the following year Gough enrolled at Telopea Park Intermediate High before moving to Canberra Grammar.
1938: Educated at the University of Sydney (B.A., 1938; LL.B., 1946).
1938-41: At university he participated in rowing, debating and amatuer dramatics. He edited the college journal, The Pauline and the student magazine Hermes.
April 22, 1942: Married Margaret Elaine Dovey in Vaucluse, Sydney. They have four children: Anthony (1944); Nicholas (1945); Stephen (1950); Catherine (1954).
1942-1945: Served in the Royal Australian Air Force.
1945: Joined the Australian Labor Party.
1947: Admitted to the NSW Bar.
November 29, 1952: Elected to the House of Representatives for Werriwa, NSW, at by-election following the death of H.P. (Bert) Lazzarini.
1953: Attacked French policies in Indo-China, arguing for self-determination for the Viet Minh.
August 12, 1954: Argued for the recognition of China and its admission to the United Nations.
March 7, 1960 – February 8, 1967: Deputy leader of the Australian Labor Party under Arthur Calwell.
1962: Appointed Queen’s Counsel.
February 8, 1967 – December 5, 1972: Leader of the Australian Labor Party with Lance Barnard winning the position of deputy leader.
July 1971: Visited Peking and met Chinese leader Zhou Enlai.
November 13, 1972: Delivered the famous “It’s Time” speech for the Australian Labor Party at the Blacktown Civic Centre, in Sydney beginning with the Whitlam’s trademark words, “Men and Women of Australia!”
December 5, 1972: Elected as Australia’s 21st prime minister. The ALP won the election and formed the first Labor government in 23 years. Whitlam and his deputy, Lance Barnard, governed as a duumvirate during this first Whitlam Ministry until December 19. They were the only two-man government in Australia’s federal political history. Whitlam held 13 portfolios and Barnard, held 14. Barnard announces immediate end of national service call-up.
December 11, 1972: Announced the withdrawal of the Australian Army from Vietnam, leaving only an embassy guard.
December 15, 1972: The Whitlam Government announced a judicial inquiry as the first move towards the legal recognition of Aboriginal rights in land, with the appointment of Mr Justice Woodward as the Commissioner to conduct the inquiry.
December 1972: The Equal Pay case for women, which was supported strongly by the Whitlam Government, continues to dominate public debate during this period. The Womens Electoral Lobby (WEL), which was formed in 1972 just before the Federal election, was a driving force in this debate – and strongly supported the Whitlam Government, which was seen by activist feminists as the only public policy force for reform for women.
December 19, 1972: The second Whitlam Ministry was sworn into office, containing 27 ministers. New Department of Aboriginal Affairs established. This decision upgrades the Office of Aboriginal Affairs to ministerial level. Other new departments were established, including the Department of Education, Department of Environment and Conservation, Department of the Media, Department of Minerals and Energy, Department of Northern Development, Department of Social Security, Department of Urban and Regional Development.
January 9, 1973: Cabinet acts on 10 election pledges and authorises preparations to abolish the death penalty in Federal territories; remove excise on wine; remove sales tax on contraceptives; provide contraceptive pills as pharmaceutical benefits; provide social service benefits to people overseas; improve Commonwealth employees compensation provisions; extend Aboriginal secondary grants scheme to include all children of Aboriginal descent attending secondary schools; provide maternity leave (a total of 12 weeks) to Commonwealth employees; legislate to lower the voting age to 18, and the age of candidates to 18.
October 31, 1973: Whitlam became the first prime minister to visit the People’s Republic of China. In January 1973 had Australia re-opened the Australian Embassy in Peking, resuming diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.
January 1, 1974: Tuition fees for students at tertiary institutions were abolished; the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme was abolished and replaced by the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme.
April 8, 1974: Advance Australia Fair replaced God Save the Queen as Australia’s national anthem.
May 18, 1974: Election of Federal Parliament. The Whitlam government was re-elected, an election so frequently ignored that Whitlam termed it “the election that never was”.
August, 1974: After a long political battle and a historic Joint Sitting of both Houses of Parliament, legislation was passed establishing the Health Insurance Commission.
December 14, 1974: A meeting of Whitlam, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Rex Connor, Treasurer Dr Jim Cairns, and Senator Lionel Murphy to raise an overseas loan of $4 billion was set to become the political scandal called the “Overseas Loans Affair”.
February, 1975: Whitlam appoints Attorney-General Senator Lionel Murphy to the High Court of Australia.
July 1, 1975: Medibank started operating in Australia.
November 11, 1975: Dismissed by Governor-General Sir John Kerr and both houses of parliament were dissolved. Kerr appointed Malcolm Fraser as “caretaker” prime minister. Whitlam remains the only Australian Prime Minister to have been dismissed from office.
December 13, 1975: Election for Federal Parliament. ALP suffered its greatest electoral defeat under Whitlam. Liberal-Country party coalition formed government.
January 27, 1976 – December 22, 1977: Whitlam was leader of the Australian Labor Party.
July 31, 1978: Whitlam resigned his parliamentary seat.
1978: Made a Companion of the Order of Australia.
1979: Published his own account of the events of 1975 entitled The Truth of the Matter.
1980-1981: First National Fellow of the Australian National University.
1983-1986: Australian Ambassador to UNESCO in Paris.
1986-1991: Chairman of the Australia-China Council.
1987-1990: Chairman, National Gallery of Australia.
1997: Named a National Living Treasure by the National Trust.
2000: The Whitlam Institute was established within the University of Western Sydney to foster the development of public policy through scholarship and debate and inquiry into the grand themes championed by Whitlam.
March 17, 2012: Margaret Whitlam died in Sydney.
October 21, 2014: Gough Whitlam died, aged 98.
Compiled by Fairfax Research Library