Secret letters between Queen Elizabeth and the Governor General of Australia in the weeks before left-wing Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was looted will be released to the public tomorrow – after a protracted battle in the Supreme Court.
Some speculate that the letters could reveal Queen Governor General John Kerr’s decision to fire Whitlam in 1975.
If this turns out to be true, it would show that modern Australia is not fully autonomous from British rule, experts say.
Jennifer Hocking – who had fought the $ 1 million legal battle for four years – told it The Guardian: ‘As an autonomous postcolonial nation, we assume that the Queen does not exercise residual monarchical power over our system of administration, let alone over the archives of our National Archives.
“However, this case and these letters show that this assumption is misplaced.”
Historian John Warhurst said“The British crown interfered with the 1975 dispute in a way that would offend anyone who wants Australia to become a fully independent nation.”
He added, “The palace was not above the battle.”
The Queen – as Head of State of Australia – is represented by the Governor General, who can make decisions on her behalf.
She chooses who will fulfill the role on the advice of the prime minister.
This is the Queen’s only constitutional job.
Under the Constitution of Australia, it is only the Governor General who can summon, dissolve and provisionally declare parliament.
Before Kerr fired Whitlam and dissolved parliament for double dissolution in 1975, more than 200 letters were sent between the Queen, her then private secretary, Martin Charteris and Kerr herself.
Their potential content is suggested in already public documents, including a comment with the words’ Charteris’ advice to me on dismissal ‘.
Hocking said The conversationThis is simply an extraordinary situation: The Governor General reports to the Queen about his private conversations, plans, governance issues and meetings with the Australian Prime Minister, and this is being kept secret from the Prime Minister himself.
This is the crucial context of secrecy and deception in which the palace letters must be considered: that Whitlam knew nothing of these discussions because Kerr had decided on a constitutionally ludicrous policy of “silence” towards the prime minister, which maintained the prime minister’s confidence. House of Representatives at all times. ‘
The National Archives of Australia have held correspondence since 1978.
Considered ‘personal’, the Australians were granted access to them earlier than 50 years after Kerr ceased to be Governor General – and only with the approval of the Royal Representative.
Hocking said it was absurd that communication between such key officials in the Australian government system could be considered personal and confidential.
“That they can be considered personal is downright offensive to all of our intelligence as a collective – they’re not talking about racing and corgis.”
She added, “It was not only the fact that they were described quite bizarrely as personal, but also that they were under an embargo set on the Queen’s whim.”
The British Royal Family is known for protecting its privacy and keeping conversations confidential.
The family went to great lengths to hide letters from Prince Charles – in a similar case in Britain that was contested by the court for five years – but was lost in 2015.