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How far we’ve come?

Forty years ago today the Whitlam government was sacked by the Governor General of Australia. In less than three years they had achieved the following:

1. Ended Conscription
2. Withdrew Australian troops from Vietnam
3. Implemented Equal Pay for Women
4. Launched an Inquiry into Education and the Funding of Government and Non-Government Schools on a needs basis
5. Established a separate ministry responsible for Aboriginal Affairs
6. Established a single Department of Defence
7. Withdrew support for apartheid–South Africa
8. Granted independence to Papua New Guinea
9. Abolished Tertiary Education Fees
10. Established the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme (TEAS)
11. Increased pensions
12. Established Medibank (the precursor to Medicare)
13. Established controls on Foreign Ownership of Australian resources
14. Passed the Family Law Act establishing No-Fault Divorce
15. Passed a series of laws banning Racial and Sexual Discrimination
16. Extended Maternity Leave and Benefits to Single Mothers
17. Funded support services for women and the International Women’s Year
18. Became the first government in the world to appoint a dedicated adviser on Women's Affairs
19. Established parental leave for Commonwealth employees
20. Removed legal restrictions on oral contraceptives
21. Introduced One-Vote-One-Value to democratise the electoral system
22. Implemented wide-ranging reforms of the ALP's organisation
23. Initiated Australia's first Federal Legislation on Human Rights, the Environment and Heritage
24. Passed the Seas and Submerged Lands Act which gave the Commonwealth authority over the states in matters concerning seas surrounding Australia (this was used to block the Bjelke-Petersen Government’s plans to allow oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef)
25. Ratified the World Heritage Convention
26. Established the Legal Aid Office
27. Established the National Film and Television School
28. Began construction of the National Gallery of Australia
29. Reformed Australian radio and created Triple J
30. Established the Australian Development Assistance Agency
31. Established diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China and reopened the Australian Embassy in Beijing after 24 years
32. Established the Prices Justification Tribunal
33. Revalued the Australian Dollar
34. Cut tariffs across the board
35. Established the Trade Practices Commission
36. Established the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service
37. Established the Law Reform Commission
38. Established the Australian Film Commission
39. Established the Australia Council
40. Established the Australian Heritage Commission
41. Established the Consumer Affairs Commission
42. Established the Technical and Further Education Commission
43. Implemented a national employment and training program
44. Created Telecom and Australia Post to replace the Postmaster-General's Department
45. Devised the Order of Australia Honours System to replace the British Honours system
46. Abolished appeals to the Privy Council
47. Abolished the death penalty
48. Changed the National Anthem from “God save the Queen” to “Advance Australia Fair” (confirmed by referendum in 1977)
49. Instituted Aboriginal Land Rights
50. Created the Aboriginal Land Fund and Aboriginal Loans Commission
51. Established the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee
52. Funded legal services for indigenous people
53. Completed sewerage system in Sydney (Most of Sydney was still using septic tanks 40 years ago)
54. Funded urban public transport projects
55. Ended the White Australia Policy by making racially-based selection criteria illegal
56. Improved support services for immigrants
57. Introduced the policy of multiculturalism
58. Took France to the International Court of Justice, seeking an injunction against nuclear testing in the Pacific – and won
59. Negotiated the Nippon-Australia Relations Agreement with Japan
60. Created the Industrial Assistance Commission
61. Established the Foreign Investment Advisory Committee
62. Initiated the Regional Employment Development Scheme
63. Allocated $140 million to the development of hospitals throughout Australia and $120 million to community health services
64. Lowered the voting age from 21 to 18
65. Granted Senate representation for the ACT and Northern Territory
66. Enacted the States Grants (Housing Assistance) Act and the Housing Agreement Act
67. Established Commonwealth funding responsibility for universities

I defy anyone who lives in this country to read this list and not find one or more achievements that have made their lives better.

Sometime in the next 12 months the Turnbull (née Abbott) government will almost certainly be returned, possibly with an increased majority. In the three years they will have been in government they will have delivered what can flatteringly be described as a Kafkaesque nightmare narrated by the three stooges.
I defy anyone who isn’t a millionaire, mining company or multinational to find anything on their long list of failings that have made their lives, or the lives of their children, better.

RIP Gough. You deserved better than this, we all did.

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