Gough Whitlam – his last dismissal

gough

I was in my first year in Australia and in transition from left to right at the moment Gough was dismissed by the Governor-General. Not long before I had been astonished at my own lack of enthusiasm for the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese which was something I thought I had cared about and wished to see. Instead, it left me feeling hollow and uncertain. It was also the year that I came upon Hayek’s Road to Serfdom in the College library at Bendigo and G.L.S. Shackle as well. Nevertheless, I thought Bill Hayden’s budget was very good, being still Keynesian in my outlook. And as a Canadian who had been brought up on the principles of the King-Bing affair, which meant governors-general did not dismiss Prime Ministers, I thought Kerr’s decision was fundamentally wrong, and indeed, in the light of history could never happen again. If a PM has control of the House, the PM remains the PM. But he was nevertheless a bad Prime Minister who has left a bad legacy behind, and it is only the blurring of the years that may have created the impression that Rudd and Gillard were worse. This was put up at Catallaxy by Sinclair and it really does tell a story.

Whitlam-Legacy

And the only thing that saved Medibank from becoming as disastrous as the English or Canadian systems is that Malcolm Fraser found he couldn’t get rid of it so he merely legislated so that everyone could use their Medibank levy to buy private insurance instead if they preferred. It is why we have the best system in the world because you can be in the public system and get reasonable care or you can pay your own way and get better care, with the dual form of funding attracting more resources into the health care system in total than either on their own would do.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum. OK. I will therefore say he was not worse than Rudd-Gillard which his friends will think of as all right and my friends will know perfectly well what I mean. The cartoon, by the way, is from The Guardian. It apparently is intended to be respectful so I think I can have it here as well. But “to show us what was possible” as an encomium to Gough is about as clueless a line about a failed politician as you are ever likely to see.

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