When the former Australian PM Gough Whitlam died this week it seemed ironic that developers were about to destroy his birthplace in Melbourne.
But the better side of Australian public life rallied to the cause and the modest home of one of Australia’s greatest sons was saved for the nation.
The house where Gough Whitlam was born is called Ngara at 46 Rowland Street in Kew. It was built in 1915 by Whitlam’s grandfather, master builder Edward Maddocks.
Ngara is an indigenous word of the Darug people of the Sydney area and means ‘to listen, hear and think.’
For many decades it belonged to a Grace Swinnerton, an ardent member of the Liberal party, who would not even allow Gough Whitlam himself to enter and have a look around.
On her death aged 98 in Nov. 2013, the house was sold overseas to Youquing Liang for $3.3 million .
Demolition was due to start on Tuesday 21st October, the very day that Gough Whitlam passed away.
However, that evening, Matthew Guy wrote to the Heritage Council (in the wake of articles published in “The Age”) saying he had applied for an interim protection order although demolition had already started,
State Labor leader, Daniel Andrews, said that the man himself may not have been bothered by the controversy.
“I would imagine that Gough Whitlam , being the humble man he was, would much prefer the taxpayers’ money to be invested in health and education, not a house in which he had lived for about 8 months as a boy” he said.
However, neighbours who gathered out front to celebrate the reprieve disagreed.
Australians take stock of Whitlam’s contribution
Australia is taking stock of the significant role that Gough Whitlam played in giving Australians an equal opportunity to achieve their aims in life.
Many of his reforms still hold good today, in spite of efforts by some right wing governments, including the present one, to replace them.
Gough Whitlam was a highly educated man, as was his wife, Margaret.
Both had degrees in law. They raised four children, who outlive them and had several grandchildren.
And the Whitlams’ contribution to life in Australia is universally agreed to have been outstanding.
(To see a full assessment of Gough Whitlam’s role in the transformation of modern Australia, see: http://kapitiindependentnews.net.nz/gough-whitlam-obituary/)