It’s Time – the Whitlam EraThursday, 13 November 2014
▲ Exactly five days earlier Gough Whitlam had been elected Prime Minister with the election slogan ‘It’s Time.’ The photo above is of Whitlam Place in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, a region of Melbourne which definitely would have voted for Whitlam. And it certainly was time, his election brought an end to 23 years of sometimes stifling conservative rule in Australia. A change was well overdue.
Within days – so even before Maureen and I stepped ashore on that remote beach – the Whitlam era had kicked off. Soon conscription had ended, Australian troops were out of Vietnam, new programmes of aid to Australia art (and publishing!) kicked off, sanctions were introduced against apartheid in South Africa. We arrived in what quickly became a new Australia.
The Whitlam era was short-lived, he was out of power – and controversially out of power – in 1975, but the changes he kicked off have continued. This is a different country today and in large part that’s down to Gough Whitlam. He died, at the age of 98, last month. I met Gough once, he told me he loved Lonely Planet guidebooks.