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It’s Time: Whitlam’s 1972 Election Policy Speech

The policy speech delivered by Gough Whitlam for the 1972 Federal elections is one of the few such speeches that are remembered decades on. In it, Whitlam set out the “program” he intended to implement in government.

The speech began a tradition of Whitlam commencing with the words first used by Prime Minister John Curtin (1941-45): “Men and women of Australia!”

  • Listen to the opening words of Whitlam’s 1972 Policy Speech
  • Listen to highlights of the speech (10m)
  • Listen to the speech in full as broadcast (30m)
  • Watch the complete speech (30m)
  • This is the Policy Speech for the Australian Labor Party, delivered by Gough Whitlam, at the Blacktown Civic Centre, in Sydney, on November 13, 1972.

    Gough Whitlam

    Podium Version

    This is the speech Whitlam delivered during the 30-minute live telecast of the policy speech on November 13, 1972.

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    Full Policy Statement

    This is the full policy statement issued by the Australian Labor Party for the 1972 federal elections.

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    Men and Women of Australia!

    The decision we will make for our country on 2 December is a choice between the past and the future, between the habits and fears of the past, and the demands and opportunities of the future. There are moments in history when the whole fate and future of nations can be decided by a single decision. For Australia, this is such a time. It’s time for a new team, a new program, a new drive for equality of opportunities: it’s time to create new opportunities for Australians, time for a new vision of what we can achieve in this generation for our nation and the region in which we live. It’s time for a new government – a Labor Government.

    It’s Time: Audio, Video And Lyrics

    “It’s Time” is arguably the most famous political slogan in Australian political history.

    The slogan encapsulated the political mood of 1972, even amongst non-Labor supporters. “It’s time for a change” seemed to be the prevailing mood after 23 years of coalition government which began in 1949 under Robert Menzies.

    The slogan was also made into a song, the lyrics of which are shown below.

    Whitlam’s 1969 Election Policy Speech

    This is the text of Gough Whitlam’s 1969 Election Policy Speech.

    It was delivered at the Sydney Town Hall.

    Into the Seventies with Labor

    On 25 October Australians will elect a national government to take Australia into the 1970s. The campaign of the Australian Labor Party will have one dominant theme – the theme of opportunities, the taking of opportunities, the making of opportunities for Australia and for all Australians. We wish to renovate, rejuvenate, reinvigorate and liberate. It is not only time, more than time, for a change; it is time to refresh, remould and renew the whole framework of finances and functions and to end the 20 year story of opportunities needlessly deferred, delayed and denied by the Liberals.

    Certainly, The Impotent Are Pure: Whitlam’s Speech To The Victorian ALP State Conference

    This is Gough Whitlam’s speech to the annual conference of the Victorian ALP, in which he challenged the party to change and said that, “certainly, the impotent are pure”.

    The speech was delivered just four months after Whitlam’s election as leader of the ALP, following its landslide defeat at the November 1966 election.

    Whitlam signalled that he was willing to stand up to the ALP. The speech is an important milestone in his battle to reform the party internally and renovate its policy platform.

    The PDF below is taken from the E-Collection of the Whitlam Institute.

    Newspapers Report Whitlam’s Election As ALP Leader

    Gough Whitlam was elected leader of the ALP, succeeding Arthur Calwell, at a Caucus meeting on Wednesday, February 8, 1967.

    Whitlam had been deputy leader since March 7, 1960. He was first elected to the House of Representatives seat of Werriwa (NSW) on November 29, 1952.

    Whitlam polled 32 Caucus votes on the first ballot. He faced four opponents for the leadership: Dr. Jim Cairns (15), Frank Crean (12), Fred Daly (6) and Kim Beazley (3).

    Following the elimination of Beazley, Whitlam received 33 votes on the second ballot, with Cairns remaining on 15, Crean remaining on 12 and Daly on 8.

    Following the elimination of Daly, Whitlam received 39 votes on the third ballot, an absolute majority against Cairns on 15 and Crean on 14.

    Gough Whitlam’s Maiden Speech

    This is the text of Gough Whitlam’s maiden speech to the House of Representatives.

    Whitlam spoke on the Supply Bill.

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    Maiden speech by Gough Whitlam in the House of Representatives, March 19, 1953.

    Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) [8.36] – Before the House grants Supply, I too, should like to make some comments on the record of the Government which proposes to expend that appropriation. The matter of finance was very dear to the heart of my predecessor, the late Hubert Peter Lazzarini. At the time he died, he was the father of the Labour party in this Parliament. There were only two persons in the House who had spent a longer time in it than he had. One was the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), who founded the Australian Country party and, I am happy to say, looks as if he will survive it. The other was the late right honourable member for Bradfield, Mr. Hughes, who, in his last 40 years in this House, had joined and left every party represented in it except the Australian Country party. Mr. Lazzarini had always belonged to the Labour party, had always adhered to its principles, and had given strength to both —–