Gough Whitlam spoke with Australians, not at us

IT'S TIME, Gough.

Prime Minister for just three years, Gough Whitlam will be remembered as a man who ushered in some of the most significant reforms and policies of any government.

Tributes flowed from both sides of politics, remarking on Mr Whitlam's immense contribution amid turbulent times.

While he maybe most notably remembered for his part in the parliamentary crisis in 1975 which controversially saw Governor General Sir John Kerr dismiss the government, Mr Whitlam's policy legacy will linger long after his death.

Ending conscription and Australia's role in the Vietnam War in response to a societal movement across the world of protest set the agenda of the Labor Party which had so long been confined to the political wilderness.

He created Australia's first universal health care system, providing a platform of equality in treatment which pulled down socio-economic boundaries. At a time when Australia's commitment to Medicare is wavering, many are fighting for it in true Whitlam fashion.

Mr Whitlam also opened our nation's eyes to Asia - and in particular China, forging new relationships which have been the scaffolding for Australia's economic prosperity in more recent times.

Changes to the education system, our national anthem and his decision to purchase seminal artwork Blue Poles for a then extraordinary $1.3 million to in essence highlight the need for investment in the arts typified his approach and indelibly that of the Labor Party for the four decades since he was deposed.

Despite these many achievements, his government was racked with controversy and poor performance which ultimately provoked the 1975 crisis.

Mr Whitlam was prime minister in a time where political leadership was honest and open. When politicians would make tough decisions and stand by them - whatever the personal impact. He was a leader of men, women and his country with an unabashed favouritism.  

Gough Whitlam spoke with Australians, not at us.

As current Prime Minister Tony Abbott gracefully remarked on Tuesday: "Whitlam represented more than a new politics. He represented a new way of thinking, about government, about our region, about our place in the world and about change itself."

They don't make politicians like Gough Whitlam anymore. He was a true believer.