Fully Flushed Friday Raffles

“It was said of Caesar Augustus that he found a Rome of brick and left it of marble. It will be said of Gough Whitlam that he found Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane unsewered, and left them fully flushed.”

Neville Wran

From Laurie Oakes’ book Power Plays: The Real Stories of Australian Politics:

Happy 80th, Gough! Now, about your funeral

16 July 1996

Here’s a cheerful thought for Gough Whitlam as he celebrates his 80th birthday – a spectacular funeral is being planned for him. Not that anyone is in a rush, mind you. Fortunately, the great man is in such robust health that official approval of arrangements for a state funeral fit for such a legend will very likely not be required until well after Prime Minister Mark Latham, a former Whitlam staffer and protégé, moves into the Lodge. But it is best to be prepared. Something special will be called for – not at all the sort of thing that can be thrown together overnight. So an informal group of family and friends has been discussing the matter, on and off, for some years. The plans are stowed away in a file kept by the former prime minister’s eldest son, Nick. Big, wonderful, over-the-top plans, like the man himself; mostly serious, but with an element of tongue in cheek, as you’d expect.

Winston Churchill issued instructions for his own funeral. Whitlam is not that involved, even though the plans are of Churchillian proportions. In fact, apparently he goes uncharacteristically quiet when the matter of funeral arrangements is mentioned in his presence. But he has made one major contribution: his wishes on the music that should be played are part of Nick’s file.

* * * * * * *

So . . . the funeral plans. One of the pieces Whitlam has selected is Va, pensiero, the slaves’ chorus from Verdi’s opera Nabucco which gave expression to the Italian people’s aspirations for liberty and self-government. Va, pensiero became the theme song of Garibaldi’s followers during the Risorgimento – the uprising to unite Italy. The second piece he has nominated is more esoteric, but no less Whitlamesque – The March of the Consular Guard at Marengo, by an obscure French composer, celebrating one of Napoleon’s great victories. Whitlam was fascinated by Napoleon even as a child, but his sister, Freda, once told me that it was not so much the warlike side of Napoleon that appealed to young Gough as the French emperor’s civic achievements and the legal system he established.

Abraham Lincoln’s funeral is the loose model for what is being planned. The idea is that the main ceremony would be held in Sydney Town Hall, after which a catafalque bearing the coffin would proceed to the historic Mortuary Station, built in 1869 and heritage-listed. Lincoln became the first president to lie in state at the US Capitol rotunda before being carried home to Springfield, Illinois, by train, with stops along the way for people to pay their respects . . .

Not surprisingly, the funeral will be private. But I bet the memorial service on 5th November will go close to breaking records for attendance:

This evening, then, let’s charge our glasses and drink to the memory of one of Australia’s greatest-ever prime ministers. Let’s have music, dancing, merriment, and celebration of the light that has been, and the light that will come again as long as the men and women of Australia keep the faith.

(Image Credit: Australian War Memorial)

(Image Credit: Sydney Morning Herald)

(Image Credit: Bytes)

(Image Credit: News Limited (sorry))

(Image Credit: ABC)

(Image Credit: Courier Mail)

(Image Credit: SBS)

(Image Credit: ABC)

(Image Credit: Wentworth Courier)

Ave et vale Gough Whitlam

200 thoughts on “Fully Flushed Friday Raffles

  1. I’m sure Labor has all the ammunition.

    I hope to everlasting that they know how and when to use it to win 2016.

  2. Ducky,

    They can only act appropriately if they ditch their weakest links.

    Question: Do they have the guts to do that?

  3. Pointing to Morrison’s disloyalty and the obvious internal dissent, alone should go a long way.

  4. I’m confident that Bill knows what is required.

    He has to, at the right time, blow the likes of Fitzgibbon and Husic. Loose canons just cannot be left on ship. And Kim bloody Carr first: he is just another Martin Ferguson.

    Cameron is in not quite the same category: he has popular support.

  5. As a teaser, I just showed her what she filmed of the F-111 and she was really happy.

    I could break it up into smaller segments in, say, three three MB and a bit segments which I could e-mail. Anyone?

    Not wishing to impose myself …

  6. Ducky,

    It is the kind of filter that lets in what’s good for SM, and blocks what not’s so good for SM . . .

    So, sort of like a tamis, but more selective.

  7. I am getting addicted to world of tanks

    Have you tried War Thunder, joe? (Free to play on Steam.)
    It has air and ground combat modes; they are slowly being integrated. It needs work – there are definitely some balance issues (hint: play Russian) but I find it sufficiently amusing to persist.

  8. Maybe we’d get an NBN if ER switched entirely to Twitter instead of telegrams? (“Your knighthood is in the mail.”)

  9. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Accounts receivable management Sydney style.
    Paul Bongiorno on reaction to Whitlam’s death.
    Adele Ferguson is singularly unimpressed, though unsurprised, a the government’s response to a bipartisan call for a Royal Commission into the CBA scandal.
    How utilities will commit suicide by solar.
    Bloody guns! Yet another US school shooting.
    Peter Hartcher muses over tensions in the Abbott ministry.
    Stephen Koukoulas on the risks of falling house prices.
    The three worst things the Liberals did yesterday.
    I find this sort of cultural stuff very difficult to handle,
    More potential damage from Abbott’s ideological RET reduction.

  10. Section 2 . . .

    Now Abbott wants the states to be adults. Just like him!
    What will the privatisation of Medibank Private bring about?
    Lambie tells Pyne to get stuffed over uni fee deregulation.
    The Child Abuse RC hears that he NSW government failed to protect children.
    Mike Seccombe has a good look at supermarket power.
    Looks like Shorten will give the Australian Christian Lobby a serve on SSM and other issues when he steps into its den.
    Lenore Taylor on “Operation Let’s Salvage All We Can” with the budget.
    Alan Ramsay returns to reflect on Gough Whitlam’s early days.
    Labor is working on ways to curb George Brandis’s powers.
    Another example of the nasty changes to Newstart proposed by Mr Grecian 2000.

  11. Section 3 . . .

    The Federal Court gives Morrison a kick in the teeth over detainee data.
    Richard Ackland looks at the Spurr/New Matilda case.
    Peter Wicks piles into Abbott over the handling of Michael Lawler.
    The ANU stands firm against anti-divestment attacks.
    A very good weekly contribution from John Birmingham.
    Ross Gittins – The economic chaos was not all of Gough’s making.
    The Oklahoma legislature asked for it by thumbing its nose at the separation of church and state/
    Section 4 . . .

    Alan Moir shows us Abbott selling tactic for the budget.

    David Pope does it again. And Look at the TV.
    Ron Tandberg nails it again.
    Simon Letch compares Abbott to Whitlam just perfectly.

  12. Political savant and genius commentator Peter Hartcher opines profoundly, about the Abbott Budget:

    It’s too early to abandon hope.


    You do have to laugh, don’t you?

    He then goes on to discuss, po-faced one of the main reasons why Tony Abbott would not promote Turnbull to the office of Treasurer.

    Abbott’s jealous.

    Nice to know that Abbott has the Coalition and the National Interest at heart (they’re the same thing aren’t they?), and that Hartcher sees this as a perfectly reasonable position to take.

    Hartcher today is back to his old tricks: writing-up restaurant gossip about leadershit. A group of Ministers, in their cups, drinking Scotch, reckon Joe Hockey should go, in favour of Turnbull.

    The Abbott government is already doing brilliantly on Foreign Affairs and international diplomacy (in Hartcher’s myopic eyes at least), now all they need is Turnbull in as Treasurer to fix up the economy and they’ll surge ahead in the polls. The Nation will breathe a sigh of relief. Consumer confidence will soar.

    Deep, deep, deep analysis from the International & Political Editor of the august Sydney Morning Herald.

    What next? Maybe Peter will whip around to the back alley and go through the garbage skip? Then he can tell us what the Liberal Power Broker was doodling on his paper napkin. Maybe he can even suss what the fortune cookie said?

    Thank God we have the likes of Pinstripe Pete to guide our thinking.

    The man has a desperate need to be relevant. To show that he’s connected and gets the good goss.

    Pity for Pete, he supported Rudd. That means he’s shut out. All the advice he’s offered Abbot on how to deal with everything from travel rorts to Oriental potentates has been ignored. Cassidy doesn’t even invite him onto the show anymore (has he ever been on it?).

    And look what his Rudd Love did for him and the country. Abso-bloody-lutely nothing. Rudd’s “surge in the polls” lasted all of a fortnight, and Pete’s relegated to passing on Chinese whispers.

    Pity nobody – either in politics, or on the receiving end of it – takes any notice of him.

    Hold the front page!

  13. Just read the Hartcher article (thanks for drawing my attention to it, BB). There are some bits of it that I agree with:

    The government has a split personality. Its performance on national security and foreign affairs is an asset, but its performance on the budget and economy is a liability. It’s the government’s big problem.

    Not sure I necessarily agree with that, but I think it does underpin the thinking within the Liberal Party. They expected a big poll boost from fearmongering and Muslim-bashing, and when it didn’t come they’ve been looking for a reason why. But it’s way more than just the selling of a budget, it’s that their entire policy suite is a dog, and pushing people’s buttons on the xenophobia issue is the only solution they’ve come up with. Once again, the answer is staring them in the face – try being competent economically – but they apparently don’t want to do that.

    The Abbott government have been sub-par on foreign affairs, but media knob polishing is an easier task there because Australians don’t care what we’re doing overseas unless it involves heavy weaponry. They’ll just believe whatever they’re told in the main.

    First, Abbott would have to dump Joe Hockey. And the prime minister is considered to be quite protective of his treasurer. The budget, moreover, is at least as much Abbott’s work as Hockey’s.

    I agree that Abbott’s had as much input as Hockey in the budget – hardly any. It was pretty much dumped on them by the IPA and business interests. They were just told to make it work, and Hockey – as is usual for him – had no better idea than to dump it on us and say “this is how it’s going to be.” To his great surprise, we didn’t like being lorded over like that.

    Probably the real reason Hockey will keep the Treasurer position is that he’s doing what he’s told to do and not rocking the boat. He has no ideas of his own and can’t really articulate the ones he’s been told to sell, so he’s no threat to anyone.

    ” Plan A has to work,” said one cabinet minister, meaning Hockey and his budget. “There is no plan B.”

    I agree with that wholeheartedly. There never was a Plan B. Or if there is, it’s just Plan A with more threats and ALP-bashing.

    “We are not ahead in the polls. Why? Economic management is pulling us back. Rarely do you win elections on national security. People expect us to be solid on it. We don’t get special credit. And Bill Shorten has cleverly minimised the differences on the national security agenda,” closely supporting the government’s deployment to Iraq and its counter-terrorism bills.

    That’s probably true. Shorten’s copping hell in certain quarters for his me-too-ism. But I don’t see what else he can do. How could you possibly get the narrative back onto the economy if you’re being blasted for being a traitor to the country and ‘soft’ on national security? The only reason we’re talking about the economy at all is because there’s no all-consuming argument about protecting our borders. That’s an unsavoury political truth.

    It’s worrying the Libs as well. They’re desperate to set the agenda, but it’s just not happening. And they’re starting to over-stretch on their commitment to warmongering. That could backfire.

    Where I depart completely is here:

    In the meantime, Abbott doesn’t mind the jockeying of his ministers. “He loves it,” said a cabinet minister, “it helps keep everyone in line.

    “Do you think John Howard lost any sleep over the tensions between Peter Costello and Peter Reith? If there weren’t any, Howard would create some. If they’re squabbling over each other’s jobs, they’re not squabbling over the leader’s job.”

    You con only play those sorts of games effectively from a position of strength. If you do it while you’re tanking in the polls you’ll open up all sorts of fault lines. Abbott cant help picking fights – as BB has explained quite eloquently previously – but he’ll only cause trouble for himself and his party if he attempts to get his front bench squabbling with each other.


    What the Abbott government really need is someone who can sell turds to the electorate. Howard could do it, but none of this mob can. The trust is gone, and the only man who might have been able to manage it has had his credibility shredded in the communications portfolio – and wouldn’t get the chance even if he was still capable of it.

  14. http://www.news.com.au/national/queensland/clive-palmer-has-until-5pm-monday-to-show-the-electoral-commission-of-queensland-his-pup-has-500-paidup-members/story-fnii5v6w-1227101675627

    Clive Palmer has until 5pm Monday to show the Electoral Commission of Queensland his PUP has 500 paid-up members
    October 25, 2014 1:00AM
    Jason Tin
    The Courier-Mail


    Penis in wine glass’ Member for Redlands Peter Dowling faces preselection vote
    October 25, 2014 1:00AM
    The Courier-Mail


    US drug watchdog refuses Apotex medicines — but they’re still approved by Australia’s TGA
    October 24, 2014 10:00PM
    Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter
    News Corp Australia Network

    THE nation’s medicines watchdog admits it found irregularities at an Indian factory owned by pharmaceutical company Apotex whose medicines have been banned by the US and Canada.

    However it is refusing to impose a ban on the medicines in Australia and it won’t make the report of the factory inspection public.

    The admission came as the government announced an independent inquiry into the regulation of medicines and medical devices in Australia designed to further loosen regulation.

  15. aguirre

    Its performance on national security and foreign affairs is an asset, but its performance on the budget and economy is a liability. It’s the government’s big problem.

    A load of bullsh$t.

    This govt not competent on anything.

  16. Is it any wonder that the pond retreats to Fairfax cartoonists for genuine political insight and commentary?

    Ain’t that the truth!

    I missed this one from David Rowe earlier in the week:

  17. Tones ‘We can’t evacuate’ is not wearing well.

    Cameron clear on this – RFA Argus is almost there.

    The hospital ship not to be generally used for the locals but is the back-up for foreign health workers. He is not planning to evacuate people to the UK.

    Shorten should keep at this.

  18. These two have nothing on Tony and Joe

    David Cameron admitted that he had been left in the dark by George Osborne for two days as he complained that he had been hijacked by Brussels over an unexpected demand to pay £1.7bn (€2.1bn) to the EU.

    The prime minister said he would refuse to comply with the sudden bill, which he first learned about on Thursday, but questions were raised about Whitehall’s competence once it emerged that the chancellor had known since Tuesday. Labour said ministers should have expected the higher bill months ago.


  19. Tlbd

    but questions were raised about Whitehall’s competence

    ‘Dave’ going not too bad on many things (I’ve never thought that before about a Conservative).

    But he needs to ditch ‘George’ before the next GE or Ed Milliband will get in simply due to inertia.

  20. What sort of nation are we? What might we become? What is government for? If you look only at Abbott and recent history you might be entitled to despair. Whitlam at least enables you to start addressing those questions, whether or not you follow the path he had lighted – and which is still lit, if badly maintained.

    I have only just had the time to read Andrew Elder’s piece on the occasion of the death of Gough Whitlam.

    For anyone who has not yet read it, I urge you to do so. The comments also warrant attention.

  21. CTar1

    Saw that @Q#$%@$% !!!!!!!! Tony Blah writing off Milliband’s chances.. That alone is enough for me to hope the blighter wins.

  22. CTar1

    A load of bullsh$t.

    This govt not competent on anything.

    I suppose it comes down to the difference between a competence and an ‘asset’. When you consider that the media only really care about how the issues play out in the community (rather than how they work as policies or diplomacy) you can certainly argue that the LNP have sold their international chest-thumping well – they’re getting largely positive numbers as far as public support for what they’re doing goes. So in that sense it’s an asset, a piece of political capital. But it’s in no way competent.

    I think that’s all Hartcher cares about in this instance. In his book, they’ve framed their national security and foreign policy well enough. And he imagines that if they can frame their economic efforts similarly, all will be well for them. The difference of course is that it’s easy to sell external ‘threats’ to the electorate. It’s not nearly as easy to tell them they’re well off when they’re not. Or that burdening their cost of living is a good thing for them.

    I’ve long believed that this government functions merely as the public relations arm of the IPA, and that the IPA is just a front for corporate greed. The IPA exists to create the impression that corporate wishlists have in fact been workshopped and debated, and that recommendations are the result of disinterested thought processes. Like the Commission of Audit. It’s all a charade.

  23. The poll, commissioned by The Victorian National Parks Association, also confirmed the Coalition is heading into the election campaign, which officially begins on November 4, as the underdog, trailing Labor 46 per cent to 54 per cent in party terms.


    The best way to sink the boot into Abbott at the moment IMO is for his stooges in Spring Street to be thrown out of office.

  24. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/cracks-in-the-veneer-of-support-nteu/story-e6frgcjx-1227101415801


    I recommend reading this, a good insight into South Africa today.

  25. kk

    That alone is enough for me to hope the blighter wins.

    What is a disgrace is that ‘Ed’ doesn’t deserve a turn.

    Politics is sh%T.

  26. Bill Shorten’s speech to the ACL today was excellent stuff. Those who threw verbal rocks at Shorten for daring to accept the invitation to speak should read it very carefully. He takes aim at some of the less than Christian views expressed by some of those present and criticises the Abbott government on several issues. Shorten does not hold back.

    Julia Gillard was invited to address this group during her time as PM but pulled out after the then chairman made a derogatory remark about same sex marriage. I think that was a mistake, but her own views on marriage possibly left her with no way to return fire.

    Shorten, being a devout Catholic, was able to speak of his own beliefs and justify them convincingly be referring to the teachings of Christ. Thank goodness Shorten had the guts to turn up and speak. Here’s his speech.

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