SYDNEY, Oct 21 : Former Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam, a towering figure who led the nation through a period of massive change and remains the country's only leader to be sacked, died on Tuesday aged 98.
"A loving and generous father, he was a source of inspiration to us and our families and for millions of Australians," said his children Antony, Nicholas, Stephen and Catherine in announcing his death.
Conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott called the Labour stalwart "a giant of his time", and instructed flags around the country to be flown at half mast while suspending normal parliament for the day as a mark of respect.
"Whitlam represented more than a new politics. He represented a new way of thinking, about government, about our region, about our place in the world and about change itself," said Abbott. Despite being in power for only three turbulent years, Whitlam launched sweeping reforms of the nation's economic and cultural affairs. ?AFP