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)


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)


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)


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] (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 (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. (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." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (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)

  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.