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The End of the Whitlam Era

The death of former Labor Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, has unleashed a national reaction that is seldom seen when a major political figure dies. His death at 98 marks the end of an era when ordinary Australians were able to exert real pressures in shaping the political programs of this country's major political parties. The list of reforms that became law between 1972 and 1975 encompassed all areas of human activity in this country.

The Labor party's reformist political agenda did not materialise out of thin air. Whitlam and the Labor party were, to a significant degree, hostages to a tide of political change that had swept the country since the early 1960's. The social, political and cultural changes that swept across Australia were the product of an extra parliamentary movement that used direct action to promote the case for much needed reforms and radical change.

Rank and file trade unionists, students, the moratorium movement, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait land rights movement, the women's movement, the anti-conscription movement, the anti-apartheid struggle, the emerging environmental movement, gay rights campaigns, the emergence of multiculturalism, the death of the white Australia policy, the struggle for national independence, a new found love for all things Australian and the struggle for equal access to education, health care, social security benefits and work opportunities coalesced into a torrent that drowned the Liberal Country party and rafted the Labor Party to an inevitable electoral victory in 1972. In 2014 Australians, seduced by consumerism and a fourth
estate that has been hijacked by that small section of society that owns the means of production, distribution, exchange and communication, have forgotten that ultimate political authority, in a democratic society, rests in the hands of an active engaged population that is willing to use direct extra parliamentary action to influence the major political party's political, social, cultural and environmental agenda.

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