Aussie High Court: Release Queen's Letters on 1975 'Crisis'

Historian has fought since 2016 to find out what Elizabeth knew about government dismissal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 29, 2020 9:42 AM CDT
Aussie High Court: Release Queen's Letters on 1975 'Crisis'
In this Nov. 7, 2005, file photo, former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam holds up the original copy of his dismissal letter he received from then Governor-General Sir John Kerr on Nov. 11, 1975, at a book launch in Sydney.   (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

Australia's highest court ruled on Friday to make public letters between Queen Elizabeth II and her representative that would reveal what knowledge she had, if any, of the dismissal of an Australian government in 1975. The High Court's 6-1 majority decision in historian Jenny Hocking's appeal overturned lower court rulings that 211 letters between the now 94-year-old monarch of Britain and Australia and Governor-General Sir John Kerr before he dismissed Prime Minister Gough Whitlam's government were personal and might never be made public, per the AP. The only dismissal of an elected Australian government on the authority of a British monarch triggered a political crisis that spurred many to call for Australia to sever its constitutional ties with Britain and create a republic with an Australian president. Suspicions of a US CIA conspiracy persist.

Kerr dismissed Whitlam's reforming government and replaced him with opposition leader Malcolm Fraser as prime minister to resolve a month-old deadlock in Parliament. Fraser's conservative coalition won an election weeks later. The National Archives has held the correspondence, known as the Palace Letters, since 1978. Hocking, a Whitlam biographer who's been fighting to get the letters released since 2016, said it is absurd that communications between such key officials in the Australian system of government could be regarded as personal and confidential, calling that assertion "an insult to all our intelligence collectively." Buckingham Palace says in a statement that the High Court decision is a "legal matter in the Australian courts and we would not comment." Hocking says she expects to read the letters at the archives next week when a coronavirus lockdown lifts. More here.

(More Queen Elizabeth II stories.)

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