On Tuesday November 11th, 1975, the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, dismissed Mr Gough Whitlam as Prime Minister and appointed Mr Malcolm Fraser as a caretaker Prime Minister.
The dismissal was the most dramatic event in the history of the Australian federation. For the first time, an unelected vice-regal representative had removed from office a government, which commanded a majority in the House of Representatives.
A Double Dissolution election was held on December 13th, 1975, at which the Whitlam Government was soundly defeated.
The dismissal of the Whitlam Labor Government was the culmination of a series of dramatic events, which began in October 1975 with the refusal by the Senate to pass the government's budget bills.
The Labor Government had been elected on 2 December 1972 after 23 years of Liberal/Country Party coalition rule. The ALP slogan, "It's Time", seemed to capture the mood of the nation, although the ALP's margin of victory was relatively slim.
Whitlam was the first of the new-style Labor leaders. He had been elected to Federal Parliament in 1952, became Deputy Leader in 1960 and Leader in 1967. He had experienced early success in a number of by-elections and had won 17 seats at the 1969 election to take Labor close to victory.
Whitlam took office determined to implement a wide-ranging program of reforms. Such was his devotion to his "program" that Whitlam and his deputy, Lance Barnard, ran a two-man government between December 5-19, 1972, after which the full ministry took office.
Following an attempt by Whitlam to appoint the former leader of the Democratic Labor Party, Senator Vince Gair, as Ambassador to Ireland, the Opposition Leader, Bill Snedden, threatened to force an election by blocking Supply in the Senate. Whitlam responded by calling a double dissolution election for 18 May 1974...