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- Born in Melbourne, Whitlam was a lawyer who entered the House of Representatives in 1952, winning the NSW seat of Werriwa for Labor. He became deputy leader of the party in 1960. In 1966 he replaced Arthur Calwell as leader. He was elected Prime Minister in 1972 ending 23 years of opposition. Whitlam's policies were based on an expanded role for the federal government as the means of improving education and welfare. A crisis occurred over loan negotiations made by Rex Connor, the minister for minerals and energy, in a failed attempt to put the Australian government back into a position of financial independence. Aware of the government's problems, the Coalition opposition led by Malcolm Fraser used its majority in the Senate to block the budget and so force the government to an election. Whitlam decided not to go to the polls but to ride the crisis out. The confrontation was ended when the governor-general , Sir John Kerr, used his reserve powers to dismiss the government and call an election. Labor was defeated at the ensuing 1975 election and again in 1977, after which Whitlam stood down as leader. He resigned from parliament in 1978. From 1983 to 1986 he was Australian ambassador to UNESCO in Paris.