The Dismissal of the Whitlam Government

How did the crisis develop?

  • Briefly outline the main reasons why the crisis erupted.
  • According to Hirst's account of the events of 1975, there were several turning points. Identify two of these turning points and suggest actions that, if they had been taken, may have led to different outcomes.
  • In dealing with the crisis, supporters of both sides drew on similar ideas and values to support their views. Explain how both sides used appeals to democracy to justify their positions in the lead-up to November 11.
  • Working in pairs, construct a dialogue on the issues surrounding the Dismissal as summarised in the Senate and House of Representatives resolutions on page 198 of Australia's Democracy. One speaker is to argue for the Senate resolution, the other speaker is to argue for the House of Representatives resolution. Both speakers need to provide evidence for their arguments from Hirst's text and other sources.
  • 'The government's biggest blunder was to enter a dodgy scheme to raise a huge loan overseas so that the State could become the owner of mineral and gas resources.' (p196) Do you agree? Consider the extent to which the Loans Affair was a trigger for the Dismissal.
  • Kerr 'should have warned Whitlam that he was worried about a government trying to govern without money and that he might have to act'. (p 198)
    Do you agree? Consider the options Kerr had in November 1975.
  • Some Liberal Senators argued that Fraser would have been much better 'to wait for the normal time of an election, when he would be sure to be elected without all the controversy over whether it was right to block the budget'. (p 197).
    Do you agree with this view? Consider the extent to which blocking the budget undermined long-held Australian political conventions.

Construct a timeline

Read Australia's Democracy pages 194–203 and construct a timeline of the key events relating to the dismissal of the Whitlam Government and the political consequences of that event.

Introduction | What was 'The Dismissal'? | How did the crisis develop? | How was the crisis resolved? | Assessment tasks and Additional resources