CONDOLENCES: Whitlam, Mrs Margaret Elaine, AO

'Margaret Whitlam was a great human being and she and Gough were a formidable couple.' That is how the president of the Wagga Wagga branch of country Labor, Glenn Eliott-Rudder, described the late Mrs Whitlam, who died in a Sydney hospital on Saturday morning aged 92 years.

'She made such an impression on so many and she will be sadly missed,' he said. 'Certainly, she will not be forgotten by those who lived during the 1970s—such an era of change for Australia and Australians.' Griffith country Labor branch vice-president, Peter Knox, has a recording of It's Time, Labor's 1972 campaign jingle, personally signed by both Margaret and Gough. The recording is one of the most treasured mementos of Mr Knox, who is Labor through and through and a former candidate for the seat of Riverina. 'Our members are very sad and sorry about this wonderful woman's passing,' Mr Knox told me this afternoon. 'I joined Labor around the time Gough became Prime Minister, and I remember the period well. Margaret was a tremendous asset to Gough as Prime Minister and she leaves a wonderful legacy of service to our nation.' 

As the member for Riverina I offer my condolences on behalf of all Labor supporters in the electorate, as well as for all of those people I represent in this parliament who mourn the loss of an Australian who contributed mightily to the nation as the wife or one of our larger-than-life prime ministers and also very much in her own right. We celebrate her life, we remember the mark she made and we acknowledge with respect and thanks that she did her best to make our country a better place in which to live.

Cristy Houghton