Sir Owen Woodhouse visits Gough Whitlam in Sydney

Sir Owen Woodhouse and Gough Whitlam, reflecting on the changes they’ve seen in their many years of friendship.

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These 2 men, now 93 years of age were born just 7 days apart, Mr Whitlam being the older one. Not only that, both of their wife’s name was Margaret!

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Sir Owen produced the Woodhouse report that recommended a “no-fault” accident compensation scheme when he was Chairman of the Royal Commission on Accident Compensation in New Zealand. The report is regarded as one of the most significant legal reforms of this generation.

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Sir Owen also worked very closely with Mr Whitlam in the early 1970s to design a comprehensive social insurance scheme for injured and sick Australians. While the Bill passed the Lower House of Federal Parliament, Mr Whitlam’s dismissal meant the Bill went with it.

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35 years on, the pair are still as passionate as ever and are hoping to finish what started in 1974 – to provide a national, publicly funded, no-fault disability insurance scheme that would provide care and support for the disabled and ill.

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Sir Owen and Mr Whitlam listening on attentively.

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On the right, Dr Bronwyn Morkham, National Director of the Young People in Nursing Homes Alliance.

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Dr. Morkham, proponent of the Whitlam-Woodhouse ideas from 1974 explaining how those ideas are just as relevant today as they were 35 years ago.

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Margaret, Sir Owen’s daughter accompanied Sir Owen on his visit to Australia. Margaret is a best selling author and founder of Magari Publishing.

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It’s no fun having business without pleasure. It was a rare opportunity to have Sir Owen in Australia. The two gentlemen had a great time catching up with each other, recollecting their stories and experiences in the past.

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Here, Sir Owen commented on how witty and sharp he thought Mr Whitlam was back in the day.

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They also told us a story about Mr Whitlam when he was Prime Minister of Australia. Mr Whitlam made a crude comment during a proceeding in the Senate. Needless to say, Mr Speaker was not pleased but it was both interesting and funny to hear about it from Mr Whitlam himself.

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From left to right: Dr. Bronwyn Morkham, Gough Whitlam, Sir Owen Woodhouse, Margaret Woodhouse.

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As I mentioned in a previous post and also something worth mentioning again, I was truly honoured and priveleged to be given the opportunity to photograph these two gentlemen. It was a totally new experience for me and one I will always remember.

If you follow my blog regularly, you may have a noticed a slight difference in the way I write. I simply wanted it to be more journalistic and less jovial – just to try something new :)

By the way, my film developer was no longer active and thus I decided to post up the digital ones first. Hope you guys enjoy my attempt at a different form of photojournalism!



4 Responses to “Sir Owen Woodhouse visits Gough Whitlam in Sydney”

  1. Akushla Says:


    Visit Akushla

    Well done Justin! Very interesting :-)

  2. Justin Oh Says:


    Visit Justin Oh

    Thanks Kush! Hope you like my attempt at a different style of photojournalism than what I usually do :)

  3. Phillip Olsen Says:


    Visit Phillip Olsen

    Great stuff Justin. As a trade union we are interested in Sir Owens achievemnets and Gouighs. Can i reporoduce a couple of these pics in our trade union journal? we are of course not for profit.

  4. Faye Galbraith Says:


    Visit Faye Galbraith

    Great photos Justin. I heard Sir Owen speak about the National DIsability Insurance Scheme (that nearly was) last year in Sydney. It’s something I am passionate about as I have two little boys who have a severe disability and I can’t help but think of how much easier their lives would have been if they had access to proper services and supports. If it weren’t for The Dismissal.

    Hopefully the NDIS will happen very soon, as thankfully it has been resurrected by Bill Shorten and others equally committed to improving the lives of people living with disability.