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The Palace Letters

The Queen, the Governor-General, and the Plot to dismiss Gough Whitlam

Jenny Hocking

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Scribe Publications
27 October 2020
History; Australasian & Pacific history; Postwar 20th century history, from c 1945 to c 2000; Social & cultural history; Constitution: government & the state; Political leaders & leadership; Abbey's Double Rewards; Advocate - History
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A political betrayal. A constitutional crisis. A hidden correspondence.

In May 2020, despite being opposed by the Archives, Buckingham Palace, and the full resources of the federal government, Professor Jenny Hocking won her historic case in the High Court to force the Archives to release the Palace letters. This is the ground-breaking account of her indomitable fight.

Gough Whitlam was a progressive prime minister whose reign from 1972 proved tumultuous after 23 years of conservative government in Australia. After a second election victory in May 1974, when a hostile Senate refused to vote on his 1975 budget, the political deadlock that ensued culminated in Whitlam's unexpected and deeply controversial dismissal by the governor-general, Sir John Kerr.

Kerr was in close touch with the Palace during this period, but, under the cover of being designated as personal, that correspondence was locked away in the National Archives, and embargoed by the Queen - potentially forever. This ruse denied the Australian people access to critical information about one of the most divisive episodes in the nation's history. In the face of this, Professor Jenny Hocking embarked on what would become a ten-year campaign and a four-year legal battle to force the Archives to release the letters. 

Drawing on material from the Palace letters, Kerr's archives, and her submissions to the courts, Hocking traces the collusion and deception behind the dismissal, and charts the secret role of High Court judges, the leader of the opposition, Malcolm Fraser, and the Queen's private secretary in fostering and supporting Kerr's actions. Hocking also reveals the obstruction, intrigue, and duplicity she faced during her campaign, raising disturbing questions about the role of the National Archives in fighting access to these historic letters and in enforcing, against Australia's national interests, royal secrecy over its own documents.
By:   Jenny Hocking
Imprint:   Scribe Publications
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 154mm,  Spine: 21mm
Weight:   376g
ISBN:   9781922310248
ISBN 10:   1922310247
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   27 October 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jenny Hocking is emeritus professor at Monash University, Distinguished Whitlam Fellow at the Whitlam Institute at Western Sydney University, and Gough Whitlam's award-winning biographer. Her appeal against the decision of the Federal Court in the Palace letters case was upheld by the High Court on 29 May 2020.

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