Goodwills (The)



When Whitlam took his turn at the wheel

Published in T&N149 July 2022


Queensland songwriter, Bob Wilson, is the 2022 recipient of the Alistair Hulett Songs for Social Justice award with his, When Whitlam Took his Turn at the Wheel.

The award, which is in its 12th year, was presented at the National Folk Festival in Canberra.

Bob is the third Queenslander to take out the award.

Previous Queensland winners include Paddy McHugh and Karen Law.

Bob and his partner Laurel, who are known as The Goodwills, recorded the song late in 2021 at Roger Ilott’s studio at Storm King on the Granite Belt.

Bob said he decided to write a song about Whitlam and his achievements after realising that there are two whole generations of Australians who did not experience this history.

“It’s also the 50th year since Whitlam’s government was elected, so that just added to the momentum of the song.

“The song highlights some of Gough’s social justice achievements but also remarks on the things that didn’t go so well,” Bob said.

The Goodwills recorded the song in October with other musicians including Roger and Tony Ilott and Mal Webb on brass.

“We released it on November 11 and I entered it into the Alistair Hulett award.

“I’d forgotten I did so until I got a phone call from Bob Fagan!”

Bob was unable to get to Canberra for the presentation, so delegated Brisbane poet and songwriter, Ross Clark, to accept it on his behalf.

“It’s good that Queensland songwriters are being recognised at the national level.

“I thank the Alistair Hulett Trust for its support.”

In late May, The Goodwills released an 8-track CD with the title track and four other recently recorded songs.

“There are also live versions of three old favourites, including the only recorded version of my other award-winning song, The Almost Armageddon Waltz, which goes back to the time Russia invaded Afghanistan.”

Bob and Laurel lived in Maleny for 17 years and in 2019 moved to the Southern Downs, settling in Warwick.

“We brought the rain with us,” Bob said, referring to the drought-breaking rain they’ve experienced since.


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