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Whitlam in PNG – “Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House” – Rob Chalmers

June 4th, 2012 · No Comments · Australian Labor Party, Civilisation, Culture, Humour, Politics, Quotes

On Whitlam’s official visit to Papua New Guinea, the press party got a taste of Whitlam’s quirky sense of humour. The Prime Minister’s party visited Mendi in the Highlands, where he was guest of honour at a spectacular gathering of the tribes. Warriors adorned in fantastic traditional dress danced and chanted in the ‘sing-sing’ display, while the Prime Minister’s party looked on. A tribal elder approached Whitlam and solemnly presented him with what looked like a club or a large walking stick, with elaborately carved snakes—a symbol of long life—and topped with a large knob. Whitlam turned to Walsh and asked: ‘What do I do with it, lean on it or strap it on?’ Unsurprisingly, the response produced muffled laughter from the press party.

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