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…]

Kerr’s Proclamation Dissolving Parliament

At 4.45pm on November 11, 1975, nearly four hours after Whitlam’s dismissal, the Governor-General’s Official Secretary, David Smith, read this proclamation on the steps of Parliament House.

This audio clip of Smith and Whitlam is the first ever broadcast by the ABC shortly after 5pm on November 11. It starts at the end of Smith’s reading of the proclamation and includes Whitlam’s famous words about Kerr and Fraser.

  • Listen to Smith and Whitlam

David Smith and Gough Whitlam

PROCLAMATION
By His Excellency, the
Governor-General of Australia [Read more…]

Sir Paul Hasluck’s 1974 Proclamation Dissolving Parliament

The Twenty-Eighth Parliament was dissolved after only 18 months as a result of the controversy over the appointment of the DLP Senator Vince Gair as Australian Ambassador to Ireland.

The subsequent announcement by the Federal Opposition Leader, Bill Snedden, that the coalition parties would block the goverment’s Supply Bills in the Senate caused Prime Minister Gough Whitlam to respond by calling a double dissolution election for May 18, 1974.

  • Listen to the Governor-General’s Official Secretary, David Smith, read the dissolution proclamation on the steps of Parliament House at noon on April 11, 1974:

Governor-General’s Proclamation dissolving both Houses of Parliament on April 11, 1974.

PROCLAMATION
By PAUL HASLUCK, the
Governor-General of Australia

WHEREAS by section 57 of the Constitution it is provided that if the House of Representatives passes any proposed law, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, and if after an interval of three months the House of Representatives, in the same or the next session, again passes the proposed law with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor-General may dissolve the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously: [Read more…]