Every now and again something comes along which immediately if only temporarily, transforms the atmosphere of Parliament House.  Gough Whitlam’s passing was one of those events.


The political guns fell silent, the tributes flowed, and normal proceeding ground to a halt.  It takes something big to make all those things happen.

I had the very great pleasure and privilege of knowing Gough Whitlam well.

He was a giant amongst men and one of our greatest Prime Ministers and party leaders.

Gough was a visionary, reformer, performer, humanitarian, lawyer and war veteran.  He possessed a wit like no one else I’ve met.

His achievements are too many to list but universal health care, affordable tertiary education and Aboriginal land rights are amongst his greatest legacies.

So too was his reform of the Labor Party – he made it electable after a long spell in the wilderness.  That task wasn’t easy and took great courage.  He took a crash through or crash approach and emerged victorious, just!

In conversations with him in more recent years, Gough was always more interested in seeking re-assurance from me that I was giving myself the greatest chance to be the best politician I could possibly be than talking about his own interests or legacy.

The planning of his funeral was a focus for both Gough and his family for some years.  When I was defence minister I one day took a call from Gough's son Nick.  He reminded me that Gough flew in the Lockheed Ventura Bombers during WWII and wanted to know whether by chance there was any still airworthy.  The family though it would make for a nice fly-past at the farewell!
Australia is a better place for the life of Gough Whitlam and his great partnership with Margaret.

What a hive of activity our Local Government Area was over the course of the weekend. Postie Bike Grand Prix Challenge, Kurri Kurri Community festival, Jazz in the Vines and the Goanna’s Presentation Night kept everyone busy.  Our towns are full of vibrancy and it’s a great thing!

This week, Cessnock Hostel (now Finding Yellow) celebrated the 30th anniversary of providing quality accommodation for people with disability.  Cessnock Hostel, like many community based organisations, was started by a group of parents who were concerned about the future of their adult children still living at home.
The construction of Cessnock Hostel was the result, and in its 30 years of operation it has provided a safe and supportive home for many who have also gained a level of independence they and their families may not have thought possible.
In recent years Cessnock Hostel has become an example of how well a small organisation can serve the community. In 2013 Cessnock Hostel rebranded as Finding Yellow and with the support of Manager Jenny Field, a dedicated board and staff, will continue to provide a wonderful service for the next 30 years and beyond.
Congratulations Cessnock Hostel/Finding Yellow.

The ATO is reminding taxpayers who complete their own return to lodge online before the 31 October deadline to avoid penalties.

The fastest and most convenient way to lodge is through the ATO’s free myTax or e-tax services.

Since 1 July the ATO has received over 2 million lodgements through its free online services.

People who think they may not be able to meet the deadline should call the ATO on 13 28 61 as soon as possible to discuss their situation.

I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

Why not go the extra step by following me on my Facebook page “Joel Fitzgibbon” or on Twitter and type in the search bar “fitzhunter”. Or by regularly checking my website at www.joelfitzgibbon.com or you can even sign up to my E-Newsletter.

To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit www.joelfitzgibbon.com or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.

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