Gough Whitlam is portrayed by “progressives” as having made Australia a kinder, fairer place. But an examination of his words and deeds proves the opposite.
There was a narrative before Gough Whitlam’s death, and reinforced relentlessly in his passing, that, despite the economic chaos of his Prime Ministership, he fundamentally transformed Australia for the better. He is hailed as the father of Multiculturalism, opening the door to immigrants, and in general making Australia a more caring place.
It is very difficult to reconcile these tributes with his words “I’m not having hundreds of f—— Vietnamese Balts coming into this country with their political and religious hatreds against us.” In case one wants to argue that this quote is taken out of context, or is not representative of the rest of the progressive movement at large, one need only look at the work of HGP Colbatch, whose work has shown conclusively that the entire progressive movement of the 70’s was treacherously opposed to south Vietnamese refugees.
A few quotes will suffice.
Take this one from Labor’s spokesman for Foreign Affairs, Tony Mulvihill, in the Senate on March 22,1977.
“…the people with the wealth did not have the heart to fight … Now that there is to be a redistribution of wealth many people are attempting to leave as pseudo-refugees … If a person wants to get into this country quickly he should line up at an Embassy; he should be one of the artful dodgers …”
Colbatch notes an incident from 1977:
“The CPA national newspaper Tribune announced in a headline in its issue of December 7, 1977, that WHARFIES STOP WORK OVER FAKE REFUGEES. The refugees were, it said, “in fact, from the privileged classes … If they didn’t have money they wouldn’t be here”.”
Whitlam, the Labor Party leadership, and the broad Labor movement, were deeply opposed to South Vietnamese coming to Australia as refugees, and actively hindered them both in office and out. Although many of the terms used to describe the South Vietnamese, and the arguments made against their coming here were reminiscent of the White Australia Policy era, their stance on the matter cannot be described as racist.
It was far worse.
It was based on ideological grounds. The left in this country supported North Vietnam in the Vietnam War because they were communist, and opposed Australia and the US’s involvement in the Vietnam War, and the South Vietnamese from coming here, because they were anti-communist.
One of the most telling comments on this fact came from Whitlam, in parliament, on April 8, 1975:
“These strongmen, these realists, the men on horseback, insisted on a military solution. So a military solution it is now to be. ‘Look at your works, ye mighty, and despair’!”
He was essentially saying to the South Vietnamese that they were getting their just desserts. This staggeringly callous mindset goes beyond showing sympathy for the socialist or anti-colonialist causes around the world. The only conclusion one can draw is that they were on the other side.
When Australian troops were brought home in 1973, the war had actually been won. North Vietnam had sued for peace after the US’s Christmas bombing offensive of Hanoi in December 1972. An armistice line had been agreed to which was more or less the same as had existed when the war began. With US troops guaranteeing the border, the situation was much like the Korean War when hostilities ceased. Unlike Korea however, where the US has kept troops for 60 years, ensuring peace, and South Korea’s rise to become one of the world’s strongest economies, all Western troops were withdrawn under pressure from the “peace” movement in the US and Australia.
Naturally, the North took its chance and renewed hostilities, advancing rapidly into the South. The South Vietnamese, although fighting bravely, did not have the resources to stop a Soviet backed Vietcong. Despite a Republican administration still being in power, President Ford was in an extremely weak position due to Nixon’s resignation. The crucial moment came when he had to plead with the Armed Services Committee to allow the US to continue to provide financial and military aid to the South. The Democrat controlled committee, John Kerry among them, refused, and South Vietnam was overrun.
As the North Vietnamese advanced, panic set in amongst the civillian population. This panic was not unwarranted, as the Vietcong had form. Fully aware of this, the Whitlam government refused to evacuate South Vietnamese who had helped and worked for the Australians, and who would no doubt be targeted in reprisals by the Vietcong. As the South Vietnamese fled in their thousands, Whitlam and co, as already noted, showed their true colours.
In one episode where an Australian ship rescued a boatload of South Vietnamese, Whitlam hastened to apologise for sheltering the enemies of a friendly government.
Up to two and a half million were murdered in South Vietnam under the Vietcong after 1975. Two to three million, roughly one quarter of the population, were murdered next door in Cambodia under the Communist Khmer Rouge. The progressives here and in the US denied the atrocities at the time by their ideological brethren, and when the truth came out, they somehow tried to pin the blame for the Killing Fields on the yanks.
An oft repeated tale in the days after Gough’s death has been of how he and Jim Cairns were locked out of a meeting deciding party policy, in which the faceless men of the Unions got to lock out their own leader. He is painted as standing up to the far left of his own party, and dragging it toward the mainstream. But this is complete rubbish. Whitlam led the most left wing government in Australia’s history. At best, his government was an apologist and an ideological partner of some of the worst butchers in human history. At worst, his government was treasonous.
Whitlam’s outburst on the steps of Parliament has been played, and will continue to be played, ad nauseum. But we owe it to the Governor General. Well may we say “God save the Queen.” Because the Governor General saved Australia.