He first became publicly prominent in 1981 when he was appointed chief executive of the State Bank of New South Wales. Subsequent roles include Whitlam Turnbull & Co (an investment banking partnership with future Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and former Premier of New South Wales Neville Wran), and the chairmanship of the NRMA Group. Whitlam was the key figure in the 2000 demutualization and listing of NRMA Insurance Limited, the country's largest insurance company, now known as Insurance Australia Group Limited (IAG).
In 2002, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), a corporate regulator, initiated controversial civil proceedings against Whitlam alleging breaches of his NRMA director's duties in relation to his not signing a proxy vote, containing of 3793 votes, directing him to vote against a motion about the remuneration of directors. A single judge ruled that he had breached his duties as a director and banned him from being a director of any company for five years. Whitlam appealed the judgement. Three senior judges, sitting as the New South Wales Court of Appeal, unanimously found that he had not breached his duties as a director, reversed the ruling and exonerated him. ASIC sought but was denied special leave to appeal by the High Court of Australia .
He has served as Chairman of the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales, and has an honorary doctorate (Hon.DUniv) from that university and from Western Sydney University (Hon.DLitt).
He has been married to Judy (née Frye) since 1973; she was a publicist for Vidal Sassoon and the Savoy Hotel. Believing they were unable to conceive children of their own, they adopted a girl (Alice) from Thailand and a boy (Edward) from Colombia. Then Judy became pregnant, and their son (Peter) was born in 1982; he has severe mental and physical disabilities.
|This Australian business biography is a stub. You can help by expanding it.|