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. Any 3 please Mrs Richards.
    I hope to be going to the memorial service at Syd Town Hall, even just to be in a crowd in the street, on Wed 5th.
    Looking for my old It’s Time badges to wear.
    Any other Pubkateers likely to go?

  2. Good music tonight, I’ve been a Joan Baez fan for longer than I care to think about and The Whitlams are family favourites here. My darling daughter, No 1 son and I wacthed the 1998 ARIA awards just to see Gough and The Whitlams. Gough opened the envelope contaning the name of the winners and said ‘It’s my family! The Whitlams’.

    Tim Freedman of The Whitlams talks about his friendship with Gough and Mrgaret here –

  3. Gippsland train services will be thrown into disarray during the height of next month’s Victorian election.

    But Gippsland’s commuters shouldn’t worry because we’re being offered free travel. Something that didn’t happen the last 10 times that the line has been cut, I wonder why that is?


  4. My Mum will be driving through Canberra on the way to Queanbeyan races on Sunday, driving right past PH. I reminded her that if she saw Rabbott in the middle of the road that the law states she must not cause a traffic accident by trying to avoid a wild animal. :devil:

  5. gorgeousdunny1

    I remember hearing on Triple J the recording of Gough presenting the 1998 ARIA Award foe Best Group to The Whitlams. Wish I could find a vid of it and his announcing the “award “to my family” . This was the song , it was also No.1 in Triple J’s Hottest 100 that year

  6. Pour yourselves a drink or six and read this -after the raffle draw, of course.

    John Pilger –
    The forgotten coup – how America and Britain crushed the government of their ‘ally’, Australia

    On 10 November, 1975, Whitlam was shown a top secret telex message sourced to Theodore Shackley, the notorious head of the CIA’s East Asia Division, who had helped run the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile two years earlier.

    Shackley’s message was read to Whitlam. It said that the prime minister of Australia was a security risk in his own country. The day before, Kerr had visited the headquarters of the Defence Signals Directorate, Australia’s NSA where he was briefed on the “security crisis”.

    On 11 November – the day Whitlam was to inform Parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia – he was summoned by Kerr.


  7. I always thought that the L K S Mackinnon (whatever it’s called now) was a good event to bet on.

  8. Soliloquy: you are talking to yourself when you are alone.

    Monologue: you are talking to yourself (or maybe even others) in the presence of others.

  9. Thanks for the numbers yet again ck.I’m in a spot where our wedding anniversary is on Nov 5 the same day as Gough’s memorial.

  10. AsGrayAsGray – 85, 108, 168

    Billie11 – 49, 95, 149

    Ctar1 – 38, 94, 123

    dedalus – 111, 119, 146

    Heather – 89, 92, 136

    gippsland laborite – 32, 56, 109

    Kambah Mick – 50, 121, 175

    kirsdarke – 44, 75, 140

    Lord of the Fridge – 33, 131, 171

    narns – 105, 127, 157

    paddy2 – 8, 134, 153

    Roy Orbison – 45, 63, 151

    and not forgetting –

    Fiona – 22, 73, 100

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