A mighty totara has fallen across the Tasman

The New Zealand Labour Party expresses deep sadness at the death of former Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam, aged 98.

“Today a great totara has fallen across the Tasman,” Labour’s Acting Deputy Leader Annette King says.

“Despite being a Labor prime minister for less than three years between 1972 and 1975, Edward Gough Whitlam’s legacy is one of reform. He not only changed the political landscape in Australia but influenced generations of Australians and New Zealanders with his stands on independent foreign relations, liberalism, urban and regional renewal and equal pay.

“His commitment to Labour values aligned with New Zealand’s own great totara and former Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk, who died during Gough Whitlam’s term in office. Like Norman Kirk, Gough Whitlam’s work reflected the aspirations of the poor, the sick, the elderly, the disabled and the mentally ill.

“Gough Whitlam also came into power after long periods of conservative governments and introduced sweeping social, economic and political reforms that led to major cultural changes in both countries.

“His passing follows that of his much loved wife Margaret, whose strong personality and forthright views made her almost as recognisable as her husband.

“The death of Gough Whitlam today is the end of an era for the Labour movements on both sides of the Tasman,” Annette King says.