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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…]