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Dismissal Documents

1. Kerr’s Letter of Dismissal

The letter handed to Gough Whitlam by Sir John Kerr in the Governor-General’s study at Yarralumla, just before 1.00pm on Tuesday November 11, 1975.

2. Kerr’s Statement of Reasons for the Dismissal

The official statement of reasons from the Governor-General, justifying his decision to dismiss Whitlam. Kerr’s central argument is that the Parliament had denied Supply and so the government had a duty to either resign or recommend an election.

3. Barwick’s Advice to Kerr

Kerr consulted with the Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Garfield Barwick, on the Sunday prior to November 11. Following the dismissal of Whitlam, Kerr released Barwick’s written advice that he had not only the constitutional right, but a duty also, to dismiss the government.

4. Fraser Accepts Kerr’s Commission

The letter from Malcolm Fraser agreeing to the terms of his appointment as stipulated by Kerr, namely that he make no appointments or dismissals, initiate no new policies, and immediately tender advice for a dissolution of the Parliament and the calling of an election.

5. Proclamation Dissolving Parliament

The proclamation read by the Governor-General’s Official Secretary, David Smith, on the steps of Parliament House around 4.30pm on November 11. The proclamation lists the 21 bills twice rejected by the Senate which provided the grounds for the double dissolution of the Parliament.

6. Speaker Scholes’ Letter To The Queen

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gordon Scholes, wrote to Queen Elizabeth II on November 12, 1975, expressing disquiet about the events of the previous day.

Late in the afternoon of November 11, following the passage of a no-confidence motion in the new prime minister, Malcolm Fraser, Scholes was denied access to the Governor-General until after the parliament had been dissolved.

7. Queen’s Letter to the Speaker

Regarded by many as a most significant document that establishes the policy of non-interference by the monarch in domestic political events, this letter was in response to a request by the Speaker, Gordon Scholes, that the Queen intervene to reinstate Whitlam.

8. Whitlam’s Press Conference on November 11

The press conference held by Whitlam at Parliament House, Canberra, following his dismissal and the double dissolution of the Parliament.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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