Gough Whitlam was a favourite son of NSW and a giant of the national political stage.
All politicians reflect their times, but very few shape them. Gough Whitlam was one of those select few.
Mr Whitlam represented the people of Werriwa, in outer western Sydney, for 26 years. He brought Labor back into power federally in 1972 after it had lost itself in a wilderness for 23 years.
Mr Whitlam’s enduring legacy for Australia includes a national health insurance system, accessible tertiary education for all, Aboriginal land rights and government support for private schools.
We should remember that, as well as placing his intellect and energy at the disposal of his country, Mr Whitlam, like so many of his great generation, was prepared to lay his life on the line for it. Today he should also be honoured for his service with the Royal Australian Air Force between 1941 and the end of World War II.
Gough, of course, can hardly be imagined without Margaret. His soul-mate of almost 70 years, Margaret was one of the most loved figures of Australian public life, deeply mourned on her passing two years ago.
On behalf of the NSW Government, I offer my deepest sympathies to Mr Whitlam’s family, friends and former colleagues.