Statement from Greens Leader Christine Milne on the passing of Gough Whitlam
This is a significant moment for Australia as we remember Gough Whitlam and his momentous contribution to our nation. He was Prime Minister for only three years but he swept all before him. We all mourn his passing and celebrate his great life.
He was a larger than life figure whose leadership profoundly changed the nation for the better, forever.
Mr Whitlam made us a progressive nation and put us on the global map. After decades of conservative government, in came Gough.
His passion for social justice, education and the arts was legendary. He improved Australia's humanitarian and cultural standing in the world by ratifying the Human Rights Convention and the World Heritage Convention.
Mr Whitlam was a champion for the environment, establishing the National Parks and Wildlife Service and protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
I remember it keenly, being at university at the time, with so many young people who had lived in fear of being ‘called up' that he ended conscription and completed the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.
Mr Whitlam ended university fees and brought about federal funding on a needs basis for public schools. For the first time it didn't matter how much your family earned, you could access quality education. He brought the Commonwealth into housing and health for the first time.
His significant work on land rights and establishing the Department of Aboriginal Affairs set us on the path to further recognition of Australia's first people.
Internationally, his recognition of China and his visit there was critical to the redefinition of Australia as an Asian nation.
Rest in peace Gough Whitlam. On behalf of the Australian Greens I send our deepest thoughts, sympathies and thanks to the Whitlam family and to all those who knew and loved him.