Gough Whitlam was elected leader of the ALP, succeeding Arthur Calwell, at a Caucus meeting on Wednesday, February 8, 1967.
Whitlam had been deputy leader since March 7, 1960. He was first elected to the House of Representatives seat of Werriwa (NSW) on November 29, 1952.
Whitlam polled 32 Caucus votes on the first ballot. He faced four opponents for the leadership: Dr. Jim Cairns (15), Frank Crean (12), Fred Daly (6) and Kim Beazley (3).
Following the elimination of Beazley, Whitlam received 33 votes on the second ballot, with Cairns remaining on 15, Crean remaining on 12 and Daly on 8.
Following the elimination of Daly, Whitlam received 39 votes on the third ballot, an absolute majority against Cairns on 15 and Crean on 14.
Lance Barnard defeated seven opponents to become deputy leader. On the seventh ballot, he polled 35 votes to 33 for Dr. Jim Cairns.
The Caucus also elected Senator Lionel Murphy as Senate leader, with Senator Sam Cohen as deputy.
Whitlam would remain leader until December 1977. He led the party to elections in 1969, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1977. To this day, he holds the record as longest-serving leader of the ALP.
Whitlam’s election wasn’t the main item of news in Australia that day. It coincided with savage fires in southern Tasmania, including Hobart, that claimed at least 62 lives, injured 900 and left thousands homeless.