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The First Whitlam Ministry

Whitlam became Prime Minister on December 5, 1972. He and his deputy, Lance Barnard, governed as a duumvirate until December 19.

They were the only two-man government in Australia’s federal political history.

Whitlam and Barnard

The government took office pending the finalisation of election results and the first meeting of the ALP Caucus at which the ministry was elected.

According to Cabinet papers released on January 1, 2003, no formal Cabinet meetings were held during this period. Lance Barnard has joked about making decisions when the two bumped into each other in the corridors of Parliament House.

The two-man government made a series of executive decisions. Some of these required the signature of the Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, a former Liberal minister.

The two men held the following portfolios:

Gough Whitlam

  1. Prime Minister
  2. Minister for Foreign Affairs
  3. Treasurer
  4. Attorney-General
  5. Minister for Customs and Excise
  6. Minister for Trade and Industry
  7. Minister for Shipping and Transport
  8. Minister for Education and Science
  9. Minister for Civil Aviation
  10. Minister for Housing
  11. Minister for Works
  12. Minister for External Territories
  13. Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts

Lance Barnard – Deputy Prime Minister

  1. Minister for Defence
  2. Minister for Supply
  3. Minister for the Army
  4. Minister for the Navy
  5. Minister for Air
  6. Postmaster-General
  7. Minister for Labour and National Service
  8. Minister for Social Services
  9. Minister for Immigration
  10. Minister for the Interior
  11. Minister for Primary Industry
  12. Minister for Repatriation
  13. Minister for Health
  14. Minister for National Development

The Australian, December 6, 1972.

Australian


72-12-05_statement-on-formation-of-government_whitlam