Sir John Kerr and the Whitlam Dismissal

Essay by kc_hendricks24Junior High, 8th grade November 2007

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On the second of December, 1972, the Labour party under Edward Gough Whitlam came to power for the first time in 23 years, determined to implement a number of new policies such as Medicare and the abolition of fees for tertiary education. But the Labour Government had come to power by gaining the majority of seats in the House of Representatives; the Senate was still controlled by the liberal party. In order for the Labour party to pass any bills both the Senate and the House of representatives would need to agree on the bill. In a shocking political move the Liberal Party then used its power to block an annual funding bill demanding that Whitlam hold a re-election for the House of Representatives resulting in a "deadlock". Whitlam refused but without the funding the Labour government would quickly run out of money to continue to operate.

Whitlam called a double dissolution vote in hopes that this time Labour would hold the majority of the seats in the Senate.

Time was running out and despite attempts by members of the ALP to acquire funding through means such as Loans from other countries, the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr dismissed Whitlam from his position. He appointed the Liberal party leader, Malcolm Fraser as caretaker Prime Minister until the next elections which were held 2 months later. The senate passed the supply bill shortly after Fraser was placed in power.

This event was one of the key moments in Australian history and changed Australia dramatically. It was predicted that there would be repercussions in public opinion of the Liberal party for their aggressive approach to taking control but the Australian people focused on the monetary shortcomings of the ALP. The Liberal party, claiming that the short loss of power was necessary "turn...