Jenny Hocking

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Jenny Hocking
Native name
Jennifer Jane Hocking
Melbourne, Victoria
OccupationWriter, Researcher, Academic based at Monash University
EducationLauriston Girls School
Alma materUniversity of Sydney
Home townMelbourne
Notable worksLionel Murphy: A Political Biography

Frank Hardy: Politics, Literature, Life

Gough Whitlam: A Moment in History

Gough Whitlam: His Time

The Dismissal Dossier:

et alia
PartnerDaryl Dellora
RelativesDaughter of Dr Frederick Hocking and Mrs Barbara Hocking

Emeritus Professor Jennifer Jane (Jenny) Hocking FASSA (born 28 November 1954) is a political scientist and biographer. She is the inaugural Distinguished Whitlam Fellow with the Whitlam Institute[1]at Western Sydney University, Emeritus Professor at Monash University[2]and former Director of the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University. Her work is in two key areas, counter-terrorism and Australian political biography. In both areas she explores Australian democratic practice, the relationship between the arms of government, and aspects of Australian political history. Her research into the life of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam uncovered significant new material on the role of High Court justice Sir Anthony Mason in the dismissal of the Whitlam government. This has been described as ‘a discovery of historical importance’.[3]. Since 2001 Professor Hocking has been a member of the Board of Tustees of the Lionel Murphy Foundation.[4]

In 2010 she was elected a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.[5] In 2013 she was awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) Fellowship[6] Professor Hocking was a judge of the Walkley Awards for Best Documentary Film (2014) and for the Walkley Awards Best Book (2015).[7] From 2016 to 2019 she has been a judge of the Hazel Rowley Biography Award.[8]

Early life and education[edit]

Jenny Hocking is the daughter of Dr Frederick Hocking, a psychiatrist with a significant practice treating survivors of long-term trauma, many of whom were Holocaust survivors, and Mrs Barbara Hocking[9], the first barrister briefed in the Mabo case. She was born in Melbourne, Victoria, in 1954 and attended Lauriston Girls School and then Monash University where she graduated with both a bachelor of science and subsequently a bachelor of economics.

She was particularly influenced at Monash University by Professor Ian Ward a noted economic historian. After graduating from Monash University in the late 1970s she worked as a printer for the underground Walker Press in Collingwood printing large format colour posters, political pamphlets, newsletters and booklets.

In 1977 she met her partner, Daryl Dellora, a documentary filmmaker. Together they formed the film production company Film Art Doco[10] and have co-scripted several award-winning documentaries including Against the Innocent(1988)[11] and Mr Neal is Entitled to be an Agitator.(1991)[12] The latter, dealing with the former High Court justice and Attorney-General Lionel Murphy, has been screened on ABC television.

She holds a PhD from the University of Sydney which examined the establishment of Australia's counter terrorism framework and was published as Beyond Terrorism: The Development of the Australian Security State[13] in 1993.[14]


  • Beyond Terrorism: the Development of the Australian Security State, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1993, ISBN 1863733604 (paperback)

    The author chronicles and discusses the development of Australia’s security organisations. She highlights the importance of the buzzwords” “terrorism” , “counter-terrorism” and “subversion”. Hocking voices concern at the way security organisations are tempted to build up their own status and "recognition", so as to gain increased government funding, sometimes by exaggerating dangers, imagined events and actual events e.g the Hilton bombing.[15]

  • Lionel Murphy: A Political Biography, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2000 ISBN 0 521 79485 4 (paperback)

The first edition of this work was published in 1997. This is new edition with a Foreword by Justice Michael Kirby and an Epilogue "Did Lionel Murphy really happen?" by the author, 2000. The book traces Murphy's life from childhood to his role in the Labor split of the 1950s, his pioneering work as a senator and reformist Attorney-General in the Whitlam government, through to his rise to the bench of the High Court, and to his untimely death, amidst controversy, in 1986.[16]

  • Terror Laws: ASIO, Counter-terrorism and the Threat to Democracy, Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2004. ISBN 086840702X, 9780868407029

The author discusses the issue of balancing the need for national security with individual rights and freedoms. The author argues that, in the light of September 11 and Bali, the security legislation proposed, and in part passed, by the Howard government compromises the separation of powers and individual legal and political rights.[17]

Christina Hill in the Australian Book Review describes this book as “a non-judgemental and informative life study: Hardy’s tireless political activism on behalf of the left, his work as a public figure and as a writer, his late career as a media personality, his disastrous private life (his drinking, gambling and serial adulteries) all flesh out the man and his world.” [18][19]

This is Volume I of Gough Whitlam: The Biography. It is a biographical study of the former Labor Prime Minister of Australia. It traces his childhood in the fledgling city of Canberra, his extensive war service in the Pacific and his marriage to Margaret. The biography draws on previously unseen archival material, extensive interviews with family and colleagues, and exclusive interviews with Gough Whitlam himself. The biography describes Whitlam as an extraordinary and complex man whose life was formed by the remarkable events of previous generations of his family. It chronicles his role in changing the Australian political and cultural landscape.[20]

  • Gough Whitlam: His Time, Melbourne University Publishing/Miegunyah Press: Melbourne, 2012

This is Volume II of Gough Whitlam: The Biography. It is a new updated edition of this second book, with an additional chapter and Epilogue: “I never said I was immortal, merely eternal”, 2014. This second volume chronicles the period when Gough Whitlam swept to power in the election of December 1972, becoming Australia’s twenty-first prime minister. The author describes the following three years during which Whitlam’s transforming political agenda unfolded. It puts on the record the non-acceptance and resentments of Whitlam’s political enemies. The narrative builds up to the dismissal of the Whitlam government by Governor-General Sir John Kerr covertly supported by the Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Anthony Mason.[21]

  • The Dismissal Dossier: Everything you were never meant to know about November 1975, Melbourne: Melbourne University Publishing, 2015.

This is and entirely separate work which has been updated in 2016 and 2017. In the light of newly released documents and hitherto unavailable evidence this work covers the secret story of the planning, the people, and the collusion behind the removal of Gough Whitlam.[22]

Essays and articles[edit]

Current research[edit]

The 'Palace letters' case: In 2016 Jenny Hocking commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against the National Archives of Australia seeking the release of secret correspondence between the Governor-general, Sir John Kerr, and the Queen regarding the dismissal of the Whitlam government. These ‘Palace letters’ are held by the Archives and are under the embargo of the Queen, potentially indefinitely. [23] The case was unsuccessful in the Federal Court and in February 2019 an appeal to the Full Court of the Federal Court was rejected by a majority.[24][25]

Reaction to Hocking's research on Whitlam[edit]

As a consequence of the importance of Gough Whitlam in Australia's political history, Hocking's books about him, and featuring him, have received considerable attention from public commentators, academics and politicians. Overall, the response has been positive.

According to the judges of the Barbara Ramsden Award, the Whitlam biography was recognised as "an unusually thorough treatment and ... a monumental project ... reminiscent of the glory days of publishing"[26].  

Its quality was also highly praised: Prof. Frank Bongiorno called it "A fascinating and important account ... and a tour de force as a piece of history ..."[27]. Greg Kelton suggested it might be "the best Australian political biography In decades ... ". Neal Blewett stated that "There is no better account of how the triumph of 1972 turned into the catastrophe of 1975." At the launching of the book, former Labor Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, says that "it lets us see who Gough Whitlam the person was before he became Gough Whitlam the politician"[28][29]

Former premier of Western Australia, Carmen Lawrence, wrote: "It is a testament to Hocking’s research, her eye for the apt example, and her scholarship that she is able to expand our understanding of the man, and the influences that shaped such a significant Australia figure[30]."

There were no significant criticisms.



  1. ^ "Meet Our Fellows: Professor Jenny Hocking: Distinguished Fellow". Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney. Whitlam Institute. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  2. ^ "Profile: Professor Jenny Hocking". Monash University. Monash University Arts. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  3. ^ Editorial (August 28, 2012). "The Governor-General, the judge and the dismissal". The Australian (newspaper) p.15.
  4. ^ "Board of Trustees of the Lionel Murphy Foundation". Lionel Murphy Foundation. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  5. ^ "Fellows of the Academy". Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  6. ^ "Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award". Federal Register of Legislation. Commonwealth Government. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  7. ^ "Walkley Award Best Books". Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  8. ^ "Hazel Rowley Biography Award". Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  9. ^ "Hocking Barbara (1928-2013)". National Library of Australia. Trove. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  10. ^ "Prof Jenny Hocking". Film Art Media. Daryl Dellora and Sue Maslin AO. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  11. ^ "Against the Innocent". IMDb. IMDb Amazon. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  12. ^ Dellora, Daryl. "Mr Neal is entitled to be an Agitator". IMDb. IMDb Amazon. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  13. ^ Hocking, Jenny (April 1, 1993). Beyond Terrorism: The Development of the Australian Security State (First ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Allen and Unwin. ISBN 978-1863733601. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  14. ^ Who's Who in Australia 2014, Crown Content, Melbourne, ISBN 1 74095 184 0, p 1084
  15. ^ Hocking, Jenny; Beyond Terrorism: the Development of the Australian Security State, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1993, ISBN 1863733604 (paperback)
  16. ^ Hocking, Jenny; Lionel Murphy: A Political Biography, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1997 ISBN 0 521 79485 4 (paperback)
  17. ^ Hocking, Jenny; Terror Laws: ASIO, Counter-terrorism and the Threat to Democracy, Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2004. ISBN 086840702X, 9780868407029
  18. ^ Christina Hill, Australian Book Review, no 278, Melbourne, 2006
  19. ^ Hocking, Jenny; Frank Hardy: Politics, Literature, Life, Melbourne: Lothian Books, 2005.ISBN 0734408366, ISBN 9780734408365
  20. ^ Hocking, Jenny; Gough Whitlam: A Moment in History, Melbourne University Publishing/Miegunyah Press: Melbourne, 2008 ISBN 9780522857054
  21. ^ Hocking, Jenny; Gough Whitlam: His Time, Melbourne University Publishing/Miegunyah Press: Melbourne, 2012
  22. ^ Hocking, Jenny; The Dismissal Dossier: Everything you were never meant to know about November 1975, Melbourne: Melbourne University Publishing, 2015.
  23. ^ Madeleine Morris ‘The Palace letters: New fight to release correspondence between Queen, G-G in lead-up to Whitlam dismissal’ ABC 7.30 21 October 2016
  24. ^ Hocking v Director-General of the National Archives of Australia [2019] FCAFC 12
  25. ^ Hocking, Jenny (21 February 2019). "A national humiliation". Pearls and Irritations. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  26. ^ "Barbara Ramsden Award". Australian Writers National Literary Awards. 2014.
  27. ^ Bongiorno, Professor Frank (October 9, 2012). "Canberra Times".
  28. ^ Rudd, Kevin (November 6, 2008). A Moment in History.
  29. ^ Blewett, Neal (November 2012). "Gough Whitlam in and out of government". Australian Book Review.
  30. ^ Lawrence, Carmen (Autumn 2009). "Overland" (No. 194).
  31. ^ Hocking, Jenny (1997). Lionel Murphy: A Political Biography. Cambridge University Press. p. 371. ISBN 0-5215-8108-7.
  32. ^ a b c d "Research: Professor Jenny Hocking". Monash. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  33. ^ Hocking, Jenny (2005). Frank Hardy: Politics, Literature, Life. South Melbourne: Lothian Books. ISBN 0-7344-0836-6.
  34. ^ Hocking, Jenny (2009). Gough Whitlam: A Moment In History. Melbourne University Publishing, The Miegunyah Press. p. 496. ISBN 9780522857054.
  35. ^ Hocking, Jenny (2014). Gough Whitlam: His Time. Melbourne University Publishing, The Miegunyah Press. p. 632. ISBN 9780522868067.
  36. ^ "Barbara Ramsden Award". AustLit. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  37. ^ "Film Art Media - About us". Film Art Media. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  38. ^ "Harold White Fellowships". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 6 February 2019.

External links[edit]