A New World (for sure): The Labor Years 1972-75

This is a three-part program broadcast by the ABC in the 1980s as part of an educational series called A New World (for sure).

Each thirty-minute program deals with one aspect of the Whitlam years:

  1. “Great Hope and Great Endeavour” – the lead-up to the 1972 election and the early days of the Whitlam government
  2. “Like Men On A Sled” – the Whitlam government up until the constitutional crisis
  3. “Remembrance Day 1975” – the Dismissal
  • Part 1 – Great Hope And Great Endeavour

  • Part 2 – Like Men On A Sled

  • Part 3 – Remembrance Day 1975

Mason Disputes Details But Largely Confirms Kerr’s Account Of Their Discussions

Former High Court Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason has written an account of his discussions with Sir John Kerr. The account appears in Fairfax newspapers today.

It offers an extraordinary insight into a series of discussions between then Justice Mason and Kerr. Whilst Mason disputes some dates and certain elements of Kerr’s account as presented in Hocking’s book, he largely confirms an ongoing and sustained series of discussions about the mechanics of dismissing Whitlam.

The key difference between Mason’s account and Kerr’s is that Mason says he advised Kerr to warn Whitlam that he would terminate his commission if Whitlam did not agree to a general election. Mason denies that he encouraged Kerr to dismiss Whitlam.

Mason says he played no part in preparing Kerr’s statement of reasons but that he did draft a letter terminating Whitlam’s commission, although it was not used by Kerr.

Mason says that Kerr rang him on the afternoon of November 11 and they discussed what to do about the Speaker’s desire to inform Kerr of the House of Representatives motion of no-confidence in Fraser.

Thirty-seven years on from The Dismissal, the revelations in Hocking’s book and Mason’s statement make significant amendments to the standard chronology of events before and during the Supply crisis.

Text of statement by Sir Anthony Mason, as published in Fairfax newspapers on August 27, 2012.

Introduction

1. This statement records my recollection of my conversations with Sir John leading up to the termination of the Prime Minister’s commission on November 11, 1975 and conversations thereafter relating to that event.

I make the statement in response to documents placed by Sir John Kerr in the National Archives which were recently released and have been discussed by Professor Hocking in volume two of her biography of Mr Whitlam.

The documents relate to conversations with me in October – November 1975 preceding the dismissal of the Whitlam government. They incorporate a shorter version prepared on October 21, 1975. The documents are neither a complete nor an accurate record of our conversations, particularly of our conversations on November 9. [Read more…]

Mason: The Third Man In Whitlam’s Downfall

Gough Whitlam’s biographer, Jenny Hocking, has revealed hitherto unknown details of the role played by High Court Justice Sir Anthony Mason in the Whitlam dismissal.

The second volume of Jenny Hocking’s biography of Gough Whitlam is due out next week.

In a video published on Fairfax websites, Hocking reveals a series of discussions between Sir John Kerr and High Court Justice Sir Anthony Mason in the leadup to the Dismissal. Whilst Kerr’s contact with Mason has been known for some time, the extent of it has not.

Hocking suggests there is something profoundly disturbing in the behind-the-scenes activity prior to November 11.

How The Queen Heard About Whitlam’s Dismissal

The Queen was told about Gough Whitlam’s dismissal when she woke at 8am on the morning of November 11 in Buckingham Palace.

At this stage it was 7pm in Australia, the Parliament had been dissolved and an election set in train.

The Queen’s assistant private secretary at the time, William Heseltine, heard the news in a telephone call from the Governor-General’s Official Secretary, David Smith, at about 2am London time. This suggests Smith rang the palace almost immediately after Kerr dismissed Whitlam.

Details of these events have been published in an article about now Sir William Heseltine in The West Australian.

Text of article that first appeared in The West Australian.

No wake-up call for Queen over dismissal

by MALCOLM QUEKETT

A former senior member of the Queen’s staff has provided a rare insight into how Buckingham Palace reacted when governor-general Sir John Kerr sacked prime minister Gough Whitlam.

WA-born Sir William Heseltine, who was a member of the Queen’s staff for 27 years, said the Queen had closely followed events during the constitutional crisis of November 1975 but Sir John had not told her of his intentions and had not sought her advice. [Read more…]

Alexandra Hasluck: How One Strong Woman Changed The Course Of Australian History

This article from The Age reports that Alexandra Hasluck, the wife of Sir Paul Hasluck, insisted her husband not stay on as Govenor-General in 1974.

Hasluck’s departure led to the appointment of Sir John Kerr as Governor-General.

The article refers to an interview Hasluck gave to former Whitlam minister Clyde Cameron in 1985. Hasluck is quoted as saying he believed Kerr erred in consulting with Fraser during the constitutional crisis.

10-01-02_how-one-strong-woman-changed-the-course-of-aust-history


Richard Carleton, A Face From The Dismissal, Dies, 62

Richard Carleton, one of Australia’s best known journalists, and one of the faces in the famous picture of Whitlam on the steps of Old Parliament House following the Dismissal on November 11, 1975, has died, aged 62.

Richard CarletonCarleton was attending a media conference at the Beaconsfield mine in Tasmania where two miners have been trapped underground for 12 days.

Following a question to mine manager Matthew Gill, Carleton walked away and collapsed. He died shortly afterwards.

Channel 9 tonight broadcast Carleton’s last report on the man-made causes of the mining disaster.

Carleton was a reporter on This Day Tonight during the Whitlam government. Film of the scene on the Parliament House steps following Whitlam’s dismissal show Carleton rolling his eyes as Whitlam describes Fraser as “Kerr’s cur”.

Carleton’s most famous encounter on television was with Bob Hawke on February 3, 1983. Earlier in the day, the ALP replaced Bill Hayden as leader with Hawke. Simultaneuously, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was about to call a snap double dissolution election. The “blood on your hands” interview with Hawke took place on the ABC’s Nationwide that night.

  • Feb 03, 1983 – The Blood On Your Hands Interview. This is the famous interview involving the ABC’s Richard Carleton and Bob Hawke, just hours after Hawke ascended to the leadership following Bill Hayden’s resignation.
Richard Carleton with Whitlam
Richard Carleton with Gough Whitlam, circa 1972-75

 

1975 Cabinet Papers Released

The National Archives of Australia has tonight released Cabinet documents from 1975.

The documents cover the period of the Second Whitlam Government until its dismissal on November 11, 1975, and the First and Second Fraser Governments from November 11 and December 22.

A mass of documents is now available that will take some time to come to grips with. An early perusal shows that Treasurer Jim Cairns described the economic situation at the beginning of 1975 as “very bad” and said “there are no quick solutions”. Cairns advocated deficit reduction but not to the extent that it jeopardised the government’s program. Later in the year, the new Treasurer, Bill Hayden, also contemplated a rising deficit and said it was “as attractive as going to sleep in the snow”. [Read more…]

The Dismissal – 30th Anniversary

Thirty years after The Dismissal, it remained a subject of intense media scrutiny.

In the weeks leading up to November 11, 2005, the Australian media devoted considerable space to reminiscences and analyses. [Read more…]

Whitlam In His Own Words

SBS Television has broadcast a significant interview with Gough Whitlam.

The interview, conducted by the ALP Senate Leader, John Faulkner, was an 84-minute production culled from over 20 hours of discussion conducted over 3 days.

The interview came on the eve of three anniversaries: [Read more…]

Key Questions Arising from the Whitlam Dismissal

The Whitlam Dismissal raises a number of important questions about the operation of the Australian political system.

The questions concern the Constitution, the role of the Governor-General, and the actions of the Parliament. [Read more…]