GOUGH WHITLAM part 2 – by toosmartbyhalf.com

Too Smart By Half

Australian Politics and Society

The Colossus of Cabramatta – Part Two


Myth # 2: “Gough stuffed the economy, blew the budget, and made a mess of the joint” (The Liberals)

The Liberals love this one. Only the last part of it is even remotely true. Gough’s major downfall was trying to achieve too much too soon. After 23 years in opposition, having missed the global tide of left-wing reform in the 1960s, Gough and the ALP had a truckload of ideas they were aching to unleash.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve waited. No government is capable of focusing on more than a handful of key policies at once. The ALP learned from this mistake – the Hawke-Keating years were a succession of drastic, much needed economic reforms, spread out over the course of thirteen years. Gough tried to squeeze in the lot in three, and the government collapsed under the confusion and turmoil.

But that’s as far as it goes. Gough did not “stuff the economy” – Nixon and OPEC did. The United States president dismantled the Bretton-Woods monetary system in 1971. Those countries that had used it as the replacement for the previous “gold standard”, including Australia, saw inflation skyrocket. Two years later, the entire global economy was plunged into chaos and disorder after the Arab oil crisis of 1973, bringing an end to almost two decades of unbroken, unprecedented growth. The “Golden Years” had passed us, and the ALP missed the boat by sitting on the opposition benches the entire time.

Much like James Scullin, who came to power two days before the infamous Wall Street Crash of 1929, and was turfed from office two years later as the Depression tore us apart, Gough was a victim of rotten timing. There was bugger-all any Australian could, should, or would have done to properly prepare us for the economic earthquake that would shock the world into a new age.

For his part, Gough stayed staunch, and tried to keep us on our steady new course while the economic winds went out of our sails. In the end, the country jumped ship, blaming him for the miserable weather.

The idea that Gough “blew out the budget” is even more laughable. This myth is passed around in conservative circles as proof of the Coalition’s superior management skills, particularly Howard’s. It is an outright lie. The Whitlam government delivered a budget surplus every year it was in power.

Moreover, the Fraser government that defeated Whitlam in 1975 went on to deliver seven consecutive budget deficits. With nothing to show for it. And who was treasurer overseeing this obscene waste of taxpayer dollars? Who held the key to the nation’s piggy bank, signed the cheques, and left us with a debt hangover that lasted for a generation? None other than the Liberal grand master himself, the self-proclaimed “fiscal conservative”, John Winston Howard.

The Fraser/Howard duo inherited zero government debt from the Whitlam government. Zero. By 1983, Howard had blown the budget out to $40 billion. And for all this spending, nothing was achieved – in fact, we went a hundred miles an hour in reverse. Howard and Fraser went on a warpath to undo almost everything achieved during the Whitlam years, and left us with nothing more than double-digit inflation, double-digit interest rates, double-digit unemployment, an “inward-looking, moribund, industrial graveyard”, and a $40 billion dollar debt that refused to die until Howard sold Telstra off decades later to recoup the losses.

Whitlam spent within his government’s means, and he spent it on priceless investments – free tertiary education and universal health care are just a few. While we now shackle our governments’ spending according to the gospel of “fiscal conservatism”, we would do well to remember an age when spending was seen for what it really is – an investment. No different to a mortgage, private school tuition, share portfolio, health insurance, vocational course, university degree, and so on. Consider all these private, personal sacrifices we make in our lives that pay off in the long run. Now consider them on a national scale. Organised, targeted, and accessible to all, elevating this country to its true potential.

Such was the Whitlam dream.

Tomorrow… Myth # 3 – “The dismissal was a constitutional crime, a grievous injustice, and a vicious attack on our entire democracy”


Article by toosmartbyhalf.com

The Colossus of Cabramatta – Part One


It’s easy to score points off a dead man. They rarely put up a fight. All sides of the political spectrum have come out swinging cheap shots since Gough Whitlam’s death last week – The ALP, the Liberals, and the Greens – all trying to rewrite history in their own ink, for their own gain. This three-part series will set the record straight.

Myth # 1 – “The Whitlam government was a shining example of progressive politics. Just like The Greens”

This is a disgusting cheap shot and the biggest insult of all. Gough Whitlam’s entire political life was dedicated to the ALP. Never once did the man work for another party, never once did he renounce his faith, and never once did he align himself with the ridiculous noise that passes for “policy” on the far-left.

Within days of Gough’s passing, The Greens had the shameless audacity to post an image of the man with the caption “Vale Gough Whitlam” adjacent to their logo. They have since justified this mockery by blurring the memory of Gough’s ideas, picking and choosing a handful of their own, then dressing them up as one and the same. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For a start, Gough had no time for the pitiful ordeal of “protest politics”. Yelling slogans on a sunny afternoon, throwing a spanner into the works of anything and everything for the sake of it, then patting yourself on the back was never his style. Gough understood that ideas are only as strong as the people who acquire power to make them happen  – which is how and why he brought Labor back into government. The Greens have always been no more than a noisy fringe group, and so shall they remain forevermore.

Secondly, the Whitlam government had detailed, costed policies. Some worked, some didn’t. Regardless, these policies were based on extensive, evidence-based research, consultation with business, unions, academics, policy experts, community leaders, and the heads of government departments. While you can’t please everyone, Gough wanted to involve as much of the country as possible. Labor and Liberal have both used this approach – so much of their success or failure hinges on how well they pull this off. The Greens have never done this collaborative approach, nor will they ever. While the country gathers inside the political tent to sort out its problems, they just stand outside pissing in.

Greenies have since offered the timid excuse that “the modern ALP bears no resemblance to the ALP Gough ran”, as though this somehow makes Gough a Greenie by default. This is a desperate attempt to climb back out of the gutter. The entire nation bears little resemblance the Australia of the 1970s. The entire world, in fact. The political landscape has been completely transformed, as both major parties have lurched to the right and the old socialist-capitalist warfare has faded. A new era of free market economics reigns supreme.

To claim Whitlam as a Green simply because the times suit them would be as pathetic and low as the ALP claiming Menzies as one of their own. Our longest serving PM and a blue-blooded Liberal, he ran targeted deficits when needed, expanded access to tertiary education, boosted immigration, funded the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme to deliver clean energy to the country, launched ABC television, pushed for aboriginal voting rights, boosted foreign aid, and built close ties with Singapore and Malaysia. The ALP could argue that this makes the bloke Labor through and through.

But they’ve got their own heroes – Keating, Curtin, Chifley, Hawke, and of course, Whitlam. The Liberals have the likes of Menzies and Howard. Even the bogans in Queensland who vote One Nation or The Nationals had Pauline Hanson and Joh Bjelke-Petersen. The Greens? Not one noteworthy, charismatic, or influential character. The closest they’ve come is Bob Brown – who was accurately described by one of Keating’s speechwriters as a bloke who looks, acts, and preaches like a Mormon on a bicycle missing his other half. Neither he nor his party have ever come close to legend status.

The Greens are spineless and desperate – Gough lived and died as a man of the Australian Labor Party.

Tomorrow… Myth # 2 – “Gough stuffed the economy, blew the budget, and made a right mess of the joint”