Last Updated 09 Apr 2020

Policies and Prime Ministership of Gough Whitlam

Category Prime Minister
Essay type Research
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Policies and Prime Ministership of Gough Whitlam Question (a): Write an outline of the changes made by Gough Whitlam when he was Australia’s Prime Minister. Overview oWide-ranging reform plan oAimed to quickly change the social aspects of society, rather than solving Australia’s economic problems oWhitlam’s key principles were: ?Equality of opportunity ?Promotion of the Australian identity oPost-Vietnam War policies oWhitlam’s policies addressed many social justice issues oForeign policy oHuman rights (women + Indigenous) oMulticulturalism oPublic benefit National Identity Post-war policies ?Abolition of conscription for national service ?Immediate withdrawal from Vietnam ?Release of draft dodgers from prison Foreign Policy oChina ?Official recognition of China within a fortnight of Whitlam’s Prime ministership. ?Embassies were either restored or constructed in each country ? Australian support of China in the United Nations oPapua New Guinea granted self-governance (1973) and independence (1975) oDistancing Australia from American foreign policy oSouth Africa ?Banning of racially-based sporting teams from South Africa ?

Condemnation of apartheid policy in South Africa oWhitlam supported 13 international human rights initiatives Human Rights oWomen ?Office of Women’s Affairs ?Promoted policies that would help women achieve equality ? Wages ?Creation of the ‘adult wage’ to replace notions of separate male and female wages ? Encouraged more women to work and enjoy working ?Divorce ?The ‘no-fault’ divorce principle, as part of the Family Law Act (1975) ? Removed the ‘guilty label’ which had previously undermined rights in custody disputes and property settlements ? Divorce without reasons Maternity Leave ?Extended maternity leave for single mothers to aid the costs while still retaining their original job. ?Removal of sales tax on contraceptive pills oIndigenous Australians ?Self-determination policy ?The right of a group to choose and control its own destiny ? Land rights ?Established the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Land Rights (1973) ? Some land (that was denied in the 1971 Gove land rights decision) was returned to the Gurindji people. ?Repeal of the Migration Acts ?Australian Aborigines no longer required permission to travel overseas ? All of us Australians are diminished while the Aborigines are denied their rightful place in this nation. ” Gough Whitlam (1972). ?In 4 years, the budget for Aboriginal affairs increased from $23 million to $141 million Multiculturalism oAl Grassby became the new Minister for Immigration oWhite Australia Policy ?Abolition of this policy improved relations with nearby Asian countries ? Racial Discrimination Act (1975) promoted understanding of other races and ethnic groups ? “I was profoundly embarrassed by it [the White Australia policy] and did all I could to change it. Gough Whitlam (2001). oChanges to the Citizenship Act ?Immigrants from the United Kingdom no longer took precedence over other Europeans and Asians oCommunity initiatives ?radio programs in community languages ?migrant education centres ?teacher exchange program with Italian government ?interpreters for emergency phone calls Public Benefit oEducation ?Establishment of the Australian Schools Commission ?Disadvantaged Schools Program ?‘needs-based’ funding ?Expand the resources of poor schools ?Abolition of tertiary education school fees Government funding of tertiary education ?Increase from 9% (1960) to 42% (1975) oMedibank ?System of national health insurance ?Time-based payments vs. fee for service ?Break connection between healthcare and money ?Originally payed 85% of the medical bill oIncreased pensions ?25% of average adult weekly wage oPromotion of ‘the Arts’ ?Improved facilities and pay for artists (musicians, artists, dancers, actors etc. ) ? Australian Film Commission ?National Film and Television School ?Australian National Gallery oA program to bring sewerage to all urban areas

National Identity oNew Australian passports; no longer referred to as ‘British subjects’ oAustralian national anthem oAustralian Heritage Commission Question (b): Evaluate (make own judgement + facts) how important ONE of these changes has been to Australia’s development. Diplomatic Relations with China ?Whitlam believed that Australia were following the foreign policies of our allies for too long ? The cold war mentality was no longer relevant ?He saw the potential economic gains and advantages of a long term relationship with China ? Communist party took over China Guomindang re-established itself in Taiwan ?Many countries (including Australia) recognized the government in Taiwan as the official government of China ? Gough Whitlam wanted to form a relationship with communist China, as he believed that communism was not a threat ? The McMahon government refused to recognize the People’s Republic of China ? In 1971, Whitlam (as Leader of the Opposition) visited China and promised Mao Zedong (the Chinese leader) that he would establish diplomatic relations with China, if he won the election the following year ?

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China became members of the United Nations in 1971, and throughout Whitlam’s prime ministership, Australia supported their representation. ?Australia’s recognition of China was a pivotal moment in our history. ?Economic – ?Australia had bonds with the largest economy of the world ? It gives us the boom in our resource industry ?Two-way trade was $113 million in 1972 ?In 1973, a Trade Agreement was signed, granting mutual ‘most favoured nation status’ ? It is now exceeding $105 billion (2011) ?Benefits for both countries ?Three underlying principles in the relationship: Mutual respect ?Recognition of differences ?Strong resolve to build on the interests we share ?Education – ?1972 – no Chinese students in Australia ?Present – 150 000 + Chinese students; biggest source of foreign students oPossible conclusion – In 1949, Australia and China were divided by political differences, however Gough’s Whitlam recognition of China in 1972 had resulted in 40 years of economic and social prosperity. Even though it involved the termination of the relationship with Taiwan, this major shift in foreign policy is praised for its long term successes.

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