The Dismissal

The Annual Burning of Sir John Kerr

If we ever become a republic we will have to put away the trappings of the British Empire and develop our own traditions.  Indeed, we have made a start.  When I was a child, the November 5, known as bonfire night, was a greatly anticipated tradition.  Even we Catholics joined in celebrating the arrest of Guy Fawkes for plotting to assassinate King James 1st.  In the Fifties we didn’t care too much about the plight of Catholics in England in 1605, and joined wholeheartedly in the fun.  

Guy Fawkes night has now disappeared from our calendar but there is a replacement, thanks to Sir John Kerr.  Almost every year it seems Kerr, who died in 1991, must be exhumed, dusted off and re-immolated upon our very own November bonfire – an antipodean Guy Fawkes.   It’s an appropriate replacement because Kerr’s putative crime was not dissimilar to that of Fawkes – to unlawfully remove a legitimate head of government, albeit with somewhat more benign consequences to the unfortunate victim.

And the new tradition flourishes, surprisingly even in an eminently sensible journal such as The Spectator, thanks to Dr David Long who authored a piece on November 11 positing that Kerr’s

… dismissal of the Whitlam government was unconstitutional and a breach of the rule of law. It is too late now to do anything about it. But we must be on our guard against the next time.

I am not a lawyer but I would like to respond to Dr Long.  I will argue the exact opposite of what he claims.  The dismissal of Whitlam was both constitutional and justified, and we should hope that, if similar circumstances arise in the future, we are blessed with a Governor-General with the courage of Sir John Kerr. Early in the piece, Long introduces a red herring:

… many still believe that the electorate’s subsequent choice of Malcolm Fraser proves Sir John’s action was legal.

It is worth noting here that Sir John himself rejected the notion that the result of the subsequent election justified his actions. Kerr believed he had a reserve power to dismiss the Prime Minister.  Long skates over this and concentrates on the opinion of the Chief Justice at the time, Sir Garfield Barwick.  Long cites Section 64 of the Constitution:

Barwick, however, denied Kerr’s power was a reserved prerogative. He found the power in sec. 64 of the Constitution by interpreting two phrases in that section literally – one, where the ‘Governor-General’ is said to exercise a power, the other where the ‘Governor-General in Council’ is said to exercise a power. The ‘Council’ is the Federal Executive Council, the source of ministerial advice.

Section 64, contains both phrases and, where relevant, states:

The Governor‑General may appoint officers to administer such departments of State of the Commonwealth as the Governor‑General in Council may establish. … They shall be members of the Federal Executive Council, and shall be the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth

Interpreting it literally, Barwick argued that the section gives the ‘Governor-General’ a power to appoint which includes a power to dismiss without the FEC’s advice. He concluded that the Governor-General, therefore, had a power to dismiss the Whitlam government without the need for ministerial advice.

In the above wording, the only involvement of the Executive Council that is specified relates to the establishment of departments of State, not to the appointment or dismissal of ministers.  Long apparently felt that the following sentence, which completes Section 64, is irrelevant to the question of dismissal:

Such officers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General.

Read literally, as Barwick did, that certainly suggests the Governor-General has the power to dismiss a minister.

 So, to overcome this obstacle, Long resorts to the Constitutional Conventions of 1897-1898 wherein the Constitution was drafted:

During the Constitutional Convention, however, when the delegates were considering the equivalent of sec. 64, the NSW Premier, George Reid was concern that without the words ‘by and with the advice of the Executive Council’ whereever the Governor-General was directed by the Constitution to do something, it might be thought – as Chief Justice Barwick had – that the Governor-General could act without ministerial advice. Reid wanted those extra words included to prevent just such a conclusion

The Leader of the Convention, Edmund Barton QC rejected Reid’s suggestion as unnecessary because of the wording of sec. 61. He explained that the phrases ‘Governor-General in Council’ and ‘Governor-General’ were simply a drafting technique expected by British lawyers (in London).

Barton explained the two phrases as reflecting two classes of executive acts of the Crown: those exercised by the prerogative and those that were the result of statutes; only in the latter was it said that the Executive should act in Council. Where an act is done pursuant to the prerogative, it was unnecessary to add the words ‘in Council’ because it was not possible for the prerogative to be exercised personally by the Crown: “The prerogative is never in these days exercised as a personal act of the Crown as we understand it.”

If you look at this discussion you will see it is a rather more complex debate than Long paraphrases.  Firstly, it is clear that what Reid is concerned about is a prerogative whereby the Crown subverts the legislative process by imposing its own executive action.  For example, Reid notes:

I have looked through the works on the prerogatives of the Crown, and I find that they really came as far as anything in these colonies is concerned to the question of the right to assemble, dissolve, and prorogue Parliament, the pardoning of offenders, the issuing of proclamations, and so on. That is about the whole scope of the prerogatives which could be exercised under this Commonwealth. In the old country the Queen, of course, is the supreme head of the Church. That does not apply here. She has the power of making war or peace. That does not apply here. I am simply referring to things within the reach and range of this Constitution. In reference to the right to assemble, prorogue, and dissolve Parliament, that is always done on the advice and consent of the Executive Council.

So what is meant by a prerogative not being being exercised personally by the Crown relates to matters of public policy, not the internal workings of the Constitution. Sir John Kerr, as I understand it, distinguished between an exercise of the prerogative to satisfy a personal preference, such as dismissal of a government with whose policies he disagreed (he himself specifically rejected this use of the power) and an exercise of the prerogative to resolve an unforeseen constitutional issue, such as a prime minister proposing to govern without Supply. 

The debate continues:

Mr REID: The refusal to receive advice is not an executive act at all. An executive act is something which affects the subjects of the country. The refusal to do it affects no one, except that it creates a crisis and would probably effect a change of Ministers.

Mr. BARTON: It is an exercise of the prerogative.

Mr. REID: It is an exercise of the prerogative, which is not an executive act. The refusal to accept advice does not fall within that category. The carrying out of the steps necessary for the assembling or proroguing of Parliament would, and that would be with the advice and consent of the Executive Council. There is not one appointment in the United Kingdom which the Queen makes, but that the counter signature of a Minister of State is required.

Mr. FRASER: How about a dissolution?

Mr. REID: Supposing Ministers ask for a dissolution, and the Governor says “no”; that is not an executive act. It is a refusal to do an executive act. To issue a proclamation would be an executive act. This difficulty would not arise. It would leave the independence of the Governor as to accepting the advice of his Ministers absolutely intact. In England nothing can reach the state of an act affecting the subjects, unless there is the signature of a Minister to it. That is the practice all over the world under similar conditions. So I say that if the British Constitution were being reduced to black and white, that might be put in. If the British Constitution were being drawn up to-day, the main feature would be that the Queen must act on the advice of responsible Ministers. The moment she does not you have no constitutional Government at all.

What this conveys is a prohibition upon the Governor-General from acting on his own initiative, but it also clearly canvasses the possibility of the Governor-General refusing advice.   In fact, we know the Governor-General has such discretion because Section 58 says so:

When a proposed law passed by both Houses of Parliament is presented to the Governor-General for the Queen’s assent, shall declare, according to his discretion, but subject to this Constitution, that he assents in the Queen’s name, or that he withholds assent, or that he reserves the law for the Queen’s pleasure. 

And Section 59 provides that the Queen may disallow a law within one year of its assent by the Governor-General, although I would venture to suggest that this is a prerogative that the Queen would never exercise. But, given that Section 58 was specifically included in the Constitution, it must be presumed that the founding fathers contemplated that each of its provisions might on some occasion be employed.  That is, the Governor-General could refuse the advice of his ministers to assent to a bill. We also know the Governor-General may refuse advice to dissolve Parliament.

Long concludes his article:

In answering George Reid’s intended amendment, Barton refutes Kerr, Barwick and those who advised Sir John. When Kerr’s action is considered in light of the Constitution, his dismissal of the Whitlam government was unconstitutional and a breach of the rule of law.

I believe I have shown that statement to be untrue.  Nonetheless, referring to the Convention debates, or even Quick and Garran, in order to resolve some confusion is useful as far as it goes, but it is not the whole story. The Constitution is not a watertight document.  It is subject to High Court interpretation and also to any precedent which does not contravene its wording.  

If today’s Governor-General were to dismiss the Prime Minister in circumstances similar to 1975, we know that his actions would be constitutional because Sir John Kerr established a precedent in 1975.  And that precedent has never been challenged either in the High Court or by an attempt to amend the Constitution to specifically exclude this reserve power.  Therefore, ipso facto, Kerr’s own actions must have been constitutional.

Even Kerr’s staunchest critic, Paul Kelly – the Hiroo Onoda of Divine Emperor Gough’s ‘maintain the rage’ campaign – concedes that Kerr made the correct decision.  And despite Dr Long’s claim that there are conflicting opinions about the constitutionality of Kerr’s decision, the weight of eminent legal opinion from all sides of politics – Evatt and Forsey from the left, Barwick from the right, Gibbs and Mason from somewhere in the middle – falls strongly in favour of Kerr.

And finally, the debate above commenced with a reference to what would become Section 61.  It’s wording at that time was:

The executive power and authority of the Commonwealth is vented in the Queen, and shall be exercised by the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative.

That was what concerned George Reid.  It is worth noting that it was subsequently amended such that it now appears in our Constitution as:

The executive power and authority of the Commonwealth is vented in the Queen, and shall be exercised by the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth.

“Maintenance of the Constitution” – that’s precisely what Kerr was doing.  

All this may sound like arcane history, no longer relevant.  But I think it is. This annual November 11 trashing of Sir John Kerr is designed to intimidate future governors-general into seeing themselves as mere rubber-stamps.  It is another front in the culture wars.  However, judging by the way the wind is blowing in New Zealand, we may one day wish for a governor-general with the integrity and nous to, for example, refuse assent to a bill such as the pandemic monstrosity currently before the Victorian Parliament*.  It is the principle as much as Sir John’s reputation that I am fighting for.

* Editor’s note: The Victorian Governor has been stripped of all power to reject legislation and dismiss a delinquent government. Opening fetes and bridges, along with a nice salary and occupancy  of handsome building in the Botanical Gardens, remain in his or her purview.

  • John Cook

    Thanks Peter. Poor old Kerr was never be given his dues during his lifetime.
    Note to Editor- is there a Victorian governor-general?

    • Roger Franklin

      is there a Victorian governor-general?

      There is when the editor makes an unthinking mistake at the end of a long day. Now corrected

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Always worth remembering that Gough tried to deny supply to the Coalition governments before his own on numerous occasions. He told parliament that if a government was denied supply it should immediately call an election. Typically of Gough he clearly thought that the principle he believed in applied to others, not to him.
    Also worth asking if Kerr didn’t break the deadlock by taking the democratic option and ensuring that an election was called, what was the alternative – endless deadlock? Kerr made the correct decision because the constitution allowed it and there was no other viable option. The election result indicated that the Australian public agreed.

  • Daffy

    @John Cook. States have governors, not governors-general.

    Thanks for the article. I have always thought Kerr acted lawfully. And now I have an ‘elder’ to acknowledge in public. I’m very pleased about that.

    Plan ‘A’ can now swing into action as I call out ‘I acknowledge Sir John Kerr you feckless bastards’ from the gallery whenever some fool wants to honour the other elders who bashed and raped their women and girls.

    And in that vein, I note the Sydney Anglican Diocese on its website has joined the woke chorus and does the ‘acknowledgement’ bit too. I thought Christians only honoured Christ, but there you are!

  • sabena

    There were two conflicting principles-first that a government must secure supply,and second that a Governor General should follow the advice of his ministers.
    Whitlam eschewed arguing that the passing of the supply bills in the lower house prevented the Senate from rejecting them(to Kerr’s relief:see Palace letters.
    Once it is accepted that there are conflicting principles it is logically impossible to accept Long’s argument.
    The Palace letters contain a trove of articles published after the event which Kerr forwarded to London for information and retention in the Royal Archives.To my recollection,none of those articles makes the argument that Long does.
    I should note that gremlins got into the quotation of s61 of the Constitution.There is no such thing as “venting” in law,it is “vesting”.

  • Peter OBrien


    mea culpa. You are quite correct.

  • Tony Tea

    Can the GG still pull the rug out? I thought the legislation had been amended.

  • padraic

    Yes, Tony Tea, the GG can still pull the plug, as his power is in the Constitution and not in Legislation. Like many at the time, and being ignorant of the Constitution’s contents, I was less than impressed with the action of John Kerr but later on I looked carefully at the issue and found out that he was correct. Peter has correctly alluded to the fact that his power comes from not having the qualifier “in-council” attached to some of his duties. Even Labor people – I think it was Evatt – after the sacking of Jack Lang in NSW, agreed that his sacking was legal. The fact that Jack Lang and Gough Whitlam “walked” after being told the bad news indicates that they understood the Constitutions which governed their roles. They may have whinged about it but they knew the score and accepted their fate, as both men were well versed in constitutional law. John Kerr was a decent Balmain product and very smart.
    About “cracker night” Peter – here in Oz we did not have Guy Fawkes Night but had a much tamer “Empire Day” celebrations in the evening, known to the children as “Bonfire Night” (In May from recollection). In the lead up to the night people would take contributions to a vacant block of land in the street until there was a sizeable pile of flammable material all set to go. My first one was on a vacant block in Sydney during the War where someone had placed on the pile of branches an effigy of Adolf Hitler who went up in flames like a shot down Messerschmit. Later on, as the vacant blocks were built on, cracker night was done in a neighbour’s backyard with several families in attendance. Empty beer bottles were de rigeur for the skyrockets and we used to have bunger fights by throwing them at each other after being lit. One thing was that was frowned upon was making a gun by strapping a piece of wood to a piece of metal tubing normally used for electrical wires, crimping the tube with pliers at the end above the wooden handle so a bunger could be dropped down (like a muzzle loader) with the wick protruding through the narrow hole left after the crimping. A ball bearing was then put down the open end and the wick lit with a match. The resultant shot was strong enough to go through a door. I never made such a contraption but saw one used. Naturally they were banned.

  • Doubting Thomas

    As someone living and working in Canberra who stood to suffer if the Supply dispute had not been resolved, I have always admired Sir John Kerr for his courageous action. The constitutional validity of his decision was, I’m convinced, endorsed and confirmed beyond all reasonable doubt by Whitlam’s acceptance of the decision and his choosing not to pursue the issue in an appeal to the High Court.
    I firmly believe that Paul Kelly destroyed his last vestige of professional credibility when he recently hitched a ride on Jenny Hocking’s rather dilapidated bandwagon. He really should know better, yet he continues to be a slave to ideology when the scales of reason are so loaded against him.
    The left never learn. They lack any sense of proportion or of probity, but worst of all, they lack an “off-switch”.
    Kerr was a brave man, treated disgracefully. We should never forget.

  • Peter OBrien

    Padraic, we certainly celebrated bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night on 5 November in Melbourne when I was a kid.

    Doubting Thomas, to be fair to Kelly he never supported Hocking’s theory that the dismissal was a plot between Kerr and the Palace, and after the release of the palace letters he and Troy Bramston wrote a book debunking her. However his own theory is that it was a plot entirely of Kerr’s making and that he started plotting almost from the time he took office. That theory is expounded in The Dismissal by Kelly and Bramston released in 2015. It is a deeply dishonest book, at least in the way it treats Kerr. I have written my own book, a la Bitter Harvest, critiquing The Dismissal. You are essentially right about Kelly in this respect.

  • STD

    And after Gough Whitlam was dismissed, a vote was put to the people ,the removal of the Marxist Prime Minister ensued .
    Sir John Kerr did the right thing by Australia and the Australian Constitution and the majority were not aggrieved but actually freely agreed.
    Gough Whitlam’s contribution to Australia was the destruction of the work ethic that ushered in the welfare mentality. The other destructive contribution was setting the stage for the future diminishment and destruction of the nuclear family.
    The interesting thing , Sir John Kerr was from the left, which would explain the animosity..
    I think it was Sir Paul Hasluck’s foresight and opinion of one E,G Whitlam on entering parliament ,that sums up the dismissal , to mind anyway,” You Sir are the greatest piece of scum to grace this chamber”.

  • geoff_brown1

    “Gough Whitlam’s contribution to Australia was the destruction of the work ethic that ushered in the welfare mentality.” Well said!

    Also, didn’t Lionel Murphy make a speech in the Senate giving the number of times Labor had attempted to block Supply, in the Senate, and force the Government of the day to the polls?

  • geoff_brown1

    Peter O’Brien, regarding your book on “The Dismissal”, would you be good enough to post the title? Thank you.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Peter O’BrIen, yes please. I look forward to reading it.

  • Peter Marriott

    Interesting piece, thanks Peter. I was not fully across all the legal issues at the time and like most people based my thinking on the sentiment of the day. I bought Whitlam’s book The Truth Of The Matter and read it way back then, and as near as I can recollect I thought that it didn’t seem to explain very much in a clear way…..certainly not The Truth. I still have it but have not reread it and have read legal explanations that have cleared it all up anyway. ‘The Truth Of The Matter’ is that Sir John Kerr was quite correct of course. In fact once the election was over and it was a landslide for the Fraser Government that had more or less cleared it up anyway. We certainly had Guy Fawkes night in the canefields of Nth Qld where I grew up, and we kids had great fun making the guy and hoisting him up on a post and surrounding him with wood and branches. It was a great night eagerly looked forward to by us all. In the middle of the canefields we had to be carefull with our sky rockets as there was the odd time in the district that a paddock was set of fire. The mill would send out extra trucks for that farmer and strenuous efforts would be made to get the whole field cut before it’s CCS ( sugar content) started to drop. We had plenty of crackers to let off and put plenty in the guy, and sometimes we’d attach his name as well. I should add that our parents were always there with Dads keeping a close eye on the action,and we all sat around the bonfire after to enjoy tea and biscuits.

  • Peter OBrien

    Geoff Brown, Labor certainly voted against supply on a number of occasions and Whitlam specifically stated that their intention in doing so was the destruction of the Government. But they never had the numbers to pull it off. So they reaped what they intended (but failed) to sow.

  • Peter OBrien

    Geoff Brown, my book’s not published yet.

  • STD

    And the reason for Norman Gunston being in the picture- Gough was not only a bad joke, it was also in bad taste because it left a sour taste in the taxpayer mouth, from which Australia will probably never recover. Rissoles anyone?

  • melb

    The important point was that we all got to vote in the election that followed and that certainly was a practical approval of Kerr’s action.
    Another interesting point is that by Section 1, the legislative power is vested in Federal Parliament which includes the Queen.
    This is a forgotten protection of our fundamental rights because the Queen is bound by the Declaration of Rights (Bill of Rights) and cannot assent to legislation contrary to those rights.

  • melb

    Regarding my above comment on fundamental rights. During the constitutional debates on 8 February 1898 the matter of a provision regarding “life, liberty, or property, except by due process of law” was debated.
    Sir John Forrest is recorded as saying; “Would not the Royal assent be withheld?”. The vote on this proposition was later resolved in the negative thus showing that the view of our constitution drafters was that the requirement for Royal assent was taken to be a part of the protections of rights they believed they were including.

  • Adam J

    What happens when Royal assent is given anyway?
    Here are some extracts from that Constitutional debate:
    – BEGIN
    Dr. COCKBURN (South Australia).-Why should these words be inserted? They would be a reflection on our civilization. Have any of the colonies of Australia ever attempted to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law? I repeat that the insertion of these words would be a reflection on our civilization. People would say-“Pretty things these states of Australia; they have to be prevented by a provision in the Constitution from doing the grossest injustice.”
    Mr. O’CONNOR (New South Wales).-I have mentioned before the reasons, and they appear to me to be very strong, why these words should be retained. The honorable member will not deny that there should be a guarantee in the Constitution that no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The simple object of this proposal is to insure that no state shall violate what is one of the first principles of citizenship.
    Mr. KINGSTON.-Is there not that guarantee now?
    Mr. O’CONNOR.-I do not think so. We are making a Constitution which is to endure, practically speaking, for all time. We do not know when some wave of popular feeling may lead a majority in the Parliament of a state to commit an injustice by passing a law that would deprive citizens of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. If no state does anything of the kind there will be no harm in this provision, but it is only right that this protection should be given to every citizen of the Commonwealth.
    Sir JOHN FORREST.-Would not the Royal assent be withheld?
    Mr. O’CONNOR.-I do not know that it would. The Royal assent is practically never refused to any Bill that deals with our own affairs, and it is highly improbable that it would be refused under any circumstances.

    Mr. O’CONNOR.-Surely we are not to be prevented from enacting a guarantee of freedom in our Constitution simply because imputations may be cast upon us that it is necessary. We do not say that it is necessary. All we say is that no state shall be allowed to pass these laws.
    Mr. ISAACS.-Who asks for the guarantee?
    Dr. COCKBURN.-The only country in which the guarantee exists is that in which its provisions are most frequently violated.
    Mr. O’CONNOR.-I think that the reason of the proposal is obvious. So long as each state has to do only with its own citizens it may make what laws it thinks fit, but we are creating now a new and a larger citizenship. We are giving new rights of citizenship to the whole of the citizens of the Commonwealth, and we should take care that no man is deprived of life, liberty, or property, except by due process of law.
    Mr. GORDON.-Might you not as well say that the states should not legalize murder?
    Mr. O’CONNOR-That is one of those suppositions that are against the first instincts of humanity.
    Mr. GORDON.-So is this.
    Mr. O’CONNOR.-No, it is not. We need not go far back in history to find cases in which the community, seized with a sort of madness with regard to particular offences, have set aside all principles of justice. If a state did behave itself in that way, why should not the citizens of the Commonwealth who did not belong to that state be protected? Dr. Cockburn suggested in so contemptuous a way that there could be no reason for this amendment, that I got up to state again what had been stated before.

    Ayes … … … … 19
    Noes … … … … 23
    Majority against the amendment 4
    – END
    I personally agree with O’Connor: the Founders, God Bless Them, failed to understand that the people, culture, and society might change fundamentally.

  • melb

    Hello Adam J. Thanks for posting the full debate exchanges. You say you agree with O’Connor. The majority of the Founders did not. Whilst we cannot look into the minds of those men to see what drove them when they voted, they did have the opinion of Sir John Forrest that the Royal assent could be withheld and they voted with him.
    I did not mention that our constitutions are all statutes and have to be interpreted as such. There is a legal presumption that statutes are not to be interpreted as abrogating fundamental rights unless by unmistakeable language. Our constitutions do not contain such language.
    Justice John Toohey supported that view when he said; “[W]here the people of Australia, in adopting”a constitution, conferred power to legislate with respect to various subject matters upon a Commonwealth Parliament, it is to be presumed that they did not intend that those grants of power extend to invasion of fundamental common law liberties”. (Justice Toohey, “A Government of Laws, and Not of Men” (1993) PLR 158 at 170)
    With respect to our gun laws which you have previously mentioned, if you were to read the decision of SCOTUS in Heller you would see that that court accepted as a fundamental right the right to own arms for self defence.
    Now whilst I will not hold my breath waiting for my opinion to be vindicated, that all means that our gun laws in so far as they deny the right to own arms for self defence are ultra vires.

  • Adam J

    Thanks for your response, Melb. Ultimately the Founders can’t be blamed for failing to foresee the situation we have now. They didn’t even have fiat currency. 🙂
    The English Bill of Rights granted that people could possess arms for self-defence subject to law. It’s always been my opinion that Australia’s prohibition on applying for a firearm license on the basis of self-defence is unconstitutional, being an utterly unnecessary prohibition rather than a reasonable restriction or regulation. I will as you though not hold my breath.

  • melb

    Hello again Adam. Since we are both on the same side, I am reluctant to engage but I just have to correct you on one point. The Bill of Rights granted; “as allowed by Law” not “subject to”. I interpret that as meaning that it was recognised that the law as it stood already allowed this. I think this is clear because the grievances refer to protestants being disarmed “contrary to law”.

  • padraic

    Peter and Peter M – re Guy Fawkes night. It must have been still going in Victoria and Queensland but not in NSW after the War. If that’s true then it would be interesting to work out why. I can also reassure everyone that “bunger fights” were not allowed at the family neighbourhood cracker nights by the parents. These took place on afternoons coming home after school in the absence of parental control when groups from the Public Schools met with groups from the Catholic Schools – not in Sydney but in a country town where the family went after the war. It was a bit of a shock after Sydney to find this different school age culture in the country. The usual practice was to just hurl insults, stones and epithets from across the road to each other, but bungers bought before cracker night were a change from the stones. It very rarely resulted in actual violence as the kids knew they would be in strife with parents or the school authorities if someone got hurt. Fortunately, that sectarian rubbish has passed in schools, overtaken by “climate change” activism – just as stupid.

  • padraic

    Melb and Adam J – that was an interesting and useful discussion about the following point made by Melb viz: “Another interesting point is that by Section 1, the legislative power is vested in Federal Parliament which includes the Queen..
    This is a forgotten protection of our fundamental rights because the Queen is bound by the Declaration of Rights (Bill of Rights) and cannot assent to legislation contrary to those rights.” Given that the States also have governors representing the Queen presumably said governors could also refuse to sign off on State legislation – which would act as an incentive to think twice before legislating unnecessarily. I am not with Mr O’Connor on this issue but with Mr Gordon. We are going down the US path and legislating for every aspect of human activity. I used to say about this smart phone craze that you will soon need an “app” to blow your nose – it is looking the same with law.

  • Adam J

    Very good points everyone; it’s the reason I come here. 😉

  • Peter OBrien

    I don’t know about the States but the Governor-General is highly unlikely to refuse assent to legislation simply because he doesn’t like it or that he thinks we are over-governed. Such legislation would have to represent a serious affront to the tenets of democracy or human rights. He would need to be supported by a substantial proportion of the public and have public institutions like the Bar Council (as is the case with the Victorian legislation) on his side. He would risk being dismissed, but that could backfire on the government, particularly if he were well regarded in the community.

  • Louis Cook

    Our ‘Founding Fathers’ certainly understood human nature and Power wielded by men. Blocking Supply has a very necessary purpose!
    If you cannot bring the law-makers to account then you have created a despot.
    Victoria is a very good example of this observation!

  • joemiller252

    Peter, your cryptic allusion “However, judging by the way the wind is blowing in New Zealand” has me puzzled. I note that the new GG there is Dame Cynthia (Cindy) Kiro, of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahu and British descent whereas in Australian declarations of mixed ethnic background, British usually is not mentioned.

  • Peter OBrien


    have a read of this:

    One of my RMC classmate from NZ tells me it is all true.

  • padraic

    I received similar information, Peter, from a Kiwi friend and what is happening in NZ will happen here, particularly if Aborigines are “recognized” in the Constitution. If what is being proposed in NZ gets up, it will spell the end of democracy there as it was known. The extreme indigenous activist groups in Australia, Canada and New Zealand are all working in harmony to overthrow the established democratic order and current nation state model so we will end up with a new version of Apartheid. This subversion is also supported by many non-indigenous academics and politicians, particularly those of the verdant persuasion whose views are a continuation of the wharfie communists of WW2 renown.

  • Peter OBrien

    Padraic, what you say is true and that is why we must defend our constitution in all its aspects particularly the role of the Governor-General.

  • john.singer

    Lest we forget the bravery of Sir John Kerr and the price he paid.

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