Opening The Dismissal Exhibition: Speech By Gough Whitlam

This is the text of Gough Whitlam’s speech at the opening of The Dismissal exhibition at Old Parliament House.

Peter, fellow subjects –

I thank you and your excellent staff for inviting me to this exhibition. You are the pleasant face of conservatism and conservation in Australia. I could not say that if I had been invited by graven images in the Senate, such as Alston or Herron. Even in this King’s Hall I must say that Russell Crowe would look better than George V does in the uniform of a Roman emperor.

Thank you all for coming to this presentation of the end of the brief golden age for which Australians voted on 2 December 1972 and again on 18 May 1974. It was a golden age. As the better Fairfax writers have noted, it ended when the Australian dollar was worth one and a half US dollars. The Aussie dollar is now worth barely 50 US cents. We were given Moody’s top rating (Aaa) in 1974 and Standard and Poor’s top rating (AAA) in 1975.

I have only one quibble with my friend Malcolm Fraser’s presentation. The Senators would have cracked at the end of the week. Check the winning positions on the Coalition Senate ballot papers in May 1974 and December 1975. [Read more…]

Whitlam’s Account Of November 11

In a letter to The Bulletin magazine in May 1993, Whitlam gave this account of the events of November 11:

Laurie Oakes (Bulletin, 11 May) challenges my memory and account of the events of 11 November 1975. The events took less than four hours. Your readers can readily check the sequence and times from the Hansard of that day and the official House of Representatives Practice (October 1981 and September 1989).

About 10 a.m. I ‘phoned Sir John Kerr for an appointment to advise him to call a half-Senate election. We agreed to meet when the House of Representatives rose at 1 p.m. At Government House at 1.01 p.m. Kerr, without discussion, handed me the letter of dismissal from which Oakes quotes. At 1.30 p.m. Kerr swore in Malcolm Fraser as Prime Minister. [Read more…]

Sir John Kerr Dies, 76

Sir John Kerr died in Sydney on March 24, 1991.

His death was announced after he was buried the following day.

He was 76.

This is how Channel 9 News in Melbourne reported Kerr’s death: