'Volcanic' revelation: Queen’s role in axing of Whitlam
BRITAIN sent an envoy to Australia to meet the Governor-General at one of the most critical moments in politics, it has emerged in "volcanic" material around the 1975 dismissal.
An envoy from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office flew out to Canberra to meet the Governor-General just a month before the sensational dismissal of Gough Whitlam government, Monash University researcher Jenny Hocking found.
The historian told news.com.au the revelation was "extraordinarily significant", showing the head of state meddling in Australian politics, and leading to the "scandalous outcome" of a democratically elected government losing power.
Professor Hocking uncovered records of the Australian visit by Foreign and Commonwealth Office undersecretary Sir Michael Palliser, and later conversations relating to the Queen's position.
The findings from these documents held in the British archives are included in the latest edition of her book, The Dismissal Dossier - but some remain redacted.
"They're discussing the prospect of intervention in Australian politics, they're discussing how serious it is, how egregious it is," said Prof Hocking. "They're volcanic.
"There's no doubt of their intervention ... The documents point consistently to British involvement.
"This is why we're calling for an inquiry into British intervention in Australian politics at this time. We need to know, we need to have access to all the documents."
Palliser met with Governor-General Sir John Kerr and British High Commissioner Sir Morrice James during his trip Down Under in October 1975, at a critical moment for Australia's future.
The country was in crisis at the time, with the Liberal Party using its control of the Senate to delay the passage of "appropriation bills" that would authorise spending and enable the Labor government to function.
On November 11, Whitlam approached Kerr to gain his approval for a half-Senate election to resolve the impasse. But the Governor-General instead controversially dismissed the Prime Minister and replaced him with Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser.
Fraser was able to secure passage of the appropriation bills, and Kerr dissolved Parliament for a double dissolution election the following month, which saw the Liberals sweep to victory.
The Queen's private secretary Sir Martin Charteris was also in secret communication with the Governor-general over "British interests", according to Prof Hocking.
She claims there was "a gradual breakdown of relations" between the Australian government and the British from the very early stages of the Whitlam administration in 1972. This growing atmosphere of "disrespect, suspicion and secrecy" morphed into "totally improper advances" had as its endpoint the dramatic toppling of the Prime Minister.
"It extended to the highest level of our institutions," said Prof Hocking.
She said it was important for our understanding of history and for forging a stable future that we are able to see all the documents and know how the British exercised power over Australian politics.
"We have a right to know," she said. "We need to know the appropriate parameters of a head of state.
"We had removed from office a government that had been elected twice.
"We're adult enough that we can accept what happened, but we need to know how and why."