'The Dismissal' is a term that has come into general use since 1975, to describe the termination of the elected Whitlam ALP Government by the then Governor-General, Sir John Kerr. The event came as the culmination of one of the most tension-filled years in Australian political history. The Whitlam Government, elected in 1972 after 23 years of Liberal rule, was dealing with an economic downturn and facing considerable criticism following a number of scandals. Its ability to govern was also destabilised by the fact that it lacked a clear majority in the Senate. In 1975, following the death of an ALP Senator and his replacement with a conservative politician, the ALP lost control of the Senate. The way was now open for opposition leader Malcolm Fraser to do what he had promised to do if 'extraordinary and reprehensible circumstances' existed: block the passage of money bills through the Senate.
Whitlam tried to tough it out but Kerr stepped in on November 11 and withdrew Whitlam's commission to form a government. He installed Fraser as caretaker Prime Minister and called for a full election of both Houses of Parliament on December 13. The events of 1975 caused enormous controversy at the time and there is still bitter dispute about the political and moral correctness of the decisions that were made.
In the domestic sphere, Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam's first 100 days put Bill Clinton to shame. The Whitlam government ended conscription and ordered the last Australian troops home from Vietnam. It brought in legislation giving equal pay to women, established a national health service free to all, doubled spending on education and abolished university fees, increased wages, pensions and unemployment benefits, ended censorship, reformed divorce laws and set up the Family Law Courts, funded the arts and film industry,