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Archives for 1977

Whitlam Concedes Defeat, Resigns Leadership

Gough Whitlam appeared in the National Tally Room on election night to concede defeat and resign the ALP leadership.

The voice of Kerry O’Brien, Whitlam’s press secretary, can be heard as Whitlam arrives to address the media. [Read more…]

Whitlam Resigns The ALP Leadership Following Election Defeat

Gough Whitlam announced that he would be relinquishing the leadership of the ALP in a brief statement on election night, December 10, 1977.

The Fraser government was comfortably re-elected, losing only a handful of seats and securing a victory nearly as substantial as the landslide of 1975. [Read more…]

Did The Earth Move For You Too, Dear…

This is one of the most loved of Peter Nicholson’s cartoons featuring the Whitlams.

Gough and Margaret Whitlam were in Tientsin, China, in 1977 when a severe earthquake struck. At first, the Whitlams’ whereabouts was not known. We now know that the earthquake was at that time one of the worst natural disasters ever. Officially, a quarter of a million people died, although the real figure could be much higher.

An article on Inside Story by Richard Whitington, a member of Whitlam’s staff, provides a detailed account of the earthquake.

Nicholson’s cartoons drew some criticism at the time for being in poor taste. As Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald reported in 2014: “Gough bought the original, framed it and hung it over the marital bed. The Whitlams had a sense of humour. And Gough was entirely at home with great tectonic shifts.”


1977 Federal Election: Whitlam Addresses ALP Election Rally At Moorabbin Town Hall

Whitlam fought his last election campaign as leader of the ALP in 1977.

The federal election was held on December 10. Whitlam and the ALP were defeated by a large margin only slightly less than the landslide defeat of 1975. Whitlam announced his resignation as leader of the ALP on election night.

This is probably the only recording made of Whitlam’s appearance at an ALP election rally at the Moorabbin Town Hall, in the electorate of Hotham, in Melbourne, on November 28, 1977. [Read more…]

Whitlam’s 1977 Election Policy Speech

Whitlam delivered the ALP policy speech for the 1977 federal election at the Sydney Opera House.

For the first time, Whitlam’s speech was not broadcast in full. The televised address contained contributions from Whitlam’s shadow ministers.

Gough Whitlam’s 1977 election policy speech, delivered at the Sydney Opera House.

A Program for Australia’s Recovery

The task before us is to get Australia back to work, to give our young people, our unemployed, our small business people, our migrants a new hope—hope for decent jobs, hope in their future and the future of their country. The deepening economic crisis, the deliberately created unemployment call for bold, decisive measures. I shall be putting forward proposals to cut through, once and for all, the knot which ties unemployment and inflation.

We reject the defeatism and despair which says to Australia’s young people that their lives must be ruined if inflation is to be beaten.

Our proposals will call for Australia’s resources of co-operation, good faith, maturity and responsibility—co-operation from the States, good faith from business and maturity and foresight on the part of the people of Australia. [Read more…]

Sir John Kerr Drunk At The Melbourne Cup

Just weeks before retiring as Governor-General, Sir John Kerr attended the Melbourne Cup.

A drunken Kerr presented the cup to the connections of the winner, Gold and Black, a horse trained by Bart Cummings and ridden by John Duggan.

Kerr’s performance in front of a heckling crowd is a classic for political aficionados.

Kerr at the Melbourne Cup

[Read more…]

Kerr’s Retirement in London (Palace Letters)

On July 19, 1977, the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, wrote to the Queen’s private secretary, Martin Charteris, expressing his satisfaction with the retirement facilities being made available to him in London.

Kerr’s retirement had been announced on July 14, along with the naming of Sir Zelman Cowan as his successor.

The retirement of Charteris also took place in November, 1977.

In the letter, Kerr refers approvingly to the provision of an office suite and secretary in London, as well as transport. He says his wife “will be able to commute between London and Paris when she feels like it”.

Kerr attached a number of newspaper editorials and articles commenting on his retirement.


Whitlam’s 10th Anniversary As ALP Leader

Whitlam clocked up ten years as ALP leader on February 8, 1977.

He would not make it to eleven years. In December 1977, he was defeated for the second time by the Liberal leader, Malcolm Fraser. Whitlam relinquished the leadership and left the Parliament in 1978.

However, on his 10th anniversary as leader, the ABC’s This Day Tonight looked at his leadership of the party through the eyes of a cartoonist, Jeff Hook, and Whitlam’s speechwriter and confidante, Graham Freudenberg. [Read more…]