Gough Whitlam in 1969. Picture: Bob Nicol
Gough Whitlam in 1969. Picture: Bob Nicol

Why John Kerr was right to dismiss Gough Whitlam

YET again we have the matter of Sir John Kerr's part in the dismissal of the Whitlam government under discussion. 

One thing many like to ignore is the fact that the Whitlam government had lost its ability to govern. 

According to our constitution, the duty of the "governing party" was to call a double dissolution. This the incumbent Prime Minister refused to do. 

This put the Governor-general in a most unenviable position. 

His solution was the only constitutionally acceptable one, it was to find a way to have a double dissolution called. 

With extensive consultation with wise legal men, he approached the leader of the opposition (Malcolm Fraser). 

It was only on his firm undertaking to call a double dissolution as custodial Prime Minister that allowed him to take over. 

It is essential to understand his position was simply "custodial" to allow the constitutional solution to the problem to take place. He did not become governing prime minister at this point.

It must not be forgotten what the result of that double dissolution was. A resounding defeat of the Whitlam government, thus showing clearly that the electorate had lost confidence in the governing party. 

No matter what Labor supporters want to say, it is abundantly clear that Sir John Kerr acted very properly and courageously throughout. 

F. BARNES, Toowoomba


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