The first Australian prime minister to have visited China was Old Pauline Gough Whitlam1 (in College 1935-42). Tony Wright has written in SMH (8 Sep 2023) about the 50th anniversary of Gough’s visit to Beijing in October 1973. Gough had previously visited as Leader of the Opposition in 1971 which led to the other Old Pauline PM at that time, Sir William McMahon2, (in College 1927-31) to state that Whitlam has allowed himself to be “played as a fisherman plays a trout” by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai.
As a result of his 1973 visit Prime Minister Whitlam emerged as a diplomatic ‘trailblazer’. See a clip of SMH story here.
PICTURED ABOVE: Gough Whitlam arriving at College for the 1982 Union Dinner.
- The Hon E G Whitlam AC QC was the ALP Member for Werriwa in Sydney 1952-78, Leader of the Opposition 1975-77, Minister for Foreign Affairs 1972-73 and 21st Prime Minister of Australia 1972-75. ↩︎
- The Rt Hon Sir William McMahon GCMG CH PC, or better known throughout his life as “Billy”, was the Liberal member for Lowe in Sydney from 1949 to 1982; the longest serving Federal minister ever at 21 years from 1951-71; the 20th Prime Minister of Australia 1971-72. ↩︎