MUNGO MACALLUM. Thanks to Jenny Hocking’s indefatigable efforts, national pride has been salvaged.

It has taken more than 40 years, but Australian social democracy has prevailed over British hereditary privilege.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Gough Whitlam’s biographer, Jenny Hocking, we are finally permitted to see the exchanges between Buckingham Palace and Yarralumla in those fraught weeks before the dismissal of our government in 1975.

The letters between the Queen and her courtiers and her viceroy, the man handpicked by the Prime Minister he disobeyed, deceived and betrayed, have been declared by the High Court to be public documents, not private personal letters as they have been absurdly portrayed to hide the truth from the mob.

The concealment has always been unconscionable. Elizabeth II is our queen, our head of state. She cannot take time off whenever it suits her to chat with pen friends, however eminent they may be. Tough at times., but it goes with the job, and the job is 24/7.

If the idea of a constitutional monarchy means anything, it entails a certain transparency. Ideally the ruler must accept advice from his or her ministers, in this case Whitlam. And that stricture applies even more unarguably to the representatives the ruler appoints to oversee the affairs of government.

These conventions are considered unbreakable, and if they are broken – as they were so spectacularly on the lead up to John Kerr’s cowardly coup – we, the people, are entitled to an explanation of all the circumstances surrounding them, If there has been a justification, let’s hear it. Without one, conspiracy theories will flourish, as they have for well over a generation.

This is not a matter of prurient curiosity or of public interest, although there is a lot of interest, even from those who were not born during the political crisis. It goes to the heart of our system of government, to the links between the various areas of power on which we rely to preserve us from autocracy and dictatorship. The refusals from both the Queen and Kerr to disclose their discussions that led up to the crisis were not and are not theirs to make.

The doctrine of divine right was, we thought, abrogated in 1649 with the removal of Charles I. The mere concept that it could be resurrected in Australia three and a half centuries later is inherently ridiculous. And to imagine that it could be sustained by a cabal of bureaucrats, lackeys and lawyers well into the 21st century simply beggars belief.

This was a matter of national sovereignty. As Jenny Hocking said, it was demeaning for Australia to be subject to the veto of the Queen over how and whether our documents can be released. Now, thanks to her indefatigable efforts, pride has been salvaged.

We will decide who controls our records, and the circumstances in which they will be controlled.




Mungo MacCallum is a veteran political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy.

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7 Responses to MUNGO MACALLUM. Thanks to Jenny Hocking’s indefatigable efforts, national pride has been salvaged.

  1. Avatar Niall McLaren says:

    Perhaps the material will show why Turnbull didn’t release them. I doubt it has anything to do with the UK.

  2. Avatar Keith Martine says:

    Good to see Mungo still treading the boards for the left. What halcyon days they were when we had Nation Review. Keep up the good work and good luck!

  3. Avatar Allan Kessing says:

    It is to the everlasting shame of this country that it endorsed in the following election the unconscionable actions of 1975.
    We lost more than a great PM – we lost our future.
    Look at the grifters, chancers and meretricious mediocrities that we have (s)elected to govern us ever since – especially the class traitors beginning with Hawke, Keating and ending ignobly in Mr Whatever I can Take Richardson.
    There seemed to some hope in the brief interregnum of late 2007 but it proved to be a false dawn, midnight came clanging down in 2013 and we have been stumbling about in the gloomy aftermath ever since.
    Hands up those who are optimistic of breakfast in the ruins of Winter 2020.

    • Avatar Lorraine Osborn says:

      Thank you. Perfectly put. The lifetime of analysis and policy development work Whitlam brought to his government remains one of the greatest contributions to the nation since the invasion. Jenny Hocking’s wonderful biography of Whitlam reminds us of what we lost because of Kerr and the rest of the conspirators. Bitter herbs for us in our diminished nation.

    • Avatar Michael Jess says:

      Alan writes in confusion (my words) that Hawke, Keating and somehow Rudd are the results of the Kerr/Fraser law breaking acts of 1975!
      I suppose I must first ask Alan if he was a conscience being then? Because what Alan writes is not true.
      The Fraser regime: 1975 – 1983 was utterly soul destroying in its drive to have us renewed as England’s arselicking lickspittle. Most of us who could think thought that the inbred British Royals aka the Batten-bergs or their myrmidon government were not a good reason for Mr John Malcolm Fraser to belittle, embarrass and demean a fragile Australia.

      Contrast Frasers “get back on your knees” ingrained, inbred and instinctive beliefs with that of Mr. Edward Gough Whitlam’s “we are as good as anyone” belief, which only a few short years before had so encouraged and enthused a “torporific thus introverted“ Australian electorate to walk away from the mighty USA.

      To anyone able to reason in 1983 the fresh breath of Hawkes hope as opposed to Frasers pessimism and total incompetence gave us all hope.
      I defy Alan to point out a better period of government.
      The Howard years were traditional conservative English politics (toryism), that is steal from the poor and give to the rich. No political historian has been kind to John Winston Howard and nor should they have been.
      Furthermore never forget that the combined States and Territories had begged Howard to support Prime Minister Keating‘s efforts to ban military grade weapons well before the Port Arthur massacre but Howard fearing for his job refused.
      Howard had the worlds biggest surplus and gave it away to the already rich. Howard will always be remembered as the ultimate climate denying lying rodent.
      Alan, my opinion is that the grifters, chancers and meretricious mediocrities have nearly always been right wing conservatives, but I would be keen to hear your rebuttal. The new breed of so called liberals has as its ringmaster the song and dance Chameleon Scotty from Advertising. And on present form the liar from the shire may well be the one who brings down everlasting shame to the party of no belief.
      For the record your feelings about Graham ‘Richo‘ Richardson – whatever it takes – are, apart from his near suicidal efforts in Ravenshoe, mutual.

  4. Avatar Stephen Saunders says:

    Now that I’ve almost recovered from the disgraceful and insulting NAA press release, may we return to the key question for contemporary Australia?

    We’ve always known that Charles was a notable figure in Kerr’s plot. But “System Ain’t Broke” Morrison still wants royalty for our next head of state. Is there any chance that the contents of the letters might give him second thoughts?

  5. Avatar John NOBEL says:

    Indeed, +1

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