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September 29 , 2009

Gough Whitlam


Gough Whitlam, Australias prime minister from 1972 to 1975, presided over a government that promised hope and reform, yet soon lurched into chaos and corruptionprompting Whitlams sensational sacking by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr. His downfall was truly Shakespearian in dimension, an enactment of the truism that character is destiny. Now in his 90s, Whitlam has outlived many of his contemporaries. He is perhaps the best-known of Australias prime ministersbut does this owe more to his flaws than his achievements in office? Indeed, how will Whitlam be remembered? For his few genuine reforms, such as Medicare? Or his deep flaws of character? Michael Sexton, the New South Wales Solicitor-General, who worked in Whitlams government, examines the legacy of Australias most lovedand deridedpolitician.

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