HE WAS a larger than life figure and the man who took Fairfield from a tiny township with little infrastructure to the centre of the land of opportunity.
Edward Gough Whitlam who served as Australia’s 21st prime minister and a titan of the Australian Labor Party, died yesterday, aged 98.
He led the country through a period of massive social change from 1972 to 1975 before his ousting by governor-general Sir John Kerr, in the infamous dismissal episode.
Fairfield Advance reported that Mr Whitlam (pictured) was elected as the Werriwa federal Labor MP in 1952.
In 1957, he moved his family to a home in Albert St, Cabramatta.
Long-time Fairfield Labor councillor Lawrence White remembered Mr Whitlam as a larger than life figure.
“His biggest contribution to the Fairfield area was making tertiary education free and accessible,” Cr White said.
“When I went to school just a handful of children went on to the year 11 and 12 equivalent, today just a handful leave and that’s down to those reforms.”
Mr Whitlam brought sewerage infrastructure to parts of Smithfield and Canley Heights and, in so doing, laid the pipework of our city.
He is also credited with having the planning vision required to build the Cumberland Highway.
The Whitlam Library in Cabramatta was named after him after he secured a massive federal government contribution towards its construction.
Fowler Federal Labor MP Chris Hayes, who previously held the seat of Werriwa, described Mr Whitlam as a giant of the Labor Party.
“Gough was a visionary with a strong focus on education and infrastructure as a way of investing into the nation’s future,’’ he said.
“In 1973, he also led his government in one of the most significant human rights measures in abolishing the death penalty.”
In a statement, Mr Whitlam’s four children said their “loving and generous father” would be remembered as “a source of inspiration”
Community leaders pay tribute to Gough Whitlam’s legacy