John Robert Kerr was Governor-General of Australia from 1974 until 1977.
He was born in Balmain, in Sydney on September 14, 1914. He was admitted to the NSW Bar in 1938, after attending Fort Street High School and Sydney University.
Kerr became a King’s Counsel in 1953. In his early years as a lawyer he had a large industrial practice and developed close links with Labor Party figures. He resigned from the ALP in 1956.
In 1966, Kerr was appointed a Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. He came to public attention in 1969, when he jailed Clarrie O’Shea, the Victorian Secretary of the Tramways Unions, for contempt of court.
Kerr was appointed Chief Justice of New South Wales in 1972 by the Liberal government of Sir Robert Askin. In August 1973, he was approached by Prime Minister Whitlam about appointment as Governor-General. The appointment was announced on February 27, 1974 and he took up the position on July 11, 1974, coincidentally also Whitlam’s birthday.
Following the Dismissal, public reaction to Kerr was generally hostile. He announced his decision to retire at the end of 1977. Early the following year, the Fraser government announced that Kerr would be appointed Ambassador to UNESCO, but hostile public reaction caused Kerr to relinquish the appointment.
Kerr lived out most of the rest of his life in England. He died on March 24, 1991, at the age of 76.
Archived Posts on Sir John Kerr
- Mar 12, 1974: Dear Prime Minister…
- Nov 10, 1975: Sir Garfield Barwick’s Advice To Sir John Kerr
- Nov 11, 1975: Sir John Kerr’s Letter Of Dismissal
- Nov 11, 1975: Kerr’s Statement Of Reasons
- Nov 11, 1975: Lunchtime On November 11: The Media Reacts To The Calling Of A Half Senate Election
- Nov 11, 1975: Kerr’s Proclamation Dissolving Parliament
- Nov 12, 1975: Sir John Was Wrong: The Age
- Nov 12, 1975: Vice-Regal Notice – November 11
- Jan 26, 1976: Kerr’s 1976 Australia Day Message
- Sep 01, 1976: Kerr Speaks Of The Queen And Young People
- Nov 01, 1977: Sir John Kerr Drunk At The Melbourne Cup
- Feb 09, 1978: Fraser Appoints Kerr Ambassador To UNESCO
- Mar 02, 1978: Kerr Quits UNESCO Ambassadorship; Fraser’s Parliamentary Statement
- Sep 01, 1983: Il Dismissale: Max Gillies On The Dismissal
- Nov 11, 1987: Sir John Kerr Breaks His Silence And Talks To Geoffrey Robertson
- Mar 24, 1991: Sir John Kerr Dies, 76
- Mar 25, 1991: Sir John Kerr Dies, 76
- Apr 09, 1991: Keating On Kerr
- Apr 28, 1991: Margaret Whitlam: The CIA Might Have Been Involved
- Nov 08, 1995: Whitlam: The Coup Twenty Years After
- Nov 11, 1995: Twentieth Anniversary: Maintain Your Rage And Enthusiasm
- Nov 11, 1995: 20 Years On: Four Corners Remembers The Dismissal
- Jul 08, 1997: Whitlam Comments On Barwick’s Letter To Kerr
- Nov 10, 2000: Brandis: Kerr “A Good And Decent Man Demonised”
- Mar 10, 2001: Buckingham Palace Regrets
- Mar 11, 2002: Whitlam On His Appointment Of Kerr
- Oct 31, 2002: Whitlam Says Kerr Needed Frequent Drying Out
- Nov 11, 2005: Howard Defends Kerr
- Dec 21, 2005: Cutler Advised Kerr To Warn Whitlam
- Jan 02, 2010: Alexandra Hasluck: How One Strong Woman Changed The Course Of Australian History
- Apr 12, 2011: How The Queen Heard About Whitlam’s Dismissal
- Aug 24, 2012: Mason: The Third Man In Whitlam’s Downfall
- Aug 27, 2012: Mason Disputes Details But Largely Confirms Kerr’s Account Of Their Discussions