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Front page of The Age on the morning of the special one-day sitting, Wednesday, July 9, 1975.

Loans Affair: Special One-Day Sitting

Gough Whitlam recalled the House of Representatives from its winter recess for a one-day sitting to debate the Overseas Loans Affair.

The sitting took place on July 9, 1975, two days before Whitlam’s 59th birthday.

Proceedings began with condolences for Queensland ALP Senate Bert Milliner, who had died on June 30. Milliner’s death allowed Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen to further alter the balance of power in the Senate by appointment of a non-Labor replacement.

In his speech, Whitlam tabled the loans documents and sought to defend the government’s position.

During an emotional defence of his behaviour, Rex Connor proclaimed the Whitlam Government’s defence of Australia’s mineral resources and called upon the words of “an old Australian poem”:

Give me men to match my mountains,
Give me men to match my plains,
Men with freedom in their vision,
And creation in their brains.

It appears that the poem is actually a bastardised version of The Coming American, by Sam Walter Foss:

Bring me men to match my mountains,
Bring me men to match my plains,
Men with empires in their purpose,
And new eras in their brains.

  • Listen to Whitlam’s speech opening the sitting (text below):
  • Listen to Opposition Leader Malcolm Fraser’s speech:
  • Listen to Minerals and Energy Minister Rex Connor’s speech: