Julia Gillard and the Governor General Quentin Bryce, are among a long list of prominent Australians who have paid tribute to Margaret Whitlam AO, following her death at St Vincents Private Hospital on Saturday.
Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, described Margaret Whitlam as a remarkable woman, rightly loved and revered as a national treasure.
Ms Gillard said, “Margaret was an accomplished woman in her own right, with an abiding commitment to social issues, reflecting her own professional training, as well as a tireless advocate for the arts, the environment and women’s rights.”
“Indeed Margaret’s own self-confident and forthright example inspired many women that they too could lead lives of greater ambition and purpose.”
“Through her own independent activism and advocacy, she also helped redefine the role of ‘first lady’, giving it a new and deeper significance in the life of our nation.”
Following the death of Mrs Whitlam on Saturday, the Prime Minister announced she would pay a more formal tribute to Margaret Whitlam on the floor of the House of Representatives on Monday, 19th March.
Australia’s first female Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO, called Margaret Whitlam a wonderful Australian. “She was pioneering, gutsy and principled. She lived life honestly and served honourably. There was always a sparkle about her.”
“Margaret’s passion for social justice, her commitment to the arts and her unwavering loyalty to Gough spanning seven decades are but part of her legacy,” said the Governor-General.
Margaret Whitlam devoted her life to women’s rights, social issues and the arts. Her commitment to public service was recognised in 1983 when she was made an Officer in the Order of Australia. The National Trust of Australia later named her one of Australia’s National Living Treasures.
Margaret Elaine Dovey married the man who was to become Australia’s 21st Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam QC, AC, in 1942. The Whitlam’s marriage was considered to be one of the greatest personal and political partnerships in our nation’s history. It is said that he admired her intellect, wit and commitment to improving the lives of others. She described him as “delicious” and ensured he remained well-grounded. The couple would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on April 22nd.
Margaret Whitlam is survived by her husband Gough; their four children Antony, Nicholas, Stephen and Catherine; her grand children Alex, Alice, Helen, Edward and Peter; and her great grandchildren Oscar, Isabella, Charlotte and Sam.