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Gough Whitlam
Gough Whitlam 1962.jpg
21st Prime Minister of Australia
Elections: 1969, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977
In office
5 December 1972 – 11 November 1975
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck
Sir John Kerr
Deputy Lance Barnard
Jim Cairns
Frank Crean
Preceded by William McMahon
Succeeded by Malcolm Fraser
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
5 December 1972 – 6 November 1973
Prime Minister Gough Whitlam
Preceded by Nigel Bowen
Succeeded by Don Willesee
Leader of the Opposition
In office
11 November 1975 – 22 December 1977
Deputy Frank Crean
Tom Uren
Preceded by Malcolm Fraser
Succeeded by Bill Hayden
In office
9 February 1967 – 5 December 1972
Deputy Lance Barnard
Preceded by Arthur Calwell
Succeeded by Billy Snedden
Leader of the Labor Party
In office
9 February 1967 – 22 December 1977
Deputy Lance Barnard
Jim Cairns
Frank Crean
Tom Uren
Preceded by Arthur Calwell
Succeeded by Bill Hayden
Deputy Leader of the Labor Party
In office
7 March 1960 – 9 February 1967
Leader Arthur Calwell
Preceded by Arthur Calwell
Succeeded by Lance Barnard
Personal details
Edward Gough Whitlam

(1916-07-11)11 July 1916
Kew, Melbourne, Australia
Died 21 October 2014(2014-10-21) (aged 98)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Margaret Whitlam (m. 1942-2012)
Children Tony
Alma mater University of Sydney
Profession Barrister
Signature Gough Whitlam Signature.svg
Military service
Allegiance Commonwealth of Australia
Branch/service Royal Australian Air Force
Years of service 1941–1945
Rank RAAF O3 rank.png Flight Lieutenant
Unit No. 13 Squadron RAAF
Battles/wars World War II

Edward Gough Whitlam (11 July 1916 – 21 October 2014), known "Gough Whitlam", was an Australian politician. He was the 21st Prime Minister of Australia., and the only Prime Minister to have been dismissed from office by a Governor-General. He was Prime Minister for three years. His Labor Party was elected after 23 years of government by the Liberal-Country Party Coalition, and his government made a lot of new changes. Whitlam is the only Prime Minister who has lived in the lifetime of all the other Prime Ministers.

Early life

Whitlam was born in Kew, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. He studied at the University of Sydney. Whitlam served at the Royal Australian Air Force from 1941 through 1945 during World War II.

Prime Minister of Australia

Whitlam became Prime Minister in December 1972. He succeeded William McMahon. His government, for most of the time it lasted, did not have a majority in the Senate (the upper house of the Australian Parliament). This made it hard for Whitlam's government to make laws. The Whitlam government nevertheless made progress in many areas including free health care for everyone, equal rights for women, equal rights for Aboriginal people including the right to own or control land, no more compulsory military service, trade relations with communist China, free tertiary education, and the chance for people with low incomes to get a lawyer to defend their rights.

In 1975, the government thought about borrowing US$4 billion in foreign loans. One cabinet minister, Rex Connor, had secret discussions with a loan broker from Pakistan. The Treasurer, Jim Cairns, misled parliament over this. Partly as a result, the new leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Fraser, used the Senate to stop giving money tothe government until there was an election. This meant that the government had no money with which to pay civil servants and carry out administration. In order to end the crisis, the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, acting on behalf of Queen Elisabeth II, dismissed Whitlam. That happened only once in Australian history and many people thought it was unjust and undemocratic. Fraser then became the temporary Prime Minister. Whitlam was easily defeated by Fraser in the election that was held a month later.

Whitlam was defeated for a second time by Fraser at the next election in 1977, and resigned from parliament shortly after that. From then until his death in 2014 then he continued to be a very public figure, writing books and often commenting on political affairs.


Whitlam married Margaret Dovey a prominent Australian swimmer and social worker in 1942 and they remained married till her death on 17 March 2012. On 21 October 2014, Whitlam died in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, New South Wales at the age of 98.


Whitlam is one of the most controversial people in Australia. Many people think of him as a hero while others consider his government to have been inefficient.

  • Listen to an excerpt of Gough Whitlam's 'Kerr's Cur' speech on australianscreen online
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