Page 4168 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

I remind members opposite that, having withdrawn the Prime Minister’s commission, the Governor-General did, as required, appoint a caretaker Prime Minister on the twin conditions that he immediately pass supply in the Senate and advise a double dissolution to allow a general election as soon as possible. Those are the facts. Amidst all the cries of ridicule, shame and revisionism, nothing will change those facts as they stand.

As an almost poetic sequel, when the people passed their judgment there was an overwhelming repudiation of the Whitlam-led ALP, the bit that seems to have been forgotten by many journalists in recent days. It was absolutely clear that Labor, under Whitlam, had lost the entire confidence of this nation.

The Whitlam record became one of disaster, deceit and international embarrassment. It is easy to see why, during the time of his government, Mr Whitlam did not want a general election. His polling must have shown that he would be slaughtered by the electorate, and indeed he was. Those of us who were around and lived through that process saw the enormous damage that was inflicted on this country in an incredibly short period. But so hungry was he to hang on to power that he tried to govern without supply.

Mr Whitlam was prepared to undermine the very basis of the constitutional system in Australia. He even tried to get his hands on several million petrodollars from a shady moneylender. Who can forget the Khemlani scandal? At home, unemployment had increased over 200 per cent during Mr Whitlam’s term as Prime Minister. Days lost by strikes rose by 180 per cent.

We do not see that mentioned in the nostalgic articles about what happened in November. We do not see mention of the fact that inflation increased from five per cent to 16 per cent per annum or that commonwealth expenditure was out of control, increasing by 20 per cent in 1973-74 and a massive 46 per cent in 1974-75. With such an appalling record, it is no wonder that Mr Whitlam had lost the trust and confidence of the people.

No amount of argument about constitutional technicalities, conspiracy theories or hypothetical defections can ever alter the facts. The Governor-General did what he had to do under the constitution. To break the political deadlock, he let the people decide. As Sir John Kerr remarked a decade later, “There could have been no more democratic result.”

Industrial relations

MR GENTLEMEN (Brindabella) (5.53): I will just bring members back to 2005. Over recent days, Mr Mulcahy has found it useful to ignore the concerns of working families in the ACT and attack the union movement as irrelevant. I suppose it stands to reason that someone who would support the destruction of 100 years of workers’ rights and entitlements would choose to ignore the country’s largest social movement, as it is now and has been since federation.

Mr Mulcahy would have been a little anxious this morning and maybe a little lonely because, whilst he was contemplating his next attack on workers in the ACT, those same workers were heading to the Canberra racecourse in solidarity against the proposed

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .