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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3250

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:11): The long and fruitful life of Margaret Whitlam, which came to an end last week, makes it appropriate for this House to mark her life here today. She defined in her own way the role of the wife of a Prime Minister of this country. Between 1972 and 1975, Margaret Whitlam was very much in the public eye during the years of the Whitlam government in her capacity as the Prime Minister's wife. But she carved out her own identity and supported many causes of her own interest, whether social, cultural, educational or political. These causes were very dear to her heart. She left no-one in any doubt that her marriage was one of equals, true partners dedicated to public service.

This public service continued long after Gough Whitlam's retirement from politics. Much has been written of her warmth, her compassion and her capacity for love. I understand that she had a great sense of humour and that there was a side of her that liked to surprise or even shock people with her words, being amused by their impact. It was her style to speak her mind fearlessly and with wit. She was an extraordinary woman whose contribution to Australian public life ensured that she commanded respect and affection. She will be greatly missed. I offer our sympathies to Gough Whitlam and to the Whitlam family.