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Whitlam, Grand Old Man Of Australian Politics, Turns 90

Edward Gough Whitlam has celebrated his 90th birthday.

Gough WhitlamAs he begins his tenth decade, Whitlam is on track to overtake John Grey Gorton and William Morris Hughes as the oldest-ever former prime minister. Gorton died in 2002, aged 90 years, 8 months, 10 days. Hughes died in 1952, aged 90 years, 1 month, 3 days.

A total of 32 men served in the Whitlam ministries between December 5, 1972 and November 11, 1975. Fourteen of those men have died. Click here for a full list.

Of the 18 living former ministers, the oldest is Clyde Cameron, born February 11, 1913, now aged 93. Frank Crean, born February 28, 1916, is 90. Kim Beazley senior, born September 30, 1917, is 88. The youngest former minister is Paul Keating, born January 18, 1944, now aged 62. The second youngest former minister is Bill Hayden, born January 23, 1933, now aged 73.

Whitlam’s birthday was celebrated at a lunch last Saturday, attended by former ministers in his governments, including Paul Keating, Bill Hayden, Tom Uren, Les Johnson, Bill Morrison and Kep Enderby. He is reportedly spending today with his family.

Born in Kew, Melbourne, on July 11, 1916, Whitlam was elected to the House of Representatives division of Werriwa on November 29, 1952.

He became deputy leader of the ALP on March 7, 1960. Following the resignation of Arthur Calwell after Labor’s crushing defeat in the 1966 Federal elections, Whitlam became leader of the ALP on February 8, 1967.

At the 1969 elections, Whitlam secured a swing large enough to give the ALP a majority of the two-party-preferred vote but failed to win enough seats to form government.

Whitlam was sworn in as Prime Minister on December 5, 1972, following the elections of December 2. He held 13 portfolios and governed for 14 days with his deputy, Lance Barnard, who held 14 portfolios. Barnard died in 1997, aged 78.

Re-elected on May 18, 1974, Whitlam remained as Prime Minister until his dismissal by the Governor-General on November 11, 1975. Defeated at the ensuing elections, Whitlam remained as Leader of the Opposition through the 1977 elections until his resignation on December 22, 1977. He retired from Parliament in July, 1978.

Aside from Whitlam, there are three former Australian prime ministers still living: Malcolm Fraser, born May 21, 1930, aged 76; Bob Hawke, born December 9, 1929, aged 76; and Paul Keating, born January 18, 1944, aged 62.

Aside from Whitlam, the 17 former ministers from the Whitlam government still living are: Bill Hayden, Frank Crean, Doug McClelland, Clyde Cameron, Tom Uren, Kim Beazley snr, Ken Wriedt, Kep Enderby, Les Johnson, Lionel Bowen, Bill Morrison, Rex Patterson, Moss Cass, Doug Everingham, Joe Riordan, Joe Berinson and Paul Keating.