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Posts published in “Year: 2003

Jim Cairns, Conscience Of Labor, Dies, 89

Dr. Jim Cairns, Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister in the Whitlam Government, has died, aged 89, at his home in Melbourne.

Jim CairnsA former policeman, Cairns was a lecturer in Economics before entering Parliament as the Labor member for Yarra in 1955. He spent 17 years in Opposition before becoming a minister in the Whitlam Government in December 1972.

Cairns is best remembered for his opposition to Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1970 he organised and led a massive and peaceful Moratorium protest against the war.

He became Minister for Overseas Trade in the Whitlam Government’s first term. He replaced Lance Barnard as Deputy Prime Minister following the government’s re-election in 1974. His political influence rose further when he replaced Frank Crean, father of the current Labor leader, as Treasurer.

Cairns’ finest moment in government came with his handling of the destruction of Darwin by Cyclone Tracey on Christmas Day 1974.

Maintain the Rag, A Celebration of the Whitlam Years

This is the text of Gough Whitlam’s speech to the Australian Institute of Music, in Sydney.

Thank you, Peter Calvo, for your introduction and your invitation to the John Painter Hall at the Australian Institute of Music. John Painter was a former director of the Canberra School of Music and is currently Senior Academic Advisor to this Australian Institute of Music.

I am happy that the most common question asked by reviewers of this CD is not “why celebrate the Whitlam years?” but rather “why celebrate them in rag?” The rag’s most distinctive feature is its syncopated melody. As a noted Italophile I point out “syncopation” is known to Italian musicians as alla zoppa, meaning “limping”, or literally, “as a cripple”. I trust my advancing years did not influence the choice.

It was a century ago this year that the first ever rag opera was performed; it was called “The Guest of Honour”. Perhaps that most famous of ragtime melodies, Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer”, could serve as an alternate title for this collection. I am told that even those who have never liked politics have at least found me entertaining. I take comfort that they come from near and far when I turn to vaudeville.