Australian court orders release of Queen's letters over PM sacking

Former prime minister Gough Whitlam seen here in 2004 is still hailed as a champion of Australia's left

In 1975 Kerr, the Queen's representative in Australia and a man with close links to the Central Intelligence Agency, dismissed him and appointed opposition leader Malcolm Fraser in his place, sparking a constitutional crisis.

Letters written by the Queen before the 1975 dismissal of then Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam can be made public, an Australian court has ruled.

"These letters provide a crucial historical context around one of the most destabilizing and controversial chapters in Australian political history", the movement's Chair Peter FitzSimons said.

Reasons for Whitlam's dismissal are fiercely argued, with allegations of British and even American efforts to smother his reformist agenda.

Ms Hocking, who said she hopes to read the letters at the National Archives of Australia in Canberra when the country eases its Covid-19 lockdown, said the claims that the letters were personal were "an insult to all our intelligence. they're not talking about the racing and corgis".

The letters could help show if the British government tried to interfere in events and what role the queen, Prince Charles and top royal advisers may have played.

It is just not identified what correspondences between the Queen and Sir John include.

Local historian and Whitlam biographer Jennifer Hocking took the case to court arguing that the texts were "extraordinarily significant historical documents" and needed to be accessed.

The decision was upheld by an appeals court but has now been overturned by the High Court, meaning the archives will have to reconsider the request to release them.


Dickie Arbiter, the queen's spokesman for 12 years until 2000, said the letters should not be made public in her lifetime.

On Friday a majority of the High Court bench ruled the letters were property of the commonwealth and part of the public record.

The letters, deemed "personal and confidential correspondence", entered the National Archives of Australia and were going to remain private until 2027.

It was not immediately clear when access to the letters might be granted.

He had opposed Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War, sought to assert Australia's sovereignty and end what he called "colonial relics" of the relationship with Britain.

But his detractors accused him of destabilising the economy, and Kerr fired him without warning on 11 November 1975 after political fighting that weakened Whitlam's government.

It was also later revealed that Chief Justices Garfield Barwick and Anthony Mason advised Kerr on how to dismiss the prime minister.

It ultimately led to a general election that saw Malcolm Fraser's centre-right Liberal Party - then acting as a caretaker government - come to power. A referendum on becoming a republic failed in 1999.

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