Gough Whitlam - Australia's Greatest Prime Minister?
Former Prime Minsiter Gough Whitlam would have turned 100 today.
He may have been PM for just under three years (Dec 1972 - Nov 1975), but his influence on current Australian culture still reverberates today.
Was he Australia's greatest ever Prime Minister?
Take a read though his this list of some of his major accomplishments and tell us your thoughts:
Free medical care
Gough Whitlam created Medibank as a key policy proposal in 1972. It gave Australians free access to hospitals and a range of medical services. The heart of the proposals are now seen in the scheme known as Medicare.
Scrapping university fees for a generation of students
Gough Whitlam removed fees for universities in 1974 seeing a huge increase in the number of Australians receiving tertiary education.
Aboriginal land rights
Gough Whitlam returned the traditional lands of the Gurindji people to Vincent Lingiari in 1975. He poured the red dirt into his hands signaling the returning of the Wave Hill Station.
The Racial Discrimination Act
Gough Whitlam enacted the Racial Discrimination Act in 1975, making it illegal to discriminate in Australia based on ethnicity or country of origin.
A diplomatic relationship with China
Gough Whitlam was the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China, with Prime Minister Abbott crediting him with creating the modern relationship.
Women in power
Gough Whitlam was the first world leader to appoint a dedicated adviser for women’s affairs, when he gave the position to Elizabeth Reid in 1973.
Ending Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War
Gough Whitlam announced all Australian troops would be withdrawn and by 1973 he officially ended involvement in the Vietnam War.
Gough Whitlam brought an end to conscription in the early days of his government and those who had been jailed for refusing to join the army were released.
Ending the death penalty
Gough Whitlam abolished the death penalty for federal crimes in 1972 and it hasn’t been back since.
Gough Whitlam created the Australian Legal Aid Office in 1973 with an office in each state in the country providing state money for those who need legal representation.
The Australian national anthem
Gough Whitlam announced a national competition for a new anthem to replace “God Save The Queen” in 1972. After public polls and votes, “Advance Australia Fair” became the new anthem in 1984.
The Order of Australia
Gough Whitlam created the system of national decorations known as the “Order of Australia” in 1975, seeing the scrapping of the old titles of “Knights” and “Dames”. Of course the imperial titles were re-instituted by the current Abbott Government this year.
Protected environmental sites
Gough Whitlam ratified the World Heritage Convention in 1974 which gave the government the power to protect environmental sites designated significant by UNESCO.
Lowering the voting to 18
Gough Whitlam lead the charge to lower the voting age to 18, which was brought about in 1973.