11th of November, 1975 when Government General Tells Gough to Go: Whitlam's Dismissal

Essay by jade_in_blue April 2007

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November 11, 1975 saw the most dramatic political event since the history of Australia's Federation. An event that would to this day spark intense passion and debateAt around 115 pm that day Sir John Kerr appointed Governor General handed over a prepared letter to Prim Minister Gough Whitlam dismissing him and his government from office. When Australia got news of the dismissal, a crowd of around 3000 gathered in front of the steps of Parliament House while 5000 other Whitlam supporters gathered in the city square and clashed with police to show their disapproval and in Sydney people chanted in the streets, showing their support for Whitlam.

So was Sir John Kerr’s decision to dismiss Whitlam and his government from office the right thing to do?Edward Gough Whitlam was the first Labor government in power after 23 years of Liberal control. Along with their campaign slogan, ‘It’s Time.’

Whitlam and his government were responsible for a long list of legislative reforms while in office. Although they did many good deeds to benefit the people of Australia, it left the government facing many problems, most importantly; substantial funding was needed to pay for all the changes they had made.

Substantial funding, along with other major obstacles such as the filling of non-ALP senators in ALP vacancies and the severe economic downturn of the 70s created massive amounts of frustration for the Whitlam government. Australians were beginning to lose confidence in Whitlam and saying that he was doing ‘too much, too soon’Meanwhile, the Liberal Opposition, seeing the government’s popularity dip so low, decided to force an election as soon as possible but blocking supply in the senate. Whitlam’s government now had no money to run the country.

The Leader of the Liberal Opposition, Malcolm Fraser, knowing that the Governor General...