Constitutional Changes After 1975

This is the text of a speech by Gough Whitlam.

The speech was delivered to the Australian National University Law Faculty Dinner at the Lobby Restaurant, opposite Old Parliament House.

Whitlam deals with the political and constitutional nature of the 1975 crisis and proposes a series of constitutional, parliamentary and electoral reforms.

Five years ago I and many other participants and observers wrote books and articles and spoke in conferences and programs on the coup d’état of 11 November 1975. For the 25th anniversary I chose a forum and symposium under the auspices of the Law Faculty of the ANU.

The Faculty, however, chose this venue. There have probably been more post-mortems on the events of November 1975 held here at the Lobby than anywhere else in Australia, although wine and truth do not necessarily go together. Old hands tell me that lunch at the Lobby has never recaptured its former civility or capaciousness since luncheon was so suddenly curtailed on the eleventh of the eleventh. In any case, two decisions during my Government’s second term irrevocably altered the Lobby’s geographical and institutional status. For more than a decade, the proposed site for the new and permanent Parliament House wandered futilely between the lakeside, Capital Hill and Camp Hill; on 26 September 1974 the ALP member for Burke, Keith Johnson, successfully initiated a private member’s bill, The Parliament Bill, to build the new House on Capital Hill. On 29 September 1975 I unveiled a plaque to commemorate the start of construction of the building for the High Court of Australia. This plaque, on the insistence of Chief Justice Barwick, has been set flush with the floor in the court building. [Read more…]

Whitlam Address To Murdoch University Student Law Society

This is a revised version of Gough Whitlam’s address to the Murdoch University Student Law Society.

Introduction by Professor Michael Blakeney – Dean of the Law School

It’s my very great honour to welcome Gough Whitlam to the Murdoch Law School. One of the reasons that Gough is here is that I was interviewed by the law students’ newspaper and asked who I would most like to spend the night with. I mentioned Gough!

Gough has had a profound influence on my life and on the lives of my generation. To understand that proposition, you have to appreciate the flavour of the political and intellectual climate of Australia in the mid to late sixties when I was a law student. To appreciate some of that I commend to you the autobiographical works and diaries of that great Western Australia, Paul Hasluck. He communicates something of the stench for what my generation considered to be the intellectual mediocrity and stultification of the post-Menzies years. Australian involvement in the Vietnam War was a tangible manifestation of the moral bankruptcy of our leadership at that time. In 1972 the younger generation, which at the time included me, looked to Gough Whitlam as a shining beacon in the darkness. [Read more…]

Whitlam’s Address At The Opening Of The Trade Union Education Foundation

This is the text of Gough Whitlam’s speech at the opening of the Trade Union Education Foundation.

Whitlam canvassed a range of issues, including education, electoral reform and indigenous issues in relation to Mabo and Wik.

The speech was delivered at Sydney Town Hall.

Gough Whitlam speech at the opening of the Trade Union Education Foundation.

Men and Women of Australia; is the salutation I reserve for great occasions. It is entirely appropriate that I should use it to greet this assembly today.

I was delighted to accept Bill Kelty’s invitation to give the first lecture in this eponymous series. If this had been a Whitlam Memorial Lecture I could only have been with you in spirit.

I appreciate the honour deeply and congratulate the ACTU warmly on its initiative in establishing the Trade Union Education Foundation.

Through this initiative the ACTU re-affirms one of the Labor Movement’s oldest and best traditions: its educative role within our own ranks and in the wider community. [Read more…]