I loved the upper caste Australian accent, somewhat patrician, that sat there along with her fierce common sense. With a private school education, the daughter of a judge, she was nonetheless perfectly at home serving sausages to campaign workers in their Werriwa home.
I remember a dinner with the Serbian community in Cabramatta in 1994 held in their local club where Gough spoke at some length about the Battle of Kosovo and other glories of the Serbian past. Sitting with us Margaret stamped her walking stick. “Oh, I wish he’d shut up!” she stormed.”He’s said it all before!”
She, like her husband, was committed to the people of Sydney’s West. She had seen her children have to travel vast distances to school. Seen the absence of hospital beds, seen Gough have to lug out a brimming pan of human waste after a community celebration because the hall, like the entire region, was not sewered. They lived in Fairfield until he became PM. They knew first hand the disadvantage of the new growth suburbs and wanted to fix it, which the Whitlam government very largely did.
We would see Margaret at the theatre with her loving daughter Catherine, arm around her mother’s shoulder.
I said yesterday that like Eleanor Roosevelt she broadened and enhanced her husband’s grandeur, as she stood with him over the years of political campaigning, constant and nurturing and used her position to push issues of womens’ rights.
News yesterday of her death saddened a lot of us. It was like losing someone from your own family.