Today Australia is mourning the loss of Gough Whitlam.
Whitlam was the 21st Prime Minister of our nation between the years of 1972 and 1975, but in those three years the changes he made in this time have changed our nation forever — and for the better.
Whitlam was someone against discrimination, and a champion for equality. Someone who valued education, and respected the traditional owners of our land. A man willing to stand by his convictions to ensure Australia remained a great nation in both the short and long-term.
Thank you Mr Whitlam. For these 10 changes and many, many more:
1. Abolished the White Australia Policy and passed the Racial Discrimination Act, ushering in a new era of multiculturalism for Australia.
Gough Whitlam with Paul Keating.
2. Made The Pill affordable and accessible, by removing the tax on contraceptives.
3. Implemented free higher education, making hundreds and thousands of Australians the first in their family able to go to university.
4. Legislated for no-fault divorce, so women could chose to leave an unhappy marriage without being financially burdened.
5. Helped Australia become more civilised and humanitarian in its law-making by abolishing conscription and the death penalty.
6. Introduced Medicare to allow universal healthcare for all Australians. Without this historic reform 1 in 5 Australians would be unable to afford basic access to GPs or hospitals.
Australian High Commission John Armstrong and Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam during a press conference in 1973.
7. Championed Aboriginal land rights, returning land to the Gurindiji people of the Northern Territory. He was also known for involving Australia’s Aboriginal people directly in policy making and establishing free Aboriginal legal services.
8. He reopened the equal pay case, championing the rights of women to work and be fairly compensated.
Gough Whitlam with singer Little Pattie, wearing t-shirts announcing ‘It’s Time’, for his Labour election campaign in July 1972.
9. He was the first Western leader to visit China and make his nation’s relationship with Asia a priority. This decision and those which flowed from it have been responsible for much of Australia’s economic and trade prosperity in the years since.
Hu Jintao, China’s president, left, greets 90 year old Gough Whitlam.
10. Whitlam established the National Gallery in Canberra, doubled funding to the arts, introduced legislation to form the SBS, and created the Australia Council for the Arts.
“Our father, Gough Whitlam, has died this morning at the age of 98,” Mr Whitlam’s family said in a statement this morning.
“A loving and generous father, he was a source of inspiration to us and our families and for millions of Australians.”
Vale, Gough. The legacy you left us all will certainly never be forgotten.
Click through our gallery of memorable Whitlam moments: