Institution Name, Location Essay Example

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Institution Name, Location



The dismissal of the government of Whitlam on the 11th of November 1975 is the most tumultuous event that has ever happened in the history of Australia. It has been termed as the greatest political and constitutional crisis that has ever happened in Australia)(Wurth 05-21.). This took place and lead to the removal of the prime minister, Gough Whitlam of the Australian labor party (ALP) by governor general sir john Kerr. Governor John Kerr then appointed Malcolm Fraser as the care taker prime minister (Lloyd 324–354.).

Sir John Kerr was a famous and strong lawyer. He was also among the chief justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. He became famous for being at the centre of the controversial dismissal of the labor government that was lead by Gough Whitlam. This particular event brought up very significant issue in the constitution of Australia at the time (Blackshield and Williams 470–480). This was one of the most dramatic events that have ever happened in the history of Australia. For the first time in since amalgamation, the representative of the queen who was not elected managed to remove a government which commanded most of the houses of representatives. This event remains one controversial issue in the Australian political system (Freudenberg 234-56).

It has been said that the labor party leader, Whitlam had a lot of confidence in the reliability of john Kerr due to his former membership of the labor party. However, Whitlam had no idea how much the political views of john Kerr had changed, and with time he had come to see the role of government in a totally different perspective from that of Whitlam(Lloyd 324–354.). The government of labor party under the leadership of Whitlam came to power in December 1972; this was after a continuous 23 years of leadership by the liberal party. The labor party got support from the nation by campaigning on the slogan ‘it’s time’. Their margin of victory was very narrow (Steketee 49–50). Whitlam became the first of the new type of labor prime minister; he made efforts by putting into place a lot off progressive legislative proposals. The proposals he had included the implementation of free education policies, reaching out to other parts of the world which included the United States and Asia for a good foreign policy. However, with all his efforts his will and power met a lot of opposition (Freudenberg 234-56).

The senate at the time strongly rejected some of the proposals that Whitlam had presented. These include one that proposed introduction of a free health insurance. The repeated rejection of Whitlam proposals led to the calling of double dissolution election, this made all the members of both houses to seek for a re-election (Lloyd 324–354.).

The political scandal also led to a forced election, before the dissolution elections Whitlam had gone through Queensland seeking a senate vacancy, to achieve this he offered a sitting senator(Wurth 05-21.). Whitlam expected that he would win and take control of the senate house. Whitlam’s labor party was re-elected after his seeking a double dissolution re-elections though with lower majority. With all this effort, the senate still continued with its continuous stymie of the agendas that the government put in place (Freudenberg 234-56).

In 1975, the government was involved in another controversial issue of oversee loan affair. Whitlam’s government had a number of agendas that it wanted to fund. These included the building of a natural gas pipeline among others. Whitlam’s ministers opted to seek a loan of about $4 billion to fund the projects (Steketee 49–50). Instead of going for the common countries they had usually taken loans from they opted to go to the oil rich Middle East. A Pakistani broker was used to obtain the loan; this entire process was highly questioned by the members of the government, the media and the entire public. At the end of the entire controversy, the entire loan was not taken hence the broker was not paid his commission. The government that was respected by many was made to look reckless and with no direction (Blackshield and Williams 470–480).

Whitlam and his government were left highly vulnerable after suffering a lot of economic challenges and the impact of the loan affair on the validity of his proposals(Wurth 05-21.). After resignations by some of the government leaders, the leader of the opposition Malcolm Fraser decided that the he was going to use it numbers in the senate to continuously block supply until Whitlam called for another elections. Whitlam refused to accept the intimidation of the opposition and this led to confrontations are several weeks of constitutional crisis. This raised a lot of unanswered questions concerning the democracy of the Australians, the roles of the houses of representatives and of the senate (Lloyd 324–354.).

Governor John Kerr took a very keen interest in the crisis, the crisis convinced him that there the need to dismiss the government of Whitlam. In a statement that he made at the time, he said that he believed that it was democratic and constitutional solution to dismiss Whitlam who was the prime minister at the time (Steketee 49–50). To him it justifiable to dismiss the prime minister since he could not give a guarantee for supply in the country and let the Australian people to decide the conflict. Kerr went ahead to get advice from his friend Chief Justice Berwick, he endorsed the idea and approved its legality; this took place on Monday 10th November 1975(Freudenberg 234-56).

On Tuesday 11th November 1975, Whitlam went ahead to call for half senate election, the governor general rejected the proposal and instead he officially dismissed Whitlam from power. Fraser was immediately asked to take charge as the caretaker prime minister. After this a double dissolution election was carried out on the 13th of December (Henderson 298–311). All the attempts by the House of Representatives to bring back the government by passing a several motions expressing confidence on the leadership of Whitlam but this failed as the governor general was very steadfast. Schools wrote several times to the queen on the issue but she only replied with a massage that she was getting involved in the internal Australian political conflicts (Gordon 556-785)

After the elections of the 13th December, Fraser’s liberal-national coalition was elected by the Australians by a very large margin. According to Whitlam and his supporters, the events were shocking and they saw this as an abuse of the office of the secretary general and its powers. Kerr justified his dismissal act by stating that he was doing his work as the governor general to uphold the democracy (Sawer 3–16). He stated fervently that he made the decision after he was convinced that the prime minister who was Whitlam could not obtain the supply. He also said that, there was no other decision that was valid to him apart from letting the Australian people decide for themselves on what exactly could be done to save the situation (Freudenberg 234-56).

Kerr has remained a controversial figure since the event took place; he has become a controversial for the rest of his life (Steger 56-78). He was later forced to resign from the office of ambassador to UNESCO. Kerr lived in England shortly and latter died in April 1991. After the event Whitlam resigned from parliament and Fraser went ahead to become the prime minister for almost 7 years (Blackshield and Williams 470–480).


The dismissal of Whitlam from power remains a highly controversial issue at the centre of the history of the Australian politics. The issue is highly relevant to the contemporary debates concerning the idea that there is a need by the Australian people to make the nation a republic and increase the power of the head of state. Both the constitutional and political effects that come with the dismissal remain of high significance to anyone who has an interest in Australian politics and the entire structure of power in the country.

1Institution Name, Location 1Institution Name, Location2Institution Name, Location 23Institution Name, Location 34

1 Yarralumla, the official residence of the Governor-General

2 Malcolm Fraser

3 Gough Whitlam (left) with US President Richard Nixon

4 Malcolm Fraser

Institution Name, Location 45Institution Name, Location 56sInstitution Name, Location 67

Institution Name, Location 7

5 sir john Kerr

7 Whitlam at the steps of parliament house

8 ALP policy launch before a huge crowd in the Sydney Domain on 24 November 1975


Blackshield, Tony and George Williams. “ Australian Constitutional Law and Theory.” Commentary and Materials (5 ed.) (2010): 470–480.

Brown, Wallace. Ten Prime Ministers: Life Among the Politicians. Viking: Loungeville Books, 2002.

Ten+Prime+Ministers:+ Life+Among+the+Politicians.+Viking:+Longueville+Books,+2002.&source=bl&ots=oh7yEbVkzc&sig=VvixCe5kuV- 2EVmiCUKpbbzv2jQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=cONKUvDyOdSjhgfL3oCIDw&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Brown%2 C%20Wal lace.%20Ten%20Prime%20Ministers%3A%20Life%20Among%20the%20Politicians.%20Viking%3A%20Longueville %20Books %2C%202002.&f=false

Freudenberg, Graham. “A Certain Grandeur.” Gough Whitlam’s Life in Politics (revised ed.) (2009): 234-56.

Gordon, Michael. “After 50 years’ hard Labor, Gough tells it like it was.” The Age (Fairfax) (2002): 556-785.

Henderson, Gerard. “»Sir John Grey Gorton», in Grattan, Michelle.” Australian Prime Ministers (revised ed.), (2009): 298–311.

Lloyd, Clem. “»Edward Gough Whitlam», in Grattan, Michelle.” Australian Prime Ministers (revised ed.) (2008): 324–354.,+Clem.+%E2%80%9C%22Edward+Gough+Whitlam %22,+in+Grattan,+Michelle.%E2%80%9D+Australian+Prime+Ministers+%28revised+%09ed.%29+%282008%29:+3 24%E2%80%93354.&hl=en&sa=X&ei=w-VKUp3ODqjg4QSz7IGgDw&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ

Marks, Kathy. “ «Australia poised to say no to republican dream».” The Independent journal 4(2) (1999): 90-345.,+Clem.+%E2%80%9C%22Edward+Gough+Whitlam%22,+in+Grattan,+Michelle.%E2%80%9D+Australian+Prime+Ministers+%28revised+%09ed.%29+%282008%29:+324%E2%80%93354.&hl=en&sa=X&ei=w-VKUp3ODqjg4QSz7IGgDw&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ

Marks williams. “»Australia poised to say no to republican dream».” The Independent ( 1999): 567- 900.

Sawer, Geoffrey. “»Towards a New Federal Structure?», in Evans, Gareth, Labor and the Constitution 1972–1975.” The Whitlam Years in Australian Government 5(5) (1977): 3–16,.

Steger, Jason. “Balibo reporter was warned: Whitlam.” the Australian (News Limited) (2010): 56-78.

Steketee, Mark. “ «Carter denied CIA meddling.” The Australian journal 5(3) (2008): 49–50.

Wurth, Bob. “»How one strong woman cahanged the course of Australian history».” The Age magazine. (2010): 05-21.,d.ZG4

Marks williams. “»Australia poised to say no to republican dream».” The Independent ( 1999): 567-900.

2Sawer, Geoffrey. “»Towards a New Federal Structure?», in Evans, Gareth, Labor and the Constitution 1972–1975.” The Whitlam Years in Australian Government 5(5) (1977): 3–16,.

3 Brown, Wallace. Ten Prime Ministers: Life Among the Politicians. Viking: Loungeville Books, 2002.

4 Blackshield, Tony and George Williams. “ Australian Constitutional Law and Theory.” Commentary and Materials (5 ed.) (2010): 470–480