Gough Whitlam has turned 97 years of age today.
Joan Child, the first female Labor member of the House of Representatives, and the first female Speaker, has died. She was 91.
Child was elected to the Melbourne electorate of Henty, centred around Oakleigh, in 1974. She had unsuccessfully contested the electorate in 1972.
She was defeated at the 1975 election and again in 1977. She returned to the House in 1980, securing re-election to Henty in 1983, 1984 and 1987.
Child became the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives in February 1986. She relinquished the position in August 1989, ahead of her retirement at the 1990 election.
Former High Court Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason has written an account of his discussions with Sir John Kerr. The account appears in Fairfax newspapers today.
It offers an extraordinary insight into a series of discussions between then Justice Mason and Kerr. Whilst Mason disputes some dates and certain elements of Kerr’s account as presented in Hocking’s book, he largely confirms an ongoing and sustained series of discussions about the mechanics of dismissing Whitlam.
The key difference between Mason’s account and Kerr’s is that Mason says he advised Kerr to warn Whitlam that he would terminate his commission if Whitlam did not agree to a general election. Mason denies that he encouraged Kerr to dismiss Whitlam.
Mason says he played no part in preparing Kerr’s statement of reasons but that he did draft a letter terminating Whitlam’s commission, although it was not used by Kerr.
Mason says that Kerr rang him on the afternoon of November 11 and they discussed what to do about the Speaker’s desire to inform Kerr of the House of Representatives motion of no-confidence in Fraser.
Thirty-seven years on from The Dismissal, the revelations in Hocking’s book and Mason’s statement make significant amendments to the standard chronology of events before and during the Supply crisis.
- Former judge ends decades of silence on Whitlam sacking
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Text of statement by Sir Anthony Mason, as published in Fairfax newspapers on August 27, 2012.
1. This statement records my recollection of my conversations with Sir John leading up to the termination of the Prime Minister’s commission on November 11, 1975 and conversations thereafter relating to that event.
I make the statement in response to documents placed by Sir John Kerr in the National Archives which were recently released and have been discussed by Professor Hocking in volume two of her biography of Mr Whitlam.
The documents relate to conversations with me in October – November 1975 preceding the dismissal of the Whitlam government. They incorporate a shorter version prepared on October 21, 1975. The documents are neither a complete nor an accurate record of our conversations, particularly of our conversations on November 9.
A second extract from Jenny Hocking's about-to-be-released second volume biography of Gough Whitlam has been published today in Fairfax newspapers. The extract deals with Rupert Murdoch's role in the Iraki breakfast affair.
Video of Gough Whitlam commenting on and recommending the second volume of Jenny Hocking's biography of his life.
Gough Whitlam's biographer, Jenny Hocking, has revealed hitherto unknown details of the role played by High Court Justice Sir Anthony Mason in the Whitlam dismissal. She discusses Mason's involvement in a video posted on Fairfax websites.
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has delivered the 2012 Whitlam Oration to the Whitlam Institute in Sydney.
Nearly thirty-seven years after the Fraser-led coalition parties blocked the Budget and Sir John Kerr dismissed the Whitlam government, Fraser remarked that in the 1970s “few people would have believed that Malcolm Fraser would be delivering a Gough Whitlam oration”.
Fraser, 82, spoke mainly about foreign policy and international politics, and issues concerning race, immigration and refugees.
Audio and Video files of parliamentary tributes to Margaret Whitlam on March 19: Gillard, Abbott, Plibersek, Bishop, Rudd, Turnbull, Faulkner, Payne, Brown, Frydenberg and Griggs. Also includes audio of eulogies from Tony Whitlam and Catherine Dovey at the memorial service held on March 23.
ABC and Channel 10 television news report on the death of Margaret Whitlam.
The Queen was told about Gough Whitlam’s dismissal when she woke at 8am on the morning of November 11 in Buckingham Palace.
At this stage it was 7pm in Australia, the Parliament had been dissolved and an election set in train.
The Queen’s assistant private secretary at the time, William Heseltine, heard the news in a telephone call from the Governor-General’s Official Secretary, David Smith, at about 2am London time. This suggests Smith rang the palace almost immediately after Kerr dismissed Whitlam.
Details of these events have been published in an article about now Sir William Heseltine in The West Australian.
Text of article that first appeared in The West Australian.
No wake-up call for Queen over dismissal
by MALCOLM QUEKETT
A former senior member of the Queen’s staff has provided a rare insight into how Buckingham Palace reacted when governor-general Sir John Kerr sacked prime minister Gough Whitlam.
WA-born Sir William Heseltine, who was a member of the Queen’s staff for 27 years, said the Queen had closely followed events during the constitutional crisis of November 1975 but Sir John had not told her of his intentions and had not sought her advice.