‘Volcanic’: Evidence of Queen’s involvement in the 1975 dismissal uncovered

Representatives of the British government flew to Australia in the lead-up to the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam government to meet with the then governor-general, casting further doubt on the accepted narrative that London officials did not play an active role in Australia’s most significant constitutional crisis.

Historian Jenny Hocking discovered files in the British archives showing Sir Michael Palliser, the newly appointed permanent under-secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, arrived in Canberra a month before the dismissal and held a joint meeting with Sir John Kerr and the British High Commissioner, Sir Morrice James, just as the Senate was blocking supply.

Sir Michael later reported back to London that Sir John “could be relied upon”.

“What is in those files is, to my mind, volcanic,” Professor Hocking, a research professor with the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University, told Fairfax Media.

“These are extraordinary materials indicating that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British High Commission are in discussion about the possibility of interfering in domestic Australian politics, specifically in the half Senate election, in the lead-up to November 1975.”

Although there is no detailed report on the meeting nor any correspondence relating to it, there is a draft itinerary to show this “planned contact between the head of the Foreign Commonwealth Office and the Queen’s representative in Australia on such a significant date in our political history,” Professor Hocking said.

Immediately after the meeting Sir John Kerr cancelled a planned international trip to remain in Australia.

Professor Hocking believes the Queen knew what might happen to the government well before it happened – unlike Whitlam, who was caught completely off-guard by the actions of November 11, 1975.

Although Sir John’s role in updating the Queen and the British government about the events is well known, what remains unclear is how active government and royal players in London were in trying to prevent the 1975 half Senate election from being called.

“Kerr met with the British High Commission within days of the dismissal and communicated to him had dismissed the government in order to protect the Queen’s position. That should have no place in the governor-general’s thinking,” Professor Hocking said ahead of Wednesday’s release of a new edition of her book, The Dismissal Dossier, which contains the revelation of the meeting pointing to Britain’s involvement in the dismissal.

“Prior to 1986 and the passage of the Australia Act there was a perception that the Australian states were in a quasi colonial relationship in which Britain could exercise its own interests. It acted to protect those interests in approaching the government-general. It’s an extraordinary development.”

Professor Hocking is also waiting for a Federal Court judgement on her application to have access to what are known as the ‘Palace letters’, the correspondence between Sir John Kerr and Buckingham Palace which she believes will – finally – reveal just what the Palace knew of Sir John’s intentions in the lead-up to the dismissal.

The letters are held by the National Archives of Australia which has deemed them “personal” – rather than official – correspondence that will not be released until 2027. They may never be released if Buckingham Palace decides to exercise its power of veto over their release.

Professor Hocking says a joint Australian-British inquiry into the events leading up to the dismissal, which remains Australia’s greatest constitutional crisis, is needed.

“We need to know what happened at this key time in our history but we also need to look forward to the implications of this for the way we might construct the powers of a head of state when we become a republic,” Professor Hocking said.

Next month marks the 42nd anniversary of the dismissal.


Further evidence of Queen’s involvement in the 1975 dismissal uncovered.

Published by Sydney Morning Herald, O

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An Australian republic ‘could benefit Aborigines’

A leading Australian academic and Aboriginal activist has supported a renewed campaign for Australia to become a republic if it recognises the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander citizens and gives them more political representation.

Professor Jakelin Troy, the director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research at the University of Sydney, said she “absolutely” supported the notion of Australia becoming a republic but that any new system of governance should correctly recognise that Aboriginal Australians initially owned the country.

“A republic should include more representation in the parliament and a set of rights equivalent to treaty rights enshrined in law so that Aboriginal people don’t have to continue fighting,” Troy said.

Australia remains a constitutional monarchy and has been subjected to British rule since it was colonised upon the arrival of Britain’s First Fleet in Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.

The fleet’s arrival date is widely celebrated in the country with an annual public holiday called Australia Day, but many Aboriginal people mourn the occasion as “Invasion Day”.

Read The Complete Article

‘We want a republic’: Australia’s states and territory leaders are united

State and territory leaders unanimously back Australia becoming a republic, meaning there is total support across the top two tiers of government for an Australian head of state.

However, division remains over when the switch should be made, even as the push grows for the process to start in 2020.

As part of a campaign by the Australian Republican Movement, seven of the eight leaders signed a declaration supporting the end of the constitutional monarchy.

The declaration posed the simple proposition that “Australia should have an Australian head of state”.

Read the complete article

Bill Shorten says the republic debate can’t wait for the Queen

Labor leader Bill Shorten has urged the Prime Minister to break the shackles of monarchists in his government and lead the push for Australia to become a republic.

The call comes after all of the state and territory leaders expressed support for a republic amid a push for a plebiscite for an Australian head of state by 2020.   
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to work together with him on an Australian republic.

Mr Shorten is expected to use his Australia Day address in Melbourne on Tuesday to call for Malcolm Turnbull to drop his insistence that constitutional change is only possible after the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

Seven of the eight state and territory leaders have signed a declaration by the Australian Republic Movement calling for an Australian head of state. WA premier Colin Barnett did not sign the declaration but confirmed he, too, supported a republic.

Read the complete Article

Long live King Charles? An Australian republic is in Turnbull’s hands for now

The first time a British royal came to visit Australia he was shot. Prince Alfred survived the assassination attempt in 1868 and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital was named in his honour.

It was an inauspicious beginning to royal tours of Australia but a century and a half later the nation is still constitutionally wedded to the British monarchy. Prince Charles – the future King of Australia – finished, on Sunday, his 15th visit to the country. While there have been no assassination attempts, nor has there been the outpouring of adoration that marked the Queen’s inaugural visit in 1954.

Why is Australia still attached to the monarchy?

read the article by Benjamen T. Jones at The Conversation

Published as: Long live King Charles? An Australian republic is in Turnbull’s hands for now

A royal reminder of The Dismissal’s impact

The timing of Prince Charles and Camilla’s visit to Australia was perhaps unfortunate. Just as some were applauding the royalty, others were remembering the vice-regal sacking of our PM 40 years earlier, writes Mungo MacCallum.

Charles and Camilla wafted into Australia last week, to be greeted by rapturous applause by the usual suspects.

As the ageing heir and his second wife preened and postured for the well-drilled spectators the royalists gushed, led by their self-appointed leader David Flint – a comedic courtier whose silliness is only exceeded by his vanity.

But there were those who noted that the time was perhaps unfortunate, their arrival in Canberra coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the vice-regal sacking of the Australian prime minster, Gough Whitlam.

It is natural, as well as fashionable, to say that this (though not, it appears, the monarchical system) is now history; we have moved on. And indeed, many have. But there are some who will not forget the momentous events of November 11, and continue to try to find how and why such an upheaval in the normally stable Westminster model could have been so dramatically disturbed.

Read the Article at the ABC by Mungo MacCallum

Published as: A royal reminder of The Dismissal’s impact

A Message from the Chair of the ARM – Peter FitzSimons

From Peter FitzSimons – Chair Australian Republican Movement

As you may know as a progressive Australian, I have taken over as Chair of the Australian Republican Movement.

I recently did a speech on the Republic to the National Press Club, which sets out our position:

http://goo.gl/YBk4oF

If you don’t have time to watch it, here is a transcript of that speech:

http://goo.gl/Vfs5vq

While we have received a lot of good will since, we need more than that. We need membership.

Could you please encourage your strong network to join us on this link:

https://goo.gl/jVwReA

We are very, very grateful.

We want a new Australia, not reduced to finding our Heads of State from one family of aristocrats, living in a Palace in London.

We want an Australia where any one of us can be Head of State.

As to what kind, we will democratically decide.

My own model, however, can fit in a tweet.

Current system: PM chooses GG, asks Q.

New system: PM chooses GG asks Parliament.

And that is IT.

Nothing else need change, not even the name “Governor-General,” and we can remain also “The Commonwealth of Australia.”

Others prefer the Direct Election Model, and that too is very possible.

If that is the one we Australians democratically decide on, I will support it.

Please feel free to pass this email on, with my email address, to your network. We are doing this transparently, and have no need to hide anything.

We are very grateful for your support,

I am, you are, we are Australian, and we are on the move!

JOIN us!

Tks,

Peter
Sydney Morning Herald

Tweet: @Peter_Fitz

What might The Dismissal’s legacy mean for an Australian republic push?

On November 11, 1975, the governor-general, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the Labor government of Gough Whitlam. The government had been unable to get its budget through the Senate, in which it lacked a majority.

New revelations surrounding the lead-up to the Whitlam government’s dismissal in 1975 emphasise the ongoing significance of the events of four decades ago to politics today.

But is The Dismissal a moment that will become even more significant if the push for Australia to become a republic gains momentum?

On the 40th Anniversary of The Dismissal, read the full article at TheConversation.com.au

Australia PM scraps knighthood honours, shows republican colours

Australia’s pro-republic Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday scrapped knights and dames from the nation’s honours system, less than a year after a furore sparked by the award of a knighthood to Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a staunch monarchist, reintroduced the antiquated honours in 2014, provoking criticism that he was out of touch with public sentiment. Abbott was ousted by Turnbull in a party coup in September.

The politically disastrous decision to give Prince Philip the nation’s highest honour, Knight of the Order of Australia, on Australia Day, has been cited as the beginning of the end for Abbott.

Read the Reuters Article Here

Royal succession laws changed as republic debate hits parliament again

THE republic debate returned to parliament today when Labor snuck in a plea for an Australian president while backing legislation giving women rights to royal succession.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten used discussion of anachronistic laws dictating who can become monarch to call for constitutional change — and to niggle Liberals on their own succession moves.

Australia is one of 16 “reals” in the Commonwealth whose governments have to agree to changing the succession laws so an older sister can take the British throne ahead of a younger brother.

At present only men can become monarch and women can only be crowned when there are no brothers available, as happened to Queen Elizabeth.

And they can’t marry Roman Catholics.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor backed the move to scrap laws going back 243 years.

(About time!)

Read the full Article at News.com.au