CANBERRA: A historian is going to court this month in an attempt to force Australian authorities to release secret letters that would reveal what Queen Elizabeth II knew of her representative’s shocking scheme to dismiss Australia’s government more than 40 years ago, according to Gulf News.
The National Archives of Australia has categorised the correspondence between the British monarch, who is also Australia’s constitutional head of state, and her Australian representative, Governor-General Sir John Kerr, as “personal” and might therefore never be made public.
The letters would disclose what, if anything, the queen knew of Kerr’s plan to dismiss Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s government in 1975 to resolve a month-old deadlock in Parliament.
It remains the only time in Australia’s history that a democratically elected federal government has been dismissed on the British monarch’s authority. Kerr’s surprise intervention placed unprecedented strain on Australia’s democracy and bolstered calls for the nation to split from its former colonial master by becoming a republic. Suspicions of a US Central Intelligence Agency conspiracy persist.
enny Hocking, a Monash University historian and Whitlam biographer, will argue in the Federal Court in Sydney on July 31 — the only hearing day of the case — that the letters should be released regardless of the queen’s wishes because Australians have a right to know their own history.
“To me, it’s a point of national humiliation that we have to be even considering asking the queen whether we can look at these key records in our own history,” Hocking told The Associated Press.
She started the case in October last year, is represented by lawyers free of charge and has raised more than $28,000 through crowd funding in case she loses and is ordered to pay the Archives’ legal costs. The legal argument has been presented so far in written submissions.
While Hocking is taking on the Archives alone, she has a powerful ally in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who agrees that the communication between two such key figures in Australia’s constitution should not be secret.