November 11 marks not only Remembrance Day, but also 40 years since Gough Whitlam was dismissed as prime minister by the then Governor-General, Sir John Kerr.
Whitlam, the Labor Party leader, led his party to victory in 1972 after 23 years of Liberal government. Just 18 months after becoming Prime Minister he was stripped of his position by the Governor-General and replaced by opposition leader Malcolm Fraser as caretaker Prime Minister.
Following Mr Whitlam’s dismissal, he famously said: “Well may we say, ‘God Save the Queen’, because nothing will save the Governor-General.”
The Dismissal, as it is known, is still seen as one of the most controversial events in Australian politics with many Labor voters still angry about the decision.
Mr Whitlam’s spending proposals had been blocked by the Senate, giving the Governor-General a controversial trigger to dismiss the Labor Government. Labor had courted public anger by presiding over rising inflation, unemployment was also increasing and then there was ‘the Loans Affair’, where Whitlam and the Minerals and Energy Minister Rex Connor wanted to borrow $4 billion from Middle Eastern countries without federal consent to fund massive natural resource and energy projects.
— Merryn Porter (@Merryn_Porter) November 11, 2015
— Australian Labor (@AustralianLabor) November 11, 2015
— Not Dead, Resting (@dracophile42) November 10, 2015
— Sir Liberal (@SirLiberal) November 10, 2015
Mr Whitlam is most famous for introducing the universal healthcare Medicare, free tertiary education for everyone, Aboriginal land rights, and the creation of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. He also started to build a relationship with China, changed Australia’s national anthem from God save the Queen, abolished conscription and withdrew troops from Vietnam. He doubled the amount of funding for the arts, and created the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service in 1974. – Daniel Walker