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Graham Freudenberg – Statement by Leanne Smith, Director of the Whitlam Institute


The Whitlam Institute is saddened by the news of the passing of Graham Freudenberg and our sympathies extend to his family and friends.

Graham Freudenberg’s contribution to Australia is forever etched into our political and cultural fabric. His speeches defined our nation, and his words carry as much force today as they did when they were written.

He served a succession of Prime Ministers and Premiers with distinction over a long career. But with respect to all, it is difficult not to turn attention to Graham Freudenberg’s relationship with the 21st Prime Minister of Australia.

Gough Whitlam was himself a supreme orator and content creator. But it was through his partnership with Graham Freudenberg that they made the case for transforming Australia. They did so in a manner that transcended and forever changed the idea of political speech making.

It is worth recalling the words of Whitlam Institute Chair, The Hon John Faulkner, who described Graham as a man who was “…rarely himself behind the speaker’s lectern, [but whose] words have rung from hundreds of stages, moved millions and inspired a nation…”

The Whitlam Institute’s Prime Ministerial Collection contains a vast range of archived material including many that remind us of the special relationship between Gough Whitlam and Graham Freudenberg. Within the collection is a hand written author’s preface by Freudenberg to the first edition of his book, A Certain Grandeur: Gough Whitlam in Politics. The preface largely consists of thanks to those who helped with the book. The last paragraph reads:

E.G Whitlam offered his services as a research assistant and proved quite satisfactory on the few occasions I thought it proper to avail myself of them. He had done the real work in the years before. 

Vale Graham Freudenberg.