Monday, October 16, 2017

Did Britain manipulate Australia's dismissal?

The British government and its monarch have always denied any responsibility for the 1975 dismissal of an elected government by an unelected governor-general. But it appears they were lying:

Representatives of the British government flew to Australia in the lead-up to the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam government to meet with the then governor-general, casting further doubt on the accepted narrative that London officials did not play an active role in Australia's most significant constitutional crisis.

Historian Jenny Hocking discovered files in the British archives showing Sir Michael Palliser, the newly appointed permanent under-secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, arrived in Canberra a month before the dismissal and held a joint meeting with Sir John Kerr and the British High Commissioner, Sir Morrice James, just as the Senate was blocking supply.

Sir Michael later reported back to London that Sir John "could be relied upon".

There's an extremely strong suggestion that the British government were interfering in Australian politics and the 1975 election. And combined with their continued secrecy over Kerr's communications with the queen - which are absurdly considered to be private, rather than official communications - it makes them look guilty as hell.

Of course, the easiest way to prevent a foreign monarch from interfering in Australian politics ever again is for Australia to become a republic. Fortunately, that is now looking likely. The question is whether New Zealand will do the same.