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…]

Four Corners: 10th Anniversary Of The Dismissal

This is the complete video of the ABC’s Four Corners program broadcast on November 11, 1985.

The Australian media gave extensive coverage to the anniversary. Gough Whitlam returned from his Paris post as Ambassador to UNESCO to launch his new book, The Whitlam Government 1972-1975.

Hosted by the late Andrew Olle and reported by Kerry O’Brien, the 90-minute program looks at the Whitlam government’s history as well as the constitutional crisis of October-November 1975.

It includes interviews with Liberal senators Alan Missen and Don Jessop on their qualms about blocking Supply. The program also interviews Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam, as well as the Liberal Senate leader, Reg Withers, amongst others.

  • Watch Four Corners (92m)

October 15, 1975: A Big and Dramatic Day In Australian Politics

October 15, 1975 was a historic day in Australian politics. It marked the first serious attempt by an Opposition with a Senate majority to force the government to an election.

Most of the material compiled on this page appears elsewhere on the site but also includes some audio items that do not appear elsewhere.

  1. Malcolm Fraser announces the coalition will block Supply – with audio and brief video.

  2. Senator Reg Withers moves the deferral of Supply – full text and partial audio of the Opposition Senate leader moving an amendment to the Loan Bill 1975.

  3. Gough Whitlam’s Address to the Nation on the Supply issue – with full text and audio, and brief video.

  4. Shadow Cabinet Minutes – a selection of minutes regarding the Supply decision from the Malcolm Fraser Collection at the University of Melbourne.

 

Miscellaneous Audio Files – October 15, 1975

  • Sir Colin Hannah, Governor of Queensland, attacks the Whitlam government (1m)
  • Malcolm Fraser announces the decision to block Supply (5m)
  • 4.35pm Senator Reg Withers moves deferral of the Loan Bill (11m)
  • 4.45pm ABC Radio NewsVoice (7m)
  • 5.00pm 3DB Radio News (4m)
  • 6.00pm ABC Radio News (5m)
  • 6.10pm ABC Radio PM (24m)
  • 6.30pm Fraser, Wreidt & Hawke on A Current Affair (24m)
  • 7.30pm Whitlam’s Address to the Nation (5m)
  • 7.35pm Malcolm Fraser & Steele Hall on This Day Tonight, plus vox pops (15m)

Senator Withers Moves To Defer Passage Of The Supply Bills

The first move to block passage of the Supply bills in the Senate came at 4.35pm on Wednesday, October 15, 1975 when Senator Reg Withers rose to speak on the Loan Bill.

In a 25-minute speech, Withers outlined the Opposition’s argument that delaying Supply was a legitimate parliamentary tactic and called on Prime Minister Whitlam to call an immediate election.

Withers moved an amendment to the Loan Bill that was passed by 29 votes to 28 at approximately 5.26pm. Senator Albert Patrick Field was absent, his position having been challenged in the High Court. Senator Cleaver Bunton, the independent appointed to fill Senator Lionel Murphy’s vacancy, voted with the ALP government, as did the Liberal Movement’s Senator Steele Hall. [Read more…]

Whitlam Announces 1974 Double Dissolution Election

The debacle over the Gair Affair and the Coalition’s threat to block Supply led Gough Whitlam to call a double dissolution election for May 18, 1974.

The double dissolution superceded the half-Senate election that was due by June 30.

After a week of turmoil and speculation over the fate of the government’s Supply bills, Whitlam rose in the House of Representatives just before 8.30pm on April 10 to announce that the Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, had agreed to a double dissolution. This is Hansard’s record of the announcement: [Read more…]