I couldn't let this pass without commenting on it. One of my political heroes (I only have two), Gough Whitlam, died this morning, aged 98. Gough was prime minister of Australia when I was in my early 20s and did he shake things up! He brought Australia screaming and kicking into the modern world. He implemented indigenous land rights and established the Racial Discrimination Act. He gave us Medibank and universal health care, he abolished university fees (yes, there was a time when it didn't cost anything to go to university in Australia), he introduced environmental protection legislation, no fault divorce and established the Family Court. He stopped conscription and the death penalty. He supported the arts, established Triple J and helped strengthen the Australian film industry. The wonderful group The Whitlams were named for Gough and the campaign song for the 1972 election was the only campaign song to ever enter the pop charts.
All these initiatives sound quite commonplace today but when I was a young woman this new way of thinking and looking at the world was revolutionary. I think many people my age would look back at that time and think the same. Gough and his wife Margaret, who died in 2012, were intelligent, professional people who worked with the working class and the increasingly influential middle class and in doing so, made Australia a better place. I will always be grateful for the new freedoms they brought to me personally and to Australia in general. When I think of 1962 and 1972, that one decade brought about the most amazing changes to how ordinary Australians lived. Gough was a true leader and a great Australian.
RIP Gough. You really made a difference. Thank you.