Gough’s biographer appointed the Whitlam Institute’s inaugural Distinguished Fellow

Jenny Hocking and Gough Whitlam 

Professor Jenny Hocking and the Hon Gough Whitlam AC QC, 2012

The Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney announced today the establishment of the Whitlam Institute Fellows program with the appointment of Professor Jenny Hocking as the inaugural Distinguished Fellow.

Eminent scholar, political historian and biographer Professor Jenny Hocking has been researching and publishing in Australia and internationally for some twenty five years. Her work focuses on two key areas: counter-terrorism and Australian political biography. The overarching themes, crossing both these areas, remain consistent: Australian democratic practice, the relationship between the arms of government, and aspects of Australian political history.

Professor Hocking is best known to the wider community for her acclaimed biographies of Attorney-General in the Whitlam government and High Court justice Lionel Murphy, Australian communist author Frank Hardy and most recently her two-volume biography of Gough Whitlam: A Moment in History, and His Time.

This honorary appointment is in recognition of Professor Hocking's substantial and ongoing scholarly contribution to Australian history and the political sciences. The appointment formalises the close collaboration that already exists between Professor Hocking and the Institute.

Eric Sidoti, Director of the Whitlam Institute, said, "The Board of the Whitlam Institute was unanimous and enthusiastic in their endorsement of Professor Hocking's appointment as our inaugural Distinguished Fellow. I can also say that Mr Whitlam himself was delighted when the suggestion was raised with him some months back.

"For the Whitlam Institute Professor Hocking's appointment is a further milestone in our coming of age. She brings great depth of understanding of the historical underpinnings that shaped the contemporary Australian political landscape. We are excited about this more formal association and the possibilities that lie ahead."

Professor Hocking's appointment will see her advising on those aspects of the Institute's program focusing on the Whitlam Legacy; sharing her own knowledge and expertise through the occasional professional and public forum and possibly writing for the Institute; and working with the Institute to encourage historians and emerging scholars with an historical interest in the Whitlam period and a political interest in the contemporary relevance of the Whitlam Platform.

Professor Hocking described the appointment as a great honour.

"I am excited about the opportunity this formal association with the Whitlam Institute brings for engaging with researchers, fellow biographers and emerging scholars interested in Gough Whitlam and his continuing influence on Australian society, culture and politics."

Professor Hocking is a Research Professor with the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University. She has been the recipient of major research grants and in 2013 was awarded a prestigious three-year Australian Research Council Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) and Discovery grant, one of only 17 DORA fellowships awarded nationally that year.

She is an award-winning scriptwriter and biographer, and a regular commentator on Australian politics and political biography. Professor Hocking has also written extensively on counter-terrorism and democracy on which she has made several submissions to parliamentary inquiries.

The Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney is a leading national centre for dialogue and debate on public policy. It is an independent think-tank for the people, working to ignite debate, strengthen discussion and enrich policy development in Australia.

The Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection at the Whitlam Institute is rich with treasures – wonderful objects that capture the essence of Gough Whitlam's personality, his government, his public life, and his times. The Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection has largely been digitised and is accessible through its website. The Collection is located in the Female Orphan School.

Ends

9 December 2014

Amanda Whibley, Media Manager

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