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Gough Whitlam

Whitlam, Gough (gŏf) [key], 1916–, Australian political leader. Edward Gough Whitlam studied law and entered practice near Sydney after serving in World War II. A member of the Labour party, he was elected to Parliament in 1952 and rose in party circles. In 1960 he succeeded Arthur Calwell as party leader and attempted to broaden the party's appeal to the middle class in order to reverse its poor electoral showings of the 1950s and 60s. In the Dec., 1972, elections he led the party to victory against the Liberal-Country coalition that had dominated Australian politics for years. As joint prime minister and foreign minister, he emphasized better treatment for aborigines and a limit to British and U.S. influence in Australia. Immediately after taking office, he ordered Australian troops to return from South Vietnam and ended conscription. In 1973 Whitlam relinquished the office of foreign minister. In the May, 1974, elections his government was returned to power with a small majority in the lower house. In 1975 he was dismissed by the governor-general after a budgetary and early-election impasse with the opposition-controlled senate endangered the government's ability to meet its financial obligations. He resigned as party leader in 1977 and in 1978 left politics to teach at the Australian National Univ. at Canberra. From 1983 to 1986 he was ambassador to UNESCO. A prolific author, he has written many books, including Labor Essays (1980), The Cost of Federalism (1983), and The Whitlam Government 1972–75 (1985).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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