Constitutional Changes After 1975

This is the text of a speech by Gough Whitlam.

The speech was delivered to the Australian National University Law Faculty Dinner at the Lobby Restaurant, opposite Old Parliament House.

Whitlam deals with the political and constitutional nature of the 1975 crisis and proposes a series of constitutional, parliamentary and electoral reforms.

Five years ago I and many other participants and observers wrote books and articles and spoke in conferences and programs on the coup d’état of 11 November 1975. For the 25th anniversary I chose a forum and symposium under the auspices of the Law Faculty of the ANU.

The Faculty, however, chose this venue. There have probably been more post-mortems on the events of November 1975 held here at the Lobby than anywhere else in Australia, although wine and truth do not necessarily go together. Old hands tell me that lunch at the Lobby has never recaptured its former civility or capaciousness since luncheon was so suddenly curtailed on the eleventh of the eleventh. In any case, two decisions during my Government’s second term irrevocably altered the Lobby’s geographical and institutional status. For more than a decade, the proposed site for the new and permanent Parliament House wandered futilely between the lakeside, Capital Hill and Camp Hill; on 26 September 1974 the ALP member for Burke, Keith Johnson, successfully initiated a private member’s bill, The Parliament Bill, to build the new House on Capital Hill. On 29 September 1975 I unveiled a plaque to commemorate the start of construction of the building for the High Court of Australia. This plaque, on the insistence of Chief Justice Barwick, has been set flush with the floor in the court building. [Read more…]

Whitlam Comments On Barwick’s Letter To Kerr

Gough Whitlam commented in detail on Sir Garfield Barwick’s letter to Sir John Kerr in a speech to The Sydney Institute in 1997.

On November 10, 1975, Barwick tendered legal advice to Sir John Kerr that approved of Kerr’s intention to dismiss Whitlam.

Text of Gough Whitlam’s speech to The Sydney Institute.

I am doubly indebted to Gerard Henderson; first, for inviting me to address the Sydney Institute; and secondly, for providing me, albeit unwittingly, with the text for these introductory remarks.

More than that, Gerard has set down one of the main reasons why I chose to spend a considerable part of the past couple of years writing a book. [Read more…]

20 Years On: Four Corners Remembers The Dismissal

Four Corners broadcast a 20-year anniversary program on The Dismissal in November 1995. [Read more…]

Twentieth Anniversary: Maintain Your Rage And Enthusiasm

On the 20th anniversary of the Dismissal, Whitlam spoke at a commemorative dinner at the now Old Parliament House in Canberra.

The speech deals with many of the constitutional and political issues raised by the Dismissal, including the role played by the High Court Chief Justice Sir Garfield Barwick.

“Maintain your rage and your enthusiasm through the campaign for the election now to be held and until polling day.”

Ladies and gentlemen,

I refer emphatically to the next Federal election.

The ultimate answer to those who sought to deny the legitimacy of a Labor Government, not just in November 1975, but from the beginning, after December 1972, will be a Labor victory in 1996.

In quoting myself from my impromptu remarks out there on the steps, I want to be understood in a thoroughly contemporary sense. [Read more…]

Whitlam: The Coup Twenty Years After

This is the text of Gough Whitlam’s Address to the National Press Club on the 20th anniversary of The Dismissal.

Mr President, Citizens

It’s always a great pleasure for me to return to the National Press Club, not only because of our long association but because of its importance as a forum. In my time, the party leaders wound up their campaigns here. Now, Labor Prime Ministers use the lunch to launch policies and Liberal leaders to launch themselves.

There must have been a certain inevitability in my being invited back around the time of the 20th anniversary of 11 November 1975. Media interest has been intense and I have had to limit my acceptance of requests for interviews and articles. One of the reasons, frankly, is that I am not preoccupied with the Dismissal. My chief interest in the events of October/November 1975, dramatic as they were, now lies in their relevance to the development of Australia as a Republic. That makes it doubly important that the Australian public should have an accurate understanding of those events and the motives of those who took part in them. [Read more…]

Sir John Kerr Breaks His Silence And Talks To Geoffrey Robertson

In 1987, Sir John Kerr broke his silence and appeared on ABC television in conversation with Geoffrey Robertson, in a program called Talking Shop.

Kerr

Kerr and Robertson canvassed some of the issues concerning the Dismissal, including the question of his possible dismissal by Whitlam. Kerr dismisses the idea that he should have warned Whitlam of the possibility of his removal. [Read more…]

Future Directions For Reform In Australia

This is the text of Gough Whitlam’s John Curtin Memorial Lecture on the 10th anniversary of Whitlam’s dismissal.

It was delivered at the University of Western Australia, in Perth.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR REFORM IN AUSTRALIA

Achieving Government through the House of Representatives Majority

Gough WhitlamThis is the fourth time I have delivered, a Curtin Memorial Lecture and the third time at this University.

Here, in February 1961 I spoke on “Socialism Within the Constitution”; in July 1972, also here, I spoke on “Urbanised Australia”; and in October 1975, at the Australian National University, I spoke at the height of the great crisis which culminated in my Government’s dismissal on 11 November. My topic then was “Government of the people, for the people, by the people’s house”. Now in this, my fourth Curtin Memorial Lecture, delivered in the year which marks the 100th anniversary of John Curtin’s birth, I speak on future directions for reform in Australia. [Read more…]

Whitlam Addresses The National Press Club On The Dismissal’s 10th Anniversary

Gough Whitlam addressed the National Press Club on November 11, 1985, ten years to the day since he was dismissed from office by Sir John Kerr.

WhitlamThe occasion also coincided with the launch of Whitlam’s new book, The Whitlam Government 1972-1975.

Whitlam had returned to Australia, on leave from his position in Paris as Australian Ambassador to UNESCO, the post to which he had been appointed by the Hawke government in 1983.

In his speech, Whitlam canvassed a wide range of issues, including the constitutional crisis of 1975. He damned Kerr for hid handling of what Whitlam said was a “political crisis” that was likely to resolve itself within days, if not hours.

The video of this National Press Club appearance is notable for its portrayal of Whitlam ten years after his government ended and seven years after he left parliament. [Read more…]

Il Dismissale: Max Gillies On The Dismissal

The Gillies Report was a golden moment on Australian television in the 1980s.

This is Il Dismissale, the segment satirising the Whitlam Dismissal. It was first broadcast in 1983.

The main roles are all played by Max Gillies, but look for John Clarke, Wendy Harmer, Patrick Cook and others. [Read more…]

Five Years After The Dismissal, Whitlam Speaks To Derryn Hinch

This is an interview Gough Whitlam gave to Derryn Hinch on Melbourne radio station 3AW on November 11, 1980.

It was five years to the day since Whitlam was dismissed. After leading the ALP to another election defeat in December 1977, Whitlam left Parliament in 1978.

Hinch began the interview by discussing reports of US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) involvement in the Dismissal but Whitlam preferred to focus on Sir John Kerr’s contact with Chief Justice Sir Garfield Barwick and an unnamed “intermediary” between Kerr and Fraser.

Whitlam was 64 years old at the time of the interview. [Read more…]