Ainsley Gotto was only 22 when she was appointed to prime minister Gorton’s office.
Ainsley Gotto was only 22 when she was appointed to prime minister Gorton’s office.

Death of ‘It’ girl to reveal former PM’s secrets

A TROVE of secret documents from John Gorton's time as prime minister can now be released with the death yesterday of his former chief of staff Ainsley Gotto.

The woman once famously described as "It wiggles, it's shapely ... and it's name is Ainsley Gotto" died after a long battle with cancer.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy are understood to have visited her in the palliative care unit of the Wolper Jewish Hospital, Woollahra, in recent weeks.

Ainsley Gotto, former prime minister Sir John Gorton’s chief of staff with her beloved Siamese cats. Picture: NewsCorp
Ainsley Gotto, former prime minister Sir John Gorton’s chief of staff with her beloved Siamese cats. Picture: NewsCorp

Ms Gotto caused a sensation in 1968 when, as a 22-year-old, she was appointed to run the Prime Minister's office - while she was dating his rival Gough Whitlam's chief of staff.

She donated a treasure trove of 40 boxes of personal and official documents to the National Library just over two years ago, on strict instructions they not be released until her death.

"The story can go no further until I die or release the papers,'' Ms Gotto said at the time.

It is not known if the secret notes will reveal any clues to a long-rumoured affair with her boss.

 

Tony Abbott tweets tribute to Ainsley Gotto

 

But they promise to reveal a wealth of knowledge on the inner workings of the government after Mr Gorton elevated her to the role of principal private secretary and relied on her heavily for advice.

Mr Gorton's biographer Ian Hancock has said there was never any truth to the rumours that she had a romantic relationship with the then-prime minister.

Ainsley Gotto waves off a reporter as prime minister John Gorton follows.
Ainsley Gotto waves off a reporter as prime minister John Gorton follows.

The truth was far more interesting, he said.

"At the time, she was in a relationship with Race Matthews, Gough Whitlam's chief of staff," he said.

"If you can imagine a circumstance where the chief of staff to Malcolm Turnbull was in a relationship with the chief of staff to Bill Shorten, you can imagine how inconceivable this was."

Pictured with Peter McInerney. Picture: Robin Amadio
Pictured with Peter McInerney. Picture: Robin Amadio

Yet both political leaders knew about the relationship and continued to employ them both, he said.

Ms Gotto became well-known for the ruthless manner in which she ran the office. The famous comment about her was coined by her former boss Dudley Erwin, who was asked by journalist Laurie Oakes why he had been dropped as Air Minister in 1969.

Ms Gotto left parliament to become an entrepreneur.
Ms Gotto left parliament to become an entrepreneur.

Mr Erwin replied: "It wiggles, it's shapely, it's cold-blooded and its name is Ainsley Gotto."

Ms Gotto did not appreciate the description: "The wiggle label is irritating because I can't do it and never have, and the connotation is one of no depth of intellect or anything."

Ainsley Gotto and Glen-Marie Frost.
Ainsley Gotto and Glen-Marie Frost.

Ms Gotto left parliament to become an entrepreneur, championing women in business, before returning in 2008 as chief of staff to then shadow finance minister Helen Coonan.

She married lawyer Nick Carson in 1993.

Ms Gotto championed women in business.
Ms Gotto championed women in business.


Raceway concerns dismissed as Supercars prepare for Ipswich

Raceway concerns dismissed as Supercars prepare for Ipswich

Last month the council signed off on upgrades to race at the venue

Local filmmaker brings production to Ipswich

premium_icon Local filmmaker brings production to Ipswich

Pilot for new TV series coming to Ipswich

Local Partners