Whitlam’s Foreign Policy -- Michael Easson

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Whitlam’s Foreign Policy

Michael Easson

ISBN 9781922815491

Paperback, 120 pages, $24.95

May 2023

In the last 50 years no Australian political leader has had as much influence on politics as Gough Whitlam. Some of his greatest impacts were on Australian foreign policy.

As Prime Minister from 1972-1975, he established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China; reached a settlement with the United States on vital defence facilities; revitalised the ANZUS alliance, in the context of a more robustly independent Australia; presided over the establishment of an independent Papua New Guinea; actively engaged with the rest of the world – forging relations with world leaders, like no one before him. It was a period of optimism, excitement and challenge. Some changes were immense and long lasting, others ephemeral.

In foreign policy, no previous prime minister exercised such untrammelled power. Whitlam made mistakes, unnecessarily annoyed some allies, was sometimes careless in the niceties of diplomacy. Indonesian relations, Vietnamese refugees, East Timor independence, Baltic states’ recognition, Middle East policy, are key controversies, and part of the story. This monograph in a humanely critical spirit, is concerned with international politics, and evaluates the realist Whitlam, the idealist Whitlam, the great reformer, the flawed man.

Dr Michael Easson AM is a businessman, Chair of EG Funds Management, labour historian, and Life Member of the ALP, NSW Branch. He studied Political Science at the University of NSW and holds a PhD in history from the Australian Defence Force Academy at the University of NSW, Canberra. 29 years ago, he was Secretary of the Labor Council of NSW, Vice President of the ACTU, and Senior Vice President of the ALP, NSW Branch. Since his teens he has followed Whitlam’s career and person.

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