Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tumultuous Was An Understatement.

Cripes it was  40 years ago!

Gough Whitlam was shown  the door by the Monarch's representative,  Governor General Sir John Kerr when the Liberal Country Coalition by their control of the Federal Senate repeatedly  refused to pass supply.
In effect the Federal Bureaucracy was without the money to pay the wages leaving the Labor Government scrambling to find a way forward.
A series of rather extraordinary funding schemes were promoted then abandoned  including one funded by Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Whitlam refused to call a double dissolution as a remedy, where  the Senate and The Lower House would face an election that could see the government gain enough support in the Senate while maintaining their majority in the Lower House.
Whitlam wanted to keep his 1974 house result stand and  only have half the senate face the electorate to buy time and perhaps get some wavering members of Malcolm Frazer's Senate support to fold.

The actual mechanics of "The Dismissal" were a legend in their own right.
Whitlam attempted to call The Queen who Kerr wanted kept out of the shambles, of course by withdrawing Whitlam's warrant he lost that right.
When the Senate reconvened at 2 pm the supply bills were rapidly passed and Senators thought only that the Libs had folded.
When The House reconvened Whitlams supporters now knowing what had transpired voted to restore their Champion and dispatched the Speaker to inform the GG Frazer could not get a vote of confidence in the house and Whitlam had the numbers but the proclamation ending the parliament had already been read ending with the traditional words "God save the Queen" to which a nearby Gough Whitlam in an impromptu speech on the steps of the Parliament opened with: "that may well save Her majesty, nothing will save The Governor general"

Coming along after decades of right of center Liberal governments Whitlam came to power and embarked on some serious socialist impacts on how Australia did things but as with Abbott,  currently, the fact that only  half the senators face the electorate as they serve a term of six years, the vote that elected Abbott's coalition did not win a majority in the senate where the balance of power lies with the Green Party and a bunch of even more minors controlled by Palmer, Katter, Xenophon a motorist party and a pseudo from NSW who managed to confuse enough voters by incorporating the word Liberal in his party name.

1974 saw Whitlam win the lower house again having wrested it from the Liberals in 1972, after 23 years in the wilderness but failed again to get over Frazer's Senate numbers and Frazer refused supply through most of 1975.
With the money running out before the christmas period Kerr who had a belief  that the office of  GG had the power to dismiss a Prime minister, confirmed by the then Chief Justice,  ended Whitlam's commission and offered the prime ministership to Frazer on condition he pass the supply bills through the Senate,  agree to pass no new legislation and call a Double Dissolution as soon as possible.
At that December 1975 election Whitlam's Labor party suffered a devastating defeat and it was 1983 before Hawke restored the ALP to the Treasury Benches.

Kerr never recovered, he was vilified for ratting on Labor and died a broken man with the demon drink implicated in his demise.

Gough Whitlam's recent passing, has reawakened the "affair" but full discovery will not occur as the papers relating to Kerr consulting with her Majesty are sealed until 2037 when King Charles the third will be 89 or a late middle aged King William will reign.


Angry Tory said...


Kerr is widely recognised as saving Australia - and the political bias of the GG presiding over the Rudd / Gillard fiasco is widely recognised in Oz as responsible for much of the mess the "Lucky Country" is now in.

Kerr was and will always be a hero to true democrats in Australia and everywhere. Whitlam was little less than a traitor - and when the books are opened, that little will swiftly vanish.

It's still worth asking the question: had the Labour/Green/NZF/MANA/Maori communist coalition stolen the election with KimDotCom's money - would Sir Jerry have done the right thing?

gravedodger said...

Sadly AT, probably not but of all the GGs in my lifetime Sir Gerry would be the most likely.
I wrote to the previous GG during Clark and her traitorous fellow travelers efforts to subvert democracy with the widely regarded as appalling legislation over finance and free speech and the office of Paul Henrys best mate only acknowledged my missive being received but nothing else by way of reply.

The Veteran said...

AT ... putting aside the rights and wrongs of what Kerr did it all came down to timings. Whitlam has said that had he a whiff of what was going to happen the would have advised the Queen to dismiss the GG ... if I remember correctly it came down to a 20 minute window.

The reality is that the GG can only ever be a figurehead notwithstanding his role post an election. At all other times he/she is bound to act on the advice of his ministers.

I can't see the Kerr situation repeating itself here although, having said that, I guess MMP changes the dynamic somewhat.