A u s t r a l i a n H u m a n i t i e s R e v i e w

Thirty Years Later: The Whitlam Government as Modernist Politics

Keynote Speaker: The Hon. E.G. Whitlam

The National Key Centre for Australian Studies
the Parliamentary Studies Unit
School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University


A conference to mark the 30th anniversary of the election of the Whitlam government.

Monday 2 December & Tuesday 3 December 2002 Old Parliament House, Canberra

The conference takes as its starting point a consideration of the Whitlam government as a force in modernising the Australian Labor Party in the 1960s, Australian governance in the 1970s and Australian society at that time and beyond. According to former Prime Minister Paul Keating, Gough Whitlam "saved the Labor party in the 1960s and 1970s". Whitlamās work on policy development within the party has been the subject of renewed interest in the light of debate over the ALPās handling of refugee policy during the 2001 election campaign. The significance and contemporary relevance of Whitlam's 3 years of government lies in more than a recitation of policy achievements, extraordinary though they may be, it lies in the modernist politics of the Whitlam era, in the impact of that era on broader notions of politics and culture and in the interactions between the structural changes steered through the Labor party and the policy changes this engendered at both the Party and governmental levels.

In this sense the Whitlam years from party Leader to Prime Minister can be seen as marking a transition from the Labor party of the immediate post-Split years to what we now consider to be the modern Australian Labor Party. This will be an opportunity to reflect upon both the government itself and, perhaps more importantly, on the manner in which it has been considered in the written history to date. This conference will look beyond the Whitlam government to the circumstances of both its creation and its demise, allowing us to read Whitlamism beyond its specific policy developments and to see it as essentially modernist politics.

Conference Convenors: Dr Jenny Hocking
Head, National Key Centre for Australian Studies
Monash University
Fax: +61 3 9905 55238
Email: jenny.hocking@arts.monash.edu.au

Dr Colleen Lewis
Co-director, Parliamentary Studies Unit
Monash University
Fax: +61 3 9903 2795
Email: colleen.lewis@arts.monash.edu.au

Call for Papers
Papers to be considered for the refereed conference stream to be received by the Conference Convenors by Friday 26 April 2002.
Abstracts of papers for the non-refereed conference stream to be received by the Conference Convenors by Friday 31 May 2002.

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