Interview: Trading Places
Safety: Snow Job
Politics: In the Vanguard
Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
International: Cruising For A Bruising
History: Under the Influence
Economics: Working Capital
Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
The Locker Room
Tom Goes Asexual
Road Rage At Work
Democracy In Action
Under the Influence
Why has The Dismissal letter - complete with wonky Kerr signature - never been published? And is there a constitutional argument that renders The Dismissal illegal if carried out by a Governor General under the influence of a mind altering substance?
Next year is the 30th anniversary of The Dismissal and it's time Australia had a much closer inspection of that infamous letter.
How do I have a copy? Well, here follows a genuinely heart-warming Labor Party story.
My father, Don Willesee, Foreign Minister in the Whitlam Government, died last year. Among his political papers was a photocopy of a letter addressed to "Mr Whitlam" and signed, shakily, by John Kerr. It was dated November 11, 1975.
My 87 year old Mother, Gwen, always a Labor supporter, never a Party member, agreed to donate the letter to the Labor campaign for the seat of Robertson (where I happen to live!) We thought it was something ALP members would want.
I contacted Whitlam's office to find out if it had ever been published, and if it was okay by him to raffle it. Then followed a long chat with The
Leader himself: warm, open and revealing that his own letter had been missing until about two years ago. Yes, the Robertson campaign could use it.
We discovered that, though worth money in Labor circles, as a photocopy it had no intrinsic commercial value; but then the experts mentioned that if the document was annotated by Whitlam it would become a very different, and valuable, document.
Well, that was a red rag to an impoverished underdog campaign! This time, (wary of wearing out my welcome) I emailed Mr Whitlam. Would Goliath join David, come to the aid of candidate Trish Moran in Robertson, and annotate the letter? "Yes."
That reply was unexpected... until I realised what was happening. Mixed in with a little bit of mischief making, and a dash of heroic Whitlam 'help the underdog' style, was a large and practical dose of reconciliation in the Labor tribe.
It's no secret that my father and Gough Whitlam had a massive public falling out a few years ago. So I was surprised, and delighted, when he attended Dad's funeral last September.
Among the overblown and now alien Catholic rituals and the strange presence of senior Liberals, there sat Gough Whitlam. Making my father's funeral right, making it a proper Labor funeral. Holding out his hand. Silently mending the tribal rift.
So, when I took him the document for his annotation I thanked him for being at the funeral in Perth and told him how important it had been to me. Those of us in the Labor tribe understand this stuff, but I think he was glad to hear it. It's no easy thing, at 88, with mobility problems, to travel from coast to coast.
Whitlam's annotation on my father's copy of Kerr's letter reflects his thoughts on The Dismissal today - it is dramatic, modern and forceful. It is Gough Whitlam 'corresponding with history'. And so the reconciled tribe unites to raise a (moderate) cup to Trish Moran in Robertson.
For old time's sake.
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