Talk:Gough Whitlam

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Quean or Queen?[edit]

Australian politics is not my forte, but did Whitlam really call McMahon a "quean" (which I discovered today for the first time is a recondite term for a prostitute), as stated in this article, rather than calling him a "queen" (which would have seemed a more typical insult for a politician widely suspected of being homosexual)? I suppose perhaps the point might have been to show how wide and sophisticated Whitlam's vocabulary was, while still getting the gibe across...? But if the insult was spoken, how would anyone have known which word Whitlam was using anyway? Perhaps he helpfully explained it...? Nandt1 (talk) 02:55, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Here is the source directly from Hocking's book [1]. The Hansard entry may be more difficult to find online. WWGB (talk) 09:24, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
Definitely a quean. I did not quite "get it" myself, but I'm not an Australian politician, and it was worth including because of their later political opposition.--Wehwalt (talk) 09:34, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
"Quean. n.s. [cwean, Saxon, a barren cow; þorcwen, in the laws of Canute, a strumpet.] A worthless woman, generally a strumpet." - Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), p 1619. --Wikiain (talk) 23:01, 10 December 2011 (UTC)
You misunderstand. I looked up the word when I encountered it. I felt it odd that Whitlam used the word due to the homonym. Possibly he pronounced it quee-an. Any word on when the second volume of Hocking's bio is coming out? I'm anxious to read it and improve the article based on it.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:13, 10 December 2011 (UTC)
My response was mainly to Nandt1, giving a source that I thought would be interesting, both for what I quoted from Johnson and for the quotations that he goes on to provide - notably Dryden, who rhymes "queans" with "scenes". I would guess that Whitlam said "quee-an", because otherwise he would have been heard to say "queen", which would surely have been taken as an allegation of campness. Whether anyone but himself would have understood "quee-an" may be doubted. This is the only place where I have encountered the word and, although Whitlam was speaking in Canberra, the name of the nearby town of Queanbeyan is not pronounced in that way and does not have that origin. --Wikiain (talk) 23:57, 10 December 2011 (UTC)

The circumstances of his dismissal, and the legacy of his government, remain matters of intense debate.?[edit]

This sentence appears to be a gross overstatement. Is there any evidence or source for this? Statements in the lead do not always require a source, as they are supposed to summarise the body of the article. However nothing in the body actually indicates this. If I were to summarise the current state of the debate, it will be like this: The circumstances of his dismissal, and the legacy of his government, remain parts of the Australian political discourse. Even this is debatable though. What do you think? - BorisG (talk) 11:45, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

I have no objection to toning it down. There do seem to be a fair number of articles which appear on 11 November, especially when, like this year, it is a 5 year anniversary, and no doubt there will be more when Whitlam and Fraser are finally elevated to the Heavenly House of Representatives.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:06, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
Sure. But these anniversary articles are a far cry from an intense debate. If anything, it is Fraser that is still being debated (though not really intensely), in large part because he makes every effort to provoke a debate whenever an opportunity presents itself (and also because his views have dramatically evolved over the years, which is always interesting). But this is beyond the point. Cheers. - BorisG (talk) 12:17, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, fair enough. Is it OK now?--Wehwalt (talk) 12:33, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes very much so. Thanks a lot. Cheers. - BorisG (talk) 13:17, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Recent addition[edit]

Why is it necessary to have the question of what elections Whitlam won as the second paragraph of the lede? The elections are both mentioned in the lede. We are supposed to have in the first paragraph what the person is best known for, and in Whitlam's case being prime minister and being dismissed by Kerr. The rest is told in chronological order.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:06, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

The previous opening paragraph was biassed by negative language focussed on EGW's dismissal ("dismissed", "crisis", "terminated"). The addition restores balance by acknowledging that his party was elected twice by the people. The first paragraph is now an appropriate summary of the lead. WWGB (talk) 12:46, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Very well, I've taken the liberty of copyediting it to integrate it into the prose better.--Wehwalt (talk) 15:18, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
If you make additional changes, can you also be sure to check adjacent text so that it integrates well and we aren't double linking? It would be best to make suggestions here first too, as this is an FA and is well thought of even by some Australians.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:12, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
Since when does an FA require suggestions prior to edits? Timeshift (talk) 03:43, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
They don't But since I know something about the subject matter and have all the refs, my thoughts might be helpful.--Wehwalt (talk) 06:35, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Indeed... this is the talk page where thoughts are written :) Timeshift (talk) 06:00, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
(Starts singing) It's the stuff that dreams are made of ...--Wehwalt (talk) 11:50, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

First and only "joint session" of parliament[edit]

Joint Sitting of the Australian Parliament of 1974. Should this be noted briefly somewhere in the lead? I think it is noteable and meritable enough to be. Timeshift (talk) 10:11, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

As long as it's called a "joint sitting", and we don't claim it was the first and only such sitting, because it was neither. It was, however, the only joint sitting convened under S.57 of the Constitution. For joint sittings held under other circumstances, see Note 1 at Double dissolution. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 10:32, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
We all knew that, but if you feel the need to specify the technicality :) Timeshift (talk) 11:21, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm not certain that the joint sitting itself was particularly important to Whitlam's career, enough to justify the amount of explanation that it ought to have if mentioned in the lede (yes, we can omit the explanation, but then we're leaving the reader a bit hanging). It is only briefly covered in the body, of which the lede is a summary. Someone should write a list of all the joint sittings ...--Wehwalt (talk) 15:36, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
I couldn't resist that challenge, Wehwalt. Joint meetings of the Australian Parliament doesn't yet show all the openings of Parliament and Governor-Generals' speeches after general elections, but those details can easily be collected. It does, however, show what I believe to be a comprehensive treatment of all the other joint sessions and joint meetings. Thanks for the inspiration. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 20:48, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
"Good on yer, mate". I would have liked to help, but my only Australian references deal with the Whitlam era. I'll be back in Oz late this year I understand, perhaps I'll pick up enough books to do another P.M.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:42, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Definition of "block suppy"[edit]

Excuse me, but I'm not from Australia and have no idea what "block supply" means. A brief and unsatisfactory definition was given. I have puzzled this out as best I can and inserted the phrase "that is, prevent the Australian state from functioning by preventing the appropriation of necessary funds" at the first use of "block supply". If this is not the correct definition, please correct, but it has to be defined somehow. Herostratus (talk) 18:27, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Articles are not the place to explain what a word means. I've done what should have been done which is link the word supply to the appropriate wikipedia article. If someone wants to know what it means they can click on it. Thanks. Timeshift (talk) 22:56, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Timeshift9, and as the principal author of the article, regret it was not linked. I tend to be conservative on linking, but have no objection to the link here.--Wehwalt (talk) 06:19, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Length of time since first election[edit]

Is it true that apart from a couple of MPs elected in 1949, Gough is one of the earliest living former members of Parliament? Its' been 59 years since he was first elected. As far as I know, no one who served in Parliament before 1949 is still alive. Paul Austin (talk) 17:25, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

I believe that is correct, but don't take that as proof. It is amazing the time he has been alive. --Wehwalt (talk) 17:28, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Atheist[edit]

I see a little editing back and forth on whether to have "Athiest" in the infobox. There's no question Gough is an athiest, he's talked about it enough. If there is a desire to see it in the infobox, I don't see any trouble in sourcing it to Hocking or another reputable source. I don't mention it in the body because it is a long article, I don't consider it a major point to be discussed, and the reason we have infoboxes is to take care of things like that. Thoughts?--Wehwalt (talk) 14:14, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

I don't see the point in having that included, in the same way that we do not generally report whether a politician is left-handed, teetotal or a smoker. It's just not that relevant to their job. Just because someone (probably in another country) added Religion to the infobox does not mean we have to respond. WWGB (talk) 14:24, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
That's fine, just trying to settle a dispute before it becomes boring.--Wehwalt (talk) 14:27, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Two things:
  • It's all but forgotten now (except for people like me with long memories), but there was a minor incident in the early part of his term, when he made his atheism an issue. He said that of course he was an atheist, and anyone who believes in God is an idiot, or words to that effect. It was quite uncharacteristically ungenerous of him, if he was reported accurately. I don't remember exactly how the issue arose, and Google has not been my friend today.
  • "athiest" would be the superlative of the non-existent adjective "athy" - athy, athier, athiest. The word you're after is "atheist", meaning the opposite of a "theist", from the same root as "theology", "theocracy" etc. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 22:31, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Hmmm, maybe it's different in Australia, but here in the United States it would be quite a relevant bit of information about a politician -- we've never had a professed atheist as head of the government and such a stance would instantly disqualify (as a practical matter) anyone from realistically seeking the post. So it's quite different that if the person is left-handed or whatever. Even if it's not so important in Australia, it would be a fairly important bit of information for readers in the United States, I would say. Herostratus (talk) 23:47, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Thanks, that's more or less the point I was trying to make, without naming particular nations. The fact that Australia has had several "non-believers" as PM means it is not as important to the Australian electorate as elsewhere. That being the case, what purpose is there to adding it to the infobox? WWGB (talk) 00:33, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Just briefly on this topic, the reason I pulled out the category was that there was nothing in the body to support it, and at the time Whitlam was included in both List of agnostics and in List of atheists in politics and law, which seemed odd. A quick search online also came to mixed results: for example, Warhurst had Whitlam as either an atheist or agnostic [2], without seeming to want to make a call either way; Jose lists him as an agnostic [3]; and Bonett has him as an atheist. Thus I'm not sure where we should sit, but figured others here would know better, or know whether to worry about it at all. :) - Bilby (talk) 00:49, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

I agree with WWGB - for political figures in Australia this information does not belong in the infobox. In Australia, religious denomination is not significant enough. Seeing EGW has declared his position on this matter, and it is supported by reliable published sources, there is a place for it in the body of the article. Dolphin (t) 01:34, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
Infoboxes are dangerous places for this sort of information. People's religious views can rarely be accurately described in one word. And such entries are often used for point scoring purposes, either in the form of "Look, he's an atheist, so must be evil" or "Look, he's an atheist, and a great person, so atheism is good". I would have no problem with accurately quoted words from the subject where the belief status was put in context. That's far more useful. HiLo48 (talk) 02:24, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Foreign policy[edit]

Is there any reason that Whitlam's unilateral recognition of the Soviet Union's annexation of the Baltic States bears no mention? PЄTЄRS J V TALK 23:37, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

You will have to expand a little on that. Exactly what did he do? Was it any more than acceptance of a practical and political reality? Did it make any practical difference to anybody, positive or negative? In other words, why is it important enough to be in this article? Oh, and you need reliable sources. HiLo48 (talk) 23:44, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
Violation of prior government commitments, making the decision without consultation, firestorm in the press and public opinion, mobilizing the political opposition just after the start of his second term, subsequent censure of the Foreign Secretary by the parliament,... significance is not a problem. Obviously there is still heated debate today in political blogs all over regarding Whitlam's legacy, those would hardly constitute reliable sources. Or does your "Oh,..." comment anticipate some other issue? PЄTЄRS J V TALK 00:05, 4 September 2011 (UTC)\
You didn't answer my questions. It's as if I've walked into a conversation that's been going for a while. You know exactly what you're talking about, and it's obviously very important to you and you know a lot about it, but I don't. Try tackling my questions, and then a lot more of us may be able to comment. HiLo48 (talk) 00:12, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Some references here: [4] [5], lots more. WWGB (talk) 00:20, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the refs. I read the first screenfull of the first one and found nothing relevant, so gave up. The second seems to be a report on the rantings of a rabid opposition (and that's NOT a political comment). So, I repeat....
You will have to expand a little on that. Exactly what did he do? Was it any more than acceptance of a practical and political reality? Did it make any practical difference to anybody, positive or negative? In other words, why is it important enough to be in this article? Oh, and you need reliable sources. HiLo48 (talk) 00:26, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
What I think the editor is referring to is that Whitlam, and it was unusual for the time, recognized the Soviets as the legitimate rulers of the Baltics, and ceased to recognize the missions of the governments-in-exile. After the '75 election, Fraser did go back to the old way. I did not think it was significant enough to include.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:45, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Another manner of searching would be regarding Australia's recognition, as pretty much all the scholarly opus on international law and Whitlam's decision deals with Australia, not Whitlam by name even though even Willessee, who was ultimately censured, confirmed it was solely Whitlam's decision. More generally, content on Australia's international relations during Whitlam's tenure should be beefed up regardless. PЄTЄRS J V TALK 03:28, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
I think this kind of expansion would be useful, provided it is reasonable in size and based on reliable, preferably scholarly, sources. I too think the recognition of the Soviet occupation is notable. - BorisG (talk) 05:39, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Was it any more than acceptance of a practical and political reality? Did it make any practical difference to anybody, positive or negative? In other words, why is it important enough to be in this article? HiLo48 (talk) 05:44, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
My thought exactly. At the time, there was no thought of Baltic independence.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:40, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
HiLo48, I think you are asking the wrong question, which is to ask us to make a personal judgement. The question should be "do the sources make any mention of it?", and this recent article by Lindsay Tanner mentions the Baltic recognition when discussing Whitlam on the occasion of his 95th birthday: "mistakes, such as recognition of Soviet hegemony over the Baltic states and support for an Indonesian takeover of East Timor, are also very well known." The circumstances of East Timor is given a whole paragraph in this article, since Lindsay Tanner attributes equal weight to the issue of the Baltics, it ought to be mentioned in this article too. --Martin Tammsalu (talk) 11:14, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I think it takes a bit more than that. For example, why was it a mistake? Timor was a mistake because there was immediate loss of life which at least arguably could have been avoided.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:53, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
In an article this size it is not possible to discuss everything, and Whitlam's policy on the Baltic states is probably not notable. TFD (talk) 14:46, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Are you stalking my edits TFD? --Martin Tammsalu (talk) 20:38, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
No, but thank you for asking. In fact if you check the edit histories of the two other articles where you have been especially active, you will find that you did not begin to edit them until after me. TFD (talk) 01:21, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
I've always been interested in left-wing topics, since when have you been interested in Gough Whitlam? --Martin Tammsalu (talk) 01:49, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Lindsay Tanner seemed to think is was a mistake on the same level as Timor, and seemed to think it was notable enough to bring it up on the occasion of Whitlam's birthday. It was a huge political mistake that alienated a large segment of the voting ethnic community which had formerly supported Whitlam due to his progressive ethnic policies. The opposition coalition parties benefitted as a result and Whitlam was subsequently defeated at the next election. If such a notable figure in the Australian Labor Party would think his own party colleague made a mistake, who are we anonymous Wikipedians to censor that on the basis of some contrived value judgement, in this case "did it end in loss of life"? I suggest we only need to add one sentence at the beginning of the paragraph on East Timor. --Martin Tammsalu (talk) 20:38, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Tanner thinking it was a mistake is notable to me, but sadly, I doubt if Tanner himself is notable to many of our readers. The one practical impact may be that it turned voters against Gough. Is that what Tanner wrote of, or is his just a philosophical difference? Philosophical differences are not notable in politics. They simply ARE politics. We would need a reliable source that describes Whitlam's damaged election prospects. HiLo48 (talk) 02:17, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Whitlam had considerable support from immigrant communities due to his multicultural policies. However the recognition destroyed that electoral support. Philip Ayres' writes in Malcolm Fraser:a biography: "Whitlam's decision on recognition had alienated tens of thousands of Baltic immigrants around the nation." The leading Baltic political leaders within Australia were able to manage the political climate to some degree. Other ethnic groups outside the Balts identified with their cause and that influenced the general ethnic vote. The opposition coalition parties were able to exploit this political fallout, wedging Labor as they do, and even passed a censure motion in the Australian Senate for "appeasing" the Soviet Union at the expense of the Baltic people. See this source [6]. All this bled electoral support for Whitlam, his first causalty being the Bass by-election in Tasmania where the Baltic states became an issue. From Laurie Oakes Crash through or crash: the unmaking of a Prime Minister on page 107: "Whitlam campaigned relatively poorly, even getting involved in a senseless and angry row with a geography teacher at the Launceston Matriculation College on the question of recognition of Soviet annexation of the Baltic states" --Martin Tammsalu (talk) 03:06, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
OK, some of that content could be relevant, if accurately sourced, but we must emphasise that the reason it's being mentioned is because of the impact on Whitlam's electoral support. We must not get into any issues surrounding the morality or otherwise of the decision. That's dangerous POV ground. HiLo48 (talk) 04:11, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps when mentioning the Bass by-election, which was such a disaster that I doubt any factor was particularly decisive other than the general unpopularity by that point of the Whitlam government in a marginal electorate, we could mention this was a factor.--Wehwalt (talk) 04:46, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
I was thinking of something along the lines of:
Whitlam's foreign policy decision in recognising of the Soviet incorporation of the Baltic states led to an electoral backlash within the immigrant community, which had previously supported Labor through its domestic policy of multiculturalism. The issue followed Whitlam in future election campaigns, including the Bass by-election where angry arguments between members of the electorate and a campaigning Whitlam ensured.
approprately cited of course. --Martin Tammsalu (talk) 04:50, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I really don't think that the censure vote was very relevant, that sort of slanging happened back and forth at that time, a lot. The Opposition used the Senate as its mouthpiece for criticising the Whitlam government, and the House of Representatives in turn repeatedly censured the Senate. Grist for the political mill of no particular relevance except to partisanship. I would limit it to one sentence, if possible, and inline cite to Oakes for his opinion. Oakes was a reporter, not a pollster.--Wehwalt (talk) 04:56, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

Yes, forget the Senate. They can say anything they like there. Doesn't even have to relate to the truth. HiLo48 (talk) 05:01, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Okay, I've struck the line about the senate above. --Martin Tammsalu (talk) 05:06, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Like I said, one sentence, and sourcing it to Oakes. This is a long article, conciseness is big here. Or I could take a whack at it?--Wehwalt (talk) 05:37, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Go for it. --Martin Tammsalu (talk) 05:40, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
After the description of the Labor loss in the by-election: According to reporter and author Laurie Oakes, one factor in the Labor loss was Whitlam's recognition of the Soviet Union as the legitimate ruler of the Baltic states, diminishing Labor support among immigrants." With all cited and so forth.--Wehwalt (talk) 05:47, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Hmm, I not so sure Oakes directly attributes the loss at Bass to the recognition issue, as you say it was such a disaster there were many issues at play. I would only cite Oakes to the heated arguments during the Bass campaign. The electoral backlash in the immigrant community is attributed to McHugh and Pacy's book Diplomats without a country: Baltic diplomacy, international law, and the Cold War on page 144, which I linked above. The article is only 87kB long, so we do have enough room for two sentances, but I can make it into one with the use of a semi-colon :) I can attempt a rewrite later this evening Melbourne time, got to scoot. --Martin Tammsalu (talk) 06:01, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
I had some thought about this and why don't we just have this:
"Whitlam's foreign policy decision in recognising of the Soviet incorporation of the Baltic states led to an electoral backlash within the immigrant community, which had previously supported Labor through its domestic policy of multiculturalism.[1]"
which is sourced to McHugh and Pacy's monograph rather than Oakes' more anecdotal recollection. --Martin Tammsalu (talk) 16:14, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
I think the idea here was to relate this to the 1975 Bass by-election. Do you have a specific quotation you are relying on? Electoral backlash is a very strong term and given that the article writes about Whitlam very neutrally (intentionally dispassionate), I would rather avoid strong terms.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:44, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Pronunciation[edit]

Hi all. Article currently has /ˈɡɒf ˈhwɪtləm/. Erm, the "hw" pronunciation of "wh"? In Australian English? I think not. --Shirt58 (talk) 09:26, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

Me neither, Shirt. I've never heard anyone say it that way. -- Jack of Oz [your turn]
I've also never heard or used that pronunciations. I also can't imagine that with Australian English. Anoldtreeok (talk) 11:18, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
Try these: YouTube1 and YouTube2. All are aitch-less (or is that haitch-less?), except that Bazza Humphries gets half-aitched when speaking pom. So, change it? Wy not? --Wikiain (talk) 01:48, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
The "wh" pronunciation is still common in US English, but not in Australian (or British) English. Most Australians would pronounce "Whitlam" exactly the same as if it were spelt "Witlam". Ondewelle (talk) 12:11, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Now I can't stop thinking about cool whip :( Timeshift (talk) 05:03, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

That is lost on me, Timeshift, and I'm scared to ask. Could one of you who remembers Skippy please put us immigrants out of our uncertainty? --Wikiain (talk) 12:25, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
Wow, first time I ever knew Whitlam's surname was difficult to pronounce.--Wehwalt (talk) 13:16, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
Bob Ellis, who might be expected to know, is an aitcher: YouTube3 at 0.35 --Wikiain (talk) 01:18, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
It's not a matter of what Bob Ellis or some other insider "knows". It's what the men and women of Australia actually call him, viz. a witful but whitless Whitlam. There would have been no point to this book's title if we all said "hwitlam". -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 01:48, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
So I take it we drop the h? Sorry, don't mean to imply you are a bunch of Pommies.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:08, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
I don't see a consensus as yet. A first way to take Bob Ellis here could be that he is an "insider" in the ragged sense of being very familiar probably with the man himself as well as with many of those, both friends and enemies of the man, who have interacted closely with him. I would take everyday Australian usage to be an attempt to reproduce whatever is the usage in that milieu. A second way to take Ellis here could be as an ordinary Australian and, among those, someone who is relatively sensitive to linguistic usage.
As to the book title, Jack, I can see a point every which way (if you will excuse an Americanism), perhaps especially if the point be taken to be that the usage is undecided. It might even be undecided among "insiders".
Looking more directly at everyday Australian usage, I think it would be right to say that Australians would normally drop the aitch in a "wh-" word. There is not normally an aitch in "who" or "which" or "why". Sometimes there never is, as in the town name Dee Why. But I don't think that using an aitch in "wh-" words is unusual, even for the same speaker, and I certainly wouldn't say that it would be regarded as wrong. Some issues of this type are currently recognised as unresolved - for example, whether it is actually wrong, albeit that it is common, to pronounce "Australia" with a "y" instead of the "l". Maybe the "y" is correct in some dialects.
But sometimes a name does have a proper pronunciation. For example, "Sir Walter Raleigh" is properly pronounced "Rawleigh" not "Rahleigh". I have that from a guide at his birthplace - and I have also heard pedantic Mr Whitlam say very deliberately "Rawleigh".
This will have to be resolved - or a truce declared - before, as I have just noticed has been requested, there can be an audio version of this article. Maybe an old man in Sydney is having a chuckle now ... yet, let us stick to our uncertainty and eschew any delusion of grandeur. Or, on the other hand, we might ask the Queen (I said "Queen"). She hast known this man and, after all, it's er English innit? --Wikiain (talk) 03:16, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
OK, fine. I do not feel I can take a position simply because I have very little experience in hearing Whitlam's name pronounced by Australians. And if we're giving Gough a copy, I get to do the honours. I'd come just for that.--Wehwalt (talk) 04:27, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
Honours? There'd be a crowd, sir. Just don't call him "Sir Gough". "Comrade" will do. (BTW: where I am, "sir" is now used as often as "mate". And my sense is that this is regarded not as an Americanism but as a revival in English.) --Wikiain (talk) 04:47, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
We'll send a delegation. I don't think I've ever called anyone comrade, but I can learn. I'd love to meet Whitlam, seriously, though I might be a bit tongue-tied. If anyone knows anyone who can set that up, I will probably be in Oz in February.--Wehwalt (talk) 05:20, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
Fantastic. Mr Whitlam, actually, is now in a very small (so small as to seem eccentric) minority of Australians who say "comrade". However, friends all here: can we reach a view on the pronunciation issue? Along the lines maybe of: "usually without aitch but occasionally with"? And then the technical, IPA English stuff to follow accordingly, which I think I could do? Please let us hear, so that this may be resolved - even with a statement that there is social non-resolution. --Wikiain (talk) 11:40, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
See Wine–whine merger, comrades fellow Wikipedians.--Shirt58 (talk) 13:38, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────In Tim Leslie's obit doc on Margaret Whitlam, the narrator first aitches and then consistently drops it. Has anybody been following the audio-visual news more closely? --Wikiain (talk) 22:44, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

The filmed tributes from Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott have been aitchless. I'm prepared to go with Gillard, who uses the name several times and certainly ought to know. --Wikiain (talk) 23:29, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

Revert[edit]

I undid an edit regarding the Bass by-election. I just don't think the name of the winning candidate in that election is necessary to an understanding of Whitlam. Especially since we don't mention the Labor candidate. --Wehwalt (talk) 09:59, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

Totally agree - the by-election is significant, but the details not. If someone wants the information, they can click the link. We don't put everything into every article. --Pete (talk) 03:30, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

Margaret's death[edit]

I have updated the article to reflect the death of Margaret Whitlam, I will be looking out for what I am sure will be a large number of articles over the next few days for anything usable in this one. And I'd like to say that Mr. Whitlam has my deep sympathy.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:27, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Edit request on 17 March 2012 Gough is ELDER of two children. Not "older".[edit]


210.50.248.251 (talk) 10:15, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

I'll ask a native speaker of Australian English to look at this one.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:19, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
Well, I'm an older speaker of Australian English, frequently accused of pedantry, and I would have written older. But I won't be dogmatic about it. HiLo48 (talk) 10:58, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
That's good, because it is "elder". He is always going to be older than anyone younger than him, including any younger siblings, so it may not be technically inaccurate to refer to him as the "older" of the two, assuming his sister is still alive; but in general, a sibling may have died years ago, so it then makes a nonsense to be talking about "older". This is not about the siblings' ages as such, it's about their relative positions in the order of birth. They're related concepts, but different concepts. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 20:25, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
Absolutely: "elder" is correct. I was always of that mind but I could not have explained it as well as you have, sir. Well done. Quis separabit? 20:29, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. I hope Gough would be proud of me, even if I didn't include any classical allusions.  :) -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 20:44, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

Infobox marital data[edit]

I am adding "Margaret Elaine Dovey (m. 1942-2012; her death)" to the infobox; I do not see how this is clumsy and unclear. Quis separabit? 19:57, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

It is clumsy. I have no objection to having the maiden name but as Mrs. Whitlam was notable, an interested reader can click to get the cv.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:42, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
There are precedents of other spouses pre-deceasing a former prime minister (eg Bettina Gorton). There is no mention of "marriage term" in John Gorton's infobox. Also, the PM's spouse is known by her married name, unless there is specific evidence to the contrary (eg Thérèse Rein). I am therefore reverting to standard format (married name only) until there is consensus to change all former PM infoboxes. WWGB (talk) 01:07, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

The Queen sacked the PM[edit]

Interesting read :) Timeshift (talk) 06:59, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Well, we will probably have to do a few changes in the article, and in the constitutional crisis one too. I have ordered a copy from Booktopia, though I do not know how long it will take to arrive up here.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:29, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Sounds like smoke and mirrors to me. - BorisG (talk) 12:22, 1 September 2012 (UTC)
Elaborate? Timeshift (talk) 12:29, 1 September 2012 (UTC)
It sounds like stuff we would not include without inline citation. We may have to say something just to avoid IPs adding stuff. However, I'm going to wait until I see the book, for my part anyway.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:31, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

How Murdoch wrote the final act in Gough saga: 26/8/12 - something else that may be worth investigating. Timeshift (talk) 05:26, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

I doubt not there will be more, beyond just the Dismissal material.--Wehwalt (talk) 06:08, 1 September 2012 (UTC)
I have some indirect inside knowledge of this, from one of the people involved. The extent of the Queen's "delay" would have amounted to asking for written advice, time to consider it, and sending back the instrument dismissing Kerr by Queen's Messenger. In 1975, as now, that would amount to a minimum of three days. The Queen was never going to dismiss Kerr with a phone call. What puzzles me is that, with this knowledge, Kerr felt that he had to ambush Whitlam, who hardly had any chance to negotiate in the few moments before telling Kerr that he was going to advise a half-Senate election and Kerr giving him the letter of dismissal. Did he think that this would avoid an outcome more disruptive and controversial than what actually occurred? And why didn't Mason, who has now criticised Kerr for not warning Whitlam, simply pick up the phone and tell him? I would dearly love to see some more sources come forward for us to use here, but nearly forty years on, so many of the main players are either gone or have lost their power of accurate recall. Maybe some confidential documents, memos and letters, will surface for us to chew over. But so nebulous and third hand are the comments - including mine - that we cannot use them here without sounding like a Kennedy conspiracy theory. --Pete (talk) 02:45, 2 September 2012 (UTC)
Too much of it is tied up with the Palace, and the Queen still lives. It will be many moons before we see official papers, alas.--Wehwalt (talk) 09:07, 2 September 2012 (UTC)
I've read the book. It was the fault of (deep breath) Kerr, Fraser, Murdoch, Prince Charles, and Justice Anthony Mason. But not Whitlam. Some say Whitlam had trouble admitting to a mistake. After carefully reading Vol. 2, I say Hocking has a problem admitting Whitlam made mistakes. Somewhat annoyed, given that this will exhaust the market for Whitlam biographies for his lifetime, probably (and that could still be a while ... ).--Wehwalt (talk) 20:47, 13 September 2012 (UTC)


The article states that "He conferred (against Whitlam's advice) with High Court Chief Justice Sir Garfield Barwick, who agreed that he had the power to dismiss Whitlam.[142]". This isn't the whole story. I recall seeing an interview with Barwick late in his life on the ABC (in the 90's on eqiv. of 7:30 report to best of my recollection - though may have been another ABC program). He stated that he had advised Kerr that the sacking was constitutional although Barwick said that he was strongly of the opinion that it was unconstitutional. When asked why he did that he said that he very much disliked Whitlam and wanted to see him gone. The constitutionality of the sacking is an important element that hasn't been covered. Perhaps someone who is able to dig through the ABC archives can locate this interview and include exact quotes.  The wiki on Barwick  states "During the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, he controversially[5] advised Governor-General Sir John Kerr on the constitutionallegality of dismissing a prime minister who declined to advise an election when unable to obtain passage of supply. This was significant, because Barwick and Gough Whitlam, whose government Kerr dismissed, had a history of antipathy dating from the mid-1950s. Further, Whitlam had refused Kerr's request for permission to consult Barwick, or to act on any advice except his own." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 121.45.17.167 (talk) 03:34, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

We cover this in more detail at 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, although the antipathy between Barwick and Whitlam is briefly mentioned in this.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:55, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

What nonsense. The Queen clearly did NOT sack Whitlam. Nor does the article even hint that Kerr asked the Queen (or Prince Charles or anyone else other than Barwick) if he should sack Whitlam. The purported discussion with Prince Charles took place before the Supply Crisis in any case. The question was really that if a question of Dismissal were to come up, would the PM be able to have Kerr sacked instead. This is different from whether Whitlam should have been sacked or not! In fact, the worst aspect of Kerr's behaviour was that he did NOT warn Whitlam that if the crisis continued, then he (Kerr) would have to consider sacking him (Whitlam). If the Queen had indicated that Kerr couldn't be removed, Kerr's justification for his would have been removed. This isn't about whether or not Whitlam should have been sacked, but whether in a crisis where the GG had to consider terminating the PM, the PM had the right to have the GG removed first. Let's not misrepresent it (in fact other evidence suggests that the Queen liked Whitlam).

Still a commentator?[edit]

Lede: Over a third of a century after he left office, Whitlam continues to comment on political affairs.

I'm not aware of any recent commentary from him. My impression is that he's in a nursing facility and no longer participates in public life. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 00:34, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

He now makes only "rare public statements".
He probably spends a lot of time reminiscing with Nifty Nev. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 00:58, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, I was looking at that too. I'll find a defensible way of changing it.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:01, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Done. I've read the Hocking second volume, by the way, wasn't terribly impressed. Still, it will do to upgrade some of the sourcing. It felt during the account of the 1975 crisis that she was trying to match Whitlam in excoriating the opposition, and did not succeed (few could).--Wehwalt (talk) 16:55, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

Australian republicans category[edit]

Why was this deleted? He appreaed in a commerical for the republican vote and is therefore clearly a republican.60.224.160.192 (talk) 06:11, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

Do you have a diff or can you tell us when it was deleted?--Wehwalt (talk) 10:22, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
Is that the reason Whitlam and his wife were never knighted?? Quis separabit? 19:11, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't know specifically, but as he instituted the Australian honours system during his time in office, probably one was never offered. I'd check the 1972 Labor manifesto and see if it took a position on this. If so, then it was most likely never going to be offered as Whitlam could not possibly accept.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:02, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, it was against Labor policy to accept knighthoods from the very beginning. (It was Hawke who abolished the practice altogether, anyway, and Fraser was hardly going to recommend Whitlam for one.) William McKell and Dorothy Tangney caused a great deal of angst (and were almost expelled) by accepting them, and it was also seen as final evidence of the betrayal of "rats" like George Pearce (although others like Hughes never accepted them either). Frickeg (talk) 20:41, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

A bit of a misrepresentation. The ALP traditionally didn't give it's members knighthoods on the basis that honours should NOT be made for paid work! MP's are paid for their work, and shouldn't be given a honour as a result of something that they were paid to do as a job. Incidentally, Sir William McKell was knighted by recommendation of the Chifley (Labor) Government as they were going to appoint him as Governor General, and at that point it was taken for granted that the GG had a title. I can't imagine "angst" about something the Party had actually decided on! The great irony is that since Whitlam's system of "Australian Honours" came in, the ALP seems to have forgotten the real reason for their opposition, and now readily awards themselves AO's etc, even when they are still in office. Ironically the last person who seemed to remember the real reason for the prohibition was Keating, who refused the AO for paid work. Go figure.

Date conflict[edit]

The article stated, under the heading 'Constitutional crisis', With the crisis unresolved, on 6 November, Kerr decided to dismiss Whitlam as Prime Minister. (Sourced to journalist Paul Kelly). In Matters for Judgment, Kerr establishes a chain of events starting on 6 November and making it seem very unlikely that he came to a final decision that day. On page 308, he writes By the evening of 9 November I had made up my mind as to what I must do if the two leaders were still in deadlock when 11 November came up, inexorably, on the calendar. Because I know the subject of the "Dismissal" engenders such lack of trust all around, my response has been to leave both dates out for the moment. Maybe that can be resolved by discussion and further sources, which will need to undergo very rigorous scrutiny! Bjenks (talk) 19:48, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Well, I went by the Kelly books. I will confess to reading Matters of Judgment but did not use it much as primary sources should bow to secondary. I would rather not rely on what Kerr said, or Whitlam for that matter (in his book in rebuttal).--Wehwalt (talk) 21:03, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Capitalisation of titles vs generics[edit]

The authoritative rules for capitalising titles of office and rank (at least for non-American usage) are those stated on pp. 96-97 of Hart's Rules. Some of the examples are

King Henry vs the king of England
President Bush vs the US president

It is acknowledged that terms like 'Prime Minister' are often capitalised "regardless of their syntactic role...[in reference to] specific holders of a rank or title." However—"Use of this style can lead to difficulties in contexts where titles of office appear frequently: in such cases it is generally clearer and more consistent to stick to the rule that the title of office is capitalised only when used before the office-holder's name" (emphasis added, i.e., as a title proper, not generic). Against this, the Wikipedia MoS is unfortunately ambivalent, allowing six of one or half-a-dozen of the other.

Regardless of which standard is applied by consensus within an article, such as this one, consistency is necessary. My contention is that failure to distinguish between proper titles (immediately before the bearer's name) and generic terms (as Wehwalt does here, for instance, results in a forest of unnecessary capitalisation when consistency is applied. This article happens to be excessively replete with such terms. Excellent examples of accurate and sensible usage can be found in Whitlam's own writings, e.g., this keynote address, in which he writes (at page 6) "It is four years since a graduate of this law school at last became prime minister. Mr McMahon paved the way for me in so many respects. That still left the position of governor-general. In the past it was possible for English governors-general – and monarchs – to get by without university degrees." However, if anyone still disagrees, please make sure the article is consistent throughout! Bjenks (talk) 03:49, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

I am happy to have others look at it. I agree that terms such as "future Prime Minister" were properly reduced to lower case. However, "Deputy Crown Solicitor" "Leader of the Opposition" and similar terms cannot be reduced to lower case.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:04, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
I half agree with you. My heart/gut says you're right; but my head wonders: If we can write "prime minister" in a generic context, why can we not write "leader of the opposition" or "deputy crown solicitor" in similar contexts? -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 12:01, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
I guess at least in the leader's case, to make it clear that this is not one of many people who are bigwigs in the opposition party, but the holder of a specific position. I'm happy to go with whatever people want, as long as there is broad agreement on it.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:25, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Isn't the P/prime M/minister also the holder of a specific position? -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 12:28, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes I agree. I feel that when the position refers to the holder of the position, eg Prime Minister capitalisation is correct, but when referring to the position role generally, lower case is fine. For example, 'Gough Whitlam was Prime Minister of Australia between..., or The Prime Minister addressed the media" refers to person as the pm. "A vote will held to elect the next prime minister" refers to the role, but not the titleholder so lowercase. Flat Out let's discuss it 12:37, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
That is how I do it now, but when I worked on this article I was not yet doing that and it's never a high priority with me, I'm afraid, to go back and retrofit. So I agree on his "former Prime Minister" changes to "former prime minister" as it is not being used to designate the incumbent.--Wehwalt (talk) 13:02, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

The Falcon and the Snowman / Christopher John Boyce[edit]

I think these 2 WP pages should get a mention in this article as PM Whitlam is an important motivation in Boyce's actions.

"Boyce claims that he began getting misrouted cables from the Central Intelligence Agency discussing the CIA's desire to depose the government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in Australia."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_John_Boyce http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Falcon_and_the_Snowman — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.105.87.5 (talk) 14:20, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

There is a difference between Whitlam being important to Joyce, and Joyce being important to Whitlam. The matters are handled well in the appropriate articles.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:11, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

GCL postnom[edit]

I note that Gough's had his GCL removed, but Hawke is still showing his. Either both are permitted, or neither is.

Please see Talk:John Howard#SSI revisited and its links for a query on whether Hawke and Whitlam are validly permitted to append GCL after their names. Same for Peter Cosgrove and CNZM. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 02:48, 1 February 2014 (UTC)

Free Universities and Health[edit]

The ALP, and therefore the Fairfax Press, pride themselves on Whitlam's introduction of free this and that for the impoverished. While these policies were highly controversial at the time, mostly with the Murdoch Press, the proportion of money involved was fairly small. Universities at the time were only a small fraction of the size that they are now. State govts also provided substantial scholarships to students, over 50% of them, as I recall. Vocational training was done via the colleges of advanced education (for teachers) and tech colleges. These all remained funded by the States. After the de-intellectalization of universities by Keating, the increasing number of vocational students meant that the cost was not small, and fees were introduced. Hospital care remained under State expenditure, even after the advent of Medibank. Medibank paid for GP visits, and not much else. States provided much, or all, of the funding for hospital patients. For example, Qld had free hospitals, although they were, and still are, of 3rd world standard. Whitlam did not leave huge budgetary problems, as his 'extravagances' were quite modest. Even with the OPEC problems, the proportional deficits he left were tiny when compared to modern efforts.203.213.61.11 (talk) 00:14, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

We depend on what reliable sources say for what goes in our articles. Your post reads like your own original thoughts on the matter, and they don't really count for anything here. HiLo48 (talk) 01:06, 21 October 2014 (UTC)
This is a talk page, not the main article, and refs are not essential. I will not edit the article as I don't have access. What assertions of mine are you disagreeing with? OPEC? Free Qld hospitals? State scholarships. Such facts are trivial to reference. The talk pages are a venue to add missing info, or corrections. It is a hint for those who do have access to political articles. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.244.78.63 (talk) 23:50, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
I suspect there's room for a rewrite of the ending, and if there is a RS from which a good (and fairly politically neutral) summary of Whitlam's career can be gotten, it's worth including.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:54, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

TFA discussion about Gough Whitlam[edit]

Editors may be interested in a discussion at Wikipedia talk:Today's featured article/requests#Gough_Whitlam. BencherliteTalk 08:44, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

Active in public life[edit]

I was startled to read this in the lede: (Whitlam) remained active in public life well into his nineties. Although his last years were spent in a Sydney retirement home, he still attended his office up to four days a week, until his death on 21 October 2014.

This is not my understanding of Whitlam's later years. Some might like to believe that his formidable intellect never ceased to run at full steam, but from what I hear, his mind pretty much ceased to function a decade ago. He may have appeared in public, but the last time he spoke in public is many years back. --Pete (talk) 19:47, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

I attended a vigorous speech by Gough six years ago, and his mind was certainly functioning then, so I'm a bit dubious about this. The Drover's Wife (talk) 06:46, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
I had it from a devoted fan of his, a journalist, a little after that time. Reading the refs in the article, Michelle Grattan talks about him attending his office three times a week a few years back, and MG is always impeccable. A decade may be pushing it, but it's been a while since he spoke in public, and I doubt we'll get a source now that will call him non compos. --Pete (talk) 06:51, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
The "a few years back" is pretty crucial there. Unless we have a source saying he was attending it more recently, we should stick to Grattan and not say more about the state of his mind unless there are sources for that too. The Drover's Wife (talk) 07:25, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
I think, now that he is one with the ages, that we can de-emphasise his old age activities, as the article starts to take on a historical view, of a figure past. All the ongoing coverage should be a help in that. We just have to say now he stayed active and involved into old age, say, in the lede, and we can shorten somewhat the coverage in the body.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:51, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
That sounds reasonable., so long as it is sourced. BLP no longer applies, of course, but there are many stories coming out now, and likely more to follow. I don't know how encyclopaedic it is, but Malcolm Fraser's tales of the pair letting go of past differences and joining for immediate causes and meetings and "natters" is delightful. "Maintain the rage," he may once have said, but I trust that he did not fill himself with personal anger into his old age. --Pete (talk) 17:53, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
Of course sourced. If you have links to a few favourite, please feel free to link in your response.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:21, 22 October 2014 (UTC)
According to this, he was "continuing to attend his office most days". That was as at his 98th birthday in July 2014, only 3 months ago. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 23:52, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
And from Tony Whitlam's lips at Gough's memorial service today: "He continued to attend his office 4 days a week until only a couple of months ago" (as verbatim as I can remember). -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 06:39, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
I heard Barry Jones say almost exactly the same thing to Phillip Adams shortly after Gough's death. That may well be documented in a transcript of Late Night Live. HiLo48 (talk) 07:56, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Religion[edit]

He's adding religion to Infoboxes all over the place for Australian pollies who don't have it listed yet. In Gough Whitlam's case, he added that Gough was agnostic. I reverted, because agnosticism is not a religion. Andreas11213 reverted back, saying it exists in other articles. WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS means this is not a valid reason, but this is Andreas11213. I await his response. HiLo48 (talk) 09:59, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

It may not be a religion, but it is better to say he was an Agnostic than to not mention religion at all. Maybe instead of simply saying Agnosticism, it could say, None, Agnostic. Also, no need to be so rude. Andreas11213 (talk) 21:35, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
I will be rude about someone who, just as on many occasions in the past, demonstrates that he has no idea how or willingness to have a discussion. Have a read of WP:BRD. (I know you been told to look there before.) You do not simply write a single comment, then revert again. THAT is rude! And it is not a conversation. "Agnostic" isn't a religion. "None" isn't a religion. Perhaps in countries where religion really matters, it might be appropriate to say something, but we both know that, in Australia, a politician's religion is not important to the electorate. Please revert yourself, and stop pushing a POV, again. Oh, and, again as you have been told numerous times in the past, USE EDIT SUMMARIES! HiLo48 (talk) 22:38, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
I have given Andreas a day. Still no discussion. "None" isn't a religion. I have removed it. HiLo48 (talk) 10:09, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Whitlam was agnostic. He grew up in a practicing Baptist family. He was continually hassled by party hacks to convert to Catholicism. He was already married, so the hacks did not humbug him in the same way they humbuged Don Dunstan, and others. HiLo48 appears to be slagging off at others who are adding useful info. HiLo48 must be a party hack. ***This is a talk page HILO48.*** — Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.244.78.63 (talk) 23:58, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

I have no problem with well sourced information about Whitlam's religious background and position being included in the article. My concern is with attempts to summarise his complex position in simplistic ways in the Infobox. HiLo48 (talk) 00:18, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Yes. It is too complex and nuanced to add simplistic tags like "agnostic" to infoboxes. His son Tony addressed this issue specifically in his speech at Whitlam's memorial, saying that his father became an Anglican after beginning as a Presbyterian; that he was well educated and informed religiously; that he taught his children this aspect of their cultural heritage during long journeys in the car; and that he often used Biblical references in his speeches. His wife's memorial service was held in St James' Church, Sydney in 2012. (See Margaret's memorial service). The most accurate, as informed by the facts and evidence, would be to write "Anglican". Whiteghost.ink (talk) 11:02, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Whitlam saw his dismissal from office as a coup[edit]

I searched this article for the word "coup", and was surprised to find that it does not appear. This indicates that the article has a POV problem. NPOV requires that "all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic" be represented by an article. I would say that The Australian is a RS. Here is what it has to say on this subject:

Gough Whitlam always saw his dismissal from office by the governor-general, Sir John Kerr, on ­November 11, 1975, as a coup conceived in secret and executed by ambush.
The recent discovery of new documents by The Australian’s Paul Kelly and this writer, long after the dramatic event, bolsters this view. Moreover, they shed new light on Australia’s greatest political crisis.
Whitlam’s bitterness was not principally directed at opposition leader Malcolm Fraser — who blocked passage of the budget in the Senate — but at the collaboration between Kerr and chief justice Sir Garfield Barwick.

An op-ed by John Pilger in The Guardian centers around an aspect of Whitlam's removal from office that the Australian does not consider. The WP policy on opinion pieces is that

Editorial commentary, analysis and opinion pieces, whether written by the editors of the publication (editorials) or outside authors (op-eds) are reliable primary sources for statements attributed to that editor or author, but are rarely reliable for statements of fact.

Pilger is a well known journalist and the Guardian is one of the most prominent Anglophone newspapers, so the POV that Pilger expresses is significant.

The British-American coup that ended Australian independence

In 1975 prime minister Gough Whitlam, who has died this week, dared to try to assert his country’s autonomy. The CIA and MI6 made sure he paid the price.

I am not Australian and know very little about Australian history, so I do not intend to make significant edits to this article. I think there is no doubt that the article should discuss at some length (more than just a single sentence) Whitlam's view of his dismissal. Some editors may be tempted to dismiss Pilger's account of the involvement of American and British intelligence agencies in the coup as a "conspiaracy theory", but the "Praise and criticism" section of WP's Pilger article gives no hint that he is a conspiracy theorist, so I think that the article should represent not just Whitlam's own point of view, but also Pilger's. Pilger wrote a book on the subject, which was published in 1992. – Herzen (talk) 22:34, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

I await with anticipation (and expected amusement) comments from conservatives here about that evil leftie Pilger. (Please note deliberate irony in that statement.) HiLo48 (talk) 22:43, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
There is greater detail in 1975 Australian constitutional crisis on some of those things.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:57, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I glanced through that, but the word "coup" doesn't appear in it, either. I don't have the energy to read through these two articles at the moment; this constitutional crisis sounds pretty complicated. I just wanted two point out that a story and an op-ed appeared in WP:RS in the past two days which are relevant to these articles. While I'm at it, Here's another piece by Pilger on the same subject from March. It's from what looks like a blog though, so it would be harder to defend it's use as a source.
On a side note, I just glanced at the Governor-General of Australia, which is what John Kerr was, and I see that this office is "the representative in the Australian jurisdiction of the Australian monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II)". So a bureaucrat removed the democratically elected prime minister of Australia from office by virtue of that bureaucrats being the representative of the Queen. I wonder how they teach this in Australian high schools… Oh wait, I can guess from the way Wikipedia presents this. It was a "constitutional crisis", not the undermining of democracy. If one reads these articles closely, they both seem to tip-toe around the word "coup". The term "crisis" leaves out how the crisis was resolved: by the removal of a democratically elected leader of a country by means of what Pilger calls "archaic vice-regal “reserve powers”." I've noticed from articles about other countries that Wikipedia has a tendency to shy away from uncomfortable truths. The lead notes that Whitlam was "controversially dismissed", but doesn't spell out why his dismissal was controversial. – Herzen (talk) 23:41, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
I would not have a clue how they teach this in Australian high schools as a proud alumnus of Pascack Valley High School, Hillsdale, New Jersey and I did most of the writing. But I think coup would be a POV view from which many would dissent. The game was played by the rules. Kerr exercised a power constitutionally given to him, and the people got to decide immediately thereafter. Kerr may have broken a number of conventions regarding the governor-general's role, but what he did was squarely within his authority and the election legitimate. As to whether it was necessary, wise, called for, etc., well, everyone has an opinion, including those who called it a coup. We could call it a coup in a quote, I suppose, attributed to the person who thinks so, but I think both articles make it very clear that there were many who did not think Kerr's action legitimate and protested against it.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:53, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Herzen - feel free to get more involved here if you wish. The days of the Whitlam government were certainly some of the most dramatic in Australian political history. A lot of venom was spent on the events surrounding the dismissal, and the sentiment has not totally died away. Since Gough's death on Tuesday I have heard different commentators declare him to have been the greatest Australian PM ever, and the worst ever. That things that strongly negative are said about a person who has just died shows you the depth of feeling. Those who see him as the "worst ever" naturally think that his dismissal was a good thing, no matter how it happened. Some such people are editors here. What you see in the article is probably the best we will get on the balance front. Also, I, and I think most Australians, tend to associate the word "coup" with guns. There were no guns involved. While that word was definitely used by some politicians at the time, it's not part of the common language used by Australians now when discussing the dismissal. HiLo48 (talk) 00:56, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
@Wehwalt: @HiLo48: I actually think it would be disrespectful of Whitlam's memory not to mention that he thought his dismissal was a coup. I know enough about how the word is used in Wikipedia (never for a government the USG suupports) from the Ukrainian articles, which call the February coup in Kiev a "revolution", and a democratic one at that. (I just looked up the word "coup" in the Concise OED, and HiLo48 is right, the OED says "violent". My recollection was that it said "especially a violent one".) It is unfortunate that that article from The Australian doesn't give a direct quote of a full sentence in which Whitlam says that his dismissal was a coup. So I guess this is going nowhere unless I can find a source that does that. – Herzen (talk) 01:48, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
ABC Classic FM yesterday replayed his 1997 hour-long interview with Margaret Throsby, in which he described it as a coup, and I've heard him say it more recently than that. But it's a funny sort of coup where the beneficiary (Fraser) and the victim remain on good terms and even campaign together on republican issues. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 02:04, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Yes, though I would also hope to want to know when he said it. He toned down the rhetoric later on, though never the venom.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:11, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
@Wehwalt: An answer is provided by one of the bloggers about Pilger's Guardian article today. One of the extensive comments by garymcduff (10:05 pm) ends: "Whitlam then said, 'The coup on 11 November prevented that answer being given.' (Hansard, May 4, 1977)" Hansard online goes back only to 1981, but this could be checked in print. Wikiain (talk) 03:17, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
I think we can take it he said it. I have no objection to including the sentence in the article.--Wehwalt (talk) 03:25, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
PS - I have checked in print and the quotation "The coup on 11 November prevented that answer being given." is correct. Whitlam is arguing intensively with Fraser, so the word "coup" may have been used with some force. Whitlam goes on to emphasise that, as PM, he came to know more about CIA activity in Australia than he will ever be able to reveal (bound by Executive Council secrecy) "even if it would be to my own advantage". Gough Whitlam, Leader of the Opposition (4 May 1977). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) 105. Commonwealth of Australia: House of Representatives. p. 1522.  Wikiain (talk) 03:45, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
Looking at Pilger's piece, he says, A deputy director of the CIA said: “Kerr did what he was told to do.”. By whom? The Queen? There is not a skerrick of evidence for this. The Governor-General does not take orders from the Queen, and this was made clear at the time. MI6 or the CIA? How - and more particularly, why? From Kerr's point of view this made no sense. The UK or the USA couldn't guarantee his position, and Paul Kelly makes it quite clear in his book, November 1975, that Kerr was concerned about his position. Fraser's actions needed no outside instructions - he had set up the Supply crisis months previously when the Coalition had decided to act upon its control of the Senate to force Whitlam to an election which Whitlam would surely lose. Again, Kelly's book gives the details.
Pilger is just making stuff up, or repeating gossip. If he cares to make public the documents he mentions, that would be something, but he hasn't and his credibility is therefore in question.
As for the word "coup", Whitlam is on record as using it to describe the events.[7] A little dramatic, to be sure, but that was Whitlam's way, and it is apposite to use it here as an indication of the flavour of the man. --Pete (talk) 06:25, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
@Skyring: Ah, nice. The key sentence is this:
The Governor-General then mounted a time-tabled operation, for which the phrase “constitutional coup d’état” seems a useful description.
Perhaps WP can give a direct quotation of the whole paragraph from which that sentence came. In any case, I think it should use the whole phrase "constitutional coup d’état". In the same way, Americans use the term "judicial coup" for the theft of the 2000 election, not simply "coup". – Herzen (talk) 17:06, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
It was Whitlam's somewhat melodramatic description. Looking at Bramston's piece, which you quote, he refers again to Kerr's fear of being sacked and the warning from the Queen that if advised to remove Kerr she would do so. There was a protocol in place - so I'm informed by one of the participants in the affair - to ensure that any such advice would need to be written and delivered by hand, so Kerr always had a day up his sleeve, but as Bramston notes, he was afraid that such advice had already been given, possibly sparked by news of his consultations with Barwick and others reaching Whitlam. Kerr's official schedule included the Barwick meeting and was a matter of public record, published in The Canberra Times. The definitive account of the dismissal remain's Paul Kelly's 1995 book November 1975 and I encourage you (and any other editors) to read it. Kelly is scathing on Kerr's ambush of Whitlam simply because he was worried about keeping his own plum job, and Whitlam's comments about a coup d'etat accurately reflect his own feelings on the matter.
Having said that, I'm not seeing any obvious place to include Whitlam's comments in the article. Where would you put them? --Pete (talk) 17:52, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
@Skyring: Thank you for asking. In the lede, one could add to the last sentence of the first paragraph, "Whitlam remains the only Australian Prime Minister to have his commission terminated in that manner" the clause "and he never stopped considering this termination to have been a "constitutional coup d’état" [or just "coup": that's what Whitlam calls it himself, twice, in his address]. But there would probably be too much objection to putting this in the first paragraph, although I think that's where it best fits in the lede myself. The other obvious place in the lede for this clause is at the very end, with "his termination" substituted" for "this termination".
To get the whole paragraph I quoted above in (which by the way seems to be from Donald Horne's book; I don't know who this Bramston you refer to is), the logical place to put it would be the "Later years and death" section. The first sentence of the third paragraph reads: "John Kerr died in 1991; he and Whitlam never reconciled. Then there's some less interesting stuff. At the end of the paragraph, one could add: "Whitlam never lost his bitterness over how he was dismissed/removed from office. In 1995, in an address given twenty-five years after the crisis, he approvingly cited the first book about the political/constitutional crisis, by Donald Horne, who described the crux of the crisis thus:" [quote I gave above, probably adding the paragraph above it].
So, I think this can be done, without making it too contentious. Consensus would be needed to put anything in the lede. I think that it is entirely appropriate for an article about an influential politician to report what this politician thought about the central event in his career. I haven't read through all of Whitlam's address; it's possible something else from that could be used instead. (I just searched for the word "coup".) As for the Pilger stuff, I guess that that is dead in the water. – Herzen (talk) 22:16, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I don't know about a paragraph, especially since Whitlam didn't say it himself. A sentence or even the key phrase, if the latter, you can probably avoid the internal credit to Horne. What's wrong with saying Whitlam called it a "constitutional coup d'etat"? I think it sums it up well and is the sort of phrasing Whitlam did a lot of. In the later years and death. It could be inserted after the sentence about never reconciling with Kerr. Thus, we see his continued anger on the one side, then the willingness to build a relationship with Fraser.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:43, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Sounds like a good solution to me. One could possibly put in more of Whitlam's and/or Horne's (or the other author's you mentioned) views into the Constitutional Crisis article at some point. – Herzen (talk) 23:17, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done, with this edit. – Herzen (talk) 22:04, 25 October 2014 (UTC)
  • So, Pilger claims Whitlam was overthrown by the CIA and MI6 - therefore it must be true. Two things: Firstly, Pilger has lived in Britain since 1962, and wasn't in Australia - so it isn't the case of him "being there". Secondly, Pilger thinks that the CIA run everything.

The real reason why there’s all this CIA/MI6 talk, and all this carrying on about the Queen (who wasn’t involved) etc is because people who supported Whitlam want to forget the fact that the ALP was slaughtered in the elections. The comments on that Guardian article are incredible, particularly coming from people who believe they’re “informed”. One idiot claims that Fraser was kept as “caretaker Prime Minister” for a year! In fact Whitlam was sacked on 11th November, and the election was held on 13th December. That’s about 4 ½ weeks! What is more, Pilger makes the claim that Whitlam was about to make a speech to Parliament “exposing” the CIA that very day. Really? So why not do it? The man remained in Parliament for another 2 years as Opposition leader too. Why not make this speech then? This is either a figment of Pilger’s imagination, or (and this is typical Pilger) has been so grossly exaggerated that it is all but a fantasy. Firstly, let’s look at coups the CIA has been involved in (it’s an “involvement” BTW as most of the work is done by local collaborators). Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Chile 1973, and Indonesia 1965. In all these cases, they got a “strong man” (the CIA seems to like this idea) come in. People like Suharto and Pinochet. In Australia what happened was that there was an election, in which Whitlam could have returned to power if he’d had public support. The second point is that US involvement in them is now quite well known, and we have interviews with people who were actually involved (not “unnamed people” or some low level clerk who says he read something – and this justifies him selling top secret information to the USSR). We even know of Peter Wright’s efforts against Harold Wilson (whom he believed was a Soviet agent). But still a web of secrecy around the plot to remove Whitlam. Sorry, I don’t see it as credible.

As I see it, the reality is this. Whitlam ended 23 years in the political wilderness for the ALP – that’s an immensely long time. It was over in 3 years. Kerr’s actions (really Fraser’s) cut it short by 18 months. What is more, people kid themselves (seriously, Whitlam’s government had lost its credibility by the start of 1975) that Whitlam could somehow have “turned it around” in the 18 months to mid-77 and somehow stayed in after that. There is also a tendency to go on about the Dismissal as “strike against democracy” to avoid confronting the fact that the ALP was smashed in the election, despite the fact that the supply crisis and Dismissal had probably increased its vote by about 10 percentage points. There was another election 2 years later, and Whitlam suffered an even worse defeat. For the CIA to have somehow been behind it, not only would the likes of Fraser have had to be in their pay (Kerr could not have done anything without the supply crisis), but so would have much of the union leadership, Clyde Cameron, Jim Cairns, Rex Connor, Khemlani, need I go on? Pilger and people like him didn’t like the Hawke Government, and lamented the “reformist Whitlam years”.

The truth is that Whitlam was never EVER regarded by Labor faithful as the best PM. Curtin ALWAYS got that title, with Chifley in 2nd place. No doubt Fisher would rate higher too amongst those aware of him, and Hawke too in the eyes of most. Whitlam put a lot of money in the arts, and represents an example to the upper middle class academic radical type of person, which is partly why he is so popular amongst the cultural elite. But I’ve long noticed they tend to attribute to him things which he never really did, or only had a minor part in. For one, virtually all the troops in Vietnam had left a year before he was elected, including all of the conscripts. Even the training group was slated to leave, and their withdrawal in mid-January was at roughly the time the last US troops left. So Whitlam’s role in withdrawing from Vietnam was very minor. He wasn’t very politically active in the debate about the war anyway. His visit to China was important in Australian politics, but had little importance internationally. Kissinger was actually there at the time negotiating Nixon’s visit. Many western countries (including Britain, France and Canada) had already recognized China. In fact in 1971 China was admitted to the UN. The US didn’t oppose that, they only wanted Taiwan to remain as well. Some claim he introduced Medicare – that was actually the Hawke Government in 1983. Medibank was different. They also, falsely, claim he abolished appeals to the Privy Council (all he did was refuse membership), it was the Australia Acts of 1986 which effectively did this. They also claim he “decriminalized homosexuality” – which was actually a state law, and was done on a state by state basis, long after his time. They also throw in “revaluing the dollar” which he did do as some sort of achievement. It actually helped start the long decline in Australian manufacturing. I’m really amazed by this as his government did push through a lot of things: legal aid, the Aboriginal Legal Service, abolition of University Fees, etc. but they didn’t rate a mention in Faulkner’s hagiography in 2005.

Now we have people claiming he gave Women the vote (they had it more than a decade before his birth) and other ridiculous claims. The “legend” of Whitlam has less and less resemblance to the actual PM. The legend of his “martyrdom” is part of it. Wikipedia shouldn’t indulge in this, as it should be a place where people can sort out the reality from the legend. Whitlam was a major, but flawed, figure. His government wasn’t his personal domain either, but made up of many individuals, quite a few of whom despised him.

Getting off topic, but it's no surprise that a Faulkner hagiography wouldn't mention those things at the end - they're all the things that Labor since has either abolished or very heavily slashed funding to, and tends to be embarrassed to talk about even in this context with Whitlam. The Drover's Wife (talk) 10:12, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Drifting into discussion of the topic, rather than how to improve the article. One of the things I first did when I began editing this article some years ago was to remove some of the myths. Whitlam didn't bring the troops home from Vietnam, for example. That was McMahon. I think that there may be some tendency to lionise Whitlam and to foster myth-making here, and we should guard against this sort of thing creeping into the article. --Pete (talk) 16:34, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Heritage matters[edit]

Why do we mention the ownership and possible demolition of Whitlam's birthplace? I'm not aware of any other PM's birthplace being given a paragraph. This smacks of WP being used as a newspaper. His death is significant, but the ownership and fate of his birthplace is not encyclopaedic. IMHO. --Pete (talk) 06:33, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

I thought it was significant given the house he was born in was scheduled to be destroyed on the very day he died. Also, state government ministers don't get involved in protecting the birth places of ordinary citizens. Whitlam was notable, and these events this week make his home notable, if it wasn't already. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 07:24, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

I think it's only here because there was a news article about it. It's odd timing that the demolition was due to happen as Whitlam dies, but that's the size of it.

Heritage preservation of Prime Ministers' former houses is an issue for pretty much every one of them who's old enough and significant enough for that to happen. I don't see why this would be less notable for Whitlam. The Drover's Wife (talk) 10:12, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
It isn't notable for any other former Prime Minister that I can see. Not in Wikipedia. We just don't mention these things. The house itself has no significance beyond a meaningless coincidence. It isn't anything special, it's not a library or museum. If it ever becomes something like this, then we can include it, but I'm not seeing anything encyclopaedic about it. Barton, Deakin, Menzies, Chifley - no mentions here, though Menzies apparently has a "Jeparit Spire" in the town of his birth. --Pete (talk) 16:25, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
I think you're taking this out of context. Nowhere have I suggested we create an article about Gough's or any other former PM's birth home. There are lots and lots of things we give attention to in this article that would never merit an article of their own: his war service, for example. While his RAAF service is not notable in its own right, it is certainly worthy of mention in the context of his life. The Kew home made The Age front page three days running (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday), and the prominence given to the matter by Matthew Guy firstly saying his hands were tied and then later the very same day applying for an interim protection order, which was quickly granted, say this is also worthy of mention.
Here is Thursday's Fairfax article, which mentions the heritage overlays that already exist on the homes of Menzies, Fraser, Curtin and Bruce. If we don't mention these in their respective articles, it's high time we did. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 23:58, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
What he said. Also, Curtin's house already has a Wikipedia article, and Chifley's house has been a museum for donkey's years and should it if it doesn't already. The Drover's Wife (talk) 01:18, 25 October 2014 (UTC)
See Residence of John Curtin. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 02:30, 25 October 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the information. I don't anyone suggested having an article about the house. My opinion is that a paragraph is too much. It's not special beyond the "grandfather's clock" coïncidence. Curtin's house is one where he lived as a politician, practising his speeches on the verandah and was deemed significant enough for government purchase on that basis. Chifley's house is a museum. In both cases, they are the adult homes, not birthplaces. Whitlam has been a Labor legend for decades now - lauded for his ability to defeat McMahon - but his birthplace was so unspecial that it was in private hands, slated for demolition. It's suddenly notable now, a day after it wasn't???? --Pete (talk) 06:17, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
The Minister for Planning thought so. HiLo48 (talk) 06:23, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Without having seen this discussion, I've tweaked this section to cover all memorials to Whitlam, and trimmed the material about the house (whose heritage value seems dubious to be frank given that he only lived there for his first 8 months...). Nick-D (talk) 03:34, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

I guess ... but there's not much there there yet. I suspect it will grow, and it may be wise to spin it out into its own article at some stage. Really, the site most associated with Whitlam, in my view, is a certain spot on the steps of the Old Parliament House.--Wehwalt (talk) 13:47, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
You never know ... his memorial service is set for 5 November. Wikiain (talk) 22:30, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
Why would the PM's birthplace be an improper topic for an article? See Category:Presidential homes in the United States; do American authors really publish tons and tons more about American leaders than Australian authors do about theirs? Nyttend (talk) 14:00, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Memorials section[edit]

There are two parks named for Gough Whitlam in New South Wales: Earlwood http://aviewofsydney.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/gough-whitlam-park-earlwood.html http://www.canterbury.nsw.gov.au/Discover/Parks-sporting-community-facilities/Parks-Sporting-Fields/Gough-Whitlam-Park and Busby http://www.aplay.com.au/projects/whitlam-park-busby-nsw/

Also, next to the old Fitzroy Town Hall (now city of Yarra) there is Whitlam Park: http://yarracityarts.com.au/2014/03/14/public-artwork-proposed-whitlam-park/ http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/vhd/heritagevic#detail_places;94059

In October or before (2014) a large "It's Time" mural went up on the side of Fitzroy's Whitlam Park, I have made a picture of it myself:

Gough Whitlam Place, Fitzroy, Melbourne October 2014

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gough_Whitlam_-_Its_Time_-_Whitlam_Park_or_Place.jpg Star A Star (talk) 06:42, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Intro capitalisation[edit]

Why is it always various forms of "dismissal", but never "Dismissal"? For example, circumstances of his dismissal; why not circumstances of the Dismissal? Nyttend (talk) 13:55, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ McHugh, James T.; James S. Pacy (2001). Diplomats without a country: Baltic diplomacy, international law, and the Cold War. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 144. ISBN 9780313318788.