‘Whitlam would have meant no offence. He probably used the term to emphasise the treatment of the people as second class or something like that’
CANBERRA - I have a memory of a published photograph and caption which I cannot find on the internet or after extensive searching on the National Library’s Trove and other archives.
I wonder if any of the editor’s connections on PNG Attitude can place it.
The photograph was of Gough Whitlam in Papua New Guinea, perhaps on one of his visits there before he became prime minister in 1972.
I think the photograph was of Whitlam at a meeting of some sort.
He was viewing the dignitaries sitting down and the local people were standing at the back.
Whitlam was then overheard saying something like: “Look, everybody at the front is sitting and the poor old boongs have to stand at the back”.
The picture and caption were probably published to cause embarrassment to Whitlam as the word ‘boongs’ was a bit outside polite usage even back then.
It was also an early example of private conversations being released publicly without the consent of the speaker.
Whitlam would have meant no offence. He probably used the term to emphasise the treatment of the people as second class or something like that.
I can’t imagine him making ‘air quotes’ with his fingers!
Perhaps this is not particularly important. It’s one of those things one is sure of but cannot conclusively illustrate.
The photo may have been in a magazine (The Bulletin?) rather than a newspaper.
Perhaps someone remembers it.