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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Gough and John, 1981

Peter van der Veer

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 40.6 cm x 50.5 cm, image: 30.6 cm x 45.1 cm)

Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC (1916-2014) and Sir John Kerr AK KCMG LSt J PC GCVO QC (1914-1991) were both lawyers. Kerr, son of a Balmain boilermaker, was educated at the academically selective Fort Street Boys’ High and the University of Sydney, where he achieved first class honours and a University Medal. Admitted to the bar in 1938, he reached the rank of colonel during the war. By 1964 he was both President of the Bar Association and President of the Law Council of Australia. In 1972 he became chief justice of New South Wales, but in 1974, just after he was knighted, he succeeded Paul Hasluck as governor-general. Upon his appointment, Opposition Leader Billy Snedden remarked that it was ‘the culmination of a brilliant career for an able, warm-hearted man’. On 11 November 1975 Kerr, having consulted the chief justice of the High Court, Sir Garfield Barwick, dismissed Whitlam and appointed Malcolm Fraser caretaker prime minister. From the steps of Parliament House, Whitlam cried ‘Ladies and gentlemen, well may we say “God save the Queen”, because nothing will save the governor-general!’, and predicted that Malcolm Fraser would go down in history as ‘Kerr’s cur’. At a book launch, Whitlam stands before Clifton Pugh’s portrait of Kerr, painted as the 1975 crisis developed.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2005

Accession number: 2005.5

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Peter van der Veer

Hon. Gough Whitlam AC QC (age 65 in 1981)

Sir John Kerr AK KCMG LSt J PC GCVO QC (age 67 in 1981)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hand of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, 1975 Mervyn Bishop
Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hand of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, 1975 Mervyn Bishop
Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hand of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, 1975 Mervyn Bishop
Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hand of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, 1975 Mervyn Bishop

A handful of sand

Magazine article by Ellen Kent, 2007

Ellen Kent examines the portrait of Vincent Lingiari and Prime Minister Gough Whitlam taken by photographer Mervyn Bishop.

Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish

Primed

Some Prime Ministers

Previous exhibition, 2019

Seventeen of Australia’s thirty prime ministers to date are represented in the contrasting sizes, moods and mediums of these portraits.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.