The Whitlam Dismissal gives rise to a number of issues, even decades later.
The issues are constitutional, parliamentary, electoral and political.
The breaking of long-established conventions was at the heart of the Dismissal. State Premiers broke the convention regarding the filling of casual Senate vacancies, the Senate broke the convention about not blocking Supply, and the Governor-General broke the convention of acting only on the advice of the Prime Minister.
When Senator Lionel Murphy resigned his NSW Senate seat in January 1975 to take up his appointment as a judge of the High Court of Australia, the Liberal State government of Premier Tom Lewis refused to replace him with a Labor nominee. Instead, Lewis chose Cleaver Bunton, the Mayor of Albury to fill the vacancy.When Queensland Labor Senator Bert Milliner died in June 1975, the National Party government led by Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen refused to appoint a Labor replacement, instead nominating Albert Patrick Field.These two appointments changed the balance of power in the Senate and allowed the coalition parties to block the budget in October 1975.
CHOOSING GOVERNMENTS IN AUSTRALIA
At the heart of the Dismissal is a dispute about how and where governments are chosen in the Australian Westminster-based federal parliamentary system. The central question revolved around whether governments require the support of the lower house, the House of Representatives, alone, or whether the government requires the continuing support of the Senate as well.This problem led to an intriguing set of interpretations of particular sections of the Australian Constitution relating to the powers of the two houses of parliament.
In the aftermath of the Dismissal, a number of questions are now apparent.
OUT OF EMPIRE
Notes from the Monash University Open Learning course.
Issues Arising the Whitlam Dismissal
- Amidst Gair Affair, Killen And Daly Debate The Appropriation Bill April 9, 1974
- A Blow To Democracy: The Age April 11, 1974
- Address To The Nation: Gough Whitlam On Why The 1974 Election Was Called April 16, 1974
- Ellicott Says The Governor-General Will Have To Dismiss Whitlam If Supply Is Blocked October 14, 1975
- Fraser Announces The Coalition Will Block Supply October 15, 1975
- Whitlam Responds To Fraser’s Decision To Block Supply: Parliamentary Democracy Is Under Challenge October 15, 1975
- Senator Withers Moves To Defer Passage Of The Supply Bills October 15, 1975
- Palindromic Pro-Consul Speaks Out October 15, 1975
- The First Day Of The Constitutional Crisis October 16, 1975
- Bob Ellicott Says Governor-General Has Power To Dismiss Whitlam October 19, 1975
- Whitlam Maintains Attack On Opposition In Weekly TV Addresses October 19, 1975
- Fraser Says Blocking Supply Is Justified By Economic Circumstances And Government Scandals October 19, 1975
- Sir Garfield Barwick’s Advice To Sir John Kerr November 10, 1975
- Gough Whitlam’s Post-Dismissal Press Conference November 11, 1975
- Sir John Was Wrong: The Age November 12, 1975
- Peter Bowers: Bulldog Becomes The Underdog November 12, 1975
- Cutting The Knot: Sydney Morning Herald Editorial November 12, 1975
- Selected Audio Clips From The 1975 Election Campaign December 10, 1975
- It’s Time For A New Constitution November 11, 1976
- Whitlam Launches “The Truth Of The Matter” February 8, 1979
- Five Years After The Dismissal, Whitlam Speaks To Derryn Hinch November 11, 1980
- Il Dismissale: Max Gillies On The Dismissal September 1, 1983
- Whitlam Addresses The National Press Club On The Dismissal’s 10th Anniversary November 11, 1985
- Future Directions For Reform In Australia November 15, 1985
- Sir John Kerr Breaks His Silence And Talks To Geoffrey Robertson November 11, 1987
- Whitlam: The Coup Twenty Years After November 8, 1995
- Twentieth Anniversary: Maintain Your Rage And Enthusiasm November 11, 1995
- 20 Years On: Four Corners Remembers The Dismissal November 11, 1995
- Whitlam Comments On Barwick’s Letter To Kerr July 8, 1997
- Constitutional Changes After 1975 November 11, 2000
- Constitutional Conventions in Australia November 1, 2001
- Casual Senate Vacancies And The Whitlam Government November 1, 2001
- Choosing Governments in the Westminster System November 1, 2001
- Key Questions Arising from the Whitlam Dismissal November 1, 2001
- Out Of Empire: Monash University Course Notes November 1, 2001
- The Dismissal – 30th Anniversary November 11, 2005
- Cutler Advised Kerr To Warn Whitlam December 21, 2005
- Santamaria’s Role In The Dismissal January 6, 2007
- Mason: The Third Man In Whitlam’s Downfall August 24, 2012
- Mason Disputes Details But Largely Confirms Kerr’s Account Of Their Discussions August 27, 2012