Vale Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam, was a legendary figure of Australian History. The consummate politician, his legacy is great . As Australians we owe him much He ended conscription, established free health care via Medicare, provided free tertiary education, through the TEAS scheme, granted aboriginal land rights,  and gave huge funding to the arts. With his wife Margaret, and the Australian Labor Party, they initiated change in the Australian political landscape, and adopted a great social justice program, for all Australians. It was one of inclusion, and addressed many wrongs in our society, and sought equality of opportunity for all, across all walks of life.

Iron Will
Iron Will

 

 

As a young student I lay down on the tram tracks before the Victorian Parliament House, in Spring St, to protest conscription by ballot for young Australian men, to fight in the Vietnam War. My brother, who could have been conscripted, also protested. It was an old style protest, its type not seen on the streets of Melbourne before, or since, and was one of the last times my brother and I agreed politically, and fought our corner together.  Gough put an end to this barbaric conscription. Whilst too young to vote in the historic 1972 Election Campaign, Labor won, Gough became leader, and its catchy  “Its Time ” campaign song, and black and white TV ad, is one I remember well.

Land For all
Land for All

 

 

Ironically the day after Gough died, on 21 October 2014, his birthplace, a humble cottage in Kew, was demolished. When  I bemoaned that the great man had passed, a fellow Victoria University student asked, who was Gough Whitlam? I shuddered at the inadequacies of our Australian, education system.

Gym

Spinning wheels , sweat soaked bodies , yelps of pain . I am at the gym . Early morning disciples of fitness , we stagger blindly towards the garishly lit beacon , on the suburban side street . A torturous procession of exercises awaits us . Grinding , relentless , painful , and methodical . We push our reluctant body through weaves , turns , runs , squats, and stretches . Its painful , its boring , its becomes instinctive . Our bodies baulk , stop , evade and refuse to co-operate always taking the easy way out like a naughty child . We persist , pushing , pulling , pummelling and following our exercises by route .

starjumps
starjumps

Early morning starts , car refusing to start , its dark , lonely , solitary , and daunting on the empty morning streets . We cajole our lacklustre frames , into some semblance of fitness . The grungy , down at heel exercise mecca in gritty inner city St Kilda , becomes the backdrop to our trials , tests , and triumphs . The desk jockeys become our early morning friends , the pumping music a mask to our ineptitude . Why do we persist ? Its an inane reaction to ageing , an antidote to poor health , and a promise of nirvana that lies waiting at the end of all our toil , that encourages us and binds us to the path of semi acceptable fitness .