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The Whitlam Government.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way...

When Charles Dickens wrote the above in the opening of "The Tale of Two Cities" he could well have been thinking of Australian Politics in the first half of the seventies, although fortunately after the introduction, the stories diverge - while a government did fall, unlike in the French Revolution, no one lost their heads because of it!

The Whitlam Government came to power on 2nd December 1972, becoming the first Labor Government in 23 years. In a whirlwind of change they banned conscription, withdrew Australia's remaining troops from Vietnam, changed Australia's voting on Southern Africa questions in the UN, negotiated diplomatic relations with Communist China, introduced free tertiary education, abolished the death penalty, reduced the voting age to 18 years, ended what remained of the "White Australia Policy", made "Advance Australia Fair" the national anthem, and commissioned inquiries into schooling and Aboriginal land rights. They were elected again on 18th May 1974 after Gough Whitlam secured a dissolution of both Houses in April 1974 after the Senate twice rejected the bills setting up Medibank - Australia's first comprehensive national health system - and the bills ensuring one vote one value in elections for the House of Representatives and introducing senators for the Territories. The Medibank and electoral bills were then passed at the first and only joint sitting of both Houses of the Parliament.

While the Whitlam Government was re-elected with a majority of votes it did not get a majority of Senators and in 1975 after several scandals, five High Court challenges from non-Labor State Governments, and in a worsening economic climate the Senate postponed the vote on the Budget three times in October leading to the Dismissal of the Whitlam Government on November 11 by the Governor General, Sir John Kerr, and sparking Australia's first Constitutional Crisis - the echoes of which are still with us now, even featuring recently in the last republican debate.

This gallery is largely about the Dismissal, although there are several early cartoons which provide some interesting background, for example, in some respects it seemed political fortune was moving in the same way in both Australia and New Zealand. We are also pleased to be able to present the "HooHa" game which, as far as this writer is concerned, captured the times in a unique and surprisingly accurate fashion.

If you would like to follow the tour, click here, otherwise feel free to browse the cartoons listed below. After the gallery is closed the cartoons will be moved to the archives.

The "HooHa" Game.

When Margaret Whitlam made a seemingly innocent comment to her husband, the then Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, about what she was hearing on return from a good will visit to Japan, little did she realise what she had unleashed!

Experience the first few years of the Whitlam Government for yourself with the "HooHa" game! Published in the boxing day edition of the "Sun News Pictorial" in 1974, the game only appeared in the first edition, as in later editions the paper was taken up with more news of the devastation caused by cyclone Tracy in Darwin - the extent of which was then only becoming apparent.

There are two files for the game, one which includes the game in A4 format plus a description, the other just includes the game in A3 - its original format.

See if you've got what it takes! Try your hand at the HooHa Game in A4, or in the original A3 format.

Note: you require the Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free, in order to view and print out the game. Most browsers come with it pre-installed, however if you need to download it you can find it at the link below.

Get Acrobat Reader

The Cartoons.

The First Omen.

The First Term.

The Second Term.

The Trouble Begins.

The Final Countdown.

The Dismissal.

The Final Omen.

The End.