The abolition of consciption.

Australia’s withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.

Free tertiary education

Single mothers pension.

Unemployment benefits.

Sickness benefits.

Equal rights for women.

The recognition of (then) ‘Red’ China.

The establishment of the Australian film industry.

Arts grants and the fostering of Australian artists.

Universal health care (Medi-bank)

Free legal aid.

An end to the ‘cultural cringe’ and the establishment of a national identity of our own rather than the identity of second-class Pom’s, or as the author Trevanian (Dr. Rodney William Whitaker) once wrote; ‘Americans-in-training.’

These are but a few of the raft of reforms implemented by the Whitlam Labor Government – most of them within the first two weeks of taking office.

What a difference to today’s political landscape, where the newly elected government maintains a ‘Cone of Silence’ around its intents and policies and its leader lies low and literally runs away in order to avoid being questioned by the media.

The difference of course is that Whitlam was determined to bring Australia into the 20th century and shake off the stultifying effects of twenty-three years of Conservative governments, while the current government seems determined to drag us back to the 1950s.

Whitlam did this with alacrity, and more to the point was able to do so because the reforms were aimed at giving all Australians – not just the upper middle classes and oligarchs- a better quality of life through a more equal distribution of wealth and resources. In short, a ‘fair go’ for all.

Whatever your opinions on his short term in office, there is no denying the far reaching vision and dynamism of his government – a far cry from today’s mendacious, self-serving, secretive dullards who now govern not in the spirit of ‘a fair go’, but in the spirit of the confrontational and bombastic sentiments expressed in the below cartoon taken from The Bulletin in 1890.

Bulletin 1890‘Now see here my good man, one of us must either go back or else lie down and let the other one walk over him. Now which of us shall it be?’

The other significance of the 11th of November is that it marks the declaration of armistice and the end of the horrors of the First World War, as well as the execution of Ned Kelly in 1880 at the old Melbourne Gaol.

In those times hangmen used ‘the short drop’ – a distance of 6 feet. In many cases this distance was not enough to break the condemned prisoners neck quickly and cleanly, and instead they slowly strangled to death – much in the manner that the low-income earners and unemployed are likely to do over the next three years.


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