Gough broke 'Menzian torpor': Keating

Former PM Paul Keating says Gough Whitlam snapped Australia out of the torpor of the Menzies years. (AAP)

Gough Whitlam snapped Australia out of the inertia of the Menzies years, former prime minister Paul Keating says.

Former prime minister Paul Keating says Gough Whitlam snapped Australia out of the torpor of the Menzies years.

Mr Keating, who briefly served as a minister under Mr Whitlam in 1975, said Mr Whitlam changed the way Australia thought about itself and gave the country a new destiny.

Australia became a more inclusive and compassionate society at home and a more engaged and relevant country abroad.

"He snapped Australia out of the Menzian torpor - the orthodoxy that had rocked the country asleep - giving it new vitality and focus," Mr Keating said in a statement on Tuesday.

More than that, Mr Whitlam brought Australia to terms with its geography and place in the region.

"Along his journey he also renovated the Labor Party, making it useful again as an instrument of reform to Australian society."

Mr Whitlam would be missed by all who identified with his values and determination to see Australia a better place.

"But no one will miss him more than his family," Mr Keating said.

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