It’s Government By Crisis

The front page of The Age, the day after Malcolm Fraser announced the Opposition would block the Budget.

The Age
 

It’s Chaos! Canberra Deadlock

The front page of the Melbourne Sun the day after Malcolm Fraser announced that the Opposition would block the government’s Budget in the Senate.

75-10-16_its-chaos-canberra-deadlock-sun-p1

Palindromic Pro-Consul Speaks Out

The Governor of Queensland, Sir Colin Hannah, attacked the Whitlam government as “fumbling” and “inept”.

Hannah spoke on the same day that Malcolm Fraser announced the Coalition would block the Budget in the Senate.

Whitlam, describing Hannah as “the palindromic pro-consul“, advised the Queen to revoke Hannah’s dormant commission to act as Governor-General. [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…]

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…]

Whitlam Attends Funeral Of Jack Lang

Prime Minister Gough Whitlam attended the funeral of former NSW Premier Jack Lang in September 1975.

Lang died on September 27, aged 98.

Jack Thomas Lang is the only Premier to have been dismissed from office by a State Governor.

Lang was twice Premier of NSW, between 1925-27 and between 1930-32. He was dismissed from office by the Governor, Sir Philip Game, on May 13, 1932.

A Requiem Mass for Lang was held at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, at 9.30am on September 30, 1975. It was conducted by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Freeman.

The NSW State Budget was postponed because of the funeral.

Whitlam’s own dismissal took place six weeks after Lang’s funeral.

Whitlam at Lang funeral

Bruce Petty Loans Affair Cartoon

As criticism of the Loans Affair rained down on Gough Whitlam, Bruce Petty looked at the credibility of European criticism.

The cartoon appeared in The Australian.

The Australian

PM’s Birthday Blast

Gough Whitlam turned 59 on July 11, 1975.

He was besieged by the Loans Affair and facing a perilous by-election in the Tasmanian seat of Bass. Facing a difficult state election, South Australia’s Labor Premier, Don Dunstan, was distancing himself from his federal counterparts.

Having dismissed Dr. Jim Cairns, Whitlam was under pressure from within the ALP.

The Melbourne Herald reported Whitlam’s birthday.

Melbourne Herald

Parliament Recalled To Debate Loans Affair

On July 9, 1975, the House of Representatives was recalled for a special one-day sitting to debate the Overseas Loans Affair.

The Age had more documents and an editorial saying it was a time of national trial.

The Australian reported on attempts (ultimately successful) by the South Australia’s Labor Premier, Don Dunstan, to distance himself from the Whitlam government in an attempt to win his state election.

The Melbourne Sun covered the activities of Philip Cairns, son of the former Treasurer, Dr. Jim Cairns, who had been sacked the week before. [Read more…]

Tanner Cartoon: Bass By-Election

This cartoon by Les Tanner appeared in The Age on July 1, 1975.

It followed Labor’s defeat in the Bass by-election on June 28.

Tanner

[Cartoon published by kind permission of the Les Tanner Estate]


The by-election was caused by the resignation of Lance Barnard, who had held the seat since 1954. Following the 1974 federal election, Barnard was replaced as deputy ALP leader and deputy prime minister by Dr. Jim Cairns. Whitlam appointed Barnard as Ambassador to Norway, Finland and Sweden.

The ALP suffered a two-party-preferred swing of 14.3% in the by-election and lost the seat to the Liberal Party’s Kevin Newman by 60.3% to 39.7%. The Labor candidate, John Macrostie, polled just 36.5% of the primary vote, a drop of 17.5%.

The by-election was evidence of severe voter dissatisfaction with the Whitlam government. It is widely regarded as contributing to Fraser’s decision to block the budget in October 1975.