Very few people of my age will have a neutral view of Gough Whitlam.  To many, he was an inspiring figure who rebooted Australia for all Australians in 1972 after 23 years in a conservative wilderness.

The Dismissal of his government in 1975 was a polarising event, the effects of which lasted many years.

I’m surprised that, for a man so gifted in the English language, that there are so few publicly curated quotes.

The ones below are those that I could find, and most sites contained only a handful.


“No parliamentarian could tell his electors that he was too ill to be the leader of the party but was well enough to look after their interests in the parliament” — Gough Whitlam –  QuotesDaddy


“Well may we say “God save the Queen”, because nothing will save the Governor-General! The Proclamation which you have just heard read by the Governor-General’s Official Secretary was countersigned Malcolm Fraser, who will undoubtedly go down in Australian history from Remembrance Day 1975 as Kerr’s cur. They won’t silence the outskirts of Parliament House, even if the inside has been silenced for the next few weeks … Maintain your rage and enthusiasm for the campaign for the election now to be held and until polling day.” — Gough Whitlam, On hearing the proclamation dismissing him from office, which ended with the traditional “God Save the Queen.” –  WIkiquotes


“We would do absolutely nothing. Now that’s a blunt, truthful answer.” — Gough Whitlam, When asked what a Labor government would do if Indonesia were to invade East Timor, in an interview three days before the invasion. Sydney Morning Herald (5 December 1975) –  WIkiquotes


“If I begin my book with a review of the coup, it is only to show that my abiding interests for Australia did not end with it. They shall end only with a long and fortunate life.” — Gough Whitlam, Abiding Interests (1997), Foreword –  WIkiquotes


“He reveals that he has been a poor politician, a bad judge and a malevolent individual.” — Gough Whitlam, Abiding Interests (1997), p. 44 –  WIkiquotes


“I was profoundly embarrassed by it [the White Australia Policy] and did all I could to change it.” — Gough Whitlam, Quoted in Paul Kelly, 100 Years – The Australian Story (Allen & Unwin, ABC Books, NSW, 2001), p. 196 –  WIkiquotes


“I’m not having hundreds of fucking Vietnamese Balts coming into this country with their religious and political hatreds against us!” — Gough Whitlam, After Saigon was taken over by North Vietnamese troops in 1975 and thousands of Vietnamese refugees sought asylum in Australia. Miranda Devine (October 18th, 2008). “A woman who believes Cabra matters”.Sydney Morning Herald. –  WIkiquotes


“The punters know that the horse named Morality rarely gets past the post, whereas the nag named Self-interest always runs a good race.” — Gough Whitlam, Written by Gough Whitlam for the London Daily Telegraph, (19 October 1989). (Andrews, 1993, p. 824) –  WIkiquotes


“When Sir Winton Turnbull [who represented a large rural seat] was raving and ranting on the adjournment and shouted: “I am a Country member”. I interjected “I remember”. He could not understand why, for the first time in all the years he had been speaking in the House, there was instant and loud applause from both sides.” — Gough Whitlam, From a speech during a debate on the question That Politicians Have Lost Their Sense Of Humour, Sydney Town Hall, 24 May 2000 –  WIkiquotes


“Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people and I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever.” — Gough Whitlam, Gurindji Land Ceremony Speech, 16 August 1975 –  WIkiquotes


“A conservative government survives essentially by dampening expectations and subduing hopes. Conservatism is basically pessimistic, reformism is basically optimistic.” — Gough Whitlam, Self-quoted in The Whitlam Government 1972-1975 by Gough Whitlam –  WIkiquotes


“The Caucus I joined in 1953 had as many Boer War veterans as men who had seen active service in World War II, three from each. The Ministry appointed on 5th December 1972 was composed entirely of ex-servicemen: Lance Barnard and me” — Gough Whitlam –  Thinkexist


“The fun is where I am!” — Gough Whitlam –  Successories


“Our federal caucus is in a precarious position” — Gough Whitlam –  Successories


“I have more influence now than when I had the power” — Gough Whitlam –  Successories


“Maintain your rage and enthusiasm” — Gough Whitlam –  Successories


“When you are faced with an impasse you have got to crash through or you’ve got to crash. When you are faced with an impasse you have got to crash through or you’ve got to crash” — Gough Whitlam –  Australian Inspiration


“She was a remarkable person and the love of my life. We were married for almost 70 years. She encouraged and sustained me and our four children, their families and many other people in a life full of engagement with Australians from all walks of life” — Gough Whitlam, on the death of his wife Margaret –  Australian Inspiration


“Comrades, did I go too far?” — Gough Whitlam, asking colleagues shortly after delivering his famous “Kerr’s Cur” speech, to members of his staff. (Cohen, pp196-7) –  Whitlam Dismissal


“You’re the one Sir Garfield I will shake hands with” — Gough Whitlam, On meeting the West Indian cricketer, Sir Garfield Sobers (Cohen, p203) –  Whitlam Dismissal


“I thought, another hiccup! “ — Gough Whitlam, when Launching his book on November 11, 1985, Whitlam said he had seen a headline that said “Sir John breaks his silence”.  (Cohen, p204) –  Whitlam Dismissal


“What the Establishment may call poor taste I must, in the circumstances of 1974 and 1975, call the truth of the matter” — Gough Whitlam, Accused of poor taste because he had recounted Kerr’s interest in Elizabeth Reid (Cohen, pp202-3) –  Whitlam Dismissal


“The fact is, it has always been the Establishment’s first line of defence to raise the mealymouthed cry of poor taste whenever its interests or, in the case of people like Sir John Kerr and Sir Garfield Barwick, its tools are under attack” — Gough Whitlam, Accused of poor taste because he had recounted Kerr’s interest in Elizabeth Reid (Cohen, pp202-3) –  Whitlam Dismissal


“Let’s cut through the humbug on this matter. In the orchestration of the destruction of my Government, no rumour or innuendo, from moral turpitude to financial corruption, was deemed outside the rules of the game, because in this country the Establishment makes its own rules and sets its own canons of taste” — Gough Whitlam, Accused of poor taste because he had recounted Kerr’s interest in Elizabeth Reid (Cohen, pp202-3) –  Whitlam Dismissal




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Australian Inspiration
Whitlam Dismissal