A recent post compared the government shutdown in the United States to Australia’s 1975 crisis over passing an appropriations bill. To resolve the crisis, the Queen’s representative, Sir John Kerr, who served as Governor-General, sacked Australia’s prime minister and put in the opposition leader to pass a bill before the supply (appropriations money) ran out on 27 November. When Parliament sought a no-confidence vote for the new prime minister, Kerr dissolved Parliament and called for elections. Kerr’s actions have remained controversial all the way up to today, and I noted there was a pending court case to make his communications with the Queen public, to determine to what extent Queen Elizabeth II was involved with her Governor-General’s decisions. Buckingham Palace has always maintained she knew nothing at all.
A court recently found that the palace letters between Kerr and Queen Elizabeth II will remain off-limits to the public. The decision has outraged many Australians and prompted more discussion about becoming a republic versus remaining a constitutional monarchy. This article explains the case and the constitutional ramifications of the court’s decision.
Rose Ciccarelli is an American writer and editor living in Canberra, Australia.