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The Whitlam Legacy (with Dust jacket)

The Whitlam Legacy (with Dust jacket)

Edited by Troy Bramston


Cover image: Gough Whitlam addresses a crowd outside Parliament House on the day after his government was dismissed, on 12 November 1975.
Source: News Limited © Ross Duncan.

The election of the Whitlam government in 1972 marked a turning point in 20th century Australia. Shaking off the vestiges of two decades of conservative rule, Gough Whitlam brought new ideas, new policies and new people to the task of governing.

Bursting with energy and expectation, the Labor government led a reform revolution in many areas, from education and health to the environment and foreign policy. But alongside the great achievements were great failures and, ultimately, great tragedy when the government was dismissed.

For the first time, Gough Whitlam, ministers, advisers, public servants, party and union insiders provide a unique account of this turbulent period in Australian politics. They reveal what worked and what didn’t, and shed light on the personalities driving the engines of change.

The candid views of insiders are balanced with analysis from journalists and academics. The book also includes new research and previously unpublished photos and archival documents. The Whitlam Legacy provides the definitive account of the government that changed Australia forever.


* Click here for information about The Whitlam Legacy 2015 PAPERBACK


"This book really is a great work of scholarship. It is a primer for anyone interested in politics or interested in carving out a career in politics. To get these people to write about the Whitlam government is a real tribute to Troy Bramston. From now on, nobody will be able to write about the Whitlam government without consulting The Whitlam Legacy." Bob Carr


The Whitlam Legacy in the Paper…

The Whitlam Legacy Launch on TV…

The Whitlam Legacy (Troy Bramston/Contributors) on Radio…

The Whitlam Legacy Alerts…

  • Abbey’s Bookshop: The Whitlam Legacy tops bestseller, Non-Fiction list of the week Click to view...
  • Frank Bongiorno's chapter online, Inside Story: Whitlam, the 1960s and The Program Click to read...


Foreword by Gough Whitlam

Prologue: The Whitlam Ascendancy
       Troy Bramston

Part One – The Whitlam Years and Political Style

Gough Whitlam: In his Father’s Shadow
       Michael Kirby
I was a Teenage Whitlamite
       Bob Carr
Whitlam, the 1960s and The Program
       Frank Bongiorno
The Art of the Matter
       Graham Freudenberg
Hearts and Minds: The Meaning of ‘It’s Time’
       Nick Cater
Gough Whitlam: The Campaigner
       Richard Farmer
Victories, Defeats and Electoral Politics
       Malcolm Mackerras
Whitlam’s Opposition
       Gerard Henderson

Part Two – Managing Government

The Whitlam Government Through the Cabinet Papers
       Troy Bramston
Inside the Prime Minister’s Office
       Evan Williams
A View from the Backbench
       Ralph Willis
The Public Service
       J R Nethercote
Whitlam and the Media
       Eric Walsh
       Rodney Tiffen

Part Three  Policy and the Whitlam Government

Economic Policy
       John O’Mahony
Health Policy
       John Deeble
Education Policy
       Michael Hogan
Social Policy
       Brian Howe
Women of Australia
       Susan Ryan
Environment Policy
       Jeff Angel
Industrial Relations Policy
       Michael Easson
Primary Industry Policy
       John Kerin
Immigration and Multiculturalism
       Mary Kalantzis and Bill Cope
Aboriginal Affairs
       Frank Brennan
It’s Time, the Arts and Cultural Policy
       Patricia Amphlett
Foreign and Defence Policy
       Gordon Bilney
Law Reform and the Constitution
       George Williams

Part Four – The Dismissal

The Dismissal
       Michael Sexton
Sir John Did His Duty
       Peter van Onselen
Media, Politics and The Dismissal
       Leigh Hatcher
The Untold Story of The Dismissal
       Troy Bramston and Paul Kelly

Part Five – Reflections and Assessments

A Personal Perspective
       Kep Enderby
Politics, Policy and Labor in Retrospect
       Moss Cass with Vivien Encel
Papua New Guinea: A Quiet Achievement
       Bill Morrison
Gough Whitlam and Labor Tradition
       Carol Johnson
A View from the Press Gallery
       Geoff Kitney
Gough Whitlam: The Political Singularity
       Barry Jones
The Whitlam Legacy
       Paul Kelly

Epilogue: Whitlam’s True Believers
       Troy Bramston

1. Dismissal Documents
2. The Australian Records Labor’s Rise and Fall
3. The Whitlam Cabinets 1972-75

Chapter Notes

Notes on Contributors



The book’s programmatic attention to political style, media and campaigning; the management (and mismanagement) of government; to views from those in cabinet, those on the backbench and those inside the Prime Minister’s Office; and then to policy is invaluable. Read full review...

James Walter, Australian Journal of Politics and History, Sept 2014

Forty years on. This book tells a tale which is still exhilarating and devastating. Awe inspiring in what it reveals of the extent of policy preparation and shocking in its revelation of the failure to engage the processes to make it happen.
         All entering parliament and/or aspiring to a political career should read this book – and reflect on it in the light of what became of subsequent Labor governments. Read full review...

June R Verrier, Australasian Study of Parliament Group, April 2014

Bramston’s new effort, The Whitlam Legacy, ought to be read consistent with the other milestone books of the period … Bramston has assembled a formidable array of talent as narrators.
         [The book] does justice to the Whitlam experiment, highlighting political and legislative success, while never ignoring failure or folly.
         Troy Bramston has done an admirable job in seeking to bring many threads in this political tapestry together in a highly readable, engaging and honest way. Read full review...

Stephen Loosley, Spectator Australia Magazine, 29 March 2014

The Whitlam Legacy appraises the government’s manifest failures as well as its successes. It is an illuminating retrospective for those unfamiliar with this unique era, and for those who are familiar there are intriguing little-known vignettes – MPs having a punch-up near King’s Hall, Gerard Henderson doubting Billy McMahon’s sanity, Arthur Calwell providing information to McMahon to undermine Whitlam’s leadership, Rupert Murdoch and Malcolm Fraser sharing the same nanny as youngsters, Paul Keating insisting that Kerr should have been arrested, and remarkable revelations of the extent of the public service chiefs’ resistance to Labor policies. Read full review...

Ross McMullin, Australian Book Review, March 2014

This book will be most appreciated by those unfamiliar with the Whitlam years or those who have an interest in revisiting that time. It is a volume which is fairly comprehensive in its coverage of its topic and does offer some fresh perspectives. Read full review...

MR Tyson, Bar News, Autumn 2014

Bramston is an articulate champion of the policies of modern social democracy that Whitlam epitomised in the 1960s and 70s. Yet he and the pick of the other contributors are at their best when narrating the force of circumstances that brought the Whitlam government to its knees.
          … a book of stimulating essays on a topic that will reverberate down the years … Read full review...

Frank Carrigan, Weekend Australian, 25-26 Jan 2014

"This book really is a great work of scholarship. It is a primer for anyone interested in politics or interested in carving out a career in politics. To get these people to write about the Whitlam government is a real tribute to Troy Bramston. From now on, nobody will be able to write about the Whitlam government without consulting The Whitlam Legacy."

Bob Carr



    This supplement is in PDF Format see below for instructions regarding PDF.

  • Introduction

Notes on Contributors

Australasian Study of Parliament Group, April 2014

Ross McMullin, ABR, March 2014

Frank Carrigan, Weekend Australian, 25-26 Jan 2014

Kerr’s word play masked his reasons behind Whitlam’s dismissal_The Australian, 22 Nov 2013

Parting words for the party Gough loves_Weekend Australian, 23-24 Nov 2013

Gough Whitlam duumvirate's whirlwind of change_Weekend Australian, Inquirer, 23-24 Nov 2013

Gough changed us and saved ALP _ The Australian, 25 Nov 2013

Labor must heed Whitlam and not waste this chance to reform_SMH, 25 Nov 2013

Whitlam's legacy resonates today-Shorten _, 26 Nov 2013

Gough Whitlam 'a stroke of luck' for the lucky country _ The Australian, 27 Nov 2013

Abandon doubt _ The Australian, 27 Nov 2013

Interview_Radio National 25 Nov 2013

Gough in stereo_The Australian, 6 Feb 2014

Bar News Autumn 2014


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Published 25 November 2013
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781862879034
Australian RRP $59.95
International Price $55.00
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Australian History / Studies
Government / Political Studies

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