Archives for October 1975

Senator Withers Moves To Defer Passage Of The Supply Bills

The first move to block passage of the Supply bills in the Senate came at 4.35pm on Wednesday, October 15, 1975 when Senator Reg Withers rose to speak on the Loan Bill.

In a 25-minute speech, Withers outlined the Opposition’s argument that delaying Supply was a legitimate parliamentary tactic and called on Prime Minister Whitlam to call an immediate election.

Withers moved an amendment to the Loan Bill that was passed by 29 votes to 28 at approximately 5.26pm. Senator Albert Patrick Field was absent, his position having been challenged in the High Court. Senator Cleaver Bunton, the independent appointed to fill Senator Lionel Murphy’s vacancy, voted with the ALP government, as did the Liberal Movement’s Senator Steele Hall. [Read more…]

Whitlam Responds To Fraser’s Decision To Block Supply: Parliamentary Democracy Is Under Challenge

Gough Whitlam responded within hours to Malcolm Fraser’s announcement that the coalition parties would block Supply, describing it as a threat to parliamentary democracy.


Whitlam spoke in an Address to the Nation on ABC television.

He said: “I state again the basic rule of our parliamentary system: Governments are made and unmade in the House of Representatives – in the people’s House. The Senate cannot, does not, and must never determine who the Government shall be.

“That principle has been upheld since federation. It has never been broken or challenged except during this Government’s life. It has been scrupulously observed on at least twenty occasions since federation when the Opposition had the numbers in the Senate to reject Supply. [Read more…]

Fraser Announces The Coalition Will Block Supply

Malcolm Fraser announced that the coalition parties would block Supply at a press conference that began at 2.56pm on October 15, 1975.

Fraser announced that the Opposition would not reject Supply outright but delay it until Whitlam agreed to call an election. This was significant because it allowed the Supply bills to remain alive in the event of changed circumstances or a change of government. [Read more…]

The Age: “Go now, go decently”

Around the nation on October 15, 1975, many newspapers editorialised against the Whitlam government.

Later the same day, Malcolm Fraser announced that the Opposition would block the Budget with the aim of forcing the removal of the government.

It is now known that Fraser talked with newspaper editors prior to October 15.

The editorial in The Age is the most well-known. The newspaper’s editor, Graham Perkin, died the following day, at age 45.

The Age


Text of editorial in The Age, Wednesday, October 15, 1975.

Go now, go decently

We will say it straight, and clear, and at once. The Whitlam Government has run its course; it must go now, and preferably by the honorable course of resignation – a course which would dispel all arguments about constitutional proprieties, historic conventions and “grabs” for power. It must go because it no longer has the degree of public support and acceptance that permits Governments to govern effectively. There are now too few people who will accept its policies, no matter how virtuous or commendable those policies may be. The Government is discredited. If integrity in government means anything, if competence in government is important, resignation would be the decent and responsible final step for a Government so haunted by the ghosts of its past follies that no current proclamations of good intentions, of rising hopes can dispel the furies. [Read more…]

Rex Connor Resigns As Loans Affair Delivers Fraser’s “Reprehensible Circumstances”

Rex Connor, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, resigned from the Whitlam ministry on October 14, 1975.

Connor’s resignation was sought by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam after revelations in the Melbourne Herald newspaper that Connor had continued to seek overseas loans through the Pakistani intermediary Tirath Khemlani.

Connor’s behaviour constituted misleading parliament. In doing so, Connor had caused Whitlam to also mislead parliament. [Read more…]

Ellicott Says The Governor-General Will Have To Dismiss Whitlam If Supply Is Blocked

On the day before Malcolm Fraser’s momentous decision, the Liberal MP for Wentworth, and former Commonwealth Solicitor-General, Robert Ellicott, argued that the Governor-General would have to dismiss Whitlam if the Senate voted to block Supply.

It was October 14 and Rex Connor’s fate as Minister for Minerals and Energy hung in the balance. By the end of the day, Connor had resigned and it was expected that Fraser would use these reprehensible circumstances to block the government’s Supply bills in the Senate. [Read more…]