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Gough Whitlam

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Gough Whitlam

We are a government committed to bringing change into about social and economical aspects of our country." (Hayden, Speech, 1973)

The Whitlam government's term was filled with controversy, scandals and public protest however, despite criticism of the government it is undoubted that within its term, 5 December 1972- 11 November 1975, the government was significantly influenced by socialist ideals through directing its policies relating to the social, economic and government aspects of society. The government adapted 'crash through or crash' style of policy change, reminiscent of a peaceful socialist revolution, however modified to suite the Australian climate. Whitlam's approach included more democratic elements and involved the people influencing the policies of his government, his eventual goal to solve the great problems capitalism had brought upon Australia. (McGavin, 1987, 55) His solution was quite simply to lessen the capitalist enemy of socialism, the class divide. The government promised the citizens of Australia better quality of life hand in hand with equality and said that these goals would be implemented in the improvement of education, health and welfare, stricter economic regulation as well as broad public ownership of several other basic industries and finally an extension of the national government's power promoting constitutional and electoral changes.

Socialism is defined as a political doctrine concerned with the morals of society and relates to all economic and social aspects of society. Socialism is further characterised by the state ownership and nationalisation of all means of production, facilities and banking for the reason that under socialist control private barriers can no longer prevent the people from working together for the common good. (Bobbio, 1987, 44) This utopia is thought to be achieved through a peaceful political revolution, of course, in the best interests of the nation. (Evans, 1977, 23) Furthermore, socialism is defined by the belief that capitalism has unforgivably failed the working classes and that there is in fact simply no need for inequalities that exist within society. Socialist theory dictates that inequalities within society should be altered to the extent that the upper class minority can no longer hold exclusivity to privilege whilst the majority of the working classes suffer.

Whitlam's breed of socialism embraced the practical and moral components of the ideology. Further, he was a great advocate for rapid change and this was extremely reminiscent of ideological socialist revolution. "We have a new chance for our nation. We can recreate this nation."

Whitlam's policies relating to social aspects of society; education, foreign and social welfare; are seen to be in accordance with much socialist thought. "Education is the key to equality." (Whitlam, speech, 1972). Whitlam's ideas an policies relating to the importance of education also seem to be influenced by popular socialist thought. Immediately after his election as Prime Minister Whitlam ordered an inquiry into education, based on the redistribution of funds to school, on a 'needs' basis. As a result of this inquiry a commission was instigated to regulate education, further centralising the government and taking power from the states individually. Whitlam's policies on education as a tool to fight social injustices advocated starting from the early childhood, "providing preschool education for every child, in order to begin to overcome social, economic and language barriers from an early age." (Whitlam, speech, 1972). As well as this, Whitlam abolished fees from all universities based on the principal that merit rather than wealth should dictate the access to higher education, therefore opening up tertiary education to the working class. Better training and more assistance for teaching collages was also offered within Whitlam's socialist based education policies.

Whitlam's electoral victory is often widely accredited to his policies foreign policies relating to the Vietnam War and significantly much policy created was based upon socialist principals. Almost immediately after his election, he authorised the end to conscription and withdrew all Australian troops from Vietnam. The idea a volunteer army, is also a better army was also strongly imbedded into Whitlam's social policy, instead, preferring to present the defence force as an attractive career choice. Much of Whitlam's policy on defence was derived from the socialist principal of laws based on the faith in human behaviours to bring about a fairer society (Parker, 1999, 28).

Throughout Whitlam's term he altered and implemented many social welfare policies, many of which had a distinct socialist influence. Whitlam saw the equality promoting socialist policies

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