Gough Whitlam – In His Own Words

Australian Workers Film Guide


Commissioned by SBS Independent this feature length documentary recounts the political life of Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, whose vision and egalitarian ideals transformed the nation’s political, social and cultural landscape.  Filmed in 2002, an extended interview with Gough Whitlam by Labor Senator John Faulkner is interspersed with historical stills, footage and newspaper headlines, along with narration by Faulkner.  In what is a relaxed and frank reflection, the film is a fascinating insight into political and social events that were of national importance, and still resonate today. As such the film is curiously inspiring and a call to arms for the continuing struggle for enlightenment and working class ideals.

Emblematic of Whitlam’s trailblazing journey across the national stage, the film opens with the ebullient 1972 ‘It’s Time’ campaign launch.  Outlining the lack of social infrastructure for working people, he articulates his reason for entering politics, discusses his early political career, the re-organisation and policy re-invigoration of the Labor Party in preparation for government, the 1972 and 1975 election campaigns, the workings of government as well as innovative policy implementation that resulted in great achievements in education, health, equality for women, arts, liberalisation of the Immigration Act, the return of land to Aborigines and re-establishing diplomatic ties with China. 

The ending of conscription and the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam is discussed, along with his government’s position on the Indonesian invasion of East Timor.   As to be expected, there is significant discussion around the infamous 1975 dismissal by Governor General Sir John Kerr, which Whitlam refers to as a ‘conspiracy’ and a ‘coup’.

Special Notes/Achievements

  • Broadcast nationally on SBS TV.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 84 mins

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Film Producer: Robert Francis, Andrew Williams,

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Film Key Cast: John Faulkner – Interviewer/Narrator, Gough Whitlam - Interviewee,

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