Home > Regular Features > Gough Whitlam open thread

Gough Whitlam open thread

October 22nd, 2014

I’m hoping ot write an appreciation of Gough Whitlam’s contributions to Australian society soon. But in the meantime, I’ll open this thread for general discussion. I’m happy to entertain discussion of failures as well as successes, but I don’t welcome personal attacks on the recently departed in general, and certainly not in Gough’s case, so please keep discussion respectful.

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  1. Hermit
    October 22nd, 2014 at 12:06 | #1

    The trigger for Whitlam’s undoing was when his then energy minister Rex Connor tried to raise funds through a dodgy financier. One purpose of the money was to pipe gas from WA to the eastern states. That was 40 years before fracking and coal seam gas unlocked new sources of methane apart from conventional vertical drilling. However it now looks as though those sources will not supply enough gas for the domestic market and LNG export from Gladstone.

    Therefore it turns out Connor was right all along. There was talk of running a pipeline from Darwin to Adelaide using gas from offshore WA. If SA used WA gas that would indirectly free up supplies for Sydney. If the pipeline were built (unlikely) Connor’s dream would be materialised. Conceived about 1973 materialised say 2020. It shows there are some eternal problems that re-appear in different settings.

  2. jungney
    October 22nd, 2014 at 12:08 | #2

    It’s a big call, saying anything at all about Gough amongst so much commentary from luminaries and those who knew him. What I recall best of the period was a sense of optimism when he was elected and the utter devastation that followed the sacking. After that I turned to what some would call the “hard left”, disenfranchised from the traditions of Australian democracy by a brutal Australian ruling class which has not improved one whit in the intervening years.

    I’m taking my kids to the state funeral, when the day is set, because they will never see another funeral or commemoration like it in this country.

  3. I used to be and still am Not Trampis
    October 22nd, 2014 at 12:50 | #3

    He was possibly the best opposition leader of all time prior to 1972. He was a mediocre PM and after the 1975 election a political has been.

    I liked the way he was influenced by the Vernon committee and was a Rattigan man.

    He had a lot to do and tried to do it too quickly.

    He did not possess the people management skills to be a successful PM.

    He did possess a magnificent wit!

  4. Donald Oats
    October 22nd, 2014 at 12:58 | #4

    I doubt I would have made it to uni if the fee system had still been intact at the time. I know several people from quite remote places who wouldn’t have had a tertiary education, but for TEAS support and the free system of the time. I dips me lid to E.G. Whitlam and company for having the conviction to open up universities as they did. [Pity Labor capitulated and reverted to a fees based system, whether up-front or deferred. Brickbats to Dawkins for handing out that sh*t sandwich.]

    A good life lived: who can ask for more of someone?

  5. Fran Barlow
    October 22nd, 2014 at 13:05 | #5

    @jungney

    Speaking as someone who was just 14 when Gough was elected that’s how I recall it, and like you, the sacking propelled me to the hard left, as I saw the very real limits of parliamentary democracy. I was inconsolable once I realised that not only had, what to my mind at the time was a government of intelligent, progressive friends of the working people been struck out for the second time in 18 months, but that there would be no effective resistance from the ALP side.

    I thought a lot about Chile and Allende even though what happened there was far more brutal. By 1977 I had decided that I would never again support the ALP or have my trust so sorely abused again. I haven’t cast a formal Federal vote since (unless some of my votes passed the Langer standard.

    Now, teaching the period as History, I still marvel at what was achieved in such a short time, but rue their obvious rookie errors. Appointing Justice Murphy to the HCA when the Senate was so tight was regrettable, though they probably couldn’t have anticipated Bert Milner’s death and the bizarre abandonment of convention with casual vacancies in NSW and QLD.

    They were unlucky with the oil shock and price push inflation, and their rather wanton disregard of procedure re the Loan Council was lamentable. And East Timor? Oh dear …

    I still regard Gough Whitlam as the greatest of all our PMs. Someone pointed out to me that as he was born in 1916, every Australian PM has been alive at the same time as him. Apparently Billy Hughes held him in his arms when he was two. Interesting.

  6. October 22nd, 2014 at 13:08 | #6

    Given Gough’s deification, I expect a headline in tomorrows papers to read, “Gough Still Dead”.

  7. October 22nd, 2014 at 13:16 | #7

    But seriously, one really big change he brought in was income for sole parents. Up until this happened, there were several thousand “forced” adoptions every year, as financial and social pressure resulted in single mothers giving up their babies. Within a very short time, adoptions became rare. No doubt there are many conservatives who consider this a bad thing.

    Anyway, I remember how exciting 1972 was, how sad 1975 was, and how Gough was vilified for many, many years afterwards. I have an abiding distrust of conservatives when they are in opposition – they truly will do anything to reimpose their “right to rule”.

  8. Megan
    October 22nd, 2014 at 13:32 | #8

    @Fran Barlow

    Not to detract from the many good things, but, yes: East Timor.

  9. Fran Barlow
    October 22nd, 2014 at 13:44 | #9

    One of the things with which the ALP was then closely identified was ‘buying back the farm’ — a metaphor for reclaiming local control of natural resources — especially the country’s mineral wealth. This was very much a Rex Connor thing and something populists of both the right and the left ought in theory to support.

    That idea died over the next decade as what we now call neoliberalism became the fashion with the result that much of the wealth associated with extractive industry went into the pockets of the 0.1%.

    It would be an interesting exercise to compare the net losses from these privatised assets with the ‘deficits’ and ‘public debts’ which so preoccupy our current surplus fetishists. Imagine if, in 1975, the regime had been returned and all existing mining company assets became (through purchase on just terms) the property of the Commonwealth, and that thereafter all exploitation rights were also at the pleasure of the Commonwealth.

  10. jungney
    October 22nd, 2014 at 13:50 | #10

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran, I was eighteen in ’72 and would have had to face the ballot for conscription in coming years had Labor not been elected. A good childhood friend, a neighbour with whom I rebuilt a Morris 1000, had already been killed in the war. That tended to focus the mind.

    After the sacking, I went to my local ALP branch meeting, where factional layabouts dozed on and offered nothing. By contrast, the CPA was producing a daily paper, distributed nationally, which addressed the real issues of what they properly called a constitutional crisis. There was no choice, really, if you had blood in your veins.

    I share your skepticism about parliamentarism. It seems to me that the parliamentary “left”, defined either narrowly or broadly, can only be as strong as the extra-parliamentary left allows it to be. Although defining the current ALP as in any way left is a long bow to draw. I’m of the view that when we talk of “the right” we ought to count in many sitting Federal and State ALP members as of the broad right rather than the opposite.

    The movement is always bigger than its representatives and, following on from the sacking, the movement in its various manifestations, got on with the job of agitating and arguing for change in the absence of leadership from the ALP and in the absence of much faith at all in elected government. Indeed, by my reckoning, the environment movement is in better hands with Greenpeace and the Lock the Gate mob providing leadership and cadre training than it ever could be if ALP hacks were involved.

    For a long time I was so disgusted that I also did not register to vote. I did eventually after being chided by the local branch secretary about using democratic rights lest they whither.

    Apropos of which, in the election that Fraser lost to Hawke, I was working as an RN at the local hospital. I wheeled an aged patient down to the polling booth in the foyer where she demanded that I mark her ballot for her, bad eyesight and all; she requested that I vote for “that nice Mr Fraser” but, for the first and only time in her life, registered a vote for the communists. A week later it was noted that we had received three rather than the customary two votes from the local hospital booth 🙂

    These days I go Green.

  11. Newtownian
    October 22nd, 2014 at 14:01 | #11

    Vale Gough. I saw your vision splendid live only once – in the rear vision mirror driving home one afternoon – but it has stuck with me since.

    ————————————
    What to say more.

    Gough showed us a way to a more humane intelligent society. Even despite his reification he remained an enlightened democrat with a sense of humor and provided the only decent painting in Parliament House’s PM collection.

    But collectively have we now failed him?

    Back in 2007 hopes were raised of a repeat ‘crash or crash though with vision’ with Kevin 07.
    Around the same time ‘Keating the Musical’ had presented a sympathetic interpretation of two other leaders’ contribution. Subsequently in Washington (Jan 2009) a friend dragged me off to a free concert I had no knowledge about – to see the Obama election celebration with my biggest crowd since a 400k CND march in the UK.

    Each time hope was again rekindled.

    But then Rudd gave reason for serious concern with little hints like – when questioned about his commitment to climate change mitigation when he and his wife drove matching SUVs he proposed changing to a Camry hybrid….leading up to his problematic claim that the Australian people had elected HIM not the Labor Party who to judge by their conferences were comparable to the cheerleaders at a football match. L’ etat, C’est Moi.

    Hawke/Keating? Hawke reckons he needed to give Gough a history lesson. But in light of 2008, still going after all these years, the wake up calls of the 1970s, renewed racism and pettiness, more oil shocks and limits to resource exploitation and environmental limits (Pig farms anyone?), Labor lying becalmed lacking as it does a philosophical rudder having jettisoned state intervention etc. – you have to ask who really needed a talking to.

    Obama? – This says it all http://www.salon.com/2014/08/24/cornel_west_he_posed_as_a_progressive_and_turned_out_to_be_counterfeit_we_ended_up_with_a_wall_street_presidency_a_drone_presidency/

    Some used to suggest Gough was to blame for introducing the demagogic leader into Australian politics. But in hindsight and consideration he was something very different – a reflection of Australia’s better sides which without him we might never have known we had them, and which we are in danger of losing if the current lot continues to get its merry way – irrespective of their political coloration.

    It is to his great credit in his retirement he didnt stop making a joke of people trying to put him on a pillar. Unfortunately we didnt understand him and still seem to be relying on the emergence of a new Dear Leader/Godot. It all feels a bit like Monty Python’s Brian screaming to the following crowd ‘yes we are all individuals’. To which they reply the same in drone/clone fashion.

  12. jungney
    October 22nd, 2014 at 14:10 | #12

    @Newtownian
    I read Jenny Hocking’s bio of Gough. We shouldn’t underestimate Gough’s war service in the making of him and nor indeed the importance of that generation of diggers. They are passing, those who fought fascism and won, to their eternal credit, and with them goes a tradition of civility, respect and the sort of insouciance for which the diggers were infamous.

  13. October 22nd, 2014 at 14:16 | #13

    Gough gave a very funny speech at the Economics Society in Canberra in the late 80s.

    He also did a very good business giving eulogies to fallen comrades. As he lived to 98, he must have outlived most of them.

    He was also funny back when it was safe for politicians to be funny.

    his famous retort at a public meeting to a heckler on abortion was ”yes, I believe in abortion, and in your case, it should be retrospective”. It was a great put-down and got him out of a tight spot back when politicians are expected to give as good as they got at public meetings.

  14. Newtownian
    October 22nd, 2014 at 14:30 | #14

    @jungney
    My thoughts to. Though the war was undoubtably hell for them it seems to have left them much more conscious about the value of life, the futility of war, hating of lies and dogmatic ideology and the need to structure society in a form that will prevent horrors like those which emerged in Germany in the 1920s and led ultimately to a very civilized society turning to darkness.

    Sadly such experience is not passed on genetically and subsequent generations including ours have not in my opinion taken on board their passions or the intelligent analysis that seems to have underpinned that generation of politicians on both sides to give the liberal Liberals of the time their due also.

  15. Newtownian
    October 22nd, 2014 at 14:54 | #15

    I used to be and still am Not Trampis :
    He was possibly the best opposition leader of all time prior to 1972. He was a mediocre PM and after the 1975 election a political has been.
    I liked the way he was influenced by the Vernon committee and was a Rattigan man.
    He had a lot to do and tried to do it too quickly.
    He did not possess the people management skills to be a successful PM.
    He did possess a magnificent wit!

    In defense of his PM being more than mediocre – I am unclear how you reach that conclusion given his social legacy – ending conscription, tertiary education, Medicare/medibank, no fault divorce, aboriginal rights, initiating equal pay for women etc. . We are still living on what took him a mere 2 years, the remaining time being taken up with the effects of destabilising forces. Were that there was so much to show from the 6 years of the last Labor government.

    Regarding his government’s economic problems there are three issues which need consideration here but typically arent raised for obvious reasons:
    – the oil shock and US war spending sent inflation crazy globally which impacted Labor too. It didnt destabilise just us.
    – inflation while a problem in some respects also in effect transferred wealth from the rich to the poor – a bit like debt forgiveness – which the rich have been working to claw back since.
    – what replaced the old Keynesian stuff has proved to be equally unstable with the West entering a stagnation period of the kind which started much longer ago in Japan and still persists.

    Truth be told its easily arguable that Gough’s so called ‘economically responsible’ successors only achieved what they did through a combination of philosophical and media hegemony (e.g. Murdoch, death of the old soviet system), luck (UK oil and our resources booms), selling off the family silver (aka privatization allowing governments to temporarily balance books and bribe voters), lack of critical analysis (e.g. the total failure of the economic and political establishment to recognise/admit we have yet to leave the 2008 doldrums) etc.

    With our modern understanding of the mess Gough’s successors have left us perhaps its time put the tumult of his times into a more balanced perspective.

    He made mistakes but we have been living off his social credit side ever since.

  16. Troy Prideaux
    October 22nd, 2014 at 15:07 | #16

    @Jim Rose
    My favourite quote from the amazingly sharp witted and highly confident Gough: (when he set off the security machines at the airport) “I think you’ll find, it’s my aura.”

  17. Troy Prideaux
    October 22nd, 2014 at 15:22 | #17

    @Newtownian
    I listened to a few excellent critiques of his time as PM last night on the ABC PM program. All those points were raised as important valid issues that hampered their time in government, however, there appeared to be universal acceptance (including those who served on his cabinet) that economics wasn’t his strong suit.

  18. ZM
    October 22nd, 2014 at 15:23 | #18

    On “Gough’s so called ‘economically responsible’ successors” it was interesting Hawke criticized Whitlam’s economics on tv last night, but he also recounted visiting Reagan. Apparently Reagan used to carry cards with him to aid his memory on topics (is this accurate?) , Hawke asked him an economics question, Reagan looked at his card answered then referred Hawke to Reagan’s economic official for detail. So Hawke listened to the official, he spoke to someone about it later, saying wouldn’t you rather hear from someone knowledgable (like the official) than some one who is less knowledgeable (like Reagan). But Reagan was on the opposite side of politics to Hawke – and this is actually a particular technique you get taught – to have an ‘independent” third party deliver information to X for you, so then you and X can both consider the information and X feels like they have an independent source and you don’t have to be too committed to the information.

    So maybe this was Reagan’s technique and it shows one way of how neo-liberalism became accepted by and pursued by the Australian Labor Party, beforehand not a party in favour of economic liberalism? This is just surmising…

  19. October 22nd, 2014 at 16:09 | #19

    I have a comment in moderation, I guess because there was a swear word in it (integral to the story). So I’ve reproduced it below, with dashes!
    I remember a Leunig cartoon after the Fraser government was elected, showing someone standing near a fireplace, with a caption like “Australia, a country that wouldn’t know if its bum was on fire”. It resonated so much with me. I’d been living overseas and come back to Australia in late 1974 to find that in this stupid parochial country, the problems of oil prices and inflation that were besetting the world were somehow all the ALP’s fault.
    My sister married not long after. It was a hippy type wedding – registry office, party in the garden. I remember my mother, who’d had a few drinks, announcing loudly apropros of some conversation: “Malcolm Fraser’s a S–T!” Of course we sort of forgave him in later years, like Gough did.
    My parents, like Gough, were of that generation that were caught up in the war (my mother lived through the blitz in London and lost her first husband). I agree they were different. There was something generous, large hearted, about them. We have lost something somehow. Gough dying was like part of my youth died.

  20. rog
    October 22nd, 2014 at 16:25 | #20

    Listening to PA and Barry Jones on LNL; Gough was a macro man and his detractors clearly are micro. For instance Barry Jones says that Goughs greatest legacy was to un demonise foreign affairs; SE Asia (Vietnam) wasn’t really full of dominoes and China was not a yellow peril. The armchair economists say that Gough was the worst when in fact he was the one to push Australia into the global market by reducing or abolishing protection. It was the Libs who supported the protection rackets.

    Gough broke the hold of the establishment on society and his legacy is to remind us of how little the establishment has to offer.

  21. rog
    October 22nd, 2014 at 16:35 | #21

    I don’t think funny quotes is an appropriate way to remember Gough. He was an extremely clever and gifted man who pushed through major reforms that resonate today.

    He was our coming out PM.

    He was ousted by a person of little regard (John Kerr) and his later reconciliation and friendship with Malcolm Fraser is a testament to both their characters.

    Unfortunately we are now saddled with a govt that now wants to turn the clock back.

  22. J-D
    October 22nd, 2014 at 17:12 | #22

    Nominating John Kerr to be Governor-General was a terrible mistake.

  23. October 22nd, 2014 at 17:26 | #23

    So a few of us had a discussion this morning, pondering whether Malcolm Fraser really felt that the world would end if we had 18 months more of Gough, or whether it was faux alarm of the Tony and Joe “budget emergency” variety.

    Any thoughts on whether Mal really thought he was saving the country, or was just being a typical conservative who can’t face a day without ruling?

  24. jungney
    October 22nd, 2014 at 18:09 | #24

    rog:

    Gough broke the hold of the establishment on society and his legacy is to remind us of how little the establishment has to offer.

    I’ve been a bit immersed in the media coverage and just say – right effin’ on mate! Perfect. That’s it. Right there is the missing link which goes directly to the mass affective consequences of having, what was at the time and in retrospect, a government of liberation. Ordinary citizens, of all sorts, and of course the sons and daughters of the working classes, stepped up and filled roles that had previously been populated with the inbred children of the establishment. They still have so little to offer.

    There’s Gough’s real legacy, as I’ve read elsewhere, the establishment is still on the run today; we are still living on the Whitlam government’s social credit. The so called “culture wars” are nothing more than a long argument with Gough. Howard is still losing.

    In the conversations I read today the one that resonated was “here’s what Gough did for me” followed other examples of how a deeply humanist state improved the lives of the marginalized. In my life, I now realize, how much that government did for me: TAFE, free tertiary education, thirty years of employment in the health sector. And that’s at first glance.

    But thanks for that, Rog. Gough’s death is a time to mourn and a time to celebrate that the best of what it is to be Australian is still well alive.

  25. Fran Barlow
    October 22nd, 2014 at 18:13 | #25

    @John Brookes

    Speak nonsense for long enough and you become invested in it. It’s much less cognitive work than compartmentalising. Maybe they did at some level believe it, which doesn’t entail saying that they didn’t know it was bogus at some earlier point. You will recall they forced a DD in 1974.

    I perceived them then as people who just couldn’t believe that after 23 years of Liberal Country Party rule, that an ALP victory could be other than an anomaly, so they kept trying to nuke the game. That they got away with it, predictably with Murdoch’s help, was thematic for the next 40 years. When the ALP did their deal with Murdoch in the 1980s, allowing him a new monopoly, I was again scandalised.

  26. kevin1
    October 22nd, 2014 at 18:26 | #26

    @Fran Barlow

    ‘buying back the farm’ — a metaphor for reclaiming local control of natural resources

    But it was Bunyip Capitalism being pushed as I recall, outside pipelines there was no role for the State, but local sharks like Qld White Shoe brigade, land developers like Keating’s mate John Roberts (Multiplex), Bond, Lang Walker, Lang Hancock, Singleton (Hawkey’s mate), Laurie Connell, later on Gerry Harvey, Rod Carnegie, Abeles, Fox, nowadays we have Palmer, Rinehart, Tinkler. UGH!!! A fine league of gentlemen.

    It might be said that populism is a cross-class demagogic ideology with dangerous implications (eg Inky Stephensen and the Jindyworobaks.)

  27. jungney
    October 22nd, 2014 at 18:29 | #27

    @John Brookes
    I’m minded to have a go: it would be churlish to ignore Mal’s substantive moves to the left in orthodox Oz politics. He’s apologised many times over for what he did. My guess is that he was manipulated into complying with the establishment’s best interests which was to do exactly what the US shadow government was telling it to do. Kerr is the lynchpin, along with Anthony Mason, CJ of the high court at the time.

    For mine, Pilger’s account, rings true to my memory of how the covert story broke, over the years; a documentary here, a book there, a gaol sentence or two, some excellent documentary research.

    His account is not comprehensive but it at least tells the covert side of the story.

    So, I think Malcolm was a dupe and he has been saying sorry for a long time now. He’s already well in from the cold in my regard.

  28. J-D
    October 22nd, 2014 at 18:56 | #28

    @John Brookes

    Nobody can have believed that another eighteen months of the Whitlam government would have meant, in sober actuality, the end of the world; what you mean by ‘the end of the world’ can’t be the literal factual end of the world. But what then? Could Fraser have believed that another eighteen months of the Whitlam government would mean the death of the entire population of Australia? Not that? Reduction to slavery or destitution? No?

    What it boils down to, avoiding hyperbole and other rhetorical flourishes, is this: Fraser could have believed — indeed, we can be sure he did — that if the Whitlam government stayed in office for another eighteen months, bad things would happen. If you prefer slightly more elevated language, we can call them negative consequences. But you’d find the same thing all the time: opposition leaders — and lots of other people too — believing that another eighteen months in office for the government will produce negative consequences. But how bad could the consequences Fraser feared have been? How bad would they have to be (even just in his belief) before they carry any weight in exculpating his conduct?

  29. hc
    October 22nd, 2014 at 19:29 | #29

    Not an unambiguous supporter of the Whitlam Government but a strong supporter of Gough. The most intelligent PM I have come across, bold, urbane and sharp in intellect and wit. A great PM on balance? He modernised Australia and woke the nation up. We needed Gough.

  30. Ikonoclast
    October 22nd, 2014 at 19:47 | #30

    Eva Cox said something on the news this evening that resonated with me. It went something like this;

    “The current ALP hypocrites need to stop eulogising Gough Whitlam and start acting like him.”

    And let us not forget te CIA role in Whitlam’s dismissal.

    https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/56105

  31. kevin1
    October 22nd, 2014 at 19:48 | #31

    @rog

    The armchair economists say that Gough was the worst when in fact he was the one to push Australia into the global market by reducing or abolishing protection.

    The trouble with nostalgia is it feels so good, and it’s easy for outsiders (who don’t get the passion) to rewrite history and forget why it mattered for those who tried to “hold the line” against the modernisation of the ALP into the wonderfulwondering organisation it is today.

    The “great man” story is a cheap shortcut: not many bother to understand the late 60s-early 70s struggle for working class leadership between the Left: Ken Carr, Wally Curran leading the 26 rebel unions (the Trade Union Defence Committee), with the Socialist Left led by Hogg and Hartley (“cankers” on the ALP as Hawke called them), against the “modernisers” who rejected socialism and embraced managerialist capitalism (Gough and the rightwing Participants (Button, Xavier Connor, Barry Jones etc.). This was a local parallel to the Foot/Blair battle for the soul of the British Labour Party.

    Call me suspicious (oh, someone already has, thanks for the compliment) but early on I thought Gough was a clever bugger and the emphasis on “the program, comrades!” was a ruse to disarm the Left criticism that he was a betrayer, by conceding on the symbolic issues (he was weak on opposition to the litmus test of Vietnam, but fortunately it was virtually over when he became PM) so he could force through the strategic reforms. Some of us in Young Labor were so anti-Gough that we wouldn’t even campaign for the ALP, except for draft-resister-on-the-run Barry Johnston in Hotham, whose candidature Gough unsuccessfully tried to nobble. (Barry died tragically in the 2009 Victorian bushfires at Kilmore.) When me and some mates, after partying all night at Jean McLean’s place, went at 7 am on Sunday morning Dec 3 to bang on the walls of Pentridge Prison, demanding that draft resisters Ken McClelland and Bob Scates should be released, and they came out on Tuesday, Gough got brownie points from the Left to do the more contentious economics stuff.

    But Whitlam personified what we saw as a decline, in a process which resonated historically: Robert Michels in 1903 talking of “the iron law of oligarchy” (social democratic parties being inevitably taken over by their parliamentary leaders), our own V Gordon Childe in 1925 confirming Australian Labor’s emasculation in a parliamentary system, Lenin talking of the ALP as a liberal bourgeois party (I may have the exact words wrong here.) No more room for train drivers or worker-leaders here – from the vanguard to the guard van in fact. Inevitable or not? I don’t know but Calwell was the troglodyte loser, Whitlam was the modernising silvertail, a transition was in place.

  32. jungney
    October 22nd, 2014 at 20:51 | #32

    @kevin1
    Now, there is a voice from the depths of protestant moralism and the deep past. Kudos, comrade, for giving voice to old Australia. Of course Whitlam was a decline but he knew how to keep alive what was of value from the prior times.

  33. kevin1
    October 22nd, 2014 at 21:06 | #33

    @jungney

    Pls note we both have something to learn from your comment – I am of DLP and Catholic stock, no protestant moralism here (don’t apologise, I have left my past.)

    Leaders are too much closely examined for their personal history and traits, rather than seen as fate’s representatives in a much bigger drama.

  34. rog
    October 22nd, 2014 at 21:21 | #34

    @kevin1 Gough said that you need to be relevant to contemporary society; you don’t move forward by clinging to the past.

    On East Timor; he had a blind spot there. Perhaps it was because East Timor was/is tiny and therefore unsustainable (until they discovered resources). His grand scheme of things became unsustainable over the killing fields of East Timor.

  35. kevin1
    October 22nd, 2014 at 21:49 | #35

    @rog

    On East Timor, the “blind spot” idea suggests a personal foible or omission. This is a view which is inconsistent with 100% of professional historians (note the Big Statement I am making here). Any detached examination of the East Timor history would confirm that it was never part of the Dutch East Indies state, but a Portuguese colony.

    The alternative view is that diplomacy is often or usually about utterly cynical behaviour based on the precept that the rights of the individual (or groups of them) are secondary to the perceived interests of the country.

  36. kevin1
    October 22nd, 2014 at 21:52 | #36

    Paul Keating also was of similar views. For a while (until the East Timorese obtained sufficient international support) this looked viable, but it eventually was shown as facetious self-interest, and eventually reflected badly on both Australia and Indonesia. There’s a lesson there.

  37. Megan
    October 22nd, 2014 at 21:56 | #37

    As always, “wikileaks.org” has so much to offer in the “plusd” cables.

    A search for “Whitlam” throws up 1,738 results. Of course, it isn’t necessarily factually correct but it does show what the US is hearing and telling itself. Direct quotes from informants and ‘protected’ sources such as Shorten etc.. are probably factual.

    There is one from November 11 1975 I’ve quoted previously:

    3. THE GOVERNOR GENERAL’S DECISION TO DISMISS WHITLAM CAUGHT ALL AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL PARTIES AND THE CANBERRA PRESS GALLERY BY COMPLETE SURPRISE.

    THE IMMEDIATE BENEFICIARY IS CLEARLY NOW CARETAKER PRIME MINISTER FRASER WHO WAS REELING UNDER WHITLAM’S ATTACKS LAST WEEK. OVER THE LONGER RUN, THE OUTCOME IS LESS CERTAIN.

    THE GOVERNOR GENERAL’S STATEMENT, WHICH INDICATES THAT THE SENATE HAS THE CLEAR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO REJECT SUPPLY BILLS, IS AN HISTORIC FIRST IN AUSTRALIA.

    THE ALP AND ITS TRADE UNION SUPPORTERS ARE INCENSED AND CLAIM THAT THEY WERE ROBBED BY QTE THE ESTABLISHMENT END QTE ACTU PRESIDENT HAWKE MADE AN IMPASSIONED RADIO PLEA ASKING TRADE UNION MEMBERS TO REMAIN CALM AND INDICATED THAT HE WAS NOT INCLINED TO DISPUTE THE POSITION TAKEN BY THE GOVERNOR GENERAL.

    WHITLAM, ON THE OTHER HAND, DURING AN INFLAMATORY PRESS CONFERENCE, SAID THAT MANY AUSTRALIANS WILL QTE GIVE AWAY ON THE PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM IF I AM NOT RE- ELECTED. THEY WOULD CONSIDER PARLIAMENT NOT TO BE A VEHICLE FOR REFORM. END QTE.

    Good old US stooge Hawke!

    And I also recall what Laurie Oakes knew at the time (according to his book) but chose not to share with mere Australians – what a good “journalist” he is.

    According to Laurie Oakes (in his 2008 book) CIA and MI5 people working here at the time asked him at a Canberra dinner party what would happen if Whitlam held out against the Libs. He says he told them the Governor General would dismiss the government.

  38. kevin1
    October 22nd, 2014 at 22:35 | #38

    @kevin1

    I don’t recall the quotations, but Bismarck and Realpolitik comes to mind; maybe Dr Google can provide more info. Suharto’s thuggish dominance over his own country was admirable to political professionals like Keating and Whitlam, who would certainly know of the extra-judicial killings of street thugs which Suharto (surprisingly) owned up to in his biography. The Canberra “Jakarta lobby” especially Dick Woolcott who advised Whitlam, are eternally stained by their deceitful dissembling about the Balibo 5 and classic diplomatic double-talk. Anyone who thinks East Timor is a Labor cause needs to get educated: Gareth Evans as well as the above people are hated by most people who fought to defend the East Timorese from brutal attacks and killings during the Indonesian reign.

    There is still huge anger in Indonesia about the looting of the state Treasury by the Suharto family. The respected body Transparency International estimates an alleged misappropriation of between US $15–35 billion during his 32-year presidency.

  39. kevin1
    October 22nd, 2014 at 22:41 | #39

    @Megan

    ALP AND ITS TRADE UNION SUPPORTERS ARE INCENSED AND CLAIM THAT THEY WERE ROBBED BY QTE THE ESTABLISHMENT END QTE

    Gee, “the establishment” is in quotes, as if it is a bit of mental imagery, to be ridiculed.

    Next big thing to be resisted as far as American world domination is the TPP; I note Pat Ranald has a recent article at the Conversation about it; a long running saga coming to finality; would be good if our host would open a thread about it.

  40. October 22nd, 2014 at 22:44 | #40

    Another take on Whitlam, Population, Energy Resources, and the Khemlani loan scandal

    by Sheila Newman, 21 Oct 2014

    Initial Reaction in Australia to the First Oil-Shock

    With regard to population policy, the will to population stabilisation was present at the level of ALP party politics and at a popular level as well in the early 1970s. 1 ALP policy was heading towards one of population stabilisation before the Whitlam government was elected. The strategy of reducing immigration in order to alleviate the pressure of population growth in the cities was debated and adopted at the ALP’s June 1971 policy conference in Launceston. On 13 October 1972, Tom Uren, who was to become the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, referred to the role of immigration in affecting urban population pressures. In a policy speech opening the 1973 election campaign Whitlam also referred to the changes to immigration policy.

    Contrary to suggestions that ALP policy to reduce immigration was not in response to international economic considerations, I would argue that the beginnings of the oil-shock may be dated to well before the time of the ALP conference in Launceston, in mid 1970. 7 In fact, the evidence suggests that ALP energy policy was formed as the situation that culminated in what is known as the 1973 oil-shock evolved. This was due mainly to the influence on ALP energy policy of the extraordinary Rex Connor, who was to become Whitlam’s minister for Minerals and Energy. Connor was unusually attuned to global and local mining and energy economics and is said to have anticipated the oil-shock. In fact Connor claimed this feat himself on behalf of the ALP:

    “The national policy on minerals and energy approved at the 1971 Launceston Conference of our party has proved to be not only singularly relevant but even historically visionary in the light of subsequent events. We anticipated the world energy crisis (1973), have dealt with international currency turmoil, established a sound export pricing policy, checked the inroads into Australia of the multinational corporations, and secured the respect and understanding of our trading partners.”

  41. Megan
    October 23rd, 2014 at 00:13 | #41

    On the day of Whitlam’s death Hawke made a point of having a dig.

    There really is an element in the ALP that is very nasty, always was. And it seems to have something to do with a certain recently invented country in the middle east.

    Some insight (from a November 26 1973 cable):

    1. IN CONVERSATION WITH LABATT ON NOVEMBER 26, HELD TO DISCUSS
    HIS RECENT RRIPS TO TEL AVIV AND MOSCOW (REFTEL), TRADE UNION
    COUNCIL BOB HAWKE SAID HE HAD FINALLY FOUND PRIME MINISTER’S
    RECENT CONDUCT “BEYOND BELIEF”. (DIRECT QUOTATIONS IN THIS
    REPORT WILL BE DIFFICULT AS HAWKE USED SHORT WORDS OF
    EMPHASIS NOT SUITABLE FOR FAMILY NEWSPAPER.

    2.HAWKE SAID HE HAD ALWAYS FOUND WHITLAM DIFFICULT AND VERY
    EGOCENTRIC (“EVEN FOR ME”) BUT HAD HELD HIM AS ESSENTIALLY A
    “GOOD MAN” IN THE SIMPLE SENSE OF WORD. NOW HE IS NOT SO
    SURE. HE COULD NOT UNDERSTAND CONCEPT OF “EVEN HANDED” POLICY AND
    THOUGHT WHITLAM HAD “CAVED IN” ON MIDEAST FOR “COMMERCIAL
    REASONS”.

    3. DURING 1972, HAWKE HAD BROUGHT WHITLAM TO VISIT MANY JEES
    AMB JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS. THESE WERE OCCASIONS WHEN WHITLAM
    NOT ONLY SOUGHT VOTING SUPPORT, BUT BEGGED MONEY. WHITLAM
    MADE MUCH OF FACT THAT LABOR PARTY WAS PARTY FOR “UNDERDOGS”.
    HE PROMISED TO BE FIRST AUSTRALIAN PM TO VISIT ISRAEL, BUT
    NEVER GOT CLOSER THAN RHODES. HE PROMISED TO ROUTE QANTAS AIR

    QTE TO ISRAEL, BUT HAS NOT TRIED TO DO SO. HE REFUSED
    TO SEE JEWISH ELDERS BEFORE OR AFTER ISSUING MIDEAST POLICY
    STATEMENTS UNTIL HAWKE INSISTED THAT HE DO SO. IN THE EVENT,
    MEETING WAS PRO FORMA AND COMPLETELY UNSATISFACTORY AND
    HUMILIATING FOR THE JEWS.

    4. ON THE ISRAELI QUESTION, HAWKE IS ATTEMPTING TO BUILD CABAL
    DIRECTED AT PM BASED ON PARLIAMENTARY LABOR GROUP, CALLING
    THEMSELVES “FRIENDS OF ISRAEL”
    , AND NUMBERING 43 MEMBERS. HAWKE
    IS BEING HELPED IN THIS BY ALP VICTORIA LEADER, CLYDE
    HOLDING, AND BY JOE RIORDAN, MP OF SYDNEY. SINCE 43 IS OVER
    HALF OF CAUCUS, NUMBERING 67, HAWKE FEELS IT CAN GET “THAT
    ARROGANT BASTARD”. (IT IS UNCLEAR WHAT “GET” MEANS IN THIS
    CONTEXT).

    5. MOVING ON TO HIS OTHER RECENT PUBLIC BREAKS WITH PM (ON
    DIRECT TAXATION AND UPCOMING WAGE CONTROL REFERENDUM) HAWKE
    FEELS THAT WHITLAM RESENTS ANYBODY WHO GET PUBLICITY
    WHICH TENDS TO MOVE SPOTLIGHT AWAY FROM HIMSELF. HAWKE FEELS
    ALSO THAT WHITLAM RESENTS HAVING TO GIVE UP FOREIGN MINISTRY AND
    PROBABLY BLAMES HIM, HAWKE, FOR HAVING TO DO SO.

    FLUKER

    Emphasis added.

  42. Megan
    October 23rd, 2014 at 00:26 | #42

    There was obviously an awful lot going on behind the scenes – just like these days – and most of it isn’t very nice or for the betterment of humanity, but rather for base purposes like greed, power and hegemony.

    Looks like Whitlam was herding cats! This one is from 28 November 1973:

    1. ON NATIONAL TELEVISION NOVEMBER 26, ROBERT HAWKE,
    PRESIDENT ACTU, MADE EMOTIONAL PLEA FOR CHANGE IN
    AUSTRLAIAN POLICY TOWARD ISRAELI-ARAB CONFLICT.
    CAREFULLY BUT EMPHATICALLY, HAWKE REFUSED TO BE DRAWN
    INTO OPEN PERSONAL DISPUTE WITH PRIME MINISTER WHITLAM.
    AT ONE POINT, HAWKE WAS MOVED TO TEARS IN DESCRIBING
    PLIGHT OF ISRAELIS.

    2. EVERY AUSTRALIN NEWSPAPER NOVEMBER 27 COMMENTED
    IN EDITORIALS, COLUMNS AND CARTOONS ON ACTU PRESIDENT’S
    LIMITED OFFICIAL USE

    LIMITED OFFICIAL USE

    PAGE 02 MELBOU 01230 282153Z

    STATEMENT. SOME WERE OUTRIGHT IN CONDEMNING
    “INTERFERENCE” BY “PRIVATE CITIZEN” IN NATION’S
    FOREIGN AFFAIRS; BUT MOST WERE AT LEAST SYMPATHETIC,
    WHILE RELUCTANTLY REJECTING HAWKE’S CALL FOR NEW
    PRO-ISRAEL POLICY.

    3. ON NOVEMBER 27 IN PARLIAMENT, AND AT LATER PRESS
    CONFERENCE, PRIME MINISTER GAVE LOW KEY REPLIES TO
    QUESTIONS ABOUT HAWKE PLEA, BY CITING ALP POLICY,
    NOTING THAT HIS AND LAST TWO LIBERAL GOVERNMENTS HAD
    MAINTAINED CONCERNED NEUTRALITY ON MID-EAST, BY
    ENDORSING UNITED NATIONS RESOLUTIONS DIRECTED AT AREA.
    LIKE HAWKE, WHITLAM ELECTED NOT TO BE DRAWN ON CONFLICT
    BETWEEN THEM, SAYING HAWKE HAD IDENTIFIEDHIMSELF AS
    PRIVATE PERSON IN MAKING HIS COMMENTS.

    4. IN CONVERSATION WITH LABATT NOVEMBER 28, CLYDE
    HOLDING, ALP LEADER OF OPPOSITION IN VICTORIA STATE
    PARLIAMENT, SAID HAWKE UNFORTUNATELY HAD “GONE TOO FAR”
    IN HIS TV STATEMENTS. WHITLAM CALM STATEMENTS IN
    REBUTTAL MAKE APPEAR GUIDED ONLY BY EMOTION AND
    ACTING COUNTER TO LOGIC. HOLDING IS ADVISING HAWKE NOT
    TO HAVE ISSUE RAISED IN LABOR PARLIAMENTARY CAUCUS
    AS HE FACES CERTAIN DEFEAT. HOLDING HAD HOPED TO
    START GROUNDSWELL FOR PRO-ISRAEL STAND WITHIN ALP AT
    STATE ALP EXECUTIVE MEETING DECEMBER 2. HE NOW
    HOPES QUESTION DOES NOT ARISE AS IT CAN LEAD ONLY
    TO REAFFIRMATION PRESENT “EVENHANDED” WHITLAM POLICY
    AND PUBLIC HUMILIATION FOR HAWKE.

    New respect for Whitlam and newer depths of existing disrespect for Hawke and all his progeny – Rudd, Gillard & Shorten.

  43. JKUU
    October 23rd, 2014 at 00:50 | #43

    “Where have you gone E. Gough Whitlam? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

    It’s all about leadership and its sad lack in today’s body politic – that feeling of emptiness.

  44. Megan
    October 23rd, 2014 at 01:17 | #44

    Obviously the Liberals were thinking of blocking supply for ages.

    This one is from December 10 1973:

    1. DEPUTY LEADER OF OPPOSITION LIBERAL PARTY, PHILLIP
    LYNCH, MADE FOLLOWING OBSERVATIONS DURING LONG
    CHAT WHEN I CALLED ON HIM RECENTLY:
    A. DOMESTIC POLITICS — NATIONAL ELECTIONS ARE LIKELY TO
    TAKE PLACE BY NEXT MAY OR JUNE. DESPITE LABOR PARTY’S
    STRIKING LOSS OF POPULARITY REFLECTED IN OPINION POLLS,
    AND DESPITE VIRTUAL IMPOSSIBILITY FOR LABOR TO WIN
    MAJORITY IN SENATE, ELECTIONS WILL PROBABLY BE SPARKED
    BY PM WHITLAM IN FORM OF DOUBLE DISSOLUTION OF BOTH
    HOUSES. WHITLAM HAS DEMONSTRATED HIS ABILITY TO
    OUTMANEUVER OPPOSITION ON POLITICAL ISSUES IN
    PARLIAMENT AND IS SO CONFIDENT (LYNCH REPEATEDLY USED
    THE TERM ARROGANT) THAT HE WILL ACT EVEN ON A CONSIDERABLE
    GAMBLE. IF HE DOES NOT TAKE THIS STEP, OPPOSITION WILL
    FORCE ELECTIONS BY DENYING GOVERNMENT APPROPRIATIONS
    THROUGH ITS MAJORITY IN UPPER HOUSE. IT IS PROBABLY IN
    INTEREST OF OPPOSITION TO HOLD ELECTIONS AT THIS TIME
    RATHER THAN WAITING UNTIL END OF GOVERNMENT’S THREE-YEAR
    TERM, SINCE IN LATTER CIRCUMSTANCES WHITLAM WOULD HAVE
    TIME TO PASS “SWEETENER” BILLS TO SOFTEN UP BUSINESS AND
    CONSERVATIVE VOTERS JUST BEFORE ELECTIONS.

    Hence, perhaps, the “economic mismanagement” myth? That probably also answers the “why wouldn’t Fraser wait 18 months?” question too.

    I note the US was also getting anxious about Whitlam dragging his heels on some missile deal for Woomera called project Hi Star South – ostensibly to do with atmospheric measurements, yeah right.

    And, he was also guilty of seeing no threat to national security and cutting defence spending to something scandalous like 2.8% of GNP.

    It’s a wonder he lasted 3 years. And it’s also no wonder the establishment hates him so passionately.

  45. faust
    October 23rd, 2014 at 05:53 | #45

    Gough did a lot of things but the hagiography of him by the left (who have a bizarre “great man” theory of political leadership) is vomit-inducting.

    Gough implemented massive reforms many of which are still with us today. One of them is structurally higher government spending as a % of GDP (amongst medicare, medibank, education reforms etc).

    However his government was incompetent and in 1975 suffered a massive defeat at the hands of the electorate. His greatest gift to Australia is getting a Hawke Labor party who married economic reform with competence.

  46. J-D
    October 23rd, 2014 at 06:18 | #46

    @Ikonoclast

    John Pilger reports a deputy director of the CIA as saying ‘Kerr did what he was told to do’. Well, there you are then! a deputy director of the CIA! Could a deputy director of the CIA possibly utter untruths on such a subject? can we really question his word?

    I expect it flatters the vanity of the CIA to imagine that nothing important can happen in the world without their having a hand in it, and it’s also going to suit their book to have everybody imagining that they’re more powerful than they really are. But Kerr was arrogant and venal enough to dismiss Whitlam without anybody’s instructions, and to suppose him merely a CIA catspaw is to minimise his personal guilt.

  47. Fran Barlow
    October 23rd, 2014 at 07:11 | #47

    @kevin1

    Thanks for posting this Kevin. This is a piece of history about which I know very little of significance. I must read up on it some time.

  48. Fran Barlow
    October 23rd, 2014 at 07:16 | #48

    @faust

    However his government was incompetent and in 1975 suffered a massive defeat at the hands of the electorate. His greatest gift to Australia is getting a Hawke Labor party who married economic reform with competence.

    And which gave us the appalling governance we have today. People complain about Howard, Rudd, Gillard and now Abbott, but they are the logical consequents of Hawke’s regime.

  49. Ikonoclast
    October 23rd, 2014 at 07:30 | #49

    @J-D

    Being a catspaw for the US/CIA increases his personal guilt many times over. He was not just venal but a traitor to the Australian people (except the filthy rich elites of course).

    Does the extensive spying Whitlam found against himself, his government and his country by the US and UK sound implausible after the relatively recent imbroglio of the US spying against allies. Angela Merkel and so on? Of course it does not.

    Next step in the reasoning, why are they gathering this intel if not to take action when Australian domestic events do not suit their purposes? Pilger and others paint a conistent picture, consistent both with events at the time and consistent with what we have learnt about US CIA and security apparatus operations over the long term and more recently from Wikileaks and Snowden’s leaks.

    There is plenty of circumstantial evidence implicating the CIA in this plot. There is no smoking gun evidence that I am aware of. There does not appear to be enough evidence to hold up in a conventional court of law were it a conventional crime. But when we look at the tide of CIA action over the world for many decades we have to ask ourselves this. Do we believe the tide comes in everywhere else but not here? Such a belief is the standard naive response of those who comprehend nothing about Realpolitik.

  50. Joseph Kelly
    October 23rd, 2014 at 07:41 | #50

    I’m reminded of Isiaih Berlin’s description of Winston Churchill: “the largest human being of his time”.
    Gough was the largest Australian of his time, by quite some distance I think. His reputation will continue to rise as the years go by.

  51. jungney
    October 23rd, 2014 at 08:03 | #51

    @kevin1
    Its ok. Its just that I haven’t heard or read that sort of dialogue for a long time. My next door neighbour for a while was Jim Comerford, who had similar aspirations for the advancement of a class.

  52. Julie Thomas
    October 23rd, 2014 at 08:04 | #52

    @faust

    “the hagiography of him by the left (who have a bizarre “great man” theory of political leadership) is vomit-inducting.”

    Do you think that this vomit reflex you are experiencing is similar to that exhibited by Oscar Pistorious? Strong emotional responses such as this are an indication that you may be experiencing cognitive dissonance.

    And, the problem you have with Mr Whitlam being a great man…is this because you don’t believe in the great man theory or you don’t think that Mr Whitlam fits in the your category of great men?

  53. Julie Thomas
    October 23rd, 2014 at 08:06 | #53

    @John Brookes

    And John Brookes you are right about the significance of the introduction of the single parent benefit, or whatever it was called back then, by Mr Whitlam. This payment that allowed women to raise their own children rather than be forced to give them up for adoption, was one of the very good things he did for this country.

    Susan Ryan on RN Breakfast yesterday said some things that made sense about his attitude toward women and argued that in this area Mr Whitlam did some very fundamental things to make things better for women.

  54. kevin1
    October 23rd, 2014 at 09:28 | #54

    @Fran Barlow
    Good luck finding any scholarship on this, I haven’t seen any. There might be some unpublished theses around, but the politically charged times did not support independent academic investigations. Those participants who were interested or knowledgeable were mostly too busy “doing”. So ephemera and unreliable memoirs might be as good as it gets, though Bob Hogg’s, if he chose to write them, would cover everything worth knowing.

  55. paul walter
    October 23rd, 2014 at 09:38 | #55

    Gough gave us some good polices and gave us hope. It has taken the meanspirited and micro minded trog neolib tories forty years to peg back a potential new age, but looking at the Abbott government, you can see rust never sleeps.

  56. peter
    October 23rd, 2014 at 10:05 | #56

    I’ve always been staggered by the revelation that after being sacked before lunch on Nov 11, Gough went back to the Lodge, I assume, and had a steak. Put yourself in Gough’s shoes I’d be lucky to grab a sandwich if I had the composure to eat anything!! Imagine the thought processes…that bastard has just sacked me… my next move… I’ll have the steak thanks chef/butler/waiter…

  57. kevin1
    October 23rd, 2014 at 10:36 | #57

    A contested debate has become the progressive impact of Whitlam’s abolition of university fees, with the Right saying it made no impact on the demographics of the student group. The conservative subtext is that well-intentioned reforms are ineffective, with its large ideological conclusions against progressivism. I doubt that the fees claim is right, but Labor defenders of the policy seem to focus on personal anecdotes and the symbolism of it rather than the measured effects. I expect this has been studied to death, can’t they do better than that?

    Of course, rather than expecting a transformation in a couple of years, marginalist analysis is appropriate here: what was the rate of change and how much is due to this measure. Threshold access to desired university courses was still based on Year 12 results, with well-endowed schools and well-endowed students dominating the results. Other access measures such as expansion of the suburban universities and the student living allowance, available to those who could demonstrate they had lived and supported themselves outside it for 2 years would have tilted the scales significantly and may have been more important. Unlike nowadays, it was not a time when university students were comfortable in the parental home!

    Instead of a “feelings” based defence, why can’t Labor win the intellectual argument? Harking back to the Whitlam and Hawke times, there were many intellectuals and technocrats on board, mainly “modernisers” rather than ideologues; if they want them back they need to shift the argument. A robust defence of Bruce Chapman’s income contingent loans scheme is needed, including its bias towards classics and fine arts students who have low income outcomes.

    How can Minister Pyne get away with his perverted “averaging” of financial outcomes now driving policy, and repeated talking about hard-working tradies in the suburbs financing cheap courses for uni students, unless he is gettting some traction? Yet surely large numbers of working class families want their kids to go to university; so these are the same parents who will stump up the extra money; can’t Labor make more of this? As Barry Jones said recently when talking about its period of government, Labor has lost the ability to persuade. Without that, they can’t aspire to lead any reform movement or defend what we have.

  58. DaveWA
    October 23rd, 2014 at 11:10 | #58

    I worked in the public service in Canberra during the whitlam years. The achievements of that govt still echo today to the extent that you can meaningfully say before and after Whitlam. The only other govt I think you can really say that about is Curtin. Society changed, basic changes to the law as well as economics, though the latter was mostly forced from outside.
    I think an element was society wanting to move on from 50s (notsure the 60s happened for the conservatives) but Whitlam managed to acheve a lot in a short time. One notable feature was that many of the initiatives were laid out in the campaign material, as opposed to the current fashion of presenting a small target.
    One of the changes was removing the appeals to the Privy Council. Thought experiment – would Abbott support that change?

  59. October 23rd, 2014 at 11:19 | #59

    @kevin1

    Real research is interesting. I can offer no light on the changing demographic of our universities, but I can give some insight into the use of any research that is done.

    I look after a large first year university unit. They have online assignments, and I wanted to show to the students that doing the assignments was good for them. So I looked, and found that the actual boost to their exam mark from spending more time on the assignments was pretty small. Not impressive.

    However, I found that if you took the sizable cohort of students who were near the pass/fail boundary, then spending more time on exams had a dramatic effect on pushing students from a fail to a pass. Because 2% extra for someone on 48% really does matter.

    So based on the same research, you could truthfully say that it either, “made very little difference to your final mark”, or, “for a large number of students meant the difference between failing and passing”.

    And that is the trouble with winning intellectual arguments. If you are arguing with people of good will, you will make progress in developing a shared understanding. But if you are arguing with people who are committed to their traditional biases, they will take out of the research the results that back their existing views.

  60. kevin1
    October 23rd, 2014 at 12:14 | #60

    @John Brookes

    2% extra for someone on 48% really does matter.

    Perhaps it shouldn’t matter, but you have shown that within its own terms, the assignments deliver results, which should provide encouragement to many students that they can get over the line.

    I hope universities will pick up more of the vocational “competency based” model of iterative learning rather than utilise assessment as a filter to access subsequent levels. Bridges rather than hurdles.

  61. October 23rd, 2014 at 12:18 | #61

    Faust wrote @ #45:

    [the left’s] bizarre “great man” theory of political leadership) is vomit-inducting.

    Have you had watched the two hour tribute to Gough on Monday 21 October on ABC 1 television (aka ‘channel 2’?) If you had, you would understand that many of the crowning achievements of Gough’s government, particularly in the earlier years, were largely due to his own personal initiatives against the obstruction of much of the officialdom of the Labor Party, including from the ostensible ‘left’.

    Whilst much is also owed to Lance Barnard and Rex Connor, had Gough not been so seemingly dictatorial and had not manoevured in under-handed and secretive and ways, he most likely would have lost the 1972 elections and even if he had won, his achievements as Prime Minister, would have been far fewer.

    The same is also true of much of world history at least since 1900, for which we owe much to FDR and JFK, amongst others.

  62. nom de plume
    October 23rd, 2014 at 13:47 | #62

    Courage and high purpose leavened by a famous wit. We will never see his like again (not if what we’ve seen since is any indication)

    I wonder what Gough thought of the ‘small target strategy’.

  63. jungney
    October 23rd, 2014 at 14:59 | #63

    @faust
    Comrade, I’m pretty certain that I won’t get a state funeral or as many eulogies as Gough has received but I am damned sure that you won’t either. I think there’s your problem.

  64. J-D
    October 23rd, 2014 at 16:40 | #64

    @kevin1

    Gough Whitlam was committed — explicitly — to the idea that the Labor Party exists to implement Labor policies as a government, and in order to do that it is a necessary prerequisite to win elections.

    Some people — inside and outside the Labor Party — took (and some still take) a view, incompatible with Gough Whitlam’s, that Labor policies can never be successfully implemented through the existing parliamentary system and that the only really useful role for parliamentary Labor is to provide a strategic resource as an auxiliary for an extra-parliamentary movement (probably based on trade unions) with the aim of changing the system wholesale; winning elections is at best useless and probably a dangerous distraction.

    Gough Whitlam (along with others) saw it as being of major importance to the chances of winning elections to eliminate or drastically reduce the influence within the party of those who didn’t believe in winning elections as a goal. This was part of the background to the Federal intervention in the Victorian party in 1970.

    Any evaluation of Gough Whitlam’s record must be either on the one basis or on the other; there’s no possibility of an evaluation that’s compatible with both views.

  65. Royce Arriso
    October 23rd, 2014 at 17:01 | #65

    @jungney
    Jungney, to quote The Goon’s Major Bloodnok, “I don’t know who you are sir, or where you come from, but you’ve done me a power of good”.

  66. kevin1
    October 23rd, 2014 at 17:25 | #66

    @J-D
    Formal logic does not rescue you from false premises.

  67. J-D
    October 23rd, 2014 at 17:33 | #67

    @Ikonoclast

    The idea that the CIA has had a hand in sinister events around the world strikes me as reasonable, but the idea that the CIA has a hand in every sinister event around the world strikes me as unreasonable. To go from ‘the overthrow of governments is sometimes the work of the CIA’ to ‘the overthrow of governments is always the work of the CIA’ is faulty reasoning.

    Speculation, rumour, and gossip don’t add up to strong circumstantial evidence, no matter how great the quantity.

    You pose the question: why would the CIA gather information if not to use it as a basis for taking action? Maybe you can only see one possible explanation, but I see another: the CIA needs its information-gathering activities to justify its own existence: to itself, to its political masters (or theoretical masters), and to the public at large. If much of the information is never used, that doesn’t have to be admitted.

    Did you see the story Megan told above, about how the CIA operatives asked Laurie Oakes what would happen if Whitlam held out and he (Laurie Oakes) told them that Kerr would sack Whitlam? I’m sure a writer of suspense thrillers could devise an elaborate plot where that was just one component in a complex web of deceit; but that’s not the way it sounds in the real world.

  68. Megan
    October 23rd, 2014 at 19:23 | #68

    The CIA collects information just to appear busy?

    OK.

  69. jungney
    October 23rd, 2014 at 19:30 | #69

    @J-D
    Oh mate, I saw the story of how Jenny Hocking, Gough’s two volume biographer, said to him that she had discovered, via her own research, how A Mason, CJ of the HC at the time, had been having ‘private discussions with Kerr for about three months prior to the sacking to which information, according to Hocking, Gough teared up and replied “well, what can you do?” or words to that affect.

    Discussions between the Chiel Justice of the High Court of Australia and the G-G, discussions not on the public record at the time. And you apparently want a smoking gun as evidence of US meddling?

    Mate, there’s smoke all over the place.

    Join freedom fighters or drop off.

  70. sunshine
    October 23rd, 2014 at 19:53 | #70

    Its a shame that the main stream media and associated elites want Gough defined as a stumbling, incompetent, idiot. Abbott was fond of saying ‘worst govt since Whitlam’ – ironic given the current Governments performance. Public confidence in politicians and Government has plummeted over the last 10 years. I hope we dont end up with some kind of corporate libertarian future after the idea of good Government has been finally destroyed.

  71. October 23rd, 2014 at 20:11 | #71

    Pr Q said:

    Gough Whitlam’s contributions to Australian society

    Himself! There never was, and never will be, such a compelling figure in Australian public life. My social studies project for year 10 in 1975 was a film of Gough’s election campaign. He truly was a messianic figure and it was a rare privilege to see him at the top of his game, thrashing the L/NP and training the Light on the Hill.

    His finest hour:

    “We Want Gough!” x 3

  72. J-D
    October 23rd, 2014 at 20:33 | #72

    @jungney

    I am aware that Mason gave advice to Kerr (as also did Barwick). That’s not evidence of CIA involvement. How could it be? You think that the idea of consultation between the Governor-General and a Justice (or Justices) of the High Court could only come from the CIA? It was and is a matter of historical record that the Governor-General took advice from the Chief Justice of the High Court about his constitutional powers in 1914, long before the CIA existed.

  73. J-D
    October 23rd, 2014 at 20:35 | #73

    @Megan

    You wrote ‘just’. I didn’t. I’m much more careful about using that word.

  74. J-D
    October 23rd, 2014 at 20:35 | #74

    @kevin1

    True, but irrelevant, since I made use neither of formal logic nor of false premises.

  75. October 23rd, 2014 at 20:45 | #75

    Where to watch two one-hour episodes of “Whitlam: The Power and the Passion” on ABC Iview

    Those, who may have missed the excellent 2 part documentary broadcast on ABC television on Monday 21 October, referred to by me @ #11, can still watch the two one hour episodes on ABC Iview.

  76. Megan
    October 23rd, 2014 at 22:58 | #76

    @J-D

    The CIA collects information to appear busy?

  77. kevin1
    October 24th, 2014 at 06:07 | #77

    @J-D

    To frame the Whitlam v Left struggle as between an electoralist and a semi-revolutionary (communist?) group without reference to how electoral tactics advanced issues of the day, is risibly abstract and unworldly. As if politics is contested by stick figures, rather than flesh and blood people who get involved in causes around concrete events and interests.

    DH Lawrence’s Kangaroo novel was an early description of the feverish fantasies arising from the deep-seated primal fears and ignorance which old-fashioned conservatives in deep blue institutions such as the military and the law hold – and in remote corners probably still do – towards the foreign land of Labor, seen as a pathological organisation.

    Far from being a group of crazies, the ALP Left of the time (resulting in the Socialist Left faction after federal intervention in 1970) defined itself around at least 2 issues which dominated political debate – conscription and the Vietnam War, and State Aid to private and Catholic schools. The DOGS (Defence of Govt Schools) lobby group was a high profile opponent of such funding, and the Catholic church, especially in Victoria, was not shy of marshalling its troops to join with DLP senators, in exacting tribute from Labor on both the above issues, or continuing its veto power on Labor winning government. Those who cheer the Gonski proposals and bemoan the current funding problems with a well-entrenched parallel education system, need to remember its origins in the late 1960s and who tried to resist it. http://www.abc.net.au/time/episodes/ep7.htm

    On the Vietnam war, the Labor Left had to fight internally to keep a strong position, as public opinion was supportive of the war and smashed Labor in 1966. George Crawford, ALP Chairman in Victoria, was vilified for calling on soldiers to lay down their arms, but his view was endorsed by a meeting of 200 union shop stewards, and promoted wider debate. Paul Strangio, an academic expert on Labor, reminded recently us of Whitlam’s manoeuvring on the issue, even before the 1966 election. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/whitlam-and-conscription-8211-an-end-to-the-lottery-of-death-20141021-119esl.html

    Events which may seem afterwards as “inevitable” or “self-evident” often displays a conservative functionalist position which decries human agency in fashioning the future: what is is what had to be. It’s not a position which progressives should take.

  78. J-D
    October 24th, 2014 at 06:12 | #78

    @Megan

    Yes. You appear to find something implausible about that. I don’t know why. Is it that you have bought into the image of itself that the CIA would like to project, or have I misread you?

  79. Paul Norton
    October 24th, 2014 at 08:01 | #79

    There has been some discussion in the Israeli press about Whitlam’s views on the Middle East. He annoyed the leadership of Australian Jewish commuinity organisations with his “even-handed” policy at the time of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and his prickly manner in dealing with them, which was seen as a departure from the warmly pro-Israel stance of previous Labor leaders (notably Evatt) and subsequent ones (notably Hawke and Gillard). However the last significant foreign policy act of the Whitlam Government, on 10 November 1975, was to vote against UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 that described Zionism as “a form of racism”.

  80. Newtownian
    October 24th, 2014 at 10:14 | #80

    Troy Prideaux :
    @Newtownian
    I listened to a few excellent critiques of his time as PM last night on the ABC PM program. All those points were raised as important valid issues that hampered their time in government, however, there appeared to be universal acceptance (including those who served on his cabinet) that economics wasn’t his strong suit.

    You/they are probably right. He was after all a lawyer. On the other hand this begs the question as to who would have been any better, Economics being far from a science even more so now.

    I expect the people talking were neoliberal to a man/woman (were they any economic renegades?) talk in hindsight – so this is a bit of a self fullfiling prophecy.

    If you mean ‘balancing the books’ that is say like Costello? Costello inhabited the neoliberal la la land which was creating a monstrous bubble as was Keating. But you dont hear them being identified as not understanding economics. McMahon I think was a bean counter more than most but he got kicked out if I remember right because he couldnt handle the rising inflation (Vietnam related?) and was boring to boot. (Though I have to say when I saw him live here when as a student when he was in opposition he was actually a remarkably good speaker live – far better than many I have seen since. Which suggests movement to TV is partly to blame for a loss of intelligent political debate.

    As to Gough promoting inflation by printing money ? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm Quantitative Easing. Doh!

    So yes you are probably correct but I dont think its so simple. A possibility maybe not canvassed was that he may have thought if he changed Australia to a more equitable society the rest would flow – a bit like Marx believed I think. Sadly we failed his and arguably falsified Karl’s hypothesis too.

  81. Megan
    October 24th, 2014 at 10:42 | #81

    Ikon’s comment was characterized as suggesting that the CIA collects information as a basis for taking action.

    The alternative explanation was that the CIA does it to appear busy.

    The former is more plausible than the latter in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

  82. jungney
    October 24th, 2014 at 12:05 | #82

    @J-D
    Mason’s advice to Kerr was utterly improper; the only person from whom Kerr should have taken advice was the PM.

    Anyway, for succinctness, Wikipedia:

    During the crisis, Whitlam had alleged that Country Party Leader Anthony had close links to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[113] Subsequently, it was alleged that Kerr acted on behalf of the United States government in procuring Whitlam’s dismissal. The most common allegation is that the CIA influenced Kerr’s decision to dismiss Whitlam.[114] In 1966 Kerr had joined the Association for Cultural Freedom, a conservative group that was later revealed to have received CIA funding. Christopher Boyce, who was convicted for spying for the Soviet Union while an employee for a CIA contractor, claimed that the CIA wanted Whitlam removed from office because he threatened to close US military bases in Australia, including Pine Gap. Boyce said that Kerr was described by the CIA as “our man Kerr”.[115] Whitlam later wrote that Kerr did not need any encouragement from the CIA.[116] However, he also said that in 1977 United States Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher made a special trip to Sydney to meet with him and told him, on behalf of US President Jimmy Carter, of his willingness to work with whatever government Australians elected, and that the US would never again interfere with Australia’s democratic processes.[117]

  83. J-D
    October 24th, 2014 at 17:01 | #83

    @Megan

    It is more plausible to suppose that, in general, both motives are at work.

  84. J-D
    October 24th, 2014 at 17:07 | #84

    @jungney

    I did not write that Mason’s giving of advice to Kerr was proper. I wrote that it wasn’t evidence of CIA involvement. It has been known for instances of impropriety to occur without CIA involvement.

    Wikipedia records, correctly, that there were allegations of CIA influence on Kerr’s decision to dismiss Whitlam. I wrote above that speculation, rumour, and gossip don’t amount to strong circumstantial evidence, no matter the quantity.

    The proposition that Whitlam’s removal was something the CIA favoured and the proposition that the CIA was responsible for bringing it about are not equivalent.

  85. jungney
    October 24th, 2014 at 17:35 | #85

    Well, I think that by your standard of evidence as to what constitutes “involvement” would, if you applied it in daily life, would be hobbling.

    But I’ll quibble:

    The CIA is acknowledging for the first time the extent of its deep involvement in Chile, where it dealt with coup-plotters, false propagandists and assassins.”

    Now two out of three speaks to me of involvement. There were coup plotters (Kerr, Mason, Barwick it seems) on a very short roll call of the plotters, probably certain key officers within the Australian military and non-military establishment. Most notably, in Murdoch, a false propagandist but no assassins.

    Then there’s the US spooks who were gathered and have been named all over the place. The history is readily available, so I don’t need to cite sources.

    So, Chile in ’73 and Australia in ’75. History has no coincidences. One comment I read that I will relay is that coup in Chile was still very much a cold war strategy. We shouldn’t underestimate how Whitlam’s policies were viewed in such an atmosphere.

    Anyway, they won. We are what they wanted, a client state.

  86. kevin1
    October 24th, 2014 at 17:50 | #86

    @hc

    Associative mating Harry? Sorry for that but I think you would agree that many middle class & respectable people said, At last we have someone like us leading the reform charge. Arguably Cairns could’ve won against Billy Bigears as Jimmy Jesus had great respect with the electorate, except…no way would the media and ruling class have taken a chance on him. Gough was the fallback position if the Libs couldn’t get the popular vote.

    Another plug for the Socialist Left of which I was a peripheral member: they actively and bravely campaigned against ASIO and its pernicious behaviour following the Lionel Murphy raid. This was no laughing matter: bombings & shootings were about, and there was evidence of ASIO softness towards the extreme Right Croatian Ustashi. These people have names: Gerry Harant, Joan Coxsedge, Jean McLean, and they fought the good fight before the days of NGOs with govt. funding. While you celebrate the Emperor, don’t forget the foot soldiers. It was ever thus.

  87. J-D
    October 24th, 2014 at 19:16 | #87

    @jungney

    In my daily life I strive to proportion belief to evidence, that being the course of wisdom. I do not find myself hobbled.

    As I wrote earlier, it is faulty reasoning to proceed from ‘the overthrow of governments is sometimes the work of the CIA’ to ‘the overthrow of governments is always the work of the CIA’; likewise it is faulty reasoning to proceed from ‘the CIA had a hand in the ousting of the Allende government’ to ‘the CIA had a hand in the ousting of the Whitlam government’. Also, it is faulty reasoning to proceed from ‘people plotted to oust the Whitlam government’ to ‘the CIA plotted to oust the Whitlam government’.

  88. jungney
    October 24th, 2014 at 19:27 | #88

    @J-D

    Yeah. Look, I think that we’re on a hiding to nothing here. You are reasserting what you previously said, which I find unconvincing, and I am in danger of advancing further futile argument to you. I don’t suppose that you are an historian, are you? Are you aware of the debate between historians and novelists about whose turf is the truth of what went on. Inga Clendinnen is an easy way in to the whole argument.

    What you ignore, I think, is the lived experience of the period. I wrote elsewhere that Pilger’s account pretty much accords with my memory of the disclosures through documentary, newspaper articles, research and so on, as they were turned up. I reckon that the unfolding of the assassination of JFK is the model for the way that the disclosures have happened, over time, about ‘the sacking’.

    So, if you are suggesting that I’ve spent my time over the last 30+ years barking up the wrong tree then I also reckon that you must have a pretty dim view of the intelligence of others.

  89. Megan
    October 24th, 2014 at 20:19 | #89

    And to proportion ‘belief to evidence’ you must have some evidence that the CIA collect information to appear busy.

    Also, as far as I recall nobody equated “[despite denials and propaganda to the contrary, we now know for a fact that] the CIA sometimes overthrows governments” with “[therefore] the overthrow of governments is always the work of the CIA”.

    Mind you, I’m hard pressed to come up with an example where it is proven that the overthrow of a government wasn’t to some extent the work of the CIA in, say, the last sixty years or so.

    As previously stated: I use “CIA” as a shorthand ‘catch-all’ phrase to encompass the US military-industrial-security-complex and all its tentacles.

  90. J-D
    October 25th, 2014 at 02:49 | #90

    @kevin1

    I did not write ‘The Left took the view that …’ or ‘The Left takes the view that …’. I made no generalisations about the Left at all.

    I did write ‘Some people — inside and outside the Labor Party — took (and some still take) a view …’

    Is the difference not clear?

  91. J-D
    October 25th, 2014 at 02:59 | #91

    @jungney

    I am neither a historian nor a novelist, and I am opposed to the idea that truth is anybody’s turf. I don’t understand why you bring this up.

    Likewise, I don’t understand why you bring up the Kennedy assassination. I don’t know what disclosures about that you’re referring to or how you think they’re relevant to this discussion.

    As I noted above, John Pilger reports a deputy director of the CIA as saying that Kerr did what he was told to do. John Pilger doesn’t explain why he’s inclined to accept this statement as true, and neither do you. On this subject I am not ready to accept the word of a deputy director of the CIA.

    I don’t see why the fact that two people disagree about something requires them to take a dim view of each other’s intelligence. In my experience of people, specifically including myself, they’re capable of being intelligent about some things and unintelligent about others. I continue to disagree with your views on this particular subject, and also to regard the reasoning you’ve given in support of them as faulty, but I draw no conclusions about your intelligence in general.

  92. J-D
    October 25th, 2014 at 03:15 | #92

    @Megan

    It is my personal experience of humans in general that they sometimes engage in activity to make themselves feel and look busy. The evidence satisfies me that the CIA is made up of humans, and that so also is the entire US military-industrial-security complex.

    Nobody explicitly asserted that the overthrow of governments is always the work of the CIA, but references were made to evidence of CIA involvement in the ousting of other governments as if that translated directly into evidence of CIA involvement in the ousting of the Whitlam government. It doesn’t.

    You write that you’re hard-pressed to come up with an example in the last sixty years where the overthrow of a government was not at least partly the work of the CIA. But how many examples of overthrown governments have you considered? Wikipedia has one page with a long (although probably incomplete) list of coups and another with a long (although probably incomplete) list of revolutions. Take a look at those and then tell me you think the CIA (or the US military-industrial-security complex) had a hand in every one of them (restricting ourselves, as you suggest, to the last sixty years).

  93. Fran Barlow
    October 25th, 2014 at 08:07 | #93

    @J-D

    I’d be very surprised if every coup of the last 60 years were the work of the CIA, even with a fairly loose definition of the benchmark of ‘work of the CIA’ were used. Some of these coups wouldn’t have helped US diplomacy at all and if anything would have been irritating to them. It’s possible that rogue elements in the CIA might have been involved for reasons that have nothing to do with US aims or simply have started some operation that got out of control, but I doubt we will live long enough to see full disclosure.

    Confining the sweep of the claim to Central and South America and throwing in Indochina pre-Pol Pot, would be better of course. The case can be made for Uganda and The Congo in the 1960s, and of course there’s Iraq and Saddam Hussein from about 1958-1978. Iran and Mossadegh would be a further example. Pakistan from 1971 onwards is plausible.

    So I can see where Megan is coming from.

  94. Julie Thomas
    October 25th, 2014 at 08:54 | #94

    I have heard it said that religion is the root of all evil – although the CIA must be up there in the top 10 – and here is someone blaming a “provocative” comment Whitlam made about religion for his downfall.

    Roy Williams, the author of “God Actually; In God They Trust: The Religious Beliefs of Australia’s Prime Ministers” on RN’s Religion Report speculates that:

    “an angry, throw-away comment from Whitlam may have contributed to the decision by Governor General John Kerr to dismiss Whitlam’s government.”

    He says:

    “In 1974, Whitlam had called then-Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen ‘an ostentatiously religious man who has taken a vow of poverty for Queensland’ (Whitlam’s infamous ‘Bible-bashing bastard’ comment came a year later). This may have been Whitlam the sophisticate mocking Bjelke-Petersen’s conservative brand of Lutheranism, although Williams believes it was more frustration at the premier’s repeated frustrating of Labor’s agenda.

    “Whatever his motivation, the comment had consequences. In 1975, Bjelke-Petersen nominated a religiously conservative ALP member, Albert Field, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of a Queensland Labor senator. ”

    So, the conclusion Williams draws is that “Bjelke-Petersen really brought about the downfall of the Whitlam government in a very practical way by appointing … a senator who would reliably vote with the Coalition,’ says Williams, whose own father, Evan, was a Whitlam staffer and confidante.”

    There are though, some interesting insights into Gough’s attitude toward relgion that Williams notes, such as, “Gough Whitlam once joked that if he ever met God, he would ‘treat Him as an equal’.”

    and that Gough described himself as a ‘fellow traveller with Christianity’ who “was seemingly comfortable with a Christian tendency that embraced social justice, reason and science, and which complemented—even bolstered—his own social democratic philosophy. ”

    Gough just gets better and better, the more one learns about him, his character and his intellect.

    Williams also says that Whitlam alienated other religiously minded voters, however, by introducing ‘no-fault’ divorce in the 1975 Family Law Act.

    There must be some reason that some people considered this a bad thing but what I recollect from my parents divorce experience in the ’60’s , was that my father had to lie and say he had deserted the family so as to have a reason for divorcing that was ‘acceptable’. I suspect that this was another of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that he experienced in his life, and that contributed to his depression and his suicide several years later, 6 months before Gough was elected actually.

  95. J-D
    October 25th, 2014 at 09:37 | #95

    @Fran Barlow

    It is still faulty reasoning to proceed from

    ‘There is a list of instances in which the CIA had a hand in the ousting of a government’

    to

    ‘The CIA had a hand in the ousting of the Whitlam government’

    Evidence for the first is not evidence for the second.

  96. Megan
    October 25th, 2014 at 10:31 | #96

    That’s a strawman.

    There is some evidence of the involvement of the CIA in the overthrow of the Whitlam government.

    Also, the CIA does that sort of thing. At law that is called “propensity”, “tendency” or “bad character” evidence. For public discussion about the CIA it is absolutely admissible.

  97. J-D
    October 25th, 2014 at 11:13 | #97

    @Megan

    The common law defines the category of ‘bad character evidence’ in order to establish that it is generally not admissible. The leading modern case is a Privy Council decision arising, as it happens, from an Australian case (Makin v Attorney-General of New South Wales): the Lord Chancellor’s judgement said ‘It is undoubtedly not competent for the prosecution to adduce evidence tending to shew that the accused has been guilty of criminal acts other than those covered by the indictment, for the purpose of leading to the conclusion that the accused is a person likely from his criminal conduct or character to have committed the offence for which he is being tried.’

    I don’t know why you bring this up, though, because we’re not holding a criminal trial here. Insofar as there are rules of ‘admissibility’ here, they are only the ones determined by John Quiggin: anything he permits can be posted here. I did not write that it is ‘inadmissible’ to proceed from the proposition that the CIA has had a hand in the ousting of governments to the proposition that the CIA had a hand in the ousting of the Whitlam government; I wrote that it was faulty reasoning to do so.

    On the other hand, if a deputy director of the CIA said that Kerr did what he was told to do, that would be evidence bearing directly on the question of what happened in 1975. Personally I don’t regard as credible the testimony of a deputy director of the CIA on this subject, but perhaps you take a different view.

  98. kevin1
    October 25th, 2014 at 12:09 | #98

    @J-D

    You have confirmed they are stick figures.

  99. jungney
    October 25th, 2014 at 12:34 | #99

    @J-D
    Yet you constantly assert that any evidence that doesn’t pass your required standard of evidence is inadmissible as evidence at all.

    Your legalism needs to be exposed to the light of day because it is corrosive of what appears to me to be something of an exercise of ‘people’s history’. By this I mean a conversation about the nature of shared histroy. One of the great things about the netz.

    The issue of Whitlam’s dismissal is under discussion. Significant public commentary has exposed evidence, of which there is plenty but I notice that you never address it, of CIA involvement. In the midst of this you keep raising quite spurious arguments about not arguing from the general to the specific such that a general tendency of the CIA doesn’t to overthrow or meddle in the internal political affairs of other nations doesn’t go to the likelihood of the CIA being involved in the dismissal.

    In many areas arguing from the general to the specific is ill advised but neither we nor the events themselves are bound to conform to logical principles. The evidence as it exists, to which I’ve drawn your attention, may fit uncomfortably with whatever principles inform your argument, but they do conform to a narrative that takes into account the global political economy at the time, in which the CIA had and track record of intervention.

    There is also the matter of the actually existing evidence, to which you never refer. I think the wikipedia page is a fair enough account. Now, which of the facts in that account do you refute?

    Quite why you would doubt the evidence “a deputy director of the CIA on this subject” as not comprehensible. Historians, even community historians, rely on authoritative disclosure.
    On the matter of direct evidence the wiki page states:

    However, he also said that in 1977 United States Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher made a special trip to Sydney to meet with him and told him, on behalf of US President Jimmy Carter, of his willingness to work with whatever government Australians elected, and that the US would never again interfere with Australia’s democratic processes.[117]

    Whitlam is the source.

    What weight do you give to this? Is it inadmissible because you haven’t heard Gough’s secret tapes of the conversation?

  100. J-D
    October 25th, 2014 at 13:04 | #100

    @kevin1

    I guess you know which ‘they’ you are talking about. I don’t.

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