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Whitlam Responds To Fraser’s Decision To Block Supply: Parliamentary Democracy Is Under Challenge

Gough Whitlam responded within hours to Malcolm Fraser’s announcement that the coalition parties would block Supply, describing it as a threat to parliamentary democracy.


Whitlam spoke in an Address to the Nation on ABC television on the evening of October 15, 1975.

He said: “I state again the basic rule of our parliamentary system: Governments are made and unmade in the House of Representatives – in the people’s House. The Senate cannot, does not, and must never determine who the Government shall be.

“That principle has been upheld since federation. It has never been broken or challenged except during this Government’s life. It has been scrupulously observed on at least twenty occasions since federation when the Opposition had the numbers in the Senate to reject Supply.

“Our majority in the House of Representatives has never been threatened. The House of Representatives has passed the Budget. Budgets and all money bill must originate in the House of Representatives. The Senate cannot even amend them but it can delay them. And this is what Mr. Fraser proposes. And how will he do this? By using the numbers in a stacked Senate which is not even the same Senate which the people elected only seventeen months ago.”

  • Listen to Whitlam (5m)
  • Watch Whitlam’s opening words(21s)
  • Watch Whitlam’s concluding words (26s)