It seems that the late, great former Australian PM Gough Whitlam (who died on Tuesday, aged 98), was more than just a political pioneer. He did a lot for our music industry as well.
This week, Music Feeds has revealed some of the great ideas and reforms the infamous Labor leader implemented, much of which we ought to be very thankful for. As a tribute to Gough, let’s take a look at some of his greatest arts industry achievements…
He funded The Arts!
Whitlam was a huge supporter of Australian arts, and jumped at the opportunity to inject more money into the industry as soon as he took office. Arts funding almost doubled in 1973 thanks to the Whitlam government, and their reconstitution of the Australian Council for the Arts also helped to secure strong future support for music and the arts.
He set up Triple J!
In 1975, the Whitlam Government established 2JJ radio (which became known as Double J) in Sydney, as part of his vision to create a National Youth Radio Network. He was famously sacked by the Governor General later that year, but his efforts live on today in the form of Triple J and the recently re-established Double J on radio and TV.
He set up FM Radio in Australia!
The Whitlam Government introduced FM in Australia in 1974, which we all know is a much better sound quality than AM. The improved audio quality led to a more immersive listening experience, while the technology’s capabilities allowed for the licensing of more radio stations across the country, and look how many stations we have on FM now? Thanks Gough!
He promoted community radio!
Many people attribute the birth of community radio to the Whitlam Labor government, having granted the first low-powered community radio licenses for the broadcast of educational material between 1972 and 1975. Since then, the community radio sector has seen strong growth but continues to fight for funding. However, without the support of Whitlam to begin with, these stations wouldn’t be here at all.
He guaranteed local acts airplay!
Whitlam guarded and shaped the music industry during radio’s formative years and threw his support behind Australian music-makers. During his reign, he introduced a rule which meant that at least 10% of commercial radio airtime had to consist of Australian music. There’s no doubt this helped many Australian bands rise to prominence on commercial airwaves back in the day.
He inspired a band!
Sydney rockers The Whitlams not only have the former PM as their namesake, but they band also released a music video for their song ‘Gough’ back in 1993 along with footage of the man himself. Written by lead singer Tim Freedman, the autobiographical tune tells of a “story about a man called Gough”. Awwwwhhhhh!
And inspired all Australians to sing!
The ALP launched their election campaign song ‘It’s Time’ back in 1972, featuring a chorus of Australian musicians, entertainers and sporting stars, including Col Joye, Bert Newton, Little Pattie, Barry Crocker, Graham Kennedy, Jack Thompson and Jacki Weaver. It was recorded at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion and led to a win for the Whitlam government in the 1972 federal election. Who can forget: “Time for freedom / Time for moving / Time to be clear / Yes, it’s time!”