Gough Whitlam's (somewhat) tumultuous years

On Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 10:35 pm, "Stephen Williamson" wrote:

Subject: Gough Whitlam's passing

Hi all

Not sure how many of you saw this comment re Gough Whitlam’s passing at the fine old age of 98. His father, Fred, incidentally was solicitor-general for Australia in Canberra.

Hawke government minister Barry Cohen asked Gough on one occasion how he might react when he met his maker. “You can be certain of one thing,” Whitlam responded, “I shall treat him as an equal.” That was typical of a humour, which, like much of the rest of his style and behaviour, inspired loathing and deep affection in roughly equal proportions. If to many it was a sign of his arrogance, to others, including those who knew him, it epitomised his fondness for sending himself up.

Blessings :-) Steve

From: Tony McLennan
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 3:06 PM

Hello Steve,

His comment seems to suggest that he was expecting to meet God one day.

Who knows, he, Gough, may have come to repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus.

Blessings to you, brother.

Tony McLennan

From: Stephen Williamson
Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 1:45 PM
Subject: Gough's reign :-) further thoughts

Hi all

Apparently, many agree that the major catalyst for John Kerr’s double dissolution of the Whitlam government in October 1975, was the Khemlani loans debacle in late 1974.

Mr Whitlam was spending money hand over fist, and looking for loans to help finance it. Businesses were struggling, the government had recently brought in 4 weeks annual leave (instead of 3 weeks) for federal employees, he was introducing free Universities, free Medicare, very popular with younger voters, (and we all take it for granted, somewhat, now), 17½% leave loading for 4 weeks annual leave (equivalent to 70% of a week’s wages every year for every employee), well every union in every state in Australia wanted those same benefits, regardless of the inflation in prices and wages that was going to pay for it all, wages (and tax payable) tripling between 1966 and 1976.

So, small (and medium) businesses were failing everywhere. Stagflation it was called, prices go up heaps, wages go up heaps by union demand, interest rates were around 17%, heaps of people out of work, I so remember that time, I was in my early twenties, actually in 1974-1975 was the time I was filled with the Holy Spirit, and met dear friend Tony McLennan, but yep, it was a really tough time for small businesses all right.

But coming back to the Khemlani affair, he was a Pakistani chap who promised Whitlam’s minerals minister access to $4 billion in Arabic petrodollars at about 7% interest (that’s 40 billion dollars in today’s money) and really cheap interest over 20 years so Gough and his government could nationalize Australia’s mining industry.

He said he had secret backers, numerous sheiks, with squadrillions of cheap cash. I think he wanted a fairly high commission though, 1% or more or something. Both Scotland Yard and the US feds said it was most likely “funny money”, i.e. once Khemlani had a firm commitment, he could then go chasing around for the money, and spinning the story, until the loan almost definitely fell through, at which point he would insist on being paid the commission.

And if that was unforthcoming, selling the obviously high-profile story to the highest media bidder with all sorts of sleazy details, definitely undermining the government. A form of blackmail.

As it started to become obvious that Khemlani was indeed a charlatan, in 1975 Gough switched then sacked his treasurer and sacked his minerals minister, thus protecting himself. Yes, a lot of blood on the waters. After Fraser blocked the budget in the senate in late 1975, and it looked like heaps of government employees would no longer get paid until the budget passed, Governor-General Kerr did the only responsible thing, by insisting on a double dissolution. And the Australian voters let their “displeasure” be known, as Labour were massively defeated. See a detailed timeline below, based on published events. But Gough remained leader, yes, he was quite a character. Ten years I think he was leader all up, a record for a Labour Party PM, they don’t seem to last long.

But time heals many wounds.

Blessings all Steve

From: Tony McLennan
Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 4:27 PM

Hi Steve,

A wonderful synopsis. I remember arriving home one sunny afternoon in Townsville and as I got out of the car my neighbour, also an Army Officer, said:

“Did you hear the latest …? Kerr’s sacked Whitlam!”

Time stood still for a moment ….



Tony McLennan

Timeline of The Dismissal

Labor believed it had a chance of winning the election, and that the dismissal would be an electoral asset for them. However, some Labor strategists believed the party was heading for a disaster, with few economic accomplishments to point to and an electorate whose emotions would have cooled before polling day.

Polls were released at the end of the first week of campaigning, and showed a nine-point swing against Labor. Whitlam's campaign did not believe it at first, but additional polling made it clear that the electorate was turning against the ALP. The Coalition attacked Labor for the economic conditions, and released television commercials "The Three Dark Years" showing images from the Whitlam government scandals.

Nonetheless, Whitlam, who began campaigning almost immediately after the dismissal, was met with huge crowds wherever he went, 30,000 people overspilled the Sydney Domain for the official campaign launch on 24 November.

During the campaign, the Kerrs purchased a Sydney apartment, as Sir John was prepared to resign in the event that the ALP triumphed. In the 13 December election, the Coalition won a record victory, with 91 seats in the House of Representatives to the ALP's 36 and a 35–27 majority in the expanded Senate.

** End of article