For years questions have circulated about the Queen’s role in the dismissal of the Whitlam government, but Australia could finally be about to learn the truth with a court case initiated against the Australian National Archives (ANA).
The ANA has held written correspondence between Buckingham Palace and former Governor-General Sir John Kerr, who fired Gough Whitlam, behind closed doors for years, deeming their letters private rather than official.
Now though, historian Jenny Hocking has taken the matter to the Federal Court to argue they should be made public, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
While Whitlam’s firing came as a shock to the country, the one man who shouldn’t have been surprised was Whitlam himself.
The Governor-General is required to notify the prime minister before they are sacked, but Kerr chose to forego that practice because he worried Whitlam would fire him first.
The Queen and Kerr corresponded regularly, with Hocking saying Kerr often wrote to the Palace multiple times a day.
Hocking believes the letters will reveal how much the Queen knew in the lead up to Whitlam’s firing and whether or not the Palace advised Kerr on his decision.
“This is Kerr letting key people in key institutions know of his thinking about what he might do … That he’s laying out his plan is staggering. He’s trying to flag to the palace what might happen to him,” Hockey told the Sydney Morning Herald.
She says the letters raise critical questions about the Monarchy’s role in Australian politics and how much sway they hold over the government.