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…]

When Murdoch Fought Whitlam

A second extract from Jenny Hocking’s about-to-be-released second volume biography of Gough Whitlam has been published today in Fairfax newspapers.

The extract discusses the “Iraqi breakfast affair” and the work of The Australian’s “special correspondent”.

In this video, Hocking discusses the book:

Whitlam Comments On Hocking’s Biography

Gough Whitlam is 96 years old. In this video, published today on Fairfax websites, he recommends Jenny Hocking’s second volume of his biography.

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.

Malcolm Fraser’s Whitlam Oration

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has delivered the 2012 Whitlam Oration to the Whitlam Institute in Sydney.

Malcolm Fraser

Nearly thirty-seven years after the Fraser-led coalition parties blocked the Budget and Sir John Kerr dismissed the Whitlam government, Fraser remarked that in the 1970s “few people would have believed that Malcolm Fraser would be delivering a Gough Whitlam oration”.

Fraser, 82, spoke mainly about foreign policy and international politics, and issues concerning race, immigration and refugees. [Read more…]

Parliamentary Tributes To Margaret Whitlam

Margaret Whitlam died, aged 92, on March 17, 2012.

Parliamentary tributes were delivered on March 19. A memorial service was held on March 23.

Margaret Whitlam Memorial Service

  • Mar 17: Prime Minister Julia Gillard comments on the death of Margaret Whitlam

House and Senate Condolences – March 19-20, 2012

  • Julia Gillard (ALP)
  • Tony Abbott (Lib)
  • Tanya Plibersek (ALP)
  • Julie Bishop (Lib)
  • Kevin Rudd (ALP)
  • Watch Kevin Rudd:
  • Malcolm Turnbull (Lib)
  • Senator John Faulker (ALP)
  • Watch Faulkner:
  • Senator Marise Payne (Lib)
  • Senator Bob Brown (Greens)
  • Josh Frydenberg (Lib)
  • Natasha Griggs (CLP)
  • Mar 23: Tony Whitlam’s eulogy for his mother.
  • Mar 23: Catherine Dovey’s eulogy for her mother.

Margaret Whitlam Dies, 92

Margaret Whitlam, wife of Gough, died on March 17, 2012, aged 92.

These are ABC and Channel 10 television news report on Margaret Whitlam:

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


Hardman And Hater, Cameron Bows Out With Fire Still Burning

The death of Clyde Cameron received front page coverage in The Australian.

The Australian

Cameron’s funeral was held on March 19, 2008. This picture shows Whitlam and Tom Uren in attendance.

Clyde Cameron funeral