New Canberra suburb named to honour Gough Whitlam

New Canberra suburb named to honour Gough Whitlam

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of his dismissal from government, former prime minister Gough Whitlam will have a new Canberra suburb named in his honour.

The ACT Place Names Committee has unanimously agreed to name the first suburb in the Molonglo Valley stage three land release "Whitlam" after Australia's 21st prime minister.

Could Canberra's new electorate be named for Gough Whitlam?

Could Canberra's new electorate be named for Gough Whitlam?

Serving from December 1972 until November 1975, Mr Whitlam died in October 2014, aged 98.

In 2010 he gave permission for his name to be used for a future Canberra suburb, joining more than half of Australia's prime ministers. The Whitlam family has welcomed the naming of the subdivision.


ACT government regulations for place naming require a prime minister or public figure to have been dead for a year before a suburb can be named after them.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the first Whitlam residents would move into newly developed homes by the end of the decade. Whitlam will have views to the Molonglo River and the Brindabella Range.

"Gough Whitlam's contribution to Australia was huge, he changed our nation forever, and I am pleased our city can mark his legacy in this way," Mr Barr said.

Mr Whitlam's father, Frederick Whitlam, brought his family to the fledgling national capital in 1926, when he took on the role of deputy Commonwealth Crown Solicitor.

The future prime minister lived in a family home in Forrest and was enrolled at Telopea Park Intermediate High School in 1927, completing the leaving certificate at age 15 in 1931.

He later studied at Canberra Grammar School before enrolling at the University of Sydney in 1935. Mr Whitlam lived at The Lodge from 1972 until Governor-General Sir John Kerr removed him from office on November 11, 1975.

Wednesday's 40th anniversary of the dismissal will be marked with events at Old Parliament House.

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman said the government's Indicative Land Release Program would see the first release of 500 dwelling sites in Whitlam commence in 2018 or 2019, with occupancy expected from the following year.

Canberra suburbs already named after former prime ministers include Barton, Deakin, Watson, Reid, Fisher, Cook, Hughes, Bruce, Scullin, Lyons, Page, Curtin, Fadden, Forde, Chifley and Holt.

Australia's longest serving prime minister, Sir Robert Menzies, chose not to have a Canberra suburb named after him, reportedly telling his daughter Heather Henderson that "all the good suburbs were already taken".

The Australian Electoral Commission is also expected to name a federal electorate after Mr Whitlam. The commission's guidelines say the names of Australian prime ministers should be considered when any new federal electorate divisions are established.

The commission's guidelines say new electorates should carry the names of noted Australians who have "rendered outstanding service to their country".

A pavilion at the National Arboretum Canberra was named after Mr Whitlam's wife, Margaret Whitlam, who died in March 2012.

Last year Fraser MP Andrew Leigh proposed naming Canberra Airport after Mr Whitlam, who he said was an internationalist credited with opening Australia to the world.

Tom McIlroy is a political reporter for The Australian Financial Review in the federal press gallery at Parliament House.

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