The first move to block passage of the Supply bills in the Senate came at 4.35pm on Wednesday, October 15, 1975 when Senator Reg Withers rose to speak on the Loan Bill.
In a 25-minute speech, Withers outlined the Opposition’s argument that delaying Supply was a legitimate parliamentary tactic and called on Prime Minister Whitlam to call an immediate election.
Withers moved an amendment to the Loan Bill that was passed by 29 votes to 28 at approximately 5.26pm. Senator Albert Patrick Field was absent, his position having been challenged in the High Court. Senator Cleaver Bunton, the independent appointed to fill Senator Lionel Murphy’s vacancy, voted with the ALP government, as did the Liberal Movement’s Senator Steele Hall.
Withers served in the Senate in 1966 and again from 1968 until 1987. He was Lord Mayor of Perth, between 1991 and 1994. Withers died on November 15, 2014, aged 90, just three weeks after Whitlam’s death.