Australia

Australia's Gough Whitlam dies: Tributes in quotes

The death of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam has prompted a flood of tributes.

He was the country's leader for less than three years, from 1972 to 1975, but made controversial decisions and saw through reforms that had a vast impact on Australia.

Politicians, leaders past and present, and major figures in Australian society have reacted to his death on social media. Here is a selection of their quotes.


Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Mr Abbott released a statement honouring Mr Whitlam who was the one-time leader of the Labor Party.

"Gough Whitlam was a giant of his time. He united the Australian Labor Party, won two elections and seemed, in so many ways, larger than life."

"In his own party, he inspired a legion of young people to get involved in public life. He established diplomatic relations with China and was the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China."

"Gough Whitlam recognised the journey that our country needed to take with indigenous Australians. The image of soil passing from Gough Whitlam's hand to (Aboriginal rights activist) Vincent Lingiari's is a reminder that all Australians share the same land and the same hopes."


Opposition leader Bill Shorten

Mr Shorten released a statement on his Facebook page saying: "Like no other Prime Minister before or since, Gough Whitlam redefined our country. And in doing so he changed the lives of a generation."

"His vision, his ambition offered Australia a new sense of what it might be. He reimagined Australia as a modern nation, where opportunity belonged to everyone."


Malcolm Fraser, who took over as caretaker PM after Mr Whitlam was dismissed


Former Australian PM Julia Gillard

Ms Gillard also wrote a tribute to Mr Gough for the Guardian Australia, saying he had inspired her during her term in office.

She said that as prime minister, "I was conscious of walking in Whitlam's footsteps" in creating Australia's national disability insurance scheme.


Former Australian PM Kevin Rudd


Author and Booker Prize winner Thomas Keneally


Former PM Paul Keating

Mr Keating released a statement saying Mr Whitlam "changed the way Australia thought about itself and gave the country a new destiny. A more inclusive and compassionate society at home - a more engaged and relevant country abroad."


Anne Summers, feminist writer and former adviser to Mr Keating


Senator Nova Peris


Mark Scott, managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Mike Baird, New South Wales Premier


Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Mr Turnbull, who was Mr Whitlam's MP, paid tribute to him in parliament, calling him a "big man with a big vision for a big country".

While Mr Whitlam's decisions, including his economic agenda, were controversial, "all of that recedes... What people remember of Gough Whitlam is a bigness, a generosity, an enormous optimism for Australia, and that is something we can all subscribe to."

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