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Australian Politics, Leadership, Political Leaders, Trish Corry

The Liberal’s attack on Whitlam and Gillard 38 yrs apart: An attack on progressive ideas & a return to mediocrity

gillard gough

Despite the IPA’s urgency for “Abbott to be more like Whitlam” because Whitlam ‘changed Australia, more than any other Prime Minister ever has,’ the IPA’s agenda for Abbott is very different.

In the 1970’s Gough Whitlam was seen as the first progressive Prime Minister, who stood for the people. He stood for workers, battlers, migrants, everyone. He wanted to shift Australia to a more inclusive and progressive society.  

Gough shifted Australia from a stagnant, mediocre nation, to a nation of ideas, progress and voices.

For so many years, the voices of the worker, the battlers and migrants had been silenced, by the collective group of individuals who could manage just fine on their own; whether that be through the privilege of money, position in society, family heritage or education, is neither here nor there. The crux of the what Gough Whitlam did, was to bring more people into this exclusive collective by opening up opportunities, thought a hand up, a fair go for all.  Gough’s vision was to propel the nation forward, through ensuring that individual Australians could achieve enormous success; even if they were in a previously ‘excluded group’ under the Liberals. He wanted every single Australian, to be the best that they could be. 

Gough Whitlam propelled this country forward, and these changes became the status-quo we all accepted and still do:

  • Access for all to Higher Education
  • Needs based funding for schools
  • The beginning of what we know today as Medicare – Medibank
  • National funding of hospitals and community health centres
  • The creation of the single mother’s pension (now parenting payment-single)
  • The handicapped children’s allowance (now known as carer’s payment).
  • Funding community grassroots social welfare organisations and volunteer organisations (now collectively known as ‘the community sector’) who served a need to assist individuals in their communities.
  • Enacted the Social Housing Act for States, which has housed so many Australians from low income/disadvantaged households
  • Outlawed discrimination against Indigenous people
  • Handed back land to Indigenous people
  • Funded legal services for Indigenous people
  • Enacted Human Rights protection through International Acts
  • Funded urban transport projects
  • and connected homes to sewerage – the beginning of the end of the thunderbox

It is well known that Gough Whitlam’s legacy is very vast, therefore, I have only chosen a few for example. To read more go to: The Whitlam Government’s achievements

In the 1970’s, the Liberals, not happy at all with such changes to our society, sought a means to attack this progress and ‘return Australia to its Status Quo – to the mediocre way Australians had lived before under the Liberals.” Through political mechanisms within our system, the LNP stamped their feet and got their own way.

The reason why I have highlighted the above is to me, the correlation between the attack on Julia Gillard and Gough Whitlam.  Why do I see this as a correlation between the two? Because both have the underlying construct of:

Shifting the status-quo to exclusion of groups, the notion that only ‘those who try succeed’, that everyone is equal, and the disadvantaged and unemployed are the burden of society’

In ways that Gough Whitlam shaped Australia, Julia Gillard was also attempting to do so. Policy highlights such as Gonski reforms (needs based funding for education), NDIS (Peace of mind for every Australian, for anyone who has, or might acquire, a disability), A price on Carbon (a leader ahead of many other western countries, now adopting a price on carbon), the Royal Commission into Child Abuse, an attack on Work Choices and the introduction of Fair Work Australia and Modern Awards, the National Broadband Network (which would give fast internet nationwide, including regional & rural), Plain packaging for cigarettes (a leader ahead of other nations wanting to adopt the same) and an apology to all persons affected by forced adoption practices, to name a few.

In fact, the IPA, the right wing think tank of Australia, found Prime Minister Gillard’s progress for Australians, so threatening to the Liberal way of life, they have issued a list to Abbott in 2011, to which he has agreed to implement.

The threat to the Liberal’s right-wing side of politics, that these progressive changes of the Gillard Government would become norm and adopted as the status quo amongst Australians, was a serious concern and action needed to be taken.

Indeed action was taken. The Liberals did not hold the balance of power in the senate, as they did in 1975, so they needed to adopt ways and means of bringing down a progressive and effective Government. They needed to ensure that the Liberals gained power. To do this, they needed to taint the left as corrupt, a shambles and not to be trusted.

The onslaught on Julia Gillard during her Prime Ministership was relentless, astounding, hateful and most of all untruthful.

The right, did not care if Prime Minister Gillard was not a criminal. The fact of the matter is, they had to paint her as a criminal to bring her down. Once the trust of the electorates where broken, through this tactic, they were home and hosed.

The idea behind the IPA’s list of ideas to Abbott is so that reforms could be torn down, as quickly as possible and that a push to the right through Liberal policy can shift the status quo to the hard right. The reasoning behind this, is once this becomes status quo, it will be extremely hard for any left Government in power to shift policy back to the progressive left.

This is summarized in this quote below from John Roskam, James Paterson and Chris Berg of the IPA:

Only radical change that shifts the entire political spectrum, like Gough Whitlam did, has any chance of effecting lasting change. Of course, you don’t have to be from the left of politics to leave lasting change on the political spectrum.

Essentially, the IPA has requested Abbott push the country as far right as possible, so it then becomes adopted by the public as the status quo and becomes normal over time. This is the impetus behind the relentless attacks on the Prime Minister Gillard and her Government.

Now we have a situation where the former Prime Minister has been cleared of all criminal activity. The question is, how did this play in the minds of voters at the election in 2013? How did this sway the votes to the ‘trusted right?’ The question we need to ask ourselves now and in the future, is now we understand the true agenda of the Liberal party, do we vote again in 2016/17 for a progressive Australia, or the Liberals return to mediocrity?

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About trishcorry

I love to discuss Australian Politics. My key areas of interest are Welfare, Disadvantage, emotions in the workplace, organisational behaviour, stigma, leadership, women, unionism. I am pro-worker and anti-conservativism/Liberalism. I am a proud member of the Australian Labor Party and you will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “The Liberal’s attack on Whitlam and Gillard 38 yrs apart: An attack on progressive ideas & a return to mediocrity

  1. I think you’ll find that Labor are right wing.

    Like

    Posted by Mike | November 3, 2014, 12:21 pm
  2. Some 18 months after the event, through the wonders of Facebook and accepting a Friend request from Joanna Rogers, I have finally caught up with your excellent essay. A very fine coverage of two major figures in Australian political history.

    Over a fifty-plus year period of following Australian politics I have learned a very solid rule of thumb to judge the effectiveness of reforming leaders. That is, the more vicious and personal the attacks against them by tory leaders and their media allies, the more threatened the privileged ones feel by their target.

    You have linked to the two most iconic figures who were treated not just viciously by personal attacks, but also anti-democratically by abuses of the political process in constitutional government: anything to hasten their departure from their position of power. We are fortunate that both understood their political mortality and continued their pursuit of reform conscious of the risk but equally conscious of the opportunity and the cost to history of not acting.

    There have been others attacked personally for exactly the same reasons. My favourite (and one of Julia Gillard’s inspirations, along with Gough and Nye Bevan) was Don Dunstan, who was once given the disparaging nickname of Gorgeous Dunny (which I have purloined for online blogs and social media). Don was not taken out too prematurely, having achieved great things in a decade. But it was only because, like Gough, he was so brilliant in media and communications. Most are cut short.

    Think of the bile unleashed on Lionel Murphy, on Dr Cairns and on Paul Keating. It was for much the same reasons. Bob Hawke escaped, partly because he always sought to work ‘with’ the established powers, and perhaps was not seen as such a threat (though he copped a bit in his earlier ACTU career). He was a great consensus man and communicator. Despite the Left not fully trusting him, he does remain a true believer in his own way. And it is excellent the way he has defended the ALP economic legacy in campaigns, and even now, Medicare.

    Ben Chifley was before my adult time, but I’m sure he also had to bear such attacks, especially when he sought to nationalise the banks (doesn’t that look good right now?). He restructured our nation and left it with a brilliant public service (which ironically helped Menzies reign for so long). Earlier in history, E G Theodore was also attacked for much the same reasons.

    You pay a high price for your commitments, but nothing is ever given you.

    Like

    Posted by gorgeousdunny1 | June 19, 2016, 9:46 am

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Trish Corry

trishcorry

trishcorry

I love to discuss Australian Politics. My key areas of interest are Welfare, Disadvantage, emotions in the workplace, organisational behaviour, stigma, leadership, women, unionism. I am pro-worker and anti-conservativism/Liberalism. I am a proud member of the Australian Labor Party and you will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

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