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Archives for November 1975

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

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

Whitlam Sacked: Front Page Of Adelaide News

Adelaide News

Fraser’s Acceptance Of A Caretaker Commission

Following Kerr’s dismissal of Whitlam, Fraser agreed to a number of conditions in return for being commissioned as prime minister.

The most important of these were his commitments to securing the passage of Supply and the recommendation of a double dissolution of the Parliament. He also agreed that his government would act as a caretaker government until elections were held.

Fraser was sworn in as prime minister at approximately 1.30pm.

Letter from Malcolm Fraser to Sir John Kerr on November 11, 1975.

Your Excellency,

You have intimated to me that it is Your Excellency’s pleasure that I should act as your Chief Adviser and Head of the Government.

In accepting your commission I confirm that I have given you an assurance that I shall immediately seek to secure the passage of the Appropriation Bills which are at present before the Senate, thus ensuring supply for the carrying on of the Public Service in all its branches. I further confirm that, upon the granting of supply, I shall immediately recommend to Your Excellency the dissolution of both Houses of the Parliament.

My government will act as a caretaker government and will make no appointments or dismissals or inititate new policies before a general election is held.

Yours sincerely,
(sgnd J. M. Fraser)

His Excellency the Honourable Sir John Kerr,
A.C., K.C.M.G., K.St.J., Q.C.

11 November 1975

Lunchtime On November 11: The Media Reacts To The Calling Of A Half Senate Election

Following his dismissal, Whitlam returned to The Lodge and ate a steak for lunch. It was just after 1pm.

The media was covering what it believed to be the calling of a half-Senate election.

The half-Senate election had to be held by around May 1976. New senators would not take their seats until July 1, 1976. However, the new Territory senators would take their places immediately. Whilst no-one seriously believed the election would alter the balance of numbers in the Senate, Whitlam’s strategy was to put pressure on the Opposition to pass the Budget bills. [Read more…]

Kerr’s Statement Of Reasons

Following his dismissal of Gough Whitlam on November 11, 1975, the Governor-General released this document outlining his reasons.

Full text of Sir John Kerr’s Statement of Reasons for the dismissal of Gough Whitlam, issued by Government House on November 11, 1975.

I have given careful consideration to the constitutional crisis and have made some decisions which I wish to explain. [Read more…]

Sir John Kerr’s Letter Of Dismissal

This is the official letter handed to Whitlam by Kerr in the Governor-General’s study at Yarralumla at approximately 1.00pm on Tuesday, November 11, 1975.

Kerr's Letter of Dismissal, 11-11-75

Text of Sir John Kerr’s letter of dismissal, handed to Gough Whitlam on November 11, 1975. [Read more…]

On The Morning Of The Dismissal

The night before the dismissal of his government, Gough Whitlam attended the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Banquet.

The Opposition Leader, Malcolm Fraser, was there also. The two men would travel back to Canberra together on Whitlam’s plane later that evening.

The Lord Mayor was the Liberal Party’s Ron Walker, then aged 36. Walker went on to a career in business and was also a chief fundraiser for the Liberal Party. [Read more…]

Sir Garfield Barwick’s Advice To Sir John Kerr

On Sunday, November 9, 1975, two days before he dismissed Gough Whitlam, the Governor-General met with the Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Garfield Barwick.

On November 10, Barwick, a former Liberal Party minister under Menzies, tendered this advice to Kerr about his constitutional powers.

Text of High Court Chief Justice Sir Garfield Barwick’s advice to the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr.

Dear Sir John,

In response to Your Excellency’s invitation I attended this day at Admiralty House. In our conversations I indicated that I considered myself, as Chief Justice of Australia, free, on Your Excellency’s request, to offer you legal advice as to Your Excellency’s constitutional rights and duties in relation to an existing situation which, of its nature, was unlikely to come before the Court. We both clearly understood that I was not in any way concerned with matters of a purely political kind, or with any political consequences of the advice I might give.

In response to Your Excellency’s request for my legal advice as to whether a course on which you had determined was consistent with your constitutional authority on duty, I respectfully offer the following. [Read more…]

Five Days Before The Dismissal, Michael Willesee Interviews Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam gave an extended television interview to Michael Willesee on November 6, 1975, just five days before the Dismissal.

Willesee questioned Whitlam at length about the constitutional crisis, the Loans Affair and Whitlam’s allegations about Country Party leader Doug Anthony’s links to CIA figures. [Read more…]