Talk:1975 Australian constitutional crisis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Featured article 1975 Australian constitutional crisis is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
June 2, 2010 Peer review Reviewed
June 26, 2010 Featured article candidate Promoted
Current status: Featured article
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Australia / Politics (Rated FA-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon 1975 Australian constitutional crisis is within the scope of WikiProject Australia, which aims to improve Wikipedia's coverage of Australia and Australia-related topics. If you would like to participate, visit the project page.
Featured article FA  This article has been rated as FA-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by WikiProject Australian politics (marked as Top-importance).
WikiProject Commonwealth
This article is within the scope of WikiProject Commonwealth, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of the Commonwealth of Nations on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks. WikiProject icon
WikiProject Politics (Rated FA-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Politics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of politics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Featured article FA  This article has been rated as FA-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
Wikipedia Version 1.0 Editorial Team / v0.7
WikiProject icon This article has been reviewed by the Version 1.0 Editorial Team.
Taskforce icon
This article has been selected for Version 0.7 and subsequent release versions of Wikipedia.
Featured article FA  This article has been rated as FA-Class on the quality scale.
News This article has been mentioned by a media organisation:

Those inconsistent cap initials[edit]

Hurrah, JackofOz, for giving us some sensible lower-case usage! This article is a mass of unnecessary cap. initials and inconsistent forms. How about we rationalise the lot? But, first, some explanations. Shall we say that the Prime Minister (cp inits) is Kevin Rudd, MP, not just any old past prime minister (or prime-ministerial has-been). Just as the Queen is not just any old queen. Likewise governors-general, surely. As for 'government', the 2005 New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors specifically prescribes "lower case, even in ref. to the particular people in office". So there!--and opposition must naturally get the same treatment. OK, I will make the changes so that we can see them. Will any knee-bender rise up to revert? :) Bjenks (talk) 04:40, 18 December 2008 (UTC) --As you were. . . Not having done that very well, I'll revisit it when I have more time. Bjenks (talk) 05:59, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, but I think I only changed one word. I agree, though, that many caps should go. Generic references such as "Labor senators", "Constitutional precedent had long established that the governor-general was expected to take no action except upon 'advice'", etc, should be in lower case. But where a specific office-holder is being referred to, it's upper case ("Kerr dismissed Whitlam and installed Fraser as Prime Minister", "The Speaker, Gordon Scholes, said ..."). I'll make some changes along these lines when I come back from a Wiki-Xmas-break next week, unless some conscientious person has done so in the meantime. -- JackofOz (talk) 07:34, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

"A minority of commentators believe the United States was involved."[edit]

Might want to go have read of chapter 40 of Killing Hope. LamontCranston (talk) 07:17, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Right, that's one. Any advance one one? :) Bjenks (talk) 12:22, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

A bit more on the Tony Douglas quote (from [1]) which I marked as dubious. Tony Douglas founded and worked for "Public Radio News", which provided news for community radio stations in the 80s and 90s.[2] (And did the anti-Workchoices ads for the ACTU in 2006-07 [3] [4]). I'm not sure where that leaves us: doubtless some will see that as evidence that he's a credible journalist, others that he is an idealogue who can't be trusted to be objective. It doesn't help that the article is now hosted on a conspiracy theory site. Peter Ballard (talk) 01:03, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

Hmm. Good work. The ID footnote I've just inserted identifies him as a hired-gun lobbyist. His fellow-EMC directors all seem to be drawn from or linked to the trade-union movement. One can infer enough bias here to maybe disqualify his opinions as independent enough for WP:RS. I have a knowledge of the PR industry and would not personally class this chap as a reliable third-party source on this issue. I would be in favour of pruning this conspiracy section down to the few properly cited reports, such as that in which Whitlam himself dismisses most of the myth. Cheers Bjenks (talk) 05:29, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

Well, I think the story is persistent enough to rate a mention. By the way, the statement that Whitlam dismisses the issue is referenced back to the Carter denial. The real issue is not CIA involvement but the extent or impact of this involvement. It is incredible to say there was no CIA presence in Australia, and incredible to say that the CIA wasn't opposed to Whitlam, and implausible to say they would have remained on the sidelines. But what kind of intervention did they - or could they - mount? That is the question.--Jack Upland (talk) 11:23, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

It is not Wikipedia's job to answer that question. It is Wikipedia's job to reflect what WP:Reliable Sources say. I believe it is true that most reliable commentators do not believe there was CIA involvement, so the article should say that. I don't like the way your edit implied the legitimacy of the allegations, so I'm restoring the "minority of commentators" bit.
Also, what exactly are the allegations? Saying "the CIA was involved" is way too vague. Apart from somehow influencing Kerr (and as many have said, even Whitlam, we can explain Kerr's actions without positing the CIA), what other allegations are there against the CIA? Peter Ballard (talk) 12:43, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
I thought it was fairly established in the historical record that the CIA was involved. Wasn't this one of the main motivations for spying by Christopher John Boyce? Source in the Christopher John Boyce article — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:41, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

I think anyone reading this would know allegations are allegations. My issue with the phrase "minority of commentators" is that it prejudices the section from the outset and that it's vague. And "reliable" and "majority" is not the same thing. The "majority" believed in the WMDs, etc. As to Wikipedia's "job", you don't appear to be advocating the deletion of the section. If the section is to stay, it is wrong to edit it in such a way to imply it shouldn't be there. Let the allegations stand or fall on evidence, not under the crushing weight of "majority" ignorance or prejudice.

Secondly, as I indicated above, I agree that "involvement" is a vague term. But then you have contradicted yourself. How can you dismiss the allegations if you don't know what they are?

PS None of the sources cited as "mainstream historians" are actually historians. And I don't think lack of a mention constitutes a valid argument for non-existence!!!--Jack Upland (talk) 11:44, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

I think the allegations are so poorly attested that they deserve to be prejudiced from the start. Otherwise the reader works through a page of text before they get to the bit about most people not accepting them. If we're going to present allegations, I believe we need a summary sentence up front. I believe it is fair to say that only a minority of commentators give them credence. Take a look at the wording of September 11 attacks#Conspiracy theories, which makes it clear in a single paragraph that these allegations are rejected by most people. (I agree that these are even more far-fetched than the CIA/Kerr theories, but I still believe both are far-fetched). I am not saying the section should not be there; I am saying that it should clearly be presened as a minority viewpoint.
"How can you dismiss the allegations if you don't know what they are?" - how can I (or anyone) take allegations seriously which aren't even made?
As for "None of the sources cited as "mainstream historians" are actually historians", well I agree that two are private web sites, although the Whitlam institute qualifies. I'd like to present better sources there, but frankly, it's very hard to find credible sources which even bother discussing the CIA allegations. A bit like (and again I'm exaggerating to make a point), I suspect it's hard to find a geology textbook which bothers to spend time refuting flat earth theories. But yes, better sources there would be good, I totally agree. Peter Ballard (talk) 13:10, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
To illustrate my last point: The ABC, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian are largely searchable on google, and all have lots of articles on the 1975 dismissal. (There was quite a flurry on the 30th anniversary in 2005). How many of these even mention possible CIA involvement? I googled for "kerr fraser whitlam 1975 cia" (without the quotes) and once I sifted out comments pages, I could only find 4. Of these, two (admittedly both right-wing-leaning opinion pieces) simply dismiss it [5] [6], while the other two speak against it, but only briefly: The Australian article which we already reference,[7] and an interview with a former ASIO guy[8] (which we probably should also reference in the article). That's the problem: it's hard to present references refuting the CIA allegations, when reputable sources think so lowly of the allegations that they barely even mention them. Peter Ballard (talk) 02:31, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

I've added more details of the allegations so you can know what to be "prejudiced" against.--Jack Upland (talk) 11:51, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

As I have lengthened this section, I propose to shorten it by centring on the Pilger allegations and relegating others to supporting citations. In particular, the quotation from Tony Douglas doesn't seem to add anything to the text though it does supply a clickable link that I would retain. I think Pilger gives a fuller account of the issues, and he is an acclaimed - if controversial - journalist. In addition I think the Carter issue is inconclusive. Nor do we need to reiterate the majority/mainstream disapproval.--Jack Upland (talk) 10:14, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
I think the key to tightening the section is to organise it by allegations, rather than by allegers. As far as I can see there are three allegations: (1) that the CIA influenced Kerr's actions on 11 November, (2) that the CIA orchestrated the Loans Affair, and (3) that the CIA funded the coalition parties. (1) is the most common allegation - it was made in parliament by Peter Staples - and appears to originate from Christopher Boyce, and is actually responded to in the two references I gave on 30-June (by Whitlam himself in the Carter denial article[9] and the ASIO guy[10]). As far as I can tell Boyce and Staples don't allege (2) and (3), but they are alleged by Tony Douglas, and presumably also by John Pilger and William Blum (whose articles I haven't read because they don't seem to be on the web). Douglas wouldn't ordinarily be notable compared to Pilger and Blum, but should probably be referenced in addition because his transcript is available online (in other words I agree with Jack's suggestion of deleting the Douglas quote but keeping the link). I also agree that the Carter denial doesn't help much; but the article is still useful for the last 3 paragraphs in which Whitlam plays down conspiracy theories. I still think it is notable that no maintream commentator (that I can find) even bothers mentioning these allegations 2 and 3, though I'm open to rewording it. Peter Ballard (talk) 03:16, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

I have tried to do this. I have also shortened the info on Boyce here because anyone interested can click through to a whole article on him. In addition what he actually did see in the cables is conjecture.

Pilger and Blum's allegation aren't in articles, they are in books, which means they're unlikely to be on the web. I haven't read Blum's book, but I have read Pilger's, and I believe the text here is a faithful summary of the relevant chapter.

By the way, I don't think the "ASIO guy" "responds" very well to the allegations. He denies them - he would, wouldn't he? - but mainly on the basis of his beliefs. He confirms that the CIA were concerned about Pine Gap etc, but says Kerr was "loyal". I don't see how it is "disloyal" to remove Whitlam on grounds of national security.

Finally, would it be OK to delete the ambiguous Carter denial and leave the 2nd para talking about Whitlam playing down the CIA connection?--Jack Upland (talk) 23:39, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

The ASIO guy says more than Kerr was loyal. He says, "I don't believe there was any other way in which the CIA could have got to John Kerr and I don't believe that he would have reacted favourably if they had.". As for your "he would, wouldn't he", well exactly the same can be said about any conclusion drawn by Pilger. So better just to present the few sources we have and let the reader decide. Peter Ballard (talk) 07:15, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
But yeah, I think we're getting a agreement on what should be in there, and I agree with you about the Carter quote. Peter Ballard (talk) 07:27, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for your co-operation. I think we've greatly approved the section.--Jack Upland (talk) 06:17, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Just to jump in late on this issue, although this was discussed by me in 2005 on the talk page. Blum's book is online via Google Books [11]. He discusss all three of the allegations above. I have added this book as a citation for the allegations of CIA involvement.--Takver (talk) 12:21, 6 June 2010 (UTC)
Sorry to be a nuisance - I just came across this in an archive search - The New York Times Nov 6 1975 ran a story titled "C.I.A. ISSUE ENTERS AUSTRALIAN CRISIS; Whitlam Says an Opposition Chief Had Agency Links and Accepted Funds C.I.A."[12] "CANBERRA, Australia, Nov. 5--Prime Minister Gough Whitlam has charged that a senior Opposition political leader had close connections with the Central Intelligence Agency, further confusing this country's deep political crisis. American Identified"
The Opposition Chief was Doug Anthony, Leader of the Country Party (since renamed National Party) who had close links to Richard Lee Stallings who helped establish CIA operations in Australia. Allegations of CIA funding of conservative parties was an issue made public by Whitlam with reputable reporting in the lead up to the dismissal. This specific reference wasn't available to me back in 2005. The article on the constitutional crisis would be deficient without some reference to the public allegations Whitlam made at the time of CIA interference through funding of conservative parties. Australian Online newspaper archives don't appear to have 1975 records available yet but I'm sure this was reported on in local newspapers at the time. --Takver (talk) 15:00, 6 June 2010 (UTC)
I will be home tonight and will review the Times article then. I have access.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:13, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
Has anyone seen any specific mention of the contents of the Wikileaks cables on the Whitlam dismissal? I've seen a few mentions that there are cables on this and this would make for some at least interesting, if not critical information for the article. Also, what happened to the information about Whitlam's investigation into Pine Gap & the US Governments strategic infrastructure in Australia? Or did I just skip that section?--Senor Freebie (talk) 12:45, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
I had not been aware that the WIkileaks matter had anything to do with this. Whitlam's inconsistent allegations about the United States are mentioned in the final section.--Wehwalt (talk) 13:05, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

There seems to be a tendency among opponents of the CIA conspiracy theory to suppress it. I don't see why. Sure, it might be wrong, but why not mention it as an interesting oddity? Of course, we can't include every reference to the CIA and Australia in the 1970s, but surely the highlights deserve some mention. And I don't think the Legacy section is the most appropriate place. A section of its own seems warranted.--Jack Upland (talk) 08:15, 18 June 2013 (UTC)

There seem to be quite a lot of resources on the Internet, and in papers that have been leaked or released in recent years, to indicate the involvement of US agencies in the downfall of the Whitlam government. It is surprising that very little mention of this exists in Wikipedia's article on the dismissal. I hope people are keeping track of the IPs that are involved in editing this article, and checking that changes are not being made by possible players in the dismissal, or those who have an interest in history being told in a particular way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:11, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

The prospective half-Senate election[edit]

A few queries relating to this possiblity:

The article currently says:

In February 1975, Whitlam decided to appoint Senator Murphy to the High Court, even though Murphy's Senate seat would not be up for election if a half-Senate election were held. Under proportional representation, Labor could win three of the five New South Wales seats, but if Murphy's seat was also contested, it was most unlikely to win four out of six. Thus, appointing Murphy would almost certainly cost the ALP a Senate seat at the next half-Senate election.

However Members of the Australian Senate, 1974–1975 lists Murphy as one of the Senators whose terms would expire on 30 June 1976, which implies that his seat would have been up for election regardless. (By contrast Milliner's term expired on 30 June 1979.) Which is right?

The list there shows a subtle factor for a half-Senate election. Prior to Milliner's death the ALP would have been defending 14 seats (including Murphy/Bunton's) whilst the Coalition would have been defending 16 (including Independent turned Liberal Townley's) - just how defendable were these numbers? Timrollpickering (talk) 13:26, 6 June 2010 (UTC)

I will be home tonite and will review sources then.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:14, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
Only source I can find on the long term is Reid, who says it and also quotes Tom Uren, who argued against Murphy's proposed appointment on that ground. My guess is our list is wrong?--Wehwalt (talk) 07:23, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

Years later but I think the confusion comes from the old way this operated. Pre the 1977 amendment a casual vacancy was always filled at the next federal election regardless of how long the term would have to run. So in such a Senate election New South Wales would have elected six senators - five to sit 1 July 1976 - 30 June 1982 and a sixth to sit from the election itself until 30 June 1976, and any appointment of a Senator before the next half-Senate election was a risk regardless of whether they had a short or a long seat. Timrollpickering (talk) 22:27, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

So is any change necessary?--Wehwalt (talk) 02:24, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Timing in infobox[edit]

Did the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis really take place between 1pm and 5pm on 11 November 1975? I very, very much doubt it. That's when the dismissal happened - well, the dismissal happened at around 1 pm, and whatever else happened that day was the aftermath of the dismissal, but still important events in their own right. But everything that happened from the moment in August when it became clear the Senate was not going to pass the approriation bills, right through to the December 13 election, was part of the overall "crisis". -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 22:57, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

In my view, the rest of the time was political crisis. The Constitution was at real risk only from the time of the dismissal to the dissolution.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:59, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
The article as a whole (correctly) treats the dismissal as just one part of the crisis. I'd argue that the blocking of supply was more of a Constitutional crisis than the dismissal: the latter being a clear and unchallengable exercise of the G-G's power; the former was a suffocation of the executive arm of government by the Constitution failing to provide for a proper mechanism to fill Senate vacancies and/or limit the power of the Senate to block supply. --Mkativerata (talk) 23:03, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
Well then, how about dating it from 16 October (when Fraser and the Coalition began to block supply actively) to 11 November?--Wehwalt (talk) 23:13, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
Sounds good, or it could be ambiguous "October - November 1975". --Mkativerata (talk) 23:07, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
That seems fair and avoid debates about whether Fraser had already made up his mind.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:13, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

I've changed it. I'm saving this for a TFA nomination when/if Whitlam or Fraser goes off to resume the argument with Kerr in the Great Beyond.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:16, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

That's a good idea. I was just thinking 11 November 2010 but Fraser/Whitlam's deaths are more significant events. --Mkativerata (talk) 23:18, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
I plan to nominate United States Senate election in California, 1950 for 7 November, and have been nursing that article for a year. Unhappily, Whitlam was one of our first TFA's, even though the article was not very good then, and so we need to save something for (let's face it, it's most likely going to be him) his funeral day.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:20, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, all. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 02:15, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

The truth of the matter[edit]

I take exception to the article containing the incorrect statement about Malcolm Fraser, He was taken into an anteroom, and his car was moved around to a side entrance. The myth is that if Gough Whitlam, who was supposed to arrive after Fraser, had seen Fraser's car, he "would never have set foot in Yarralumla", as he put it. Of course, had he done so, he would not have had a chance to present his advice to call a half-Senate election, and a Governor-General may terminate a Prime Ministerial commission without the PM being present, as had happened not too long before in the case of Harold Holt.

But we (and Whitlam) have it wrong. It was Whitlam who was driven to the side entrance, and Fraser's car was parked in plain view at the front of the building beside the main entrance. Sir David Smith, Kerr's Official Secretary, explains in a speech here. Page 4 is the relevant one. Google Maps shows the situation. The private entrance that Whitlam used is the one with the circular "roundabout" in front of it, at the side of the building. The main entrance where most visitors enter is at the portico to the east, on a long loop of driveway. There is a black car parked in the spot originally used by Fraser's driver, on the inside curve of the approach to the side entrance, which of course is the best place to park if the driver wants to see his passenger emerge from the front entrance. But an inconvenient, if not dangerous, place to remain with Whitlam's convoy approaching at high speed. Kerr's ADC directed Fraser's driver to move forward, closer to the main entrance. If Whitlam had looked to his right as he swept around the curve, he would have seen Fraser's car, an ordinary Ford LTD from the Comcar fleet, unlike the white Mercedes he was in.

Ever keen to correct the record, and given that I use the Government House car parks described on a regular basis, and know exactly how they are situated, I amended the article to reflect the truth. Another editor reverted me, saying that this would confuse the reader.

Well, excuse me! Perhaps we should, like Hollywood, simplify history and post a notice at the foot of every page, "Based on a true story". If the truth is confusing, it should be explained, not amended into untruth for ease of understanding. --Pete (talk) 22:38, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps when debunking popular myths, the fact that there is a popular myth to be debunked might be mentioned in the article. Mdw0 (talk) 00:21, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm not certain who knows what. I'm anxious to read Sir David's speech (the new one, I've read his little talk with Gough looming over his shoulder), and I see he's written a book, but the existing references say what they do. We can't just change it, and a book is likely to have been reviewed editorially, a speech is not. It may indeed be based on Whitlam's misunderstanding, but that misunderstanding is notable. Can we come up with compromise language that does not contradict the sources, but makes everyone feel comfortable?--Wehwalt (talk) 02:55, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
I should also note that this is a very minor point in the article, and I am not going to throw a roadblock into the prose just when the reader is nearing the climax of the article (the dismissal and Whitlam's famous speech). Even a one sentence description of the car parks of Government House could cause glazing of eyes. You'll notice the article really gets down to essentials here. I omitted the whole thing about Kerr's aide leaving and "they are picking the successor in there", even Gough later admitted it had nothing to do with the dismissal.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:56, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Gough was one of those people who could not admit to any error. Rudd is another. The simple fact is that he stuffed up in 1975. Smith shows him up in a few minor details, but the big picture: the loans affair, the inflation, the incredible revolving ministry, the shambles he made of government - it's all far more telling. Wikipedia should have no part in promoting myths. If we can't agree on the wording, then the incident should not be mentioned. While I applaud anything that livens up Wikipedia's relentlessly leaden prose, I cannot support telling untruths to make for a better story. --Pete (talk) 06:00, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
This is sounding a bit partisan - there's plenty of politicians with that irritating trait on both sides of politics, both then and now. Whitlam's inability to surround himself with a stable cabinet (and thereby inability to properly govern) and questionable actions while PM doesnt excuse Kerr's or Fraser's questionable actions in the Dismissal.
But regarding the mention of the events of that day, the process of the unelected Governor-General bringing in Fraser, then Whitlam, sacking Whitlam while Fraser was waiting elsewhere in the building is an amazing moment. Its bizarre, dramatic, interesting, unique and was an important part of the crisis. The placement of the cars can be left out, though. Mdw0 (talk) 07:18, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Out or in, we should not be telling untruths to our readers. I linked Rudd and Whitlam because they are both, in their own minds, incapable of error. And they were both removed in controversial circumstances. As Prime Minister, they lead not only their own parties, but the nation, and when they make mistakes, they take responsibility for it. We should not be excusing them, generating myths that they were somehow struck down in their prime by treacherous scroundels. I have my own political heroes, and they are people of inegrity, passion and wisdom. People like Bill Hayden or Kim Beazley, for example. If they screwed up, they admitted it. If Whitlam screwed up, it was somebody else's fault. --Pete (talk) 07:57, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
I confess to some bias as the author of the article, but I'd suggest leaving it as is. What I was trying to do there was to give the reader insight into Whitlam's state of mind by quoting directly from him. It is much more interesting, to my mind, what Whitlam thought about the cars, than the cars themselves. I did not wish to go overboard on this to make Whitlam look paranoid, thus I did not mention his reaction to his mistaken understanding of "they are picking the successor in there". To an extent though, his lashing out at everyone from the CIA to Kerr's aide-de-camp in the years after the dismissal rather speaks for itself, though I found Abiding Matters more restrained.I tried to be fair and to give the reader a little empathy for all three main figures. I rather regret that Kerr has not yet been the subject of a first-class biography, as Fraser was (though now rather dated) and as Whitlam is in the course of being. And by the way, I'm neutral on Australian politics, I'm an American.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:44, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
If it's not the truth, it shouldn't be there. That's my view. --Pete (talk) 08:47, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Most of the discussion of the cars is in quotations, anyway. The article really doesn't take any position on it. I don't think we are telling falsehoods. Incidentally, a couple of images of Yarralumla better than the one we have now would be a Good Thing ... I've deleted the words about moving Fraser's car to the side entrance, which I think should do the trick.--Wehwalt (talk) 09:07, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
The incident is related by Paul Kelly (The Dismissal, Angas and Robertson 1983, p. 295):'Fraser's staff miscalculated and the opposition leader arrived at Government House before the prime minister.Fraser went inside and his car was parked around the side of the house adjacent to the lake so Whitlam would not see it'. It was apparently a mistake of staffers, both the GG's and Fraser's. The staff at GH would naturally move the vehicle to avoid embarassing the Governor-general . There is no need to see any machination on the part of the Governor-general to avoid alerting Whitlam to what was going to happen. Although it is pretty clear that Kerr had deliberately kept Whitlam in the dark right up until the fatal moment. As to Whitlam's personality, it obviously helped to move the crisis, but it was certainly not the cause of it. The cause was the intrangience of Fraser on the supply issue and his determination to force a general election. The GG played his part by not communicating with his principal advisor, the prime minister. Gazzster (talk) 23:36, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
I think you spare Whitlam a bit much. His inflexibility in the crisis and the willingness to go double or nothing by trying to emasculate the Senate and trying to grab the scalp of a second Opposition Leader in less than a year were a major factor. And I've never understood what his plan B was if he didn't win the half-Senate election (and I don't think he would have). And I also agree on Kerr, he should have said to Whitlam, "If supply runs out, you're gone". If Whitlam had gone to the Queen, he would have been seen as sacking the umpire. I try to make it clear in the aftermath sections that this story has no heroes.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:32, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I agree Gough was probably over-ambitious toward the Senate. And as Kerr should have been frank with him, so he should have been equally frank with Kerr and offered him some proper advise. Arrogant though he may have been, he did have the strength of commanding the lower house. Gazzster (talk) 03:25, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

There was no "Constitutional Crisis"[edit]

The crisis was financial. That term is media derived and has no basis in fact. A great example of how if the media says something often enough, it becomes enshrined as "Fact". Joseph Goebbels knew this, "If you tell a lie big enough, and keep repeating it people will eventually come to believe to believe it". The media disinformation was part of Whitlam's loud call to "Maintain the rage", a rage that failed to appear at the polls. The crisis was financial, with the Australian economy heading for the rocks, the Liberal/Country Party co-alition blocked the supply bill in the Senate (states' house). The Whitlam Labour Government tried to govern without a supply bill, by attempting to raise $4Bln AUD (a lot of money in those days) with the unofficial services of an Australian builder (Gerry Karidis) and a shadowy UK based Pakistani Tirath Khemlani. The money was supposed to come from "Middle East oil" of unspecified origin. Raising money outside of parliament is clearly illegal, and to do so via an unspecified foreign source is too dangerous to contemplate. Further, the constitution is quite definite, and was obeyed to the letter. Whitlam may not have liked it, but a country cannot survive without a supply bill, and to dissolve parliament and call an election was the only democratic and legal way out of the impasse. The Australians (WHO MUST VOTE BY LAW), gave a sweeping victory in that and subsequent election, and the financial crisis was over. This and allied articles should be re-named "Loan Crisis", or "Financial Crisis", leaving out the word "Constitutional" completely. Historygypsy (talk) 15:59, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

Hi, thanks for your thoughts. Per WP:NAME, we go for the most common name, for the most part, and it is called a constitutional crisis. I would agree that the crisis was, for the most part, political, though it had its constitutional aspects. You will notice the article refers to it both as a constitutional and political crisis. Since we want people looking for this article to be able to find it, we keep it under the popularly known name.--Wehwalt (talk) 17:21, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
Historygypsy, there are financial crises all the time, and governments respond different ways, but this event was significant because of its spectacular political and constitutional ending with the Dismissal and the feelings released thereafter. Not that the media is a perfect indicator, but the volumes of legal and constitutional writings during and after the event certainly meant it was a constitutional crisis because it was obvious the Constitution lacked the detail needed to resolve the problem. The heart of the standoff was definitely constitutional - it was about who has the power to dismiss who, and on the basis of whose advice. It was also about the powers that politically partisan State premiers have to replace Senators from the government party with ones who are hostile to the government. The financial crisis and the Loans Affair was just the leadup to the blocking of Supply and the constitutional crisis which lead to the Dismissal. I know you dont have to be politically neutral on the Talk page but being so one-eyed dosent help your argument. Its a bit of a stretch to say that the Fraser government solved the Oil Shocks and fixed unemployment overnight. Its also wrong to say no supply bill means a country cant function, just the government cant function. It happens in America all the time. The overwhelming loss in the subsequent election was certainly a significant judgement, but was less a judgement on the behaviour of both sides during the crisis, because Fraser's polls tanked immediately before and after the Dismissal. More significant was the rage expressed by a section of Whitlam's staunchest supporters, especially in some unions, that was so offensive that it lost Labor the election. Of course those supporters then blamed the media for being partisan, and even trotted out the same Goebbels quote. Funny, that. Mdw0 (talk) 23:30, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

And it's not illegal to raise a loan!--Jack Upland (talk) 20:53, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

reply to jack Upland

It is illegal for a government to raise a loan through unofficial channels where the owner of the loan is not identified nor identifiable. It is worse when the intermediary is suspected or known to be a dealer in arms to a foreign nation.Historygypsy (talk) 20:56, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

Plus for what it's worth "to dissolve parliament and call an election was the only democratic and legal way out of the impasse" is not terribly correct. It's true that an election is the normal solution to supply failing in a parliament but the examples are invariably in the lower house. The only way to override a Senate block on a bill is a Double Dissolution but that requires the bill to have faced a block for at least three months before the government can request a DD. Throw in the election campaign, post election arrangements, the requirement for the new parliament to once again consider the bill and see if there's a block again and finally the joint sitting and you have a long process by which time the previous supply bill has lapsed.

The supply problem was not solved by the election, it was solved by the Coalition senators agreeing to pass the supply bill (and by Labor either declining to withdraw the bill and force the Coalition to get a new one through a hostile Reps or just not spotting the loophole in time). Sacking a government who have the confidence of the chamber that gives confidence and appointing one purely because it can get supply through the other chamber isn't a terribly stable arrangement for the long term and repeated elections every time a hostile upper house majority feels like it isn't great either. Timrollpickering (talk) 21:41, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

I disagree that it was not a truly constitutional crisis. Two principles of our constitution were in obvious conflict. The first is that the Government must be drawn from the Representatives and cannot govern without its confidence. The second is that the Senate may defer money bills. This conflict was highlighted immediately after the crisis, when Whitlam's ministry had been dismissed: The House passed a motion of no confidence in the caretaker prime minister, and Gordon Scholes had arranged a meeting with Kerr to communicate that decision. Sir John of course duplicitously dissolved Parliament before he could see him. Had he seen him, he would have been obliged to recall Whitlam. And it was only by accident that the Labor MPs had not beenm informed of the dismissal when the budget was passed. Had they been informed, Frazer would be potentially faced with the same difficulty that Whitlam had. THere are also constitutional questions concerning Kerr's actions. How could he have been certain that Frazer could pass the budget? Why did he dismiss the Government before supply had run out? Why did he not seek the advise of his chief minister as he was constitutionally bound to do? Why did he seek Barwick's advise against the explicit advice of the prime minister?Gazzster (talk) 22:27, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Reply to gazzsteritalk

The government cannot govern without supply. The other issues raised by Gazzsteritalk are irrelevant. Further, there were scandals of financial nature surrounding 3 senior Cabinet ministers, Crean, Cairns and Connor, all 3,were forced to resign prior to the dismissal crisis. It is worth noting that the Govenor General at the time had been a very senior, very devoted member of the then ruling Labour Party, and a strong union man. In addition, the GG was an outstanding lawyer who knew the constitutional law. Believe me, he and Barwick were poles apart ideologically, politically and philosophically. Finally, in reply to others below, Australia has not got a Westminster system pure and simple, there are major differences.Historygypsy (talk) 20:56, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

The answers to your questions are
1). In the Westminster system there is a degree of trust when appointing Prime Ministers that they can deliver the parliamentary numbers they claim - there isn't a requirement for a vote to demonstrate the numbers before the appointment. In a strong party system it was not unreasonable to assume Frazer could deliver supply and of course if unsuccessful he could be dismissed as well.
2). As I point out above, the problem was that whilst existing supply hadn't yet run out, time was running out and Kerr said several times subsequently that it had to be solved before then. The American solution of putting the federal government into default and hoping a combination of public anger and the politicians having more limited support staff will force a resolution may not have been terribly appealing.
3). The reserve powers assume that the GG can act off their own bat where there is either no advice given (for example his predecessor technically dismissed Harold Holt without the advice of the chief minister) or when they conclude that the chief minister's right to give the advice is compromised by the parliamentary situation. A few years ago the Canadian GG was thrown a real mess in a hung parliament when the opposition parties teamed up and tried to throw out the government & install a coalition without an election; there was a lot of debate about whether the GG should accept the sitting PM's advice to prorogue Parliament (or even potentially to have a new election) or should they ignore the advice on the basis that a majority of MPs had indicated to the contrary and allow the opposition to move in. It is entirely possible that the current Australian parliament could see a change of government mid term if the independents switch sides (as happened in 1941) and the GG might be faced with a situation where the majority in the Reps is saying one thing but the PM is advising another. It will be up to the GG, with the aid of precedent et al, to decide which one overrides the other.
4). I guess Kerr believed the PM was wrong to have advised that, especially as the advice sought was in relation to dismissing Whitlam!
Timrollpickering (talk) 23:16, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
a)There is no 'degree of trust' involved in the appointment of a prime minister by the Sovereign or Governor-General in the Westminster tradition. Rather there is a responsibility to appoint a prime minister who he or she knowscan command the lower house. Frazer did not and could not. Kerr seemed certain that he could pass the budget. Yet there was no reason whatsoever to suppose he could.
b and c))It is a matter of historical record that Sir John never at any time informed Whitlam that only a general election would break the crisis, nor did he tell the prime minister that the crisis had to be resolved before supply ran out. He never at any time told Whitlam that he might dismiss the Government. Had he done so, Whitlam might very well have changed his tactics and embarked on a course that would circumvent the coup that followed.There is no constitutional convention that states that a Government must be dismissed before supply actually runs out. And in any case Whitlam had proposed a solution: a half-senate election. It was rejected out of hand, for what reasons we do not know, since Kerr did not discuss it with Whitlam. It seems however to have made based on the Barwick and Ellicot opinions. The law officers had presented draft opinions to Sir John. He rejected them. gain, for reasons we may never know.
d) Even the reserve powers must be exercised on ministerial advice , except where there is clearly impractical or impossible. But in this case it was neither impractical nor impossible. Some have defended Kerr saying that he wished to protect the Queen from being advised to dismiss him, and so could not consult Whitlam. That is of course a weak excuse, that could be used to empower the GG in any conflict with the ministry.
e) The prime minister is by constitutional convention the GG's principle adviser. Sir John had evidentally made up his mind to ignore that advise well before he felt called upon to personally intervene. Or perhaps he had decided to intervene from the very start.
So I think it's that the manner in which the GG understood his constitutional role can be questioned. This, and the conflict of the two houses arising from the Constitution itself certainly made this a constutional, and not merely political, crisis.Gazzster (talk) 13:28, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
A most interesting chat! Is anything being proposed to the article, or is this just a late-night bull session?--Wehwalt (talk) 14:05, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
It's to rebut the notion that there was no constitutional crisis. As an edit might be made based on this judgement, it's a valuable exercise.Gazzster (talk) 00:06, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

Kerr's fears of dismissal by the Queen[edit]

I've read somewhere that Kerr took very seriously Whitlam's threat to dismiss him, which he made verball to Kerr in the days leading up to the dismissal. I'll look for a proper reference. Kerr states in Matters for Judgement "I had the power to dismiss him and he had the power to dismiss me". --LJ Holden 04:27, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Isn't that already in the article? One of the 16 October incidents.--Wehwalt (talk) 04:31, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Correct... just re-read the article. Ignore that comment! --LJ Holden 04:36, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Queen of Australia?[edit]

At this point, everyone is in agreement that the article is OK as it stands. Therefore, the discussion is no longer aimed at an improvement of the article, but at convincing each other on an arcane point of law. Judging by the discussion, little progress is being made there, and the issue is tangential to the subject of this article as either way, the Queen played a passive role in the crisis, if that. Lengthy talk pages tend to discourage novice readers (at least in my experience) from commenting or questioning. I suggest that further discussion, if warranted, take place on a user talk page or possibly at Talk:Monarchy of Australia.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:28, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

If we are talking about the Queen's constitutional role in the crisis, then we can't say that she is doing so as the Australian Queen, because the Constitution is quite specific that it is the British monarch who has these powers. --Pete (talk) 23:43, 25 August 2012 (UTC)

Then how is there a "Queen of Australia" at all?--Wehwalt (talk) 23:44, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
That's the title given to her in the 1950s. The Constitution tself has not been changed in its wording, It retains the definition of 1900. --Pete (talk) 23:58, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm going to leave a note on User:JackofOz 's page and see what he thinks.--Wehwalt (talk) 04:12, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't really see the point. The Constitution is a living document. It is interpreted according to common law principles and other constitutional documents, in the tradition of British constitutional law. One might point out, in the context of the constitutional crisis, the constitution makes no mention of the prime minister. So how could the Governor-general dismiss the encumbant of an office the Constitution makes no reference to? Yet it is obvious that office of prime minister has an important constitutional role. The Constitution is interpreted in the light of tradition to acknowledge the role of the prime minister. In a similar way, though the Constitution does not call the monarch Queen of Australia, it does, as a living document, acknowledge the Queen of Australia. And while it is true Her Majesty was not proclaimed Queen of Australia until 1953, she, and her predecessors, were KIngs and Queens of Australia in fact at least since 1942, when the Parliament of Australia passed the Statute of Westminster. Gazzster (talk) 06:30, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
The PM is mentioned, in that he is a member of the class of officers described in s64: The Governor‑General may appoint officers to administer such departments of State of the Commonwealth as the Governor‑General in Council may establish. Such officers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor‑General. They shall be members of the Federal Executive Council, and shall be the Queen's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth.[13]. But "Queen of Australia" is not mentioned in the Constitution, and in point of fact it is Her Majesty's heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom specifically defined as "The Queen". [14]. Without a change to the wording of the Constitution, we cannot say that it is the Monarchy of Australia doing this or that in a constitutional role. No High Court interpretation can change the definition to mean anything other than what it states.
Of course it means nothing and probably never will, because if there ever comes a time when the Australian monarch and the British monarch are two different people I expect that the Constitution would undergo some transformation, but nevertheless I think that we should link to the correct office when we mention the Queen acting in a constitutional capacity. This is one of the few articles where such niceties have any point. --Pete (talk) 07:04, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Pete, to reply directly to your opening position that "we can't say that she is doing so as the Australian Queen", let me remind you that Sir Martin Charteris had not the slightest difficulty in doing so in 1975. Let me quote from his letter:
  • "As we understand the situation here, the Australian Constitution firmly places the prerogative powers of the Crown in the hands of the Governor-General as the representative of the Queen of Australia. The only person competent to commission an Australian Prime Minister is the Governor-General, and The Queen has no part in the decisions which the Governor-General must take in accordance with the Constitution. Her Majesty, as Queen of Australia, is watching events in Canberra with close interest and attention, but it would not be proper for her to intervene in person in matters which are so clearly placed within the jurisdiction of the Governor-General by the Constitution Act."
If Charteris had the common sense to see beyond the literal words on the pages of the Constitution, and interpret all references to the UK monarch as references to the Australian monarch, why can't we? If we didn't, we'd be the ones out of step with all constitutional authorities and commentators. What you're proposing is virtually OR. In many cases, you'd be right to rely on the literal letter of the Constitution, but in this case the monarchy itself has evolved. What was the UK monarchy back in 1900 has since dissolved itself into a number of separate monarchies; the number itself is a moveable feast, but currently stands at 16. While it's impossible to name an exact date when this change occurred, it would be quite, quite wrong, imo, to say that the Queen of the United Kingdom had any relevance whatsoever in the Australian constitutional context of 1975. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 07:44, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
That's as may be, and I thank you for pulling out the Charteris quote, but I don't think that there is any legal force to it. The only body competent to provide a final ruling on the meaning of the Constitution is the High Court, and until that happens, I maintain that the precise definition provided in the Constitution takes precedence over any lesser opinion. In any case, I'm concerned with the Wikireality of linking to the correct subject article. --Pete (talk) 08:34, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Since Sir Martin's letter was certainly approved by the Queen, and we can expect her to know her own prerogatives, I think we should accept his word.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:45, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
It is an important and often-quoted document, but it remains a lay opinion. And undoubtedly couched in a diplomatic fashion. --Pete (talk) 08:51, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
I think you are worrying too much about the form over the substance. I'd be curious, though, to see how she signs commissions for the GG and dormant commissions for governors to act as Administrator.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:55, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, for the incumbent, here, she did it as Queen of Australia. In 1975 (yes, I know Kerr was appointed in '74), I'll have to look a bit. Just making the point that constitutional practice is as important as the letter text. After all, despite Sections 59 and 60, Australia's fully independent. Or should we rely on the dead letter of what was written in 1900?--Wehwalt (talk) 09:06, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
I wouldn't say that s59 is completely moribund just yet. If Tony Abbott were to win a confidence vote, as he might in this hung Parliament, he could use it to ditch the carbon tax. He's still got a couple of months there. The meaning of the Constitution is redefined over time. The Engineers case, for example. Or in a more pertinent sense, the notion that somewhere between 1901 and 1999 the United Kingdom became a foreign country. I was there in the High Court listening to the case in Sue v Hill. The Full Bench couldn't put their finger on the exact moment, but they were agreed that the moment had passed. However, I think for the British Queen of the Constitution to become the Monarchy of Australia in Wikipedia, we need a reliable source. One that has the legal force to change the meaning of the Constitution, rather than a scholarly opinion. The Queen herself, bless her heart, may not change one word of the document, nor give it any alternate interpretation, but nobody is going to challenge her interpretation if she signs a commission as Queen of Australia rather than Queen of the United Kingdom and Ireland. --Pete (talk) 09:22, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Agreed, there is a gradual change, from the UK declaring war on behalf Australia in 1914 to the republic referendum. If I had to pick one moment, I'd say the separate Australian nationality. Let's see what other people think about the whole issue, I'd rather ditch the pipe rather than distract the reader with a whole group of notes and footnotes on what really is a bit of a tangent. We can simply refer to her as the Queen (or by name) and avoid the question. Bless her heart indeed, btw. I was watching the Olympic feed of the Opening Ceremony on YouTube a few days ago.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:57, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Pete, I think you're approaching the question from the wrong angle when you say "... nobody is going to challenge her interpretation if she signs a commission as Queen of Australia rather than Queen of the United Kingdom and Ireland". Not only is nobody going to challenge it, the Australian authorities would recognise no other queen. If the Queen of the United Kingdom were to write to the Australian Prime Minister or to the Australian Governor-General with some request, they'd be well within their rights to tell her, ever so politely, to go take a flying fuck. The Queen of the UK has as much relevance to Australia as the President of Mongolia does, and this has been the case since 1953 without any question. I know you know this, and it really ought to inform your thinking on this matter. But you seem to be pretending not to know it. Even after the Australia Act 1986, do you still say the precise black-and-white wording of the Constitution must reign supreme? I know this occurred after 1975, but the point remains. You say the High Court is the only competent authority to interpret the Constitution, but in the same breath you insist that your reading of the black-and-white words that refer to the Queen of the UK and Ireland is to be considered the default interpretation, unless a suitable contrary cite can be found. With respect, why is your reading to be preferred over anyone else's? -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 13:59, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
In Wikipedia, we are forbidden original research. The Constitution specifically defines the words "the Queen" to mean "Her Majesty's heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom". That's clear enough, I think. The Constitution cannot be repealed or overridden or modified by any other agency except by the people themselves, in accordance with s128. The Australia Act, for instance, cannot change the wording of the Constitution. If the High Court has addressed this specific issue and made a decision, then we are bound by that decision. It is not a matter of my interpretation being better or worse than anyone else's, it is a matter of what the fundamental legal document of the Commonwealth specifically states, and who may change and how they may change the meaning or the wording. There is only a limited number of ways this may happen, and debate amongst Wikipedia editors is not one of them. --Pete (talk) 20:47, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Pete, I fear you are the one attempting OR, genuine as I'm sure you are.If, as you seem to be saying, the Constitution of the nation doesn't give any legal foundation for its form of government, where, may we ask, does it come from? Gazzster (talk) 22:33, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, that's not my contention at all. We see this sort of thing happening all the time in various nations. Some official forgets to sign or stamp a form or the wrong phrasing is used and there are cries that the appointment or the authority or whatever is invalid. Barack Obama, for instance, took an oath at his inauguration that was slightly incorrect when compared to the version laid down in the US constitution, but that did not invalidate his election. Similarly, we see in s101 of our Constitution that there shall be an Inter-State Commission with various powers and functions. There is no Inter-State Commission, but this is no big deal. Who has the authority to enforce this provision? Nobody, it turns out. Likewise with the Queen - we can't force her to sign her name in accordance with the direct wording of the Constitution and to be honest, I am delighted that she regards herself as "Queen of Australia" when dealing in Australian matters. It's no big deal. But in Wikipedia terms, to say that one explicitly described officer is actually another, constitutes Original Research. The Governor-General, for example, might have a night on the turps and stamp her signature on an official form as "Chief Scout" or "Patron of the Yarralumla Cats' Refuge" or whatever, but that would not invalidate her signature and authority. But we Wikipedians are not supposed to get on the turps, to make silly errors, to put our own opinions into articles, to declare that the official phrasing of a nation's fundamental legal document is wrong. We abide by the facts and they are as I have outlined above. --Pete (talk) 23:03, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

Just to be clear, I like Wehwalt's solution of not linking to either British monarchy or Monarchy of Australia, but rather to Queen Elizabeth II - or not at all. We all know who the Queen is. --Pete (talk) 23:07, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, when I wrote that bit, as I recall, I think I was being a bit showy, as you point out, it wasn't necessary. Let's leave it as is and then we don't have to have the argument either.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:11, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Pete, I fear you may be overthinking this. This is, with respect, a silly point. As I said before, you may just as well say we cannot reference the office of Prime Minister to the Constitution. But the very fact, undisputed, I may add, that the Governor-general gives legal force to acts in the name of the Queen of Australia, and appeals to the Constitution of 1901 to do so, and that no constitutional body or lawyer challenges this, is proof positive that the Sovereign named in the Constitution is the Monarch of Australia. But even by literal reading your arguument does not stand up. For the Constitution names Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom, her heirs and successors. Her 'heirs and successors' to not necessarily have to be Monarchs of the United Kingdom alone.Gazzster (talk) 00:07, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
Of course not. But the line you mention is this: The provisions of this Act referring to the Queen shall extend to Her Majesty's heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom. The Queen of the United Kingdom has many other titles - she is also the Duke of Normandy in her role as head of state of Guernsey, for instance, not to mention Lord of Mann and so on - but we don't link to these other titles. So why should we link to a title that is not in the document and has not been superseded by any subsequent act of law? Because of the thoughtful whim of Wikipedia editors with a desire to tidy every known fact into a category? --Pete (talk) 00:27, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
What you are saying is that the Constitution of the nation cannot be used to reference the legal capacity of the Governor-general to act in the name of the Queen/King of Australia. Consider the absurdity of what you're proposing.Gazzster (talk) 00:50, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying that we Wikipedians would be conducting original research if we linked to a different office than that specified in the Constitution. Other communities have different rules, as noted above where I mention the Inter-State Commission. It is not Wikipedia's function to control the world, though I admire your ambition! --Pete (talk) 01:01, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
No, that is precisely what you are saying. If Wikipedians cannot use the Constitution to reference the GG's role as the representative of the Queen of Australia, then neither can the Governor-general's Office, or the Government of Australia. Yet this is exactly what they do!
'The Governor-General’s powers and role derive from the Constitution. ' And it's goes on to quote the Constitution: A Governor-General appointed by the Queen shall be Her Majesty’s representative in the Commonwealth, and shall have and may exercise in the Commonwealth during the Queen’s pleasure, but subject to this Constitution, such powers and functions of the Queen as Her Majesty may be pleased to assign to him.
But if we need to be ultra-pedantic about this, we might refer to the Letters Patent of 2008: 'By t5he Grace of God Elizabeth, Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth... whereas, by the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, certain powers, functions and authorities are vested in a Governor-general appointed by the Queen to ber Her Majesty's Representative in the Commonwealth...'
There! You could not have it more explicit. The Letters Patent 2008 directly identify the Queen of Australia with the sovereign power identified in the Constitution! If the Gorvernor-general's office has no qualms about referencing the Constitution, why should we?Gazzster (talk) 01:41, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
I do beg your pardon, but I am not saying what you claim. The Royal Style and Titles Act 1973 which you quote gives the Queen titles further to that of Queen of Australia. She is also implicitly the Queen of the United Kingdom - one of her other Realms - and is therefore the office-holder identified in the Constitution as eligible to appoint Governors-General etc. If she chooses to use the short form of her title, for instance by styling herself as Queen of Australia, that does not constitute any rejection of the long form, or of any of her many other numerous titles. --Pete (talk) 01:56, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
I wasn't quoting the Royal Titles Act. That is a quote from the Letters Patent 2008 which you can easily check. But if you are saying that Her Majesty appoints the GG not by virtue of being Queen of Australia but as Queen of the United Kingdom, then that is some pretty OR. And you would need to come up with more powerful arguments than the literal reading of the Constitution, being at variance with the interpretation of the Governor-general's office, the Government of Australia, Buckingham Palace and every constitutional lawyer.Gazzster (talk) 02:03, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
The Queen derives her title of "Queen of Australia" from the two Royal Style and Titles Acts (1953 and 1973). She doesn't just think up titles to use on official documents such as Letters-Patent out of thin air. Her Australian title includes that of Queen of the United Kingdom - one of her "other Realms" - and she can therefore carry out the role identified in the Constitution. But this does not work in reverse, and if you have a decision from the High Court to the contrary, I would be interested in seeing it. Anything less that purports to alter the text or meaning of the Constitution cannot be valid in law. --Pete (talk) 02:21, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
Whoa! You're moving into dangerous territory here! You may be unaware of what you're implying, but you are, in effect, implying that Australia is not a sovereign state. If that's what you want to pursue, I remind you that you are flying in the fact of the Statute of Westminster, the Balfor Declaration, the Australia Act 1986 and a number of interpretations of the High Court. I thought, to begin with, you were talking about correct referencing, but now you're talking about law! Let's have a squiz at the Commission of Quentin Bryce:

'ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth: To Quentin Alice Louise Bryce, Companion of the Order of Australia,


WE DO, by this Our Commission under Our Sign Manual and the Great Seal of Australia, appoint you, Quentin Alice Louise Bryce, to be, during Our pleasure, Our Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

AND WE DO authorise, empower and command you to exercise and perform all and singular the powers and directions contained in the Letters Patent dated 21 August 2008, relating to the office of Governor-General or in future Letters Patent relating to that office, according to such instructions as Our Governor-General for the time being may have received or may in future receive from Us, and according to such laws as are from time to time in force.

AND WE DO declare that the powers conferred by this Our Commission include any further powers that may in future be assigned to the Governor-General in accordance with section 2 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Given at our Court

at Balmoral Castle

on 21 August 2008

By Her Majesty's Command,

(Kevin Rudd)

Prime Minister

The italicised parts are mine. Note that this commission is made in the name of the Queen of Australia, under the Great Seal of Australia. Note that if Elizabeth wanted to use her constitutional powers in the manner you believe, she would be commissioning as the Queen of the United Kingdom first, and not under the Great Seal of Australia. PLease also note the direct reference to the powers conferred by the Constitution. These powers, also note, are not conferred by the person of the Sovereign, whether of the UK or Australia, but by the Constitution itself. Which sorta renders your whole objection moot.Gazzster (talk) 02:36, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

I think you are trying to cram words into my mouth here. The Queen's Australian title includes that of "her other Realms", one of which is the United Kingdom. It is right there in the document you quote. She is therefore competent to appoint Australian Governors-General as per the Constitution. I don't see any difficulty here. --Pete (talk) 02:49, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
So please, to state your thesis: the Queen appoints the GG as Sovereign of the UK, according to the letter of the Constitution. Is that correct?Gazzster (talk) 02:54, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
It doesn't matter what she calls herself. She merely needs to sign the thing for it to have her authority. Queen Elizabeth II is one of "Her Majesty's [i.e. Queen Victoria's] heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom", as specified in the Constitution, and she could call herself "Knight of the Elephant" if she wanted to. She's still the Queen of the United Kingdom. --Pete (talk) 02:58, 27 August 2012
Then your objection to her being referenced as Queen of Australia in connectionn to the appointment of a GG of Australia is somewhat weak, isn't it?Gazzster (talk) 03:01, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
Not at all. I would be equally opposed to her being referenced as Knight of the Elephant, Duke of Normandy, Lord of Mann or any other title but the one specified in the Constitution. --Pete (talk) 04:48, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
(ec; response to Pete's post at 2:21) And again you are unilaterally decreeing how the law is to be interpreted, and deciding for us what is or is not valid under the law. I respect that you, like anyone, can read the Constitution and form a view about what it says about a certain matter. Anyone can quote the literal words, but after that, opinions are legion as to what those words actually mean. That's why we have a High Court to be the final arbiter when opinions conflict. The High Court, however, does not act of its own volition. Until it is asked to become involved, we rely on the actions of our governments and our vice-regal personages, who have access to far better constitutional advice than you or I will ever have. If it's good enough for them, not to mention all eminent and other writers on Australian consitutional matters, to accept that the Queen of Australia is effectively the office referred to in the Constitution, it's more than good enough for Wikipedia. In the face of this, anyone who insists on a literal reading of the Constitution on the question of the monarch is wasting everyone's time. This has nothing to do with changing the Constitution by stealth or anything remotely like that. As I said above, at some indefinable time after 1900, the entity known as "Queen of the United Kingdom" separated into a number of different entities. Australia remained constitutionally linked to the entity now known as "King/Queen of Australia", and only to that entity. Whoever the Queen/King of Australia is at any given moment, IS the "heir and successor according to law" of the person named in the Constitution. The Queen of Canada is not. The Queen of New Zealand is not. And the Queen of the United Kingdom is most definitely not. Please don't continue this futile campaign. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 03:09, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
I do thank you for your contributions, but you are arguing backwards. The situation has not changed since Federation, when the following words became law: The provisions of this Act referring to the Queen shall extend to Her Majesty's heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom. There is no other way of interpreting it except to say that "The Queen" in the Constitution means the current Queen (or King) of the United Kingdom. Not the heirs and successors of Queen Victoria in any other sovereignty, such as India (where she held the title of Empress) or any Germanic realms (where she was a Princess or Duchess). As you say, JackofOz, we have a High Court to be the final arbiter, and if you can show me that the High Court has changed this meaning of the Constitution to something other than what is clearly stated, I would be grateful. Anything else is a novel and personal piece of synthesis. --Pete (talk) 04:45, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
"There is no other way to interpret it" - that is precisely what I and others here have taken issue with you about. Have you not read what we have written? Are you aware that Wikipedia operates by consensus, and that you appear to be out of step with the prevailing consensus on this matter? -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 05:52, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure that consensus trumps WP:NOR in the wikiway of doing things. I've asked several times now for reliable sources that over-ride the Constitution and none have been forthcoming. Just personal opinion and synthesis. The only consensus I see, if it comes to that, amongst the four participants in this discussion is for Wehwalt's removal of links to either "monarchy" article. --Pete (talk) 06:59, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
Just for the record, I disagree most strongly with your statement that "The Queen of the UK has as much relevance to Australia as the President of Mongolia does, and this has been the case since 1953 without any question."[15] With all respect, this is not the case, and I wonder from where you are sourcing your opinions. --Pete (talk) 07:05, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
Legally, the Queen of Australia is the legal successor to the Queen of the United Kingdom mentioned in the Constitution, even though technically she is the same person. The difference is the advice she can legally rely on. When acting as the Queen of Australia or as Queen of any of the states of Australia, the Queen is obliged to act on the advice of her Australian governors and ministers, not the British ones. The title amuses me though - She is the first Queen of Australia, yet she is still denominated Elizabeth the Second. Obviously she is Elizabeth the First of Australia. Mdw0 (talk) 07:29, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
We follow the same naming conventions as have applied in other places, such as Scotland.[16] Saying that the Queen of Australia is the legal successor to Queen Victoria is all very well, but the Constitution specifies "in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom", and that qualification remains unchanged. The Australia Act removed the ability of the British Government to advise the Queen with respect to Australian governments. --Pete (talk) 07:52, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
'I've asked several times now for reliable sources that over-ride the Constitution and none have been forthcoming.' You haven't. You have just insisted on your literal reading of the words of the Constitution. But it would be a vain request anywsay, for nothing can 'over-ride' the Constitution. But you have been offered documentary evidence that identifies the sovereignty mentioned in the Constitution with the sovereignty we now call the Monarchy of Australia. There was the reply of Buckingham Palace to Gordon Scholes, Speaker of the House of Representatives, in 1975 (which you dismissed as private opinion), and material from the Governor-general's own office, including her Commission. You don't seem to realize that the onus is on you to demonstrate that the Constitution is not to be interpreted as all constitutional authorities do. So until such a time as you can produce documentary evidence to support your contention I agree with Jack - it is time to stop this argument.Gazzster (talk) 23:52, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
As I've removed the pipe, there's nothing left to argue about. Let's spare the readers of this talk page further back and forths, then.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:24, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
Sure, but I'm concerned about the level of constitutional ignorance here. There is no dispute that the same person is monarch of Australia, of the United Kingdom, of Canada and so on. Or that she is advised by the various governments for relevant matters. Or that she has gained additional titles since her ascension in 1952. That's fine. But just how anybody who purports to provide information about the Constitution can seriously imagine that the meaning of the words of the document can be changed or reinterpreted by anything other than the established procedures is a mystery to me. Gazzster, you speak of "constitutional authorities", and imply that they have a different interpretation. Would you be so kind as to provide references? My copy of Lumb and Ryan says of cc2 (quoted above) This is a purely formal section which gives recognition to the constitutional practice that the Crown is a corporation sole and, therefore, that the provisions referring to the Monarch of the time (Queen Victoria) apply to her heirs and successors (whether male or female). (p28 of "The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia Annotated" by R D Lumb and K W Ryan, Butterworths, Sydney 1977). This edition predates the Australia Act, so perhaps constitutional scholars have different views now - I would be interested in hearing them, if they exist. I also have the 1993 Report of the Republic Advisory Committee, chaired by Malcolm Turnbull, which quotes both cc2 and the first paragraph of the Preamble (Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,...). It is perhaps worth mentioning that Turnbull et al don't support the view that "the Queen" means "the Queen of Australia". They come up with a quotation from Menzies, which is useful in dismissing the Mongolian connection mentioned above, .... juristically speaking, it would be fantastic to eliminate a reference to the United Kingdom, because the plain truth is that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second sits on the throne not because of some law of Australia but because of the law of the United Kingdom . She sits there by virtue of two acts of parliament. The first is the Act of Settlement of 1701: the second is the Abdication Act
Turning to the Hansard for debate on the Royal Style and Titles Act 1953, Menzies also states, In strict terms of law Her Majesty is our Queen because, under the Act of Succession of the United Kingdom, as modified by the Abdication Act of 1936, she is the Queen of the United Kingdom. Despite having been given the title of "Queen of Australia" by Menzies she said in her speech at the opening of Parliament in Canberra on 15 February 1954, is my resolve that, under God, I shall not only rule, but serve. This is not only the tradition of my family; it describes, I believe, the modern character of the British Crown
Australia has no Acts of Succession or Abdication. If the Queen were to die, to abdicate, or to be subject to a regency through incapacity of illness or otherwise, whoever served as monarch or regent of the United Kingdom would likewise serve in the same capacity here. This might then be the trigger for further republican movement, but that would take time. If the Queen died tonight, then tomorrow we would wake up to King Charles III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as the Australian sovereign. He would hold the powers given in the Constitution to Queen Victoria, and he would be the only person able to appoint or remove an Australian Governor-General. Not through any Australian action, regulation or legislation, but by sole virtue of the law of the United Kingdom.
We do not have any schedule or definition or addendum to the Royal Style and Titles Act 1973 which would automatically grant the title of "King of Australia" to Charles. It is not necessary, because the powers under our Constitution are held by the British monarch, and if we needed the sovereign to appoint or remove a Governor-General, or to sign a bill "reserved for the Queen's pleasure" under s60, we would apply to the new King. I would imagine that, like the 1953 Act creating the title of "Queen of Australia" and the 1973 Act modifying it, it would be reserved for the sovereign's pleasure and sent to him for signature. He would be able to sign it into law by virtue of being the British king, and he would not hold the title of "King of Australia" until he had finished signing it, for it would not be law until that point.
Those are the facts, as I understand them, and if anybody has any issue or correction, please let me know, providing cites. --Pete (talk) 03:40, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I do not understand the Parliamentary strategy section[edit]

The 1975 Australian constitutional crisis#Parliamentary strategy is unclear to me for two reasons. First, it seems really strange Fraser would allow passage of the supply bill he'd repeatedly blocked - I guess it was too late to try to pass a different bill he actually supported, and the run-out-of-money issue was too sharp? Second, the statement "Authoritative word did not reach Wriedt until 2.15 pm, by which time it was too late to withdraw the motion. " - why does this even matter? Is the implication that Wreidt would refuse to try to pass HIS OWN bill, now that it benefits the opposition instead? Couldn't some opposition person just introduce it anyway, since they had votes to pass it? (And, of course, more important than answering my questions...let's fix that paragraph to make it clearer!) -- stillnotelf is invisible 18:56, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

Yes, Wreidt would have refused to pass his own bill had he known. The whole point of the Governor-General having a government is that it is headed by the person who can get the G-G supply. Conventionally, it's the person who can command a majority in the House of Representatives, where financial bills have to originate. If Wreidt lets it go through, he's admitting that Fraser can get supply, and therefore Fraser, not Whitlem, should be PM. Yes, he had the majority, the point was to get it through quickly. They could not have passed it over ALP opposition quickly. Possibly at all, I don't know Senate rules. Meantime pressure's building on the Senate. --Wehwalt (talk) 22:30, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
For months, Fraser had been demanding a general election (House of Reps plus half-Senate) be called, to test the mood of the electorate. Whitlam was prepared only to hold a half-Senate election, which would not have done that. Kerr acted in a way that gave Fraser what he wanted, and a whole lot more besides. Firstly, he sacked Whitlam. Then Fraser was appointed Prime Minister (even though he did not command a majority in the lower House and Whitlam did). This appointment was on condition that (a) he guarantee supply and (b) he then immediately advise Kerr to call a double dissolution. Fraser agreed to these conditions, and was sworn in as PM. But he had to play his cards close to his chest. He told only a few trusted people. Luckily for him, Whitlam told virtually nobody he had been sacked. When Parliament resumed after lunch, none of the Labor Senators were aware they were no longer in government. Reg Withers, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, knew, and when he called on the Budget bills to be voted on, he did not disclose why his side was now going to support them after months of delaying them. Had the Labor Senators been warned what was going on, they would have opposed their own bill, and it would not have passed. But they didn't know, because Gough never put the word out. So the Budget finally got passed. Only then did Fraser rise in the lower house to announce to an incredulous chamber that he had been appointed Prime Minister, and explain the conditions under which the appointment had been made. Naturally, because his party was in the minority, the Labor Party introduced a no-confidence motion in Fraser's government. This was debated at length and passed, but Fraser did not wait around to take part in the debate. He hightailed it to Government House to formally advise Kerr that his condition had been met, the Budget had been passed. He then formally advised Kerr to dissolve the parliament in a double dissolution. Kerr immediately complied. In the meantime, the Speaker of the House adjourned the sitting so that he could go and tell Kerr the House had expressed its lack of confidence in Fraser's 2-hour old government. But he was not admitted as Kerr was otherwise occupied. By the time he was finally seen, the Parliament had been dissolved and the no-confidence motion had lapsed. If only Whitlam had told someone he'd been sacked - the outcome would have been rather different. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 00:03, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks to both of you. I've added just a little text to clarify these points. -- stillnotelf is invisible 18:43, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

In fact, it should be said that the Dismissal was self-contradictory. Whitlam was dismissed (apparently) because he couldn't guarantee supply. Not that there are any provisions in the Constitution on this point. However, Fraser also could not guarantee supply. He only got the bill passed through a dirty trick. However, if Whitlam had behaved like a mongrel and not a gentleman, as many commentators now suggest he should have, and unleashed a parliamentary counterattack, Fraser would have not had supply. Hence, by Kerr's logic, he should have been dismissed. Moreover, Australia would have apparently to have two Prime Ministers: one appointed by the GG, and one with command of the House of Reps. The PM is not mentioned in the Constitution, so there is no specific legal way of determining this issue. Australia would then be sailing on very dark and uncharted waters. An election could solve the issue, but an election wasn't due. Only the PM could call the election, but who was the PM? If Fraser proclaimed himself PM, he would lose a vote of confidence in the House of Reps, and then cease to function as PM. Whitlam would regain power, and the original scenario would be restored. Whitlam had already called an early election, and had failed to secure control of the Senate. There was no logical reason for him to try this again. By many accounts, Liberal senators such as Neville Bonner were wavering, and there is a distinct possibility they would have broke ranks and voted for supply. However, if this didn't happen, what would Kerr do? Sack Whitlam a second time? The fact is the impasse was only solved by Whitlam's gentlemanly behaviour and his democratic instinct. He wrongly believed that he would win the election. If this had happened, it is quite likely, the original scenario would have been repeated. Again, an impasse. You could argue the voters decided. However, the intervention by Kerr gave an official imprimatur to the growing perception the government was in crisis. Without such an action, the election result in 1975 would have been different. In a nutshell, the Dismissal was dirty. Ironically, many other Australian governments could have been toppled on the same pretext, and the American government is routined subject to the Congress blocking supply. But then again the truth doesn't matter, does it?--Jack Upland (talk) 09:03, 18 June 2013 (UTC)

Jack, rubbish. Firstly, Fraser (and I have ALWAYS greatly disliked the man) did not get supply through the Senate by a "dirty trick". Supply was blocked because Fraser commanded the majority of the voting members. The deferral kept the bill in the Senate (something lost on those journos and others who claim it wasn't rejected to please "moderate" Coaltion Senators), which meant that the Opposition could pass it at any time regardless of what the ALP Senators did. Second, the ALP Senators moved to pass the budget because Whitlam didn't bother to tell them what happened - which he could have done by calling his Senate Leader to the Lodge for the post sacking meeting. That was a mistake by Whitlam. But the Government WAS in crisis. Senior Ministers had been forced to resign; the Loans Affair had been crippling; not to mention the economic problems. Plus supply had been blocked. You need to realize that Australia is NOT the US and the PM is not the President. In Australia we vote for MPs, and the MPs then vote for the Cabinet. In practice, most of us vote for a Party. This may be influenced by who the leader is, but the Party get to decide their leader and can ditch them if they choose (witness the fate of Gorton, Hawke, Rudd, Gillard, Menzies in 1941). Also the US President can only be removed if the House votes to impeach him by a 2/3 majority (they also need a charge - not liking his policies isn't enough), and then be convicted by a Senate majority! In Australia a simple majority in the House can get rid of the Cabinet. They also need to get supply bills through. Whitlam called an early election in 1974 when Snedden blocked some appropriation bills, and Murphy decided it was a blockage of supply (I've seen his interview at the time where he said the Government had "no choice" but to go to the polls). Personally I don't see a problem with requiring an impasse like this to be solved by a general election. Still I guess many people love democracy when the vote goes their way, and hate letting the ignorant choose when it doesn't, right? I should also point out that Whitlam himself tried to force an early election by blocking supply in 1970, but in the end couldn't get the DLP to go along with it. We make too much of this.
Well, I would say there were several potential points of failure, of which the Senate was the most significant. Then again, the bill had to be returned to the House before being sent to Kerr, had the Speaker not sent it to Kerr, or had the House undo its passage of the supply bill … stalemate. I think Fraser would have had to resign as PM (and possibly as party leader), and probably then Kerr as GG, letting the Administrator (the NSW governor?) recall Whitlam. And I agree, the election would have been very different. "Gentlemanly", I don't know. I think he was, for once in his life, caught off guard and events moved too fast for him.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:42, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
Sorry Wehwalt, that wouldn't have done anything. The House had passed the Budget. In a bicameral Parliament it cannot unilaterally unpass something. It would have had to pass an act repealing the budget, and that too would have to be passed by the Senate. So that's a no show. Whitlam could have compromised - saying that he wouldn't call a half Senate election prior to the expiry of the Senate term. He chose not to, and to undergo a crash through or crash approach. We shouldn't be surprised he crashed. The Half Senate Election, BTW, would probably not have worked, as the State Governors would have had to issue the writs, and by then only 2 State Governments were ALP. I can't imagine the others cooperating.

I think you're being unfair and somewhat naive.--Jack Upland (talk) 20:00, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

"...for once in his life..."? Wow. Whitlam got blindsided by Joh a few times. Remember the Vince Gair Affair? Jack - I suggest you read Paul Kelly's book 1975. It's pretty much the definitive account of the crisis. Might save us all a lot of time. --Pete (talk) 20:45, 19 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I remember the Gair Affair very well. So well that I wrote the article. I read Kelly's book years ago. How would my re-reading it now save "us" any time? -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 21:30, 19 June 2013 (UTC)
Never let it be said that we have too many Jacks. In this case I was addressing the other one - sorry for the confusion! --Pete (talk) 21:51, 19 June 2013 (UTC)
No, my bad. I should remind myself that I am not the only Jack in Wikipedia worth mentioning. My regards to Mr Upland. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 21:59, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

It's almost a jacquerie! But I'm only worthy a minor mention. Anyhow, I did not use the phrase "for once in his life", and I fail to see how reading the "Professor's" book would save anyone time, let alone me. If I am wrong, tell me why. Briefly.--Jack Upland (talk) 21:37, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Indeed. The "for once in his life" comment was directed at its originator, Wehwalt. The second part of Pete's post was for you. But I too await his explanation of his time-saving measure. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 21:45, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
I did. Had no idea it would be a land mine.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:50, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
I was trying to cram too much in - as the bishop said to the actress. Reading Paul Kelly's book on the Dismissal would give Upland Jack an excellent and detailed understanding. The concept of dual PMs is a non-starter. Being Prime Minister doesn't depend on having the confidence of the Reps - it's solely the province of the Governor-General and he could have appointed anyone to the position. Nor had Whitlam called an election. He had indicated that he would advise a half-Senate election, but as the junior class of Senators were only elected in 1974, their terms had some time to run and an election would have no effect until mid 1977, by which time the Commonwealth would be scratching around under seat cushions looking for left over ha'pennies. Kerr was quite right to refuse such a non-solution. Kelly's book makes it plain that none of the major players had clean hands and we really need waste no time defending "gentlemanly" Whitlam. Or anyone else. --Pete (talk) 22:56, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
Since the 1974 election was a double dissolution, under Section 13, the senators are deemed to have started their terms the previous 1 July and the 1974 election happened in May. And in any event, the four new territorial senators, plus a senator each for Queensland and NSW because of the casual vacancies that had occurred in their representation, would have taken their seats at once. That's why Whitlam wanted to throw the dice with a half-Senate, which would not have endangered his House of Representatives majority.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:27, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I should take my own advice. Nevertheless it wasn't a solution that could have assured supply in a timely fashion. Money was already running out in some votes. --Pete (talk) 23:32, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, no election could be held before supply ran out. That's the key thing.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:38, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

PM is head of government, and government must have control of House of Reps. The PM is not mentioned in the Constitution, but convention says that he or she is the MP who leads the governing party in the House. Supply is regularly blocked in the USA and requires no election or dismissal.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:48, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Convention, sure, and an important one. But not vital. Edmund Barton was commissioned as Prime Minister without even being an MP, let alone having the confidence of the House. John Gorton was a Senator when he became Prime Minister, and for three weeks he wasn't even an MP. Fraser was commissioned as Prime Minister and Whitlam wasn't. If Whitlam had had his wits about him, he could have delayed the Senate vote and the positions of Fraser and Kerr would have become untenable. Fraser would merely have resigned as Prime Minister, remaining an MP, but Kerr would have lost his job entirely. In Whitlam's defence, he had just been ambushed and he needed his steak and chips badly. Probably a beer or two as well. --Pete (talk) 10:13, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, it was a hot day, as I recall. I was working over at the old Printing Office in Kingston (now demolished), and I have still never forgiven myself for not nicking off from work and joining the crowd at Parl House. What was I thinking? Whitlam wasn't the only one not to have presence of mind that day. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 10:26, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Edmund Barton was a special case, being appointed before he was elected. Fortunately he did end up commanding a majority in the House, so the convention was honoured in retrospect. But Gorton was an MP (all Senators are) and his party did have command of the House. If however, the GG's commission is all that it takes, there would have been no need for Fraser to resign merely because the supply vote had stalled. If at all, he should have resigned when he lost a vote of confidence in the House. Is there another case in the history of parliament, when the GG did not follow the leadership choice of the party or coalition that ruled the House? This of course includes the swearing in of the elected Deputy PM as an interim measure. The only precedent that I know of is Jack Lang, whose dismissal was very similar to Whitlam's. Lang like Whitlam chose to go to the election. If, however, either had chosen to fight on in parliament, there would have been the spectre of two heads of government. I don't see how this can be denied.--Jack Upland (talk) 01:53, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

Fraser didn't wait around for the result of the no-confidence vote. By the time it had been lost, he was already at Yarralumla advising Kerr to dissolve the parliament. By the time Speaker Scholes advised Kerr that Fraser had lost the confidence of the House, the Parliament had already been dissolved. This was a condition of Fraser's acceptance of the premiership in the first place. It was totally out of Whitlam's hands by then, as Kerr was now taking his advice from his new prime minister, Fraser. How quickly Kerr had returned to the proprieties. There was never going to be the scenario you describe. In Lang's case, the new Premier Bertram Stevens immediately called an election, the parliament was dissolved, and the spectre of Lang and Stevens slugging it out in parliament was never a goer either. Kerr and Game were both aware that such scenarios could not possibly be allowed to occur, and made sure they didn't. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 02:27, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
(On the whole MP point the Australian Constitution allows non-MPs to serve as ministers for up to three months and then they must ever get a seat in parliament and stand down. This covered Barton's initial 1901 ministy, the period between each dissolution of parliament and the next election and also various other cases over the years such as ministers losing their seats (the power of office does not magically vanish the second the result is declared), ministers retiring from parliament at an election but staying in government until their successors are appointed, Senators-elect being run in early and Senators transferring to the lower house whether at regular or by-elections. In theory it could also cover recruiting ministers from outside parliament and even open up the possibility of the leadership in government being won by a non-MP who would then make their way in. This practice is very common in Canada (although with a political culture that usually sees both rival parties and voters support this) and almost happened with Bob Carr, though he delayed being formally sworn in as Foreign Minister until after he'd been officially appointed a Senator. But the clause could also allow for a technocrat government to be appointed for an immediate emergency.)
As far as the constitution and administration was concerned there was only ever one Prime Minister at a time. It is the Governor General's appointment that confers the office and the power with it, and the Governor General's dismissal that removes both. A politician out of power can style themself however they like and make whatever political point they wish but they do not have the power of the office. Even when a PM has lost a vote of confidence in parliament they remain the PM until they return their commission or have it taken from them. Obviously a no-confed PM who tried to stay in power indefinitely without a new election would get their commission removed but if it's not immediately clear who else can form a government (particularly in a hung parliament if the party system has broken down into multiple groupings) then somebody has to still be in charge in a caretaker mode in the event of a crisis. You can't ask a fire or a tsunami or a terrorist attack or a currency crisis to hold off for as long as it takes squabbling politicians to decide who will have the power to immediately respond to it.
Whitlam did actually try tactics to regain power on the day via the Senate & supply but instead of trying to use an obstruction there to bring down the PM he tried the opposite method of using clear passage there as part of the argument that with the deadlock now resolved the circumstances behind Fraser's appointment no longer applied and all that mattered at this point of the day was a majority in the House - he said as much when introducing the no confidence motion. Had his tactics succeeded he would have ended the day not only as PM again but with supply secured and the crisis would have been passed for now. (In fact would the ALP have even been able to block supply in the Senate? They could withdraw their motion to pass it but was there anything stopping the Coalition Senators then introducing their own motion to do so and passing that with the majority they had?)
Finally on the whole issue of whether to survive the government must have a lower house majority or secure supply, this is a point on which the Westminster system was historically silent and conventions had developed that supply was predominantly a lower house matte and so generally this hair just wasn't split. Yes the US Congress resolves supply disputes by putting the government in default and waiting for either compromise or the other side to crack (although I don't know if that had happened in practice in the States by 1975), but the Victorian state Coalition had blocked supply in the upper house in 1947 and forced an election which they won, so there was a closer precedent the other way. Ultimately Kerr, and Barwick advising him, followed the interpretation that a government must secure supply to survive. Others have disagreed since but that's the course that was taken. Timrollpickering (talk) 03:17, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
I presume your sentence "and then they must ever get a seat in parliament and stand down" was meant to be "and then they must either get a seat in parliament or stand down". -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 03:34, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
Dratted tipos! Timrollpickering (talk) 03:40, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
I presume your "tipos" was meant to be "typos".  :)  :) -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 04:14, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
The internet - destroying humour since 1973. Timrollpickering (talk) 10:36, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but I think this discussion merely underlines my point. The idea has taken hold (promoted by Paul Kelly, I think) that Whitlam passed up a chance to bring down Fraser because he wanted to finish his steak. The alternative scenario is that Labor senators would have been informed of the dismissal, they would have blocked supply, and Kerr would have dismissed Fraser and reappointed Whitlam. I think this is highly unlikely, as the whole idea was to resolve the deadlock and remove Whitlam. All that would have happened was a propaganda coup for Labor, not a return to power.--Jack Upland (talk) 06:44, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Paul Kelly is one of the most respected political journalists in Australia. He has decades of experience and is widely respected. His sources are impeccable. If you read the book, you'll get a feel for the whole sorry saga from beginning to end, from all sides. It is well-balanced. He brings inconsistencies to light and explores explanations.
It is not so much that Whitlam wanted to finish his steak as that he had just been ambushed and was in shock. He wasn't expecting this. His best course of action might be clear in hindsight, but at the time he was understandably rattled. His chosen response was to seek a no-confidence motion, a tactic which ultimately provided nothing but a hollow moral boost. Fraser and Kerr moved too swiftly for this to succeed. If Supply had been delayed in the Senate, as Kelly makes clear, then Fraser would have been unable to meet his promise to Kerr, which was one of the conditions upon which he had been appointed, there would have been no benefit in advising an election with Supply not passed, and Kerr would have been forced to resign. He would have been replaced with someone far less independent.
It was by no means certain that Whitlam would have been removed or Supply passed. Kerr, as Governor-General, held very little independent power and if it came to the crunch, Whitlam would have advised the Queen to remove Kerr, and though it might have taken a few days, Kerr could not have prevailed. --Pete (talk) 07:10, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Paul Kelly is a journalist. Not a historian. Not a constitutional law expert. Not a political analyst. No, just a journalist. Journalists live by selling stories. You can respect Kelly. I don't. I agree with the estimation of Mark Latham and Paul Keating. I think what you've said is a fantasy. Why would Kerr resign? Under what law? What legal standing had Fraser's alleged promise? On what basis could Whitlam sack Kerr if he wasn't PM? And what is the relevance of the passage of supply anyway? The facts are simple. Fraser was blocking supply, a confrontational tactic that is used in America all the time. Kerr decided, for whatever reason (and most people don't think his motives were honourable), that the way out of this impasse was to appoint Fraser as PM and for Fraser to call an election. That's it. The steak is irrelevant. And so is all the other pseudo-intellectual speculation and analysis.--Jack Upland (talk) 08:10, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
It's pretty simple. If Supply had been further delayed, Fraser would have been as unable to guarantee Supply as Whitlam had been. Without confidence, he could not have remained PM. Whitlam would have had to be recalled and he would have advised the Queen to terminate Kerr's commission. Do you have a source for an alternate scenario? I'm beginning to think we might be venturing into fringey conspiracy theory now. --Pete (talk) 08:39, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Kerr was prepared to resign if Labor had won the election; Whitlam would have been sworn in by the Administrator, who I believe was the NSW Governor. I don't think he would have stuck around to reappoint Whitlam had supply been denied. Regarding Whitlam's lunch, please note that it is handled in a very perfunctory manner in the article. I knew what a land mine it was and didn't dwell on it. He had lunch. That fact is beyond dispute.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:03, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
That he had lunch is not per se anything remarkable. Many people have had lunch, or so I'm told. It's that, having just been sacked as Prime Minister, he might perhaps maybe have told a few people, or someone, of that sacking, someone who could have made a huge difference in the way the rest of the day played out. But instead, he sat down to a steak and a beer, and missed his chance. That was the significance of the lunch. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 11:26, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

I think this is a fringe theory, which has gained prominence by Paul Kelly's book. It's very Wikipedian to ask for a source, but this is effectively asking for a source which doesn't mention the lunch. There are plenty of books that don't mention the lunch, but that would make a rather strange citation!!!--Jack Upland (talk) 18:08, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Kelly gives his sources. Go read it. But there are plenty of other sources. Mungo MacCallum, Michael Symons, Gough Whitlam, Rocco Blog-Go, Philip Knightley, Whitlam again, Troy Bramstom. And a bazillion others. --Pete (talk) 18:41, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Sources for what???--Jack Upland (talk) 10:00, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Current events[edit]

While we engage in the fascinating topic of whether Whitlam should have skipped lunch on the famous 11 November, I am seeing some comments in the Australian press that the current imbroglio is "what could amount to the nation's biggest constitutional crisis since the dismissal of the Whitlam government, as the 43rd Parliament enters its final day. Nevertheless, unless events happen a lot more evocative of 1975, I do not see any reason for any addition to the article (I say this in advance of anxious IPs). The Governor-General has an interesting decision in front of her. It's a political crisis, and a fairly contained one at that.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:44, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Sounds like a load of forgetful hacks searching for hyperbole. A ruling party without a majority of its own changing leader has happened before and there are various national and international precedents. You could have anything of the following:
  • Rudd being appointeed PM, secures an immediate confidence vote and goes to the election as PM.
  • Rudd being appointeed PM, losing an immediate confidence vote, nobody else is able to assemble a majority so Rudd goes to the election as PM.
  • Rudd being appointeed PM, losing an immediate confidence vote, Abbott assembles an immediate majority and goes to the election as PM.
  • Gillard stays as caretaker PM until somebody can find a majority in the Reps and if that doesn't happen then she caretakes all the way to the election. (This happened in Ireland in 2011.)
It may require a bit of thought and perhaps even the crossbenchers being summoned to meet the GG but shouldn't be much of an issue in the long run. Timrollpickering (talk) 11:18, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Gillard is resigning her commission even as we speak and says she will recommend Rudd as PM. My guess is that confidence won't be a problem because Rudd will advise an election as soon as possible. He will want to dissolve Parliament before he has to answer any questions or face a confidence motion. --Pete (talk) 11:54, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
The Tasmanian precedent of recent years suggests the GG would be in her rights to refuse to accept the commission back until the parliamentary situation is clear. She's reportedly taing legal advice on the matte so we'll soon see. Timrollpickering (talk) 13:05, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Senate tick-tock[edit]

There is a problem with the timings indicated for the action in the Senate during passage of the supply bills. Our article says that Senator Wriedt got authoritative word at 2.15, too late to change course. But at 2.19, the Senate was still on other business. Senator Devitt spoke for what seems to be a little over 10 minutes from 2.00, and Senator Durack spoke thereafter until 2.19. Labor Deputy Leader and Special Minister of State Senator McLelland then brought up a bill and had a speech incorporated into Hansard, and the second reading debate was adjourned.

The Senate then moved on to the appropriations bills and consideration of a lower house resolution chastising the Senate for delaying supply. Wriedt, at 2.20, read out a motion that the Standing Orders be suspended to allow for an immediate vote on the bills without debate. Wriedt then moved that the question be now put (moved the closure) on his motion, and the closure motion passed. Wriedt's motion was agreed to on a voice vote without debate. Then the bills were agreed to without debate. Finally, there being nothing left to do for the moment, the Senate suspended the sitting to the call of the chair at 2.24.

So is there some other explanation about what was going on at 2.15, or is it possibly an estimate one of the participants gave that was a few minutes off? I know it is a minor point, but I think we should get it right. -Rrius (talk) 10:39, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

I went by the source. Obviously, sources are sometimes wrong. What are you working from and is there a link to it?--Wehwalt (talk) 11:09, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
Talk:1975 Australian constitutional crisis/Archive 1#The passing of the bills on 11/11 is the last discussion on this and there may be clearer detail in Kelly's book. Part of the problem is that in such an environment of wild rumour and confusion (and remember there were no mobiles or internet) the recipient of "authorative word" might well have initially disbelieved it or taken time for it to sink it no matter who delivered it. But it also seems clears that Whitlam's strategy was to try to bring down Fraser in the Reps and may not have sent any word to derail supply in the Senate. Trying to think on one's feet and take action for the government as a whole without having had any direction in such a tense atmosphere in response to shocking news isn't the easiest of tasks and it's not surprising that the ALP Senators proceeded to try to push Supply through as already planned. Timrollpickering (talk) 11:37, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
I expect Rrius is working from Hansard. Frickeg (talk) 12:21, 4 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, I suggest we change the times to match Hansard and add Hansard as an additional source for that passage.--Wehwalt (talk) 14:26, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

It appears that the steak theory fails again. The Labor senators did have word of the dismissal before passing supply. Anyway, how could they vote against supply when the Coalition had control of the Senate?--Jack Upland (talk) 04:54, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

I don't know if we can prove that one way of the other from Hansard's. Of course, having word of it, and reacting in the way people have said they should have after discussing it for the past 38 years are two different things. Have any senators written memoirs that address this point? I'll be in Australia the end of next month, and I'm planning to do some research, but my time will be very limited.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:25, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

US Government Shutdown[edit]

Should we add a sentence or two about comparisons with the current US government shut down? Some news sources have a different perspective or take of this in hindsight: --Charlie Huang 【遯卋山人】 21:41, 5 October 2013 (UTC)

No, that Max Fisher piece is appallingly bad. I do not think there is enough similarity to use in this article.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:42, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
No. Ditto about the quality and accuracy of that piece. If anywhere, the 1975 crisis might be mentioned at the 2013 Shutdown article, but since this is by no means unique in the States (there have been about a dozen such shutdowns, but this one's making huge headlines), I wouldn't even support that. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 22:00, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
Recentism is causing this minor political crisis of 2013 to seem immense, at least in the eyes of those who seek to direct our attention to their news-ad sites. At some point, likely soon, this will be resolved, and the world will teeter on much as before. The parallel would have to be drawn a lot more, and by people a lot more prominent than Mr. Fisher. If they start invading Gough's room for his latest comments on John Boehner, we shall indeed be on to something, and there may be need to discuss an inclusion. Until then, I think we are fine as we are.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:19, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, chiming in to say no. Without even reading the piece, they're entirely different political systems. Frickeg (talk) 01:57, 6 October 2013 (UTC)

Why was the news kept quiet?[edit]

Could someone please explain: Why did Fraser have to keep the news of the dismissal quiet, when the majority of senators were ready to vote in support of him? The Coalition had a 30-29 majority, with the ALP holding 27 seats and the two independents (Hall and Bunton) opposed blocking supply. If every single senator had found out about the dismissal by the time they came to vote on the budget, surely the Coalition would have passed the supply bill after a vote on party lines? (talk) 23:15, 31 May 2014 (UTC)

The ALP could have delayed the vote on Supply. If it had not been voted on during the day, then Whitlam's successful motion of no-confidence in Fraser would have forced Fraser to resign, as he could not have guaranteed Supply, which was the condition under which he had been commissioned. Paul Kelly's book "November 1975" is the definitive work on the dismissal, and he identifies two crucial errors on Whitlam's part. First off, he did not attempt to contact the ALP Senate leadership. Second, he went back to the Lodge for lunch, instead of to Parliament House. If he had gone back to Parliament House - the old building, small and intimate, where news and rumours travelled quickly - the news would have spread. As it was, the ALP put up the bills for a vote and they were swiftly passed. By the time Whitlam had gone through all the steps to censure Fraser and pass a motion of no-confidence, the Supply Bills had been signed into law, Fraser had advised a double dissolution election, and there was no way back. Whitlam was rightly furious that day - he had been ambushed by Kerr and then while still reeling from the shock he had been outmanoeuvred by Fraser. It must have been clear in hindsight that he could have prevented the disaster several times, but he had failed at every turn.
Kelly does a fantastic job of sorting out the often contradictory accounts of that day. Well worth reading.
Perhaps the article could make this point clear - it wasn't a sure thing once Whitlam had been sacked. --Pete (talk) 23:49, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
That is why Kerr was unbelievably lucky to have things work out. He would have had to resign, I think, more or less on the spot, or fly to New Zealand and allow the Administrator to recommission Whitlam, who I am sure would not have accepted the commission without Kerr's head on the proverbial platter. I am about to leave on a trip and have no time to modify the article. However, if anyone else does, based on Kelly or other sourced info, I will massage the prose.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:10, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
In fact, the Steak Theory of Professor Kelly (Keating's words) has no meat on the bone. How could the Senate Labor minority have forced the vote on supply to be delayed??? The Coalition could have "guillontined" it. How could this really have affected the appointment of Fraser as PM and the calling of an election??? Or the result of the election??? The dominance of the Steak Theory (here) is due to the fact that no one else is pathetic or pedantic enough to argue about the minutiae.--Jack Upland (talk) 11:41, 25 October 2014 (UTC)
Kelly certainly looked at the details and sought the views of all concerned. His book is an essential starting point for any discussion on the matter. He outlines exactly what Whitlam could have done. But Whitlam had just been ambushed, and he hadn't prepared for it. I think he may be forgiven a certain amount of confusion and delay as he sought advice and comfort in the form of a steak lunch - and probably a beer or two - back at the Lodge.
Regardless of the vote in the Senate, the Supply Bills still had to return to the House before they could be sent to the Governor-General to be signed into law. Kelly makes it clear that Whitlam, who still controlled the House, could have delayed them. Holding onto them would have revealed Fraser's very tenuous grasp on power.
Whitlam didn't think events would move quite so swiftly. By the time the motion of no confidence had been debated and passed, Supply had been sent to Kerr, who then acted on Fraser's advice to call a double-dissolution election, using Whitlam's own bills as the trigger. The process of issuing writs etc. began and one part in that process was the reading of the proclamation dissolving Parliament. Exactly as had happened the previous year, when David Smith stood on the steps of Parliament House and read the proclamation for the double dissolution election that Whitlam had advised. --Pete (talk) 16:47, 1 November 2014 (UTC)
Exactly what could the House have done with the Supply Bills? The Hansard for the day notes they had passed but it seems to be in a formal announcement rather than any final sign off. And this comes after Fraser had unsuccessfully moved an adjournment (and after Whitlam's no-confidence motion) suggesting that even this announcement wasn't necessary to their passage:
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or requests:
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1975-76.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1975-76.
Sitting suspendedfrom 3.15 to 5.30p.m.
The Senate and the House of Representatives having been dissolved by Proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General, the sitting did not resume.
As for the news I think the quietness was less a deliberate decision by Fraser than a failing by Whitlam. How could Fraser stop the news spreading? There's an ABC documentary on YouTube from 1995 presented by Kelly in which Wreidt and/or McClelland state they were first told the news as they entered the chamber by Reg Withers, the Coalition Senate leader (who also recalls the conversation), but dismissed it as a typical joke on Withers's part. That doesn't sound like deliberately keeping it quiet. (Of course Withers could have been off message but as the most crucial Coalition figure it would be surprising if this were the case.) Timrollpickering (talk) 11:35, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
Yet again we have the views of Professor Kelly represented to the exclusion of any other views, including basic common sense. The Dismissal would have been utterly pointless if it could have been thwarted by competent action by Whitlam. If a bill is passed by the House of Reps and the Senate it becomes law - that's it.--Jack Upland (talk) 11:49, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
Bills don't become law until given assent by the Governor-General, as provided by s58. The bill must be transmitted to the Governor-General by the Speaker, who may delay such transmission. Money bills may not be amended by the Senate and hence there is no need for the House to debate and pass them again, but they are returned to the House as per normal procedure for bills originating there.
It is not uncommon for bills passed by both houses to be delayed for a short time due to procedural matters. It is entirely possible that a bill could be delayed indefinitely. This has happened as recently as 1979 in the case of the Privy Council Appeals Abolition Bill [17], which is presumably still languishing in a drawer somewhere in Sydney.
Whitlam's actions on the day were hardly optimum - understandable in the light of the shock he received - as we might consider them in hindsight. Fraser took a gamble and triumphed because he understood Kerr's mind. Whitlam had made no plans to deal with what was going on and made several fundamental errors. Hardly surprising, given the chaotic state of Whitlam's government by this time, with ministers dropping like flies. There's a lovely story of a young Paul Keating who had been appointed a junior minister a short time earlier, moving up after yet another resignation and reshuffle. Whitlam swept up the stairs into Parliament House, passing Keating on the way and telling him, "You're sacked!" (Along with every other Minister, of course, but Keating didn't know this at the moment and was left devastated.)[18] --Pete (talk) 16:29, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Kerr's bona fides[edit]

The death of Whitlam has caused me to revisit some of my Dismissal-related press clippings. The bona fides of Kerr have now been exposed to serious scrutiny and he does not come out of it well. I'm sure there's plenty of other stuff out there, but for starters, here's a paragraph I've drafted for possible inclusion in Roger Pescott:

  • In February 1975, Pescott was liaison officer for the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, who was attending the coronation of the new King of Nepal in Kathmandu. In private discussions, Kerr told Pescott that he had "not stepped down from the active role of Chief Justice of New South Wales to see out his time as a benign governor-general without an active role". He discussed with Pescott his intention to seek approval from the government for a new staff member at Government House, a legally trained person who would advise the governor-general and enable him to form an opinion whether the laws he was required to give assent to were good laws or not. Kerr's view was that the government's official description of the purpose of any law was always going to be biased. Whitlam approved the request in October and Pescott was offered the job, but the events of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis meant that Kerr had no time to fill the position before his dismissal of Whitlam. In mid-December 1975, Kerr invited Pescott to Government House to discuss the events of the previous few weeks. In a two-hour meeting, he gave Pescott two reasons why he did not forewarn Whitlam of his intention to dismiss him if he did not advise a general election. Firstly, he did not want to involve the Queen; he felt this would inevitably happen if Whitlam knew what was on Kerr's mind, as he would ask the Queen to terminate Kerr's commission immediately. Secondly, matters of protocol were very important to him, he was in a more senior position to the Prime Minister, and "he felt no duty whatsoever to consult or give advice to someone not as senior to him". Kerr also asked Pescott to assist him in the writing of a book he was to call The Role of the Upper House in the Westminster System, but Pescott pleaded lack of time, and the book was never written.[1]

Yet it is clear that this supposed desire to protect the Queen was a load of rubbish. Jenny Hocking makes clear in Gough Whitlam: His Time that Kerr, when attending the inauguration of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby in mid September, spoke to none other than Prince Charles of his concerns that, if he were placed in a position that he would have to sack the government, the PM might get in first and dismiss Kerr before he had a chance to act. This was all completely hypothetical at this stage, but it reveals what was on Kerr's mind all along. He noted Charles's response in his private journal, which was that the Queen would surely not be obliged to accept the PM's advice in that circumstance. (Incredibly inappropriate for Charles to have made any such comment, and we'll only ever have Kerr's word that that was what was said, but there it is.) It is clear, however, that there was a discussion of the matter between them, because on return to London, Charles discussed it with Sir Martin Charteris, the Queen's Private Secretary, who happened to be a trusted friend of Whitlam's. Charteris wrote to Kerr, without Whitlam's knowledge, saying that in such a contingency the Queen would try to delay things, although eventually she would have no option but take the advice of the Prime Minister. As Hocking puts it:

  • "Neither Kerr nor the Palace ever revealed that, weeks before any action in the Senate had been taken, the governor-general had already conferred with the Palace on the possibility of the future dismissal of the prime minister, securing in advance the response of the Palace to it".

So much for not wanting to involve the Queen. And of course we now have Sir Anthony Mason's testimony that in his meetings with Kerr, he consistently advised him that he must warn Whitlam of his intention to dismiss him if he was not prepared to recommend a general election - if it came to that. Kerr, as we know, ignored that advice.

I seek comments about other material that would be relevant to this, and what we could say, and where. Here, at Kerr's article, or both? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:31, 30 October 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ Roger Pescott, "Why Kerr never told Whitlam of his intention to dismiss him", The Age, 6 September 2012, p. 17
Basically the dismissal was a treasonous conspiracy. Whitlam (to his eternal credit and to his short-term political disadvantage) took it to the people and lost and abided by the outcome. If only his opponents (including Fraser) were as honourable.--Jack Upland (talk) 10:39, 1 November 2014 (UTC)
In point of fact, it was Fraser who advised the election. Whitlam knew very well that he would lose a general election. He was hoping for one or two of the Coalition Senators to crack, and Kerr, who could see Supply running out - in fact money had already run out in several votes, such as military supply contracts - felt obliged to act. His actions, like those of Whitlam's, were based around keeping his job.
Of course Kerr consulted with all relevant parties. Including the Palace. He wanted to know what his powers and options were in a crisis. But nobody wanted to involve the Queen in taking any active role in it. For one thing, she didn't have too many powers. She could dismiss Kerr, if advised, and that was about it. She couldn't appoint a government, she couldn't call an election, she couldn't give orders. She could "advise, consult, and warn" as Bentham puts it, but that sort of thing is done in private, not issued as a press release.
I don't think Charles's role is significant, except maybe as an informal channel of communication. His powers were even less than the Queen's. Like, zero. But he would have been a communication channel that couldn't be intercepted or monitored. --Pete (talk) 16:25, 1 November 2014 (UTC)
Folks, can we not have a free-for-all about this? I'm asking for advice about inclusion of the material I quoted. The subject is Kerr's bona fides.
As for not involving the Queen: How can you have communications with both the heir to the throne and the Queen's private secretary, without involving her? Charles and Charteris may never have told her that such discussions had ever taken place, but so what! She was involved whether she knew it or not, thanks to Kerr, the very person who has argued that his actions were predicated on not involving her. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 20:12, 1 November 2014 (UTC)
Actually, the Queen's powers are absolute. The absolute monarchy has not been abolished, just held in abeyance. The Australian Constitution itself is merely an Act of the British Imperial Parliament.--Jack Upland (talk) 08:59, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
The Queen wasn't involved. She was kept informed, but she had no input. The only action I'm aware of was that the protocol for dismissing the Governor-General was reviewed to require that the PM's advice be delivered by hand. When Kerr says he didn't want to involve the Queen, he was telling the truth. She had no input, made no decisions, took no actions. If you watch a breaking news story on television, are you involved? Only to the extent that you know what's going on. --Pete (talk) 09:28, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
Your own example tells against you: the Queen was not merely watching TV. Kerr was acting as the Queen's representative, and was not only removeable by Whitlam but by the Queen herself. The ALP asked her to intervene but she declined. She was also abreast of the constitutional crisis in Australia (including the conflict between her representative and her prime minister) and chose not to intervene as it unfolded. This was an act of omission.--Jack Upland (talk) 21:27, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
I guess, Pete, it comes down to what anyone means by "involved". That she chose to distance herself from taking any action when asked to do so, was imo a perfectly correct and appropriate decision, but she was still involved. That request was from Speaker Scholes after the Dismissal. But even before then, and before there was even any obstruction in the Senate, merely conferring with her Private Secretary had the effect of involving her, because he does not act as an independent private citizen in that role but as her mouthpiece. And this is so much more the case when the person conferring with him was Prince Charles, her own son and heir, which only occurred because Kerr had spoken to him about the (at that stage still hypothetical) matter in Port Moresby.
Anyway, I want to get to the point of the thread, which is about inclusion of new material in the relevant article(s). -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 22:30, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
If it's sourced, then I have no objection. I agree, it depends on one's definition of involved. She told her Private Secretary - which essentially means it was her personal view - to say that the Constitution places the power in the hands of the Governor-General and she was unable to act wut was watching with keen interest. If we have a source saying she was involved beyond that, then fine.
But we don't, do we? Pescott doesn't say she was involved in any way, and if we say she was, then it's WP:SYNTHESIS. We need to be careful about putting words in the mouth, or actions in the hands, of BLP subjects. --Pete (talk) 23:34, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
Section 61 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution states that "The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth". Love it or leave it. Or change it! Any actions of the executive government in Australia involve the Queen by virtue of her office. As to the person who holds this office (Elizabeth Windsor), she explicitly chose not to intervene, which was an act of omission. No matter how you slice it or dice it, she was involved and unless she abdicated she could not be uninvolved.--Jack Upland (talk) 10:06, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
The Queen is not involved in executive government in Australia. She is unable to exercise any powers apart from appointing the Governor-General and signing bills specifically reserved for her pleasure, and a few pieces of trivia covered in the Letters-Patent. In any case, Kerr didn't exercise the executive power mentioned in s61. He used s64. --Pete (talk) 05:34, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

Subsequent use of reserve powers[edit]

This recent edit by Skyring removes the phrase "However, those powers have not been exercised again." with the edit summary of "Rubbish. Both of those constitutional powers are exercised regularly".
I understand Skyring's point that the Senate often votes against supply bills, forcing them to be amended, and that the Governor General dismisses the government every time that an election is called. However, I am sure that the point of this phrase is that we have not seen another situation where the Governor General has sacked a government against its wishes. Similarly, I can't remember there being any other situations where there was a serious risk of supply running out (remember that Whitlam was sacked on November 11th, and supply was going to run out on the 30th).
The wording which Skyring removed was now great because of its ambiguity. However, I think the article should mention that we have not seen a recurrence of the 1975 events, i.e. the senate blocking supply (a la the US lockout last year) or the Governor General sacking a government. AtHomeIn神戸 (talk) 05:04, 29 May 2015 (UTC)

The constitutional powers mentioned are:
  • 53. Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate. But a proposed law shall not be taken to appropriate revenue or moneys, or to impose taxation, by reason only of its containing provisions for the imposition or appropriation of fines or other pecuniary penalties, or for the demand or payment or appropriation of fees for licences, or fees for services under the proposed law. The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government. The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people. The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting, by message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments, with or without modifications. Except as provided in this section, the Senate shall have equal power with the House of Representatives in respect of all proposed laws.
  • 64. The Governor-General may appoint officers to administer such departments of State of the Commonwealth as the Governor-General in Council may establish. Such officers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General. They shall be members of the Federal Executive Council, and shall be the Queen's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth.
The first gives the Senate the ability to pass or reject money bills. The second gives the Governor-General the power to appoint ministers "during his pleasure". Both powers are regularly exercised, the first by individual Senators voting, the second by the Governor-General appointing ministers. And occasionally by sacking them, as happened with Simon Crean in 2013. --Pete (talk) 07:06, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
I don't have time to write a detailed reply, but the second point is not about section 64, but the Governor General's reserve powers. AtHomeIn神戸 (talk) 08:06, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Does the Governor-General have some extra set of powers we don't know about? He used s64 to dismiss Whitlam - that's pretty straightforward. Here is Kerr's letter to Whitlam stating this. --Pete (talk) 10:45, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
We could add a phrase like "to bring down the government" to the original text. That would exclude relatively trivial cases such as are mentioned above.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:48, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
As I see it, there are two problems. These are normal constitutional powers, and they are used on a regular basis. Labor in the Senate, at least prior to 1973, would regularly vote against Supply. Not as an isolated instance, but Every Single Time. Of course they didn't have the numbers, so they always failed. Likewise the use of s64. Kerr's office certainly got a work out in the months leading up to November 1975, with a parade of ministers lining up to resign and their fresh-faced replacements jumping up onto the tumbril. Each one had to be processed through the system. As noted above, sometimes a minister has to be removed. Mid-term changes of government are not unknown, either. Several Prime Ministers have led their ministry out of office as a Leader of the Opposition brings his team in. Deakin, Reid and Watson spring easily to mind as PMs who weren't voted out at election.
I think the wording should reflect the reality rather than hint at some unspecified "reserve powers" or that they have remained dormant. I have inserted the sentence "However, these powers have not since been used to force a government from office", though we can certainly tweak that. --Pete (talk) 18:58, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Skyring, your recent changes are the explanation I had in mind at the beginning. Perhaps I am misreading your comments, but it sounds like you question whether "reserve powers" exist. If you are interested, you might like to see this concise explanation at the Governor-General's official site. But none of that needs to be specified in the paragraph in question. So in short, I am happy with how it currently reads. AtHomeIn神戸 (talk) 02:02, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
I know what reserve powers are. But I suspect that some might gain the impression that they somehow are actually written into the constitution or specified in some other document. --Pete (talk) 03:33, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
Supply and its easy passing isn't relevant. The Senate doesn't have the power to sack a PM. The Governor-general does. When has a Governor-general used this power since? Mdw0 (talk) 05:20, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
The relevant power is Section 64. This power is used regularly and routinely to appoint and occasionally dismiss ministers. Simon Crean was dismissed in 2013 by the Governor-General under the advice of the then Prime Minister. --Pete (talk) 05:30, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
MDw0, the passing of supply is relevant because it was the Opposition's tool to weaken the government, which ultimately put Kerr in the position of having to act. Pete has already established that the Governor-General routinely appoints and dismisses ministers. The key is "...under the advice of the then Prime Minister." Kerr's action in 1975 was without the advice of Whitlam or his ministers. We are starting to talk in circles here... AtHomeIn神戸 (talk) 05:53, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
Not at all. The Constitution is framed so that the Governor-General may act alone in appointing and dismissing ministers. This is occasionally performed without advice, beginning with Lord Hopetoun in 1901. Jack McEwan in 1967 was appointed without advice. Whitlam was well aware of Kerr's powers, and he was warned by Bill Hayden not to disregard Kerr. He was ambushed by Kerr, true, but it was something that he should have taken into consideration. --Pete (talk) 06:03, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
You're right - the use of Section 64 is fairly routine, but with the advice and support of the PM. I suppose that is the key point of the whole article. The line, if used, would have to be specific that that powers haven't been used against the wishes of the government of the day since 1975.
As I recall, we agreed on the language under discussion to exclude the "dismissal" of the missing Holt. I think if we are to push this further we will need something by way of a source.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:29, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
Holt wasn't dismissed under s64 - I don't think he was, anyway. What happens when Ministers die in office - anyone know? But McEwen was certainly appointed without advice. Who could have advised the G-G? There was nobody more senior than McEwan.
And if Whitlam had gotten his ducks in line and sent Scholes off to see Kerr with the no-confidence motion in hand and no Supply passed, then Kerr would have had no option but to re-appoint Whitlam as PM (and promptly resign, himself) and he would have necessarily appointed Whitlam under s64 without ministerial advice. That would have made for an even more interesting day than it already was! --Pete (talk) 02:28, 2 June 2015 (UTC)