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RIP Gough Whitlam (1916-2014)

Vale Gough Whitlam, former Australian prime minister and hero, not only of Australia, but to all true progressives everywhere, who died this morning aged 98.

After decades of regressive, sclerotic conservative governments holding Australia in hiatus as a permanent provincial backwater, Gough Whitlam rescued Australia in 1972 and brought countless reforms to advance the nation in virtually every area of Australian life.

Whitlam Government changes to public health, Indigenous land rights, social security, higher education, Australian identity and foreign affairs – amongst countless others – have left deep and lasting impressions upon the Australian way of life, quality of life and the way we view ourselves and the world.

After a sinister plot by his political foes, assisted by foreign actors, Gough Whitlam was removed from office in a virtual coup in 1975. Although his premature exit from power left many of his aspirations for the nation unfulfilled, Gough did not take the path of vengeance or self-pity, but continued practicing tolerance and treading the noble path of democracy for all his remaining days.

An incredible orator, a brilliant mind, an inspiration for the masses, Gough Whitlam was a leader of stunning charisma, ability and vision. Independent Australia mourns the sad passing of this great Australian — the like of which we may never see again.

Gough Whitlam pours earth into the hands Vincent Lingiari in 1975 at the handing back ceremony for Wave Hill Station to the Gurindji (Image via artgallery.nsw.gov.au)

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