Whitlam and the witless


The harsh realities of government proved too great a hurdle for a Labor Party which had spent so many long and bitter years in opposition. Too many of the men who became ministers in that government were too old, too stupid and too embittered from their long walk in the wilderness.

Whitlam had a vision. He could dream the big dreams but he didn’t really know how to manage those around him. Within three years his government had descended into utter chaos. Kerr’s intervention is probably the main reason that the enormous number of Australians who worshipped Gough (let alone the man himself, who never suffered from a lack of self-esteem) have been able to erase completely from their memories the turmoil of ministers getting tied up with a spiv like Khemlani, a notoriously distracted treasurer, sackings, comings and goings, a faltering economy, an overnight 25 per cent cut in tariffs – just to name a few.

Page 74 of Quarterly Essay 9 (2003)

Graham Richardson (Correspondence in response to an article about the Australian Green Party’s prospects)


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