Whitlam: The Power and the Passion
Sunday, 7.30pm, ABC1 The second and final part of writer-director Paul Clarke’s documentary about Gough Whitlam gets to grips with his subject’s fall. In office, Whitlam implemented ‘‘ the program’’, an ambitious catalogue of wideranging reforms he apparently had been dreaming of for 30 years, at a pace that dizzied the public, baffled the press and exceeded the capacity of the public servants charged with its implementation. Free higher education, free healthcare, housing for low-income families, sewerage, motorways and no-fault divorce were all fast-tracked. Of course, all of this is a matter of history. For those of us who were there or young at the time, Whitlam: The Power and the Passion is a nostalgic excursion back to some of the headiest upheavals in our political history. For those who weren’t there, it makes clear how this man of great vision and reckless idealism came unstuck with a poor grasp of the economy and some very bad decisions. Clarke’s interview subjects are a bipartisan lot, from John Howard and Malcolm Fraser to Bob Hawke and Bill Hayden. Commentators including Phillip Adams, Mungo MacCallum, Jane Caro and a visibly moved Andrew Denton have their say. The only glaring flaw is the inclusion of poorly judged dramatic reenactments that fall flatter than Lake Eyre.