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  #841  
Old 07-13-2020, 09:05 PM
Iluvbertie's Avatar
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UPDATE

The GG did NOT inform the Queen in advance that he was going to dismiss the government.

'I was of the opinion it was better for Her Majesty to not know in advance...'

Even her Private Secretary supports that information thanking him for 'his consideration of Her Majesty'.

The letters were expected to say that The Queen knew in advance and advised the GG but ... they show she didn't know in advance at all. As she didn't know she didn't interfere in Australian politics.

The GG did follow the Constitution by the way ... and the powers of the GG to dismiss a PM still exists (as can all State Governors dismiss their Governors ... as happened in NSW in 1932.)

Further information from the letters indicate that the Sir John Kerr did check with The Queen that he did have the right to dismiss the PM under the reserve powers of the constitution ... and she advised him that he did but that he should only do so for political and not personal reasons. There is more of course but the essential point is that she didn't know he was going to do it.
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  #842  
Old 07-14-2020, 02:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iluvbertie View Post
UPDATE

The GG did NOT inform the Queen in advance that he was going to dismiss the government.

'I was of the opinion it was better for Her Majesty to not know in advance...'

Even her Private Secretary supports that information thanking him for 'his consideration of Her Majesty'.

The letters were expected to say that The Queen knew in advance and advised the GG but ... they show she didn't know in advance at all. As she didn't know she didn't interfere in Australian politics.

The GG did follow the Constitution by the way ... and the powers of the GG to dismiss a PM still exists (as can all State Governors dismiss their Governors ... as happened in NSW in 1932.)

Further information from the letters indicate that the Sir John Kerr did check with The Queen that he did have the right to dismiss the PM under the reserve powers of the constitution ... and she advised him that he did but that he should only do so for political and not personal reasons. There is more of course but the essential point is that she didn't know he was going to do it.
Thank you for sharing this, @Iluvbertie
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  #843  
Old 07-14-2020, 02:18 AM
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Here's a news article about the matter from the BBC today, which also provides some background to the dismissal:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-53386554
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  #844  
Old 07-14-2020, 02:25 AM
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I remember that day so well ... I had to sit my Modern History HSC exam in the morning and so arrived home and watched the TV in the afternoon as things unfolded, the equivalent of the UK's A-levels.

I had my 'General Studies' exam the next day ... and in those days there was no actual syllabus ... just three essays on 'issues of the day'. The exam was set in May but one of the questions related to Australian politics and I wrote extensively about the events from the day before. As I received a very high mark for that course (47/50) I can only assume I must have been 'on point' with my essay.

I also did well in the Modern exam. It was bit weird when I started teaching High School in the 1990s to be teaching that day as 'history' when to me it was 'life experience'. I got more used to it as I spent time in my final year as a teacher teaching the 2008 GFC and the changes of PMs in Australia in the 2000s as part of a unit on 'popular culture'.

The subsequent double dissolution election in December was also the first time I was allowed to vote. My parents took me to the PO the next afternoon to ensure I was registered. I had only become qualified a few weeks earlier due to when I turned 18.

11th November - a date in Aussie history with three major events:

1. Armistice Day - which everyone knows and sees us with a one minute silence and increasingly more official acknowledgements ... ANZAC Day is our main memorial day of course.

2. The Dismissal - the day Sir John Kerr dismissed Gough Whitlam

3. The Execution of Ned Kelly - whose final words allegedly were 'such is life'.
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  #845  
Old 07-14-2020, 03:38 AM
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Thanks iluvbertie for the insights, looks like another black spider memos then.
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  #846  
Old 07-14-2020, 03:56 AM
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So far what has been revealed would be even less incriminating than the 'black spider' letters. I do notice that the Sydney Morning Herald's headline has changed to 'A Total Bombshell: Neither The Queen nor Sir John Emerge Unscathed'. Unfortunately I have used my five articles for this month and so can't read it ... but other outlets aren't making such a claim.

news.com.au - have to go the politics page as not on the main page - 'Palace Letters from John Kerr show Prince Charles was in the Loop' - wow - the heir to the throne, aged 29 knew what was happening in one of his realms. The Queen, like her father before her, wanted to ensure that her heir was prepared in case he had to ascend the throne early so of course he was 'in the loop.' I would have been more surprised to find out he wasn't 'in the loop'.

Nine news: https://www.9news.com.au/national/pa...6-f622871d88b4
has the ALPs views on the letters
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  #847  
Old 07-14-2020, 04:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iluvbertie View Post
So far what has been revealed would be even less incriminating than the 'black spider' letters. I do notice that the Sydney Morning Herald's headline has changed to 'A Total Bombshell: Neither The Queen nor Sir John Emerge Unscathed'. Unfortunately I have used my five articles for this month and so can't read it ... but other outlets aren't making such a claim.

news.com.au - have to go the politics page as not on the main page - 'Palace Letters from John Kerr show Prince Charles was in the Loop' - wow - the heir to the throne, aged 29 knew what was happening in one of his realms. The Queen, like her father before her, wanted to ensure that her heir was prepared in case he had to ascend the throne early so of course he was 'in the loop.' I would have been more surprised to find out he wasn't 'in the loop'.

Nine news: https://www.9news.com.au/national/pa...6-f622871d88b4
has the ALPs views on the letters

The SMH article inspiring the headline was written by the historian who sought access so no wonder she is playing the letters up. The same article is available in the Age and it will let you in even thought you may have used to SMH article limit and the Age & SMH are part of the same group.

The Guardian has rolling coverage as people tweet anything of interest. Needless to say the Republicans are trying to make a mountain out of nothing. Lots of faux outrage.
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  #848  
Old 07-14-2020, 05:09 AM
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Sounds like she is just really upset that the letters didn't reveal what she wanted them to show - that the Queen acted unconstitutionally. Anyone with half a brain knows that The Queen has always been scrupulous in adhering to the respective constitutions of her different realms but there are some academics who struggle with that concept.
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  #849  
Old 07-14-2020, 07:33 AM
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There is no doubt that the Queen's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth " shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General" (Section 64 of the constitution of Australia).


However, putting it in another way in view of British constitutional practice, if a similar situation had arisen in the United Kingdom, would the Queen have dismissed the PM or would she have let the politicians sort it out themselves?
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  #850  
Old 07-14-2020, 08:06 AM
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In the UK the powers of the monarch aren't limited by a written document but by convention so no she wouldn't dismiss the PM ... even though the government would be completely unable to operate, as the convention is such that the Queen can't do that.

In Australia the constitution is clear - the GG, like the state governors - have the power to dismiss the PM/Premiers. Those powers still exist as there has been no referendum to remove them from the constitution.

The politicians couldn't sort out the situation in 1975 which led to the crisis. The country was about to literally not be able to pay for the essential workers e.g. immigration officials and other federal public servants as there was an impasse between the two sides of politics and the two houses over passing the supply bills - or the ones that say that the army etc can be paid ... along with other things. That had been going on for weeks with neither Whitlam nor Fraser prepared to give way. We could have gone on ... until the next election which wasn't due to 18 months with no government and no federal public servants being paid or have the solution the GG came up with - send it to the people. He didn't just dismiss the PM, he did insist on a double dissolution election ... which resulted in the greatest landslide victory for the Liberals in history. They even won control of the Senate.

Interestingly for such a monumental event in Australia's history you would imagine that it is compulsory to be taught in our history courses. It isn't. The only Australian history that is compulsory, in high school, is the life of indigenous Australians pre-1788 in Year 7, a selection of Australia's role in both WWI and WWII as well as a study of the Australian home front and Changing Rights and Freedoms for Australian indigenous peoples post WWII. No study of the constitution, political changes, the dismissal or the republican referendum. There are some elective units that allow teachers to cover some other aspects of Australian history such as the decision at my school to include it in a study of 'popular culture' although we can't bring in the republican referendum.
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  #851  
Old 07-14-2020, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iluvbertie View Post
In the UK the powers of the monarch aren't limited by a written document but by convention so no she wouldn't dismiss the PM ... even though the government would be completely unable to operate, as the convention is such that the Queen can't do that.
.

Possibly the same scenario might have emerged in Australia if Sir John Kerr had not dismissed the government, i.e. the government would have been unable to operate and the PM would have had no choice, but to ask for an early election. My opinion is that the GG rushed to intervene rather than letting the normal political process run its course, which is what the Queen would have done in his place, I think.


The most interesting aspect of this case is not, however, if Sir John Kerr acted properly or not, but rather to clear the misconception , seen even in the linked BBC article, that the Governor-General is merely the "Queen's representative". Although it is true that GG exercises his powers "during the Queen's pleasure" , the word "representative" (used in Section 2 of the constitution) should not be interpreted as meaning that the GG is a delegate who acts solely on the Queen's instructions. On the contrary, he makes decisions with respect to the government of Australia on his own discretion and does not need to consult the Queen before making such decisions. The appointment and removal of members of the Federal Executive Council or Ministers of State, for example, are powers that are vested personally in the GG by the constititution, and not on the Queen.



At least that is how I interpret it.
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  #852  
Old 07-14-2020, 09:27 AM
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The government had been unable to operate since early October and was about to run out of money. Without the Supply Bills being passed the federal public service, army, etc wouldn't be paid. Other bills also wouldn't be paid. The Senate wasn't going to budge as Fraser wasn't going to let the Liberals budge and the Liberals controlled the Senate.

This wasn't a decision made on one day but one that had been building up for weeks.

Whitlam did ask for a half-Senate election and Kerr asked him if he could guarantee that he would get a Senate majority with a half-Senate election. Whitlam couldn't give that guarantee and if that failed then they were back to square one. Whitlam was asked to ask for an election and refused.

The situation can't arise in the UK as the House of Lords doesn't have the powers to hold up money bills the way the Senate can in Australia. It could, prior to the reforms of 1911 ... and in fact it was the stopping of the People's Budget in 1910 that triggered the reforms of 1911, which saw George V threaten the Lords that he would create enough peers to ensure the legislation - both budget and Lords reform passed ... so the Lords passed both pieces of legislation. The Queen therefore would never be faced with the same situation of the Upper House refusing to pass money bills.

If the Australian Constitution had been written a decade later than it was the situation wouldn't have been able to arise either - as the UK parliament would have ensured that the Senate had the same powers as the House of Lords. Remember that our constitution is an Act of the British Parliament ... and for a century we didn't even have the original document in Australia. The Queen gave it to us on the 100th anniversary of Queen Victoria signing it into law.
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  #853  
Old 07-14-2020, 10:19 AM
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Iluvbertie, is what the GG did viewed as a good thing or bad thing? Regardless of The Queens involvement.

It seems so monumental.
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  #854  
Old 07-14-2020, 10:27 AM
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It still depends largely on what side of politics a person is, especially with ALP supporters. To the ALP Kerr is still the devil incarnate while to Liberal supporters he did the right thing as the people were able to have their say.

As an historian I always tried to present both sides of the argument without emotion and let each student reach their own conclusion. Due to where I teach most came down on the side of Kerr deserved to be hung, drawn and quartered (the school is in one of the safest ALP electorates in the country with the primary ALP vote usually around 65% although in 2019 it was only 58%.
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  #855  
Old 07-15-2020, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by VictoriaB View Post
The Guardian has rolling coverage as people tweet anything of interest.
https://www.theguardian.com/australi...-released-live

Has there been any more coverage in regard to ex-Prime Minister Whitlam calling Buckingham Palace requesting to be reinstated as PM because his party had passed a supply bill? Was his request constitutional?

It is interesting that both the Prime Minister and the Governor-General mentioned the possibility of the Governor-General advising the Queen to sack the Prime Minister at the same time the Prime Minister was advising the Queen to sack the Governor-General, and that the Queen's Private Secretary made clear that if it came to choose, the Queen would follow the advice of the Prime Minister.

I am surprised that of all the potential reasons for the Queen to decline the proposal for the Prince of Wales to become governor-general of Australia, she declined it on the basis that a governor-general needed to have a wife (!).


Statement from Buckingham Palace:

Quote:
While the Royal Household believes in the longstanding convention that all conversations between prime ministers, governor-generals and the Queen are private, the release of the letters... confirms that neither Her Majesty nor the Royal Household had any part to play in Kerr's decision to dismiss Whitlam.
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  #856  
Old 07-15-2020, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tatiana Maria View Post
https://www.theguardian.com/australi...-released-live

Has there been any more coverage in regard to ex-Prime Minister Whitlam calling Buckingham Palace requesting to be reinstated as PM because his party had passed a supply bill? Was his request constitutional?

It is interesting that both the Prime Minister and the Governor-General mentioned the possibility of the Governor-General advising the Queen to sack the Prime Minister at the same time the Prime Minister was advising the Queen to sack the Governor-General, and that the Queen's Private Secretary made clear that if it came to choose, the Queen would follow the advice of the Prime Minister.

I am surprised that of all the potential reasons for the Queen to decline the proposal for the Prince of Wales to become governor-general of Australia, she declined it on the basis that a governor-general needed to have a wife (!).


Statement from Buckingham Palace:
Answering one of your questions, under the constitution of Australia, the power to appoint and dismiss ministers is not vested in the Queen, but rather in the Governor-General. I don’t think it would be up to the Queen to either dismiss or reinstate the PM.

However, The Queen could have terminated Sir John Kerr’s commission and removed him as that was within her power.
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  #857  
Old 07-15-2020, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumutqueen View Post
Iluvbertie, is what the GG did viewed as a good thing or bad thing? Regardless of The Queens involvement.

It seems so monumental.
I remember the whole controversy well. It of course caused heated debate at the time and for my generation, and as an ALP (Labor) supporter and history buff it was a sore point for a long time.

However, it's been a VERY long time since the dismissal ( Sir John Kerr did not last long as GG after it) and I doubt it looms large in the mindset of Australians born in the last forty years or so. Except as a festering sore in the collective memory of fervent republicans of course!

As for what Australians thought at the time, the Whitlam government was regarded as a failure by many voters at the time, for various reasons, though Whitlam has remained as a hero to many supporters of the ALP. Malcolm Fraser's Liberal (Coalition) govt won the following election by a large margin shortly after the dismissal, so there I suppose lies your answer!
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  #858  
Old 07-24-2020, 07:11 AM
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Please follow this link to see a copy of the Queen's commission appointing the current Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC, DSC.



The commission is signed by the Queen (on the top) and by the prime minister (on the bottom). The preamble includes the Queen's official title in Australia:


"ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth."


It is interesting to note that the Australian commission has a more modern wording than its Canadian counterpart (seen at the bottom of the page after the GG's proclamation).
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  #859  
Old 10-24-2020, 09:40 AM
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A letter from Prince Charles to Sir John Kerr written several months after the Dismissal, has turned up in the Australian, in which he expresses sympathy for Sir John's position and his actions of the year before (1975.)

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...tlam-condemned
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  #860  
Old 10-24-2020, 09:52 AM
Majesty
 
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Originally Posted by Curryong View Post
A letter from Prince Charles to Sir John Kerr written several months after the Dismissal, has turned up in the Australian, in which he expresses sympathy for Sir John's position and his actions of the year before (1975.)

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...tlam-condemned
Why can’t Prince Charles learn from his mother.? Another gift from him to the Australian Republicans.
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