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