This is the text of Gough Whitlam’s speech at the opening of The Dismissal exhibition at Old Parliament House.
Peter, fellow subjects –
I thank you and your excellent staff for inviting me to this exhibition. You are the pleasant face of conservatism and conservation in Australia. I could not say that if I had been invited by graven images in the Senate, such as Alston or Herron. Even in this King’s Hall I must say that Russell Crowe would look better than George V does in the uniform of a Roman emperor.
Thank you all for coming to this presentation of the end of the brief golden age for which Australians voted on 2 December 1972 and again on 18 May 1974. It was a golden age. As the better Fairfax writers have noted, it ended when the Australian dollar was worth one and a half US dollars. The Aussie dollar is now worth barely 50 US cents. We were given Moody’s top rating (Aaa) in 1974 and Standard and Poor’s top rating (AAA) in 1975.
I have only one quibble with my friend Malcolm Fraser’s presentation. The Senators would have cracked at the end of the week. Check the winning positions on the Coalition Senate ballot papers in May 1974 and December 1975.