Thursday 29 October 2015

Palace Coup? Shocking New Revelations About The 1975 Dismissal Of Gough Whitlam’s Labour Government.

Queen's Man: Australian Research Professor, Jenny Hocking, in her just published book, The Dismissal Dossier: Everything You Were Never Meant To Know About November 1975, alleges that Sir John Kerr was in contact with Queen Elizabeth II, her Private Secretary, Sir Martin Charteris, and Prince Charles, weeks before the final dismissal of the Whitlam Government. At no point, says Hocking, did any member of the Royal Family alert the Prime Minister of Australia that his country's democratically-elected government was about to be overthrown.
SCEPTICISM ABOUT THE EXISTANCE of the “Deep State” is very strong in New Zealand. This country has been fortunate in avoiding the sort of constitutional crises that bring the machinations of Deep State actors into public view. Our neighbours across the Tasman have not been so fortunate.
It is almost exactly 40 years since the Governor General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, sacked the government of Gough Whitlam’s Labour Party. The “dismissal” of the Whitlam Government was long thought to be the work of Kerr alone; a vice-regal intervention intended to resolve a constitutional stalemate that was threatening to bring Australia to its knees. This “official” version of events is now being challenged. In The Dismissal Dossier: Everything You Were Never Meant To Know About November 1975, Australian Research Professor, Jenny Hocking, makes it frighteningly clear that Kerr had help.
One of the questions often asked by students of Whitlam’s dismissal is: Why didn’t the Prime Minister simply pick up the phone and dial Buckingham Palace? The Governor-General is, when all is said and done, merely the monarch’s stand-in. Should he so forget his place as to seriously contemplate dismissing a democratically re-elected government from office, then, surely, a quick conversation between the Prime Minister and Her Majesty would secure his instant removal from Government House and replacement by somebody more committed to the democratic process.
According to Hocking, that most simple of solutions was denied to Whitlam for the very simple reason that the Queen and her Private Secretary, Sir Martin Charteris, were forewarned of the dismissal. Kerr had taken the precaution of both writing and speaking to the Queen about what he was planning to do well in advance of 11 November 1975. Indeed, the Queen’s Private Secretary and the Governor-General had together run through the options should Whitlam attempt to secure Kerr’s removal from office. In the event of this “contingency”, Charteris informed Kerr, the Queen would “try to delay things”.
Had Whitlam dialled Buckingham Palace, it is highly likely that Charteris would have informed him that Her Majesty was indisposed and unable to take his call.
At no time during the course of these alleged exchanges, says Hocking, did the Palace think it appropriate to speak to the Prime Minister of Australia about his Governor-General’s intentions. In such circumstances it would have been very difficult for Kerr to interpret the Palace’s silence as anything other than tacit support.
As if all this wasn’t bad enough, Hocking claims that, in addition to the Queen, Kerr also discussed his plans to dismiss the democratically-elected government of an independent Commonwealth nation with the heir apparent to the British throne, Prince Charles. The latter’s alleged response, if accurately reported by Hocking, raises serious questions about Charles’s suitability as New Zealand’s next head of state.
According to Hocking, the Prince of Wales’ reply was: “But surely, Sir John, the Queen should not have to accept advice that you should be recalled at the very time should this happen when you were considering having to dismiss the government.”
It seems that the Royal Family was not Kerr’s only source of advice and support. The Governor-General is also said to have consulted senior members of the Australian judiciary and, shockingly, the Liberal Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Fraser. Apparently, they, too, saw no reason to acquaint the Prime Minister with the fact that Kerr was planning to overthrow the Australian government.
There was another person in Australia who seemed to be extraordinarily well-informed about the future of Whitlam’s government – Rupert Murdoch. He had returned to Australia in the early months of 1975 peculiarly confident that the Labour Government would be gone by Christmas. Accordingly, the Murdoch-controlled press, well-informed by sources deep with the civil service, waged an unrelenting campaign against Whitlam’s beleaguered ministry, and was entirely supportive of the bloodless coup that toppled it.
Hocking’s accusations are, of course, political dynamite. They call into question not only the constitutional reliability of the House of Windsor, but all of Australia’s and the United Kingdom’s unelected power structures – their Deep States. Australians also have cause to wonder about their country’s relationship with the elected governments of the United Kingdom. After all, how likely is it, if Hocking’s allegations are true, that the Queen would have kept her own Prime Minister and his Cabinet in the dark about Kerr’s intentions? Mind you, these were the years in which rumours of coups against the Labour Government of Harold Wilson were rife. Was Her Majesty advised that it might be wisest to keep Sir John Kerr’s intentions to herself?
Of course Hocking’s allegations, if wide of the mark, could very easily be corrected by releasing all of the Palace’s 1975 communications with Kerr. Unfortunately, these remain sealed under a 50 year suppression order not set to expire until 2027. Even then it is most unlikely that they will be released until all of the persons involved in the events of November 1975 are deceased.
The Deep State does not like the light.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Wednesday, 28 October 2015.


Eric said...

"It is a longstanding constitutional principle that appropriation of public funds must be approved by Parliament through the passing of laws authorising expenditure. As far back as 1376 the English House of Lords and House of Commons jointly assembled to refuse supply until grievances about Court expenditure were addressed. This tactic achieved the desired result, although it took a few more years for the principle to become established. In 1380 the Speaker sought from the King’s Council a schedule of sums required – an early version of today’s Estimates.

The principle of parliamentary control over supply is recognised in New Zealand law. It is fundamental to a democratic system because it ensures the Government must retain the confidence of the House to fund its activities. It cannot remain in power if it fails to obtain supply. If, on the other hand, the Government had available to it an alternative source of supply, the House would no longer be taken seriously by the Government and be effective in counterbalancing executive power."

I believe that Australian Parliamentary Law was the same as that of New Zealand.

It is my understanding that Whitlam's Government was unable to achieve a majority in the Australian House on the matter of "Supply". Constitutionally, the proper course was for Whitlam to have gone to the Governor-General and advised that his Government no longer had the numbers to govern. He should have tendered his resignation as Prime Minister. He did not. The only alternative was for the Governor-General to take the action that he did.

peteswriteplace said...

No, Charles wouldn't be suitable for a number of reasons including a visit to his present wife on his wedding night to Princess Di. This man has no morals or brains.

Chris Trotter said...

Wow! That was quick Eric - suspiciously so.

Your citation (Cabinet Manual?) is correct, as far as it goes, which is not as far as Canberra. New Zealand has a single house of parliament, Australia has two.

This alters things.

In Australia (as in the UK) money bills are the preserve of the lower house. In 1975, Whitlam's recently re-elected government had a 5-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

Australia's upper house, the Senate, by Westminster convention, is barred from blocking money bills.

Malcolm Fraser refused to abide by this convention, however, and blocked the Labour Government's Budget. (He was only able to do this because right-wing premiers in NSW and Queensland had also broken with convention and appointed replacement senators who were not from the same party as the departing incumbents.)

Fraser was thus holding Australia to ransom. Without supply the government could not function. The price demanded for allowing it to resume functioning was the overthrow of the government the Australian people had re-elected in 1974.

Not surprisingly, there were many in Liberal Party circles who disapproved of Fraser's course of action. Tremendous pressure was applied to keep these dissenters in line, but by early November there were signs that Fraser's grip was faltering.

Rather than allow Fraser's blackmail to succeed (which would have given the Upper House the power to thwart the will of the Lower House - a complete reversal of the Westminster order) Whitlam went to the Governor-General on 11 November to secure a new election for half the Senate. That was when Kerr struck.

The fact that you must seek for precedents in the annals of feudal England, Eric, reveals the reactionary nature of your defence of Kerr. The dismissal was a bloodless coup d'état plotted well in advance by the Australian Deep State. It was this, the unelected power structure of Australia, which supplied the script to Malcolm Fraser and his Liberal-Country Party coalition (who followed it to the letter).

Hocking's revelations now suggest that the conspiracy to unseat an elected government extended all the way to Buckingham Palace. The involvement of the USA in Whitlam's removal is well attested, the possible involvement of the present (and future) monarch of New Zealand is deeply shocking and raises some very serious constitutional issues.

It's not the flag we should be changing, but the means of identifying our Head of State.

Tiger Mountain said...

“Queenie” and several of her younger descendants have had a sentimental restoration of sorts for public consumption, so it is timely for the republican cause to have further investigation into the infamous Aussie coup, “she can’t help being Queen”–maybe not, but she can help being a stalwart of British Imperialism to the extent of trashing democratic norms–would the royals do this again, say to an NZ MMP parliament? is the question

“the Butchers Apron” component of the NZ flag signifies the true nature of the power behind the throne

my conclusion is that some of the NZ deep state deniers on Bowalley Road are likely well acquainted with its members

Andrew Nichols said...

These troubling revelations has not rated a single line in the newspapers here in Aus nor even the ABC (outside Late Night Live (an afternoon programme). "Nothing to see here...move along..."

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I don't think we should be too surprised that Charles's attitude. He is the ultimate child of privilege, and is probably a bit much to expect him to be liberal (in the US sense) let alone leftist. But Peter is correct, he's a very dim bulb who got a gentleman's C- from whatever university he went to. He's a great fan of quack medicine. His sex life I don't care about too much, but he's not as bad as Newt Gingrich, who dumped his wife basically on her deathbed :-). It would be nice if our leaders (and I use the word loosely in Charles's case) were personally ethical, but that simply isn't going to happen. As far as sexual ethics goes Charles is still probably in favour of Droit de Signeur, and politicians claim to be operating under so much pressure that it ruins their marriages. Yeah right. Sorry to stray from the very serious matter of Gough Whitlam and the coup d'état :-).

Eric said...

Chris, I googled (binged actually) "parliamentary supply" and the second listing was this:

Parliament Brief: Government Accountability to the House

Parliament Brief: Government accountability to the House [PDF 135k] ... The principle of parliamentary control over supply is recognised in New Zealand law.

------ I clicked on it and copied and pasted enough that made the point without appearing selective. I am open to correction, which you appear graciously to have done.

"The fact that you must seek for precedents in the annals of feudal England, Eric, reveals the reactionary nature of your defence of Kerr."
Perhaps I should have reduced the cut and paste job to eliminate the pedantry of the feudal England element, but I didn't think it was that important.
Kerr, per se, is of no relevance to me, or the argument, but the structure for the Crown's rule of law is. I just don't see the whole conspiracy thing.

You would laugh if you appreciated just how unfounded your suspicions are!

Simon Cohen said...

Chris you say that by Westminster convention the Australian senate is barred from blocking money bills.But unlike the UK and NZ Australia has a written constitution and that constitution gives the senate the power to block money bills.
And Fraser wasn't the first Australian opposition leader to attempt to block money bills.It had been tried at least seven times before but failed for lack of numbers.
Indeed on 18 June 1970 the ALP Senate Leader Lionel Murphy according to Hansard listed in the senate "169 measures of an economic or financial nature including taxation and appropriation bills which have been opposed by the ALP in whole or in part by vote in the senate"Murphy went on to say "The Senate is entitled to refuse its concurrence to any financial measure including a tax bill.There are no limitations on the Senate in the use of its constitutional powers except the limitations imposed by discretion and reason"
Then on November 4 1970 the entire ALP Senate opposition voted against the Liberal-CP governments appropriation bill after Murphy had appealed to the DLP senators who at that time held the balance of power in the senate to join the ALP in voting out the appropriation bill after he had stated that"My party has decided to do whatever it can to drive this government from office."

Anonymous said...

John Pilger wrote about this some time ago, it is still on his site to view.
And like this article, well worth the read.

CP said...

@Chris : "Hocking’s accusations are, of course, political dynamite. They call into question not only the constitutional reliability of the House of Windsor, but all of Australia’s and the United Kingdom’s unelected power structures – their Deep States. Australians also have cause to wonder about their country’s relationship with the elected governments of the United Kingdom" The same concern should apply to New Zealand as well.

The only way to prevent this kind of undemocratic dirty despicable disgrace is to become an independent republic. But there does not seem to be a large public support for it...yet.

Is there any other way?

The Veteran said...

I would like to see some authentication of the claims before rushing to judgement. What you Chris and the author have shied away from is developing a rationale explaination as to why Kerr, a jurist with a long Labor pedigree and a Whitlam appointee to boot, acted the way he did. Are you sucggesting he was somehow 'bought. off' by Frazer because, if so, he sold himself cheaply... he never did/received anything of note after his retirement ... Comment

Bushbaptist said...

It was common knowledge that Whitlam's sacking was a jack-up Chris. Not just Fraser but several big business people were involved as well. The Shocker Ocker was just one. It's doubtful that Liz would have agreed had she known what was going on. She has the power to remove any Govt. under her control but has never used it before and I suggest that she would not have this time either. Fraser was involved from the start even in the discussions between Kerr (the cur) and Charteris. I suspect that Charteris deliberately mis-informed Her Majesty.

Whitlam couldn't get the confidence and supply vote, usually a formality for an incoming Govt. so he was left with no option but to go and ask for a new election.

The system has it's faults but be careful what you wish for Chris. Would you rather having John Key as our pressie? Or Jenny Shipley? Or even that person of indeterminable gender Helen Clark? I can't think of one single pollie that would fit the bill, so to speak.

Grant said...

@ The Veteran. In answer to why Kerr acted as he did, a quick read of the Wikipedia article about him would suggest that he was a personality (not to put too fine a point on it) who had a healthy regard for his own abilities and opinions. He was also much less the labor man than Whitlam thought and no friend of Whitlam himself.

In answer to the question as to whether he received anything of note, I will copy this excerpt which lists the main honours he received AFTER dismissing the Whitlam Govt. This includes honours he actively sought himself as well as those bestowed unasked. It does not include honours etc awarded before 1975. In light of Chris' column it is particularly worth noting the GCVO awarded in 1977 "within 'personal gift' of the sovereign".

From Wikipedia: "On the establishment of the Order of Australia on 14 February 1975, as Governor-General he was made Principal Companion of the Order (AC).[24] When the category of Knight was added to the Order on 24 May 1976, he was made Principal Knight of the Order (AK).[25]
In 1976 he was elevated to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG).[23] He had asked Gough Whitlam for this appointment shortly after becoming Governor-General in 1974, but was rebuffed.[4]
On 30 March 1977 he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO), an award within the personal gift of the Sovereign, for services as Governor-General.[26] This award was made by the Queen during an official visit to Australia, and was conferred on board the Royal Yacht Britannia in Fremantle Harbour.[5]
He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1977 on the instigation of Malcolm Fraser.[23] (This was another appointment he had unsuccessfully sought from Whitlam in 1974.[4]) The formal recommendation went through the UK Prime Minister, James Callaghan, who felt unable to support Fraser's other recommendation, that Kerr be elevated to the peerage.[5]"

Anonymous said...

IIRC, the Senate hadn't actually voted down the supply bills. Fraser was preventing them coming to a vote.

Of course, one of the bizarre features of the Dismissal was that Whitlam never notified his parliamentary colleagues until the supply bills had passed. Had he chosen, Whitlam could have used his majority in the House to give Fraser a taste of his own medicine (Fraser was appointed on condition that he pass supply and call an immediate election). Kerr would then have no choice but to reappoint Whitlam.

JH said...

Learn English
It was the Labor government of Gough Whitlam elected in 1972 which finalised the abolition of ‘White Australia’ and went one step further. It publicised around the world Australia’s new nondiscriminatory policy.

Malcolm Fraser, Prime Minister 1975-1983: It might have been the most important thing that my government accomplished. Because whatever anyone might have said since, the fact that we then accepted a multicultural Australia and accepted that people didn’t have to forget their land of origin or forget their affection for it to be a good Australian was enormously important in building a cohesive society.

The Australian productivity Commission concluded that there was little or no benefit to Australians from immigration (it had all been captured by the migrants).

It is lucky Whitlam wasn't hung drawn and quartered?

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on why this outrage to democracy was roundly supported in the subsequent election?

Grant said...

"Any thoughts on why this outrage to democracy was roundly supported in the subsequent election?"

Anything intelligent to say about it yourself?

Anonymous said...

"Any thoughts on why this outrage to democracy was roundly supported in the subsequent election?"

Governments can be unpopular at times. No reason to ask the GG to sack them so you can win an election.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

In case anyone hasn't seen it.

Nolajo said...

Like so many of our ways of doing things, we only think it works because we either don't, or are prevented from so far as the establishment can manage, taking a close look.

greywarbler said...

Whitlam doesn't seem straight forward himself according to Wikipedia's coverage. I knew there was a huge loan that caused a stir and it was done without going through their loans board. Ultimately it never went through but it left the impression that Whitlam's government was flaky.

The Opposition seized their chance. It was a political assassination, possibly best done quickly. Which way would Whitlam have twisted if he had been advised earlier? He did some wonderful things but was blocked in the Senate for many. He needed to show restraint.