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Million-dollar grant to restore Gough Whitlam’s historic Sydney home

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The federal government will contribute $1.3 million towards the cost of restoring the Western Sydney home of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, turning it into a museum open to the public.

The house at 32 Albert Street, Cabramatta, was where Gough Whitlam celebrated his 1972 election victory surrounded by crowds of supporters.

He also owned the property during his controversial 1975 dismissal.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ben Morton, said the building was an important national asset.

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Gough Whitlam gave a press conference from his living room after winning the 1972 election. Photo: ABC News

“The home is an indelible part of Australia’s history and it should be preserved and treasured for future generations,” he said.

The plan is to return the house to its original condition and create a museum where visitors can learn more about Australia’s 21st Prime Minister and his legacy.

The grant will be given to the Whitlam Institute, within Western Sydney University, which will oversee the restoration ahead of next year’s 50th anniversary of the Whitlam government’s election.

The living room of Gough Whitlam’s former home in Cabramatta. Photo: Supplied/Ray White

“We hope the Whitlam House can play a pivotal role in the celebrations of his government’s legacy,” said John Faulkner, former Labor senator and chair of the Whitlam Institute.

When the house came on the market earlier this year, a group of senior Labor Party figures banded together and raised more than $1 million to buy it.

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The kitchen of Whitlam’s former home has some damaged cabinetry. Photo: Supplied/Ray White

Since the Whitlams moved out in 1977, it had been in private hands and had fallen in disrepair but many of the original features remained intact.

Gough and Margaret Whitlam hired a local architect to design and build the single-storey house.

Their son Nick Whitlam was 12 when the family moved into the house in 1957.

“The thing that struck me pleasantly was how much is still here,” he said.

“People can still see how a person of his position lived at the time.”

Whitlam’s son Nick at his childhood home in Cabramatta. Photo: ABC News/Ursula Malone

In 2019, the government provided $750,000 towards the purchase and renovation of former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s childhood home at Bordertown in South Australia.

Whitlam House will be the latest addition to former Prime Minister’s homes preserved for the nation, including Ben Chifley’s home in Bathurst, New South Wales, John Curtin’s home in Cottesloe, Western Australia, and Joe and Enid Lyons’ family homes inn Stanley and Devonport, Tasmania.

ABC

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