16 Completely Life-Changing Things Australians Can Thank Gough Whitlam For

Free medical care, university education, Aboriginal land rights and the chance to vote at 18. All remembered as soaring achievements of the former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam who died on Tuesday, aged 98.

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1. Free medical care.

ABC News / youtube.com

Gough Whitlam created Medibank as a key policy proposal in 1972. It gave Australians free access to hospitals and a range of medical services. The heart of the proposals are now seen in the scheme known as Medicare.

2. Scrapping university fees for a generation of students.

Dean Lewins / AAP Images

Gough Whitlam removed fees for universities in 1974 seeing a huge increase in the number of Australians receiving tertiary education.

3. Aboriginal land rights.


Gough Whitlam returned the traditional lands of the Gurindji people to Vincent Lingiari in 1975. He poured the red dirt into his hands signaling the returning of the Wave Hill Station.

5. A diplomatic relationship with China.


Gough Whitlam was the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China, with Prime Minister Abbott crediting him with creating the modern relationship.

7. Ending Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War.

Australian War Memorial / Via whitlam.org

Gough Whitlam announced all Australian troops would be withdrawn and by 1973 he officially ended involvement in the Vietnam War.

10. Legal aid.

Paul Miler / AAP Images

Gough Whitlam created the Australian Legal Aid Office in 1973 with an office in each state in the country providing state money for those who need legal representation.

11. The Australian national anthem.

Ben Radford / Getty Images

Gough Whitlam announced a national competition for a new anthem to replace "God Save The Queen" in 1972. After public polls and votes, "Advance Australia Fair" became the new anthem in 1984.

12. The Order of Australia.

ABC News / Via abc.net.au

Gough Whitlam created the system of national decorations known as the "Order of Australia" in 1975, seeing the scrapping of the old titles of "Knights" and "Dames". Of course the imperial titles were re-instituted by the current Abbott Government this year.

13. Protected environmental sites.

The National Archives of Prime Ministers / Via primeministers.naa.gov.au

Gough Whitlam ratified the World Heritage Convention in 1974 which gave the government the power to protect environmental sites designated significant by UNESCO.

15. Young people in politics.

Getty Images / Via sbs.com.au

Gough Whitlam is widely credited with bringing young people into politics with his socially progressive policies and revolutionary "It's Time" election campaign.

16. Oh and of course there's always Triple J.


Gough Whitlam started 2JJ in 1975 just before being dismissed from government. It spawned into a national youth radio network now known as Triple J.