Out of Empire: Edward Cough Whitlam

Essay by Marc LokCollege, UndergraduateB+, January 1996

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Long & tedious, however very informative Well written and clearly presented


'More than any other part of the old Empire, Australia

remains inhibited and limited by its nostalgia for past

associations and pretensions which the British nation, and

in particular, the British monarch have long since

abandoned. Nothing has done more to retard Australia's

relations with Britain or to distort the very real and

substantial nature of that relationship than the obsessions

of the Australian conservatives with the British connection

and their manipulation of the monarchy and their

exploitation of the perquisites and privileges associated

with it.'

- Edward Gough Whitlam, 1985

Gough Whitlam was perhaps Australia's most controversial

Prime Minister ever, and the Australian with arguably the

most reason to resent our country's ties with Britain. For

on Remembrance Day, 1975, the Governor General, Sir John

Kerr, invoked his reserve powers to dismiss Whitlam as Prime

Minister, something he could only do because he was

supposedly acting on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. Thus, it

is to be expected that out of all of Australia's leading

figures, Whitlam would have the most reason to feel

strongly, one way or the other, about our 'mother country'.

Today, Whitlam declares himself to be a Republican, but he

confesses he only came to this way of thinking after his

dismissal, when he and the nation saw for the first time

just how much power the Queen and her representatives really

had, despite their lack of control over day to day running

of the Government. At the onset of his career, Whitlam was

quite proud of his Queen - he had, after all, fought in the

Airforce during the Second World War to defend Britain as

well as Australia - but he always thought the...