Australian politician, Gough Whitlam with singer Little Pattie, wearing t-shirts announcing ‘It’s Time’, for his Labour election campaign. (Photo by Graeme Fletcher/Keystone/Getty Images)

Gough Whitlam, Australia’s 21st Prime Minister has passed away, aged 98.

His children, Antony, Nicholas and Stephen Whitlam and Catherine Dovey have released a statement:

“Our father, Gough Whitlam, has died this morning at the age of 98. A loving and generous father, he was a source of inspiration to us and our families and for millions of Australians. There will be a private cremation and a public memorial service.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has instructed all Australian flags be flown at half-mast today and on the day of Whitlam’s state memorial service.

“Gough Whitlam was a giant of his time,” Abbott said.

“He united the Australian Labor Party, won two elections and seemed, in so many ways, larger than life.”

Whitlam was the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China, establishing a relationship with the Asian powerhouse. Today China is Australia’s largest trading partner – something Abbott said was Whitlam’s “enduring legacy”.

Leading the Labor party to its first victory in 23 years in 1972, after running on the now famous “It’s Time” campaign, Whitlam was sacked on November 11, 1975 by then Governor-General Sir John Kerr.

His wife Margaret died in March 2012.

“Gough Whitlam’s life was inseparable from that of Margaret Whitlam. Margaret Whitlam was a leading light for women of her generation. Together they made a difference to our country,” Abbott said.

“On behalf of the Australian people, I extend my condolences to the Whitlam family on their loss.”

More to come.

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