Jenny Hocking Comes Up Empty

Today’s editorial in The Australian acknowledges that the Palace letters give the lie to Professor Jenny Hocking’s conspiracy theory.  Nonetheless,  in the same way that almost every commentary that gives some credit to President Trump for some achievement or other – of which there have been many – must include an obligatory swipe at his  boorishness, so the increasingly woke Australian cannot resist its own gratuitous king-hit on Sir John Kerr, our most maligned public figure after Captain Cook.  Here are some extracts:

Australia’s 18th governor-general, Sir John Kerr, was proud and vain, a dangerous schemer who put himself at the centre of the single most dramatic event in our political history.

Whether or not Sir John was proud and vain is, firstly, subjective and arguable and, secondly, totally irrelevant to the matter at hand.  But more importantly, he did not put himself at the centre of events.  He was placed there by Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser. Once Fraser decided to block Supply, Kerr had a role to play whether he wanted it or not.

As Kelly notes after the release of the letters, the plot was hatched at Yarralumla, not in London.

Sir John Kerr resigned as Chief Justice of NSW to accept the role as Governor-General.  He may have been motivated by a degree of social climbing but, nonetheless, he did not believe he was accepting a purely ceremonial role.  He believed that the Crown, represented by himself, had a crucial role in the governance of this country and did not see himself as merely a cipher.  He was aware of the existence of the reserve powers – indeed it would have been odd had he not, considering that NSW Premier Jack Lang had been ‘cancelled’ (to get with the modern argot)  by NSW Governor Sir Phillip Game in 1932. If his planning and consideration of options in the event of a political crisis are to be described as a ‘plot’, you could apply that derogatory term to any manager in any field of occupation carrying out his normal function.  Kerr was doing what his job demanded – preparing to handle a foreseeable situation rather than letting himself be caught unawares.

Only Labor diehards could find intellectual vindication or solace in the odd flourishes from Kerr in the letters, his bonhomie and gossip, amid the foul air of obsequiousness.

I have read Kerr’s letters to the Palace and yes, indeed, they are voluminous.  Presumably, Kerr thought it his duty to keep the Queen informed of events within her realm.  Such matters covered ceremonial issues (on one occasion Kerr advised the Queen that he had dispensed with the curtsey with respect to himself and his wife – hardly the act of the pompous clown that many like to depict him) as well as matters of State.

Don’t take Jenny Hocking’s word for it.
Read the Palace Letters here

On a few occasions he adverted to personal matters, such as the serious ill health of his wife.  On September 6, 1974, Sir John asked Sir Martin Charteris, the Queen’s private secretary, if had been providing ‘too much or too little detail’ in his letters.  Charteris replied, on September 14, that he thought the detail about right and said that the Queen took pleasure in Kerr’s correspondence.  As to ‘foul obsequiousness’, as far as I can see, this amounts to no more than Kerr ending his letters long the lines of ‘Would you please convey to Her Majesty my humble duty and respect’.

I notice that in yesterday’s SMH, Hocking is still claiming that the letters revealed a bombshell.  That is true only if you were so ill informed as to be unaware that Kerr had discussed the political situation with the Palace.  That has been a matter of public record since 1975.

And one final point, I take issue with the description of the 1975 events as a ‘constitutional crisis’.  It was a political crisis that was resolved by the provisions of our constitution acting effectively, as is evidenced by the results of the subsequent election.

  • Macspee

    Well said!

  • Petronius

    These letters also add credence to the claim that the G-G is the de facto head of state of Australia. At no stage was the Palace tempted to advise the Queen to play a decisive role in the dismissal question. The Palace seemed to be saying to Sir John: It is your country and your prerogative to act. As a constitutional monarch the Queen exercises no real governing power. Her role is only ceremonial, unifying and symbolic of the people and nation.

  • wdr

    This correspondence should have been released years ago, as they show that the Queen had no role in the Dismissal. Keeping them a secret, and fighting their release at every step, only appears to give substance to the left-wing conspiracy theorists. The best antidote to conspiracy theorists is always to tell the truth- at least in this case.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    What has always amazed me about the dismissal is Whitlam’s staggering hypocrisy, having previously tried to maneuver Coalition governments into a loss of supply in the Senate on numerous occasions, stating in Parliament each time that any government that couldn’t guarantee supply must call an election. He who sows the wind…..

  • Tony Tea

    Hocking in today’s Herald reminds me of Elizabeth Warren who pulled a massive self-own when she trumpeted her DNA test results as proof of her claims she was an indigenous American. Hocking has pulled a similar self-own with the royal correspondence, and now she is doubling down with her dud accusations. She’s in so deep she doesn’t know how to fold ’em.

  • Doubting Thomas

    I also was astounded when I read the editorial in the Australian. I immediately wrote a scathing comment which (not long after midnight before there were any other comments). My comment had disappeared when I checked the comments later, but I was heartened to see many others in a similar vein.
    The Australian really has become a woke joke and I’d cancel my subscription if there were even one credible alternative.

  • john.singer

    There was no Constitutional Crisis. Sir John Kerr averted one. Had he warned Whitlam any forcefully than he already had, Whitlam would have advised Her Majesty to remove the Governor General from office. In that event we would have been in a Constitutional Crisis because the Government would try to Govern when it was denied Supply a position I could best describe as “Constitutionally Insolvent.”

  • ianl


    Agreed, not a “Constitutional” crisis, just another political one (Peter O’Brien also made that comment in this article).
    I’ve noted before, I think (too uninterested to look), that the only hint of Constitutional crisis occurred when the State Govts opposed to the Whitlam Govt – NSW and Q’ld at that point – instructed their State Governors not to issue writs for an early half-Senate election. Whether these State Governors would follow the advice of State Cabinets or act on their own was not needed to be resolved finally. Kerr’s own actions avoided this.
    I do note that the MSM, including Kelly of the unwashed whiteboard, refuse to acknowledge or discuss this. As despicable as usual.

  • sabena

    A couple of comments about what the publication of the letters have revealed.First there was no criticism by Palace officials of what Sir John Kerr did.Second there was no evident pressure for him to retire early.
    Sir Martin Charteris’s letter to Sir John of 16 February 1976 contained this paragraph:-
    “I think your visit to London was very valuable because the Establishment here has a much clearer idea of what happened in your constitutional crisis.Immediately after you had dismissed Mr Whitlam I could not find anyone in London who thought you had done the right thing.Now,I believe,most people think that what you did was right.”
    Earlier, in a letter from Sir Martin to Sir John of 25 November 1975, he counsels against submitting a resignation prematurely,noting it would only give comfort to persons who said Sir John acted incorrectly.

  • sabena

    Any one notice the irony with Jenny Hocking? Before the letters were released she was saying they would show the involvement of the Palace in the decision to dismiss Whitlam.When the letters were published showing there was no such involvement,she changed her tune to criticise Sir John Kerr for sending letters to the Palace at all.

  • Reg brownell

    ARM reveals its prejudice and ideologically based bitterness with its continued attack on the process despite the now released letters revealing that there was no involvement by the Queen. ARM has destroyed any remaining credibility in its claims to be acting on behalf of and in the best interest of all Australians.

  • pgang

    Good work Peter. I read a couple of those jaundiced lines from The Australian and couldn’t believe my eyes. Very glad now that I’m no longer subscribed to WannaBeWoke. The editorials seem to be written by juniors.

  • PT

    I always thought Hocking would “find” “explosive and incriminating” evidence even if she had to spin like a top to see it!
    Regarding Kerr.
    I am more and more disgusted with the way he’s treated. As the author points out, Kerr was put into the position by the selfish actions of Fraser and Whitlam, who threatened the country with paralysis due to their political egos. Joe Blow may not have known the constitutional niceties, but it was well known to those aware that Blocking supply means either the fall of the Government or an election. I’ve seen footage of Lionel Murphy from 1974 declaring the Government had “no choice” but to have an election due to Snedden blocking supply (as Murphy saw it). So what was different in 1975? It was that Whitlam knew he’d lose. So he refused to act, and hoped the Senate would crack! Contrary to assertions by Hocking and Kelly, Whitlam WAS warned that Kerr was considering sacking him, at least by Hayden on the previous Friday. His response was that “the man wouldn’t have the guts to do it!” And that’s the real point. Whitlam misjudged things, but his supporters can’t bring themselves to realise it was his own arrogance that blinded him. The other reason for the demonisation of Kerr is that for Labor, and it’s supporters, it’s much easier to blame an “unelected Queen’s Man” than have to accept the truth of the appalling electoral defeat. Whitlam was democratically rejected, despite the means used to force an election! Holding an election is hardly a “strike against democracy”, quite the opposite I would have thought.
    And that leads me to the final reason for Kerr’s slandering (apart from media bias and ignorance of course). Fraser threw him under a bus to make himself (Fraser) look good, especially for the chattering classes he courted later in life. The author has spelled this out in earlier articles. But I think it speaks volumes about the true character of Fraser. Particularly since Fraser did this long after he’d quit politics and didn’t have the excuse of needing to “reach out”! Whilst I despise Whitlam and the curious personality cult that’s grown up around him (and somehow seems to have survived the truly “volcanic revelations” that he greenlighted Indonesia’s takeover of East Timor before his fall) the truth is that Fraser was the one responsible for what happened. Not Kerr! Not the CIA! Certainly not the Queen or her Private Secretary! Yet the man’s be wholly rehabilitated! A man of such low character. It’s disgraceful.

  • gardner.peter.d

    Such an outbreak of factually based common sense will not get you very far in today’s world.
    I left the Royal Navy in 1989 when it was still required that formal letters were signed off with:

    I remain,
    Your obedient Servant.

    It amused me to append it to my formal letter of resignation. I don’t know the modern form but I doubt it has descended as far as “Cheers, mate.”

  • PT

    Yes Peter. What’s worse is that these same people afix this “I acknowledge the ‘X’ on whose land this letter/paper etc is produced”! A far more pointless verbiage than asking the office staff to convey a letter to the Queen, and at least as fawning in principle! And they put it on every single document!
    Incidentally, I made the mistake of looking at Hocking’s verbiage on one of the lefty-“progressiveist” sites she frequents. She was droning on about how Whitlam was apparently hated by the “British Establishment”, presumably because an “Australian Nationalist”! She went on about him making statements that Australia was a separate country to Britain, adding that this was “more in hope”. And on and on, and this is why those perennial villains, the “establishment” sought to bring him down. Now not only did the documents confirm that the Queen was NOT involved or informed in advance of Kerr’s decision, but her private secretary said that at the time, no one in London thought he’d made the right call, it was his subsequent visit in early ‘76 that swayed many opinions, probably bolstered by the election results! The “establishment” would hardly think he made the wrong call if he was doing their bidding!
    She’s not interested in “the truth”, and never was. It’s clearly only ever been about advancing an agenda with her, as proven by her still trying to spin things when she’s been proven wrong.

  • Doubting Thomas

    PT, methinks her future career is going to be as barren as the dry old cow she’s been trying to milk, loh, these many long years past. I doubt even her ABC and MUP can continue to prop up someone who has been so comprehensively discredited. Perhaps, a new research field might be created wit the aim of rehabilitating Sir John’s reputation.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.