Talk:1975 Australian constitutional crisis

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Featured article1975 Australian constitutional crisis is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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June 2, 2010Peer reviewReviewed
June 26, 2010Featured article candidatePromoted
On this day...Facts from this article were featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on November 11, 2005, November 11, 2006, November 11, 2007, November 11, 2010, November 11, 2013, November 11, 2016, November 11, 2020, November 11, 2021, and November 11, 2022.
Current status: Featured article

Royal involvement[edit]

The section dances around but does not clearly state what the National Archives decided. My internet is limited right now so I can't go into the guts of it, but could someone make it clearer?--Wehwalt (talk) 00:52, 17 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The whole section is conspiracy theory. Lots of dots for the reader to connect, but no actual connections. WP:SYNTH applies. --Pete (talk) 04:05, 17 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That the Australian monarch chose not to intervene, is in itself royal involvement. Nothing would've prevented Elizabeth II, either way. GoodDay (talk) 16:44, 17 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Twaddle. She did not and does not have any power to intervene. Please outline a mechanism she might have used, along with the relevant section(s) of the Constitution. --Pete (talk) 20:02, 17 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Could we get back to the point, which is the cohesiveness of that section?--Wehwalt (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My suggestion, implicit above, is to remove the lot. It's speculation and opinion a long way removed from anything that actually happened. This is Lee Harvey Oswald being in the same city at the same time as a Mafia boss and leaving it up to the reader to imagine they were in bed together. It's rubbish. --Pete (talk) 22:34, 17 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Looking at the section, there is no "Royal involvement" at all. We don't have any source for what is in the personal correspondence between Kerr and HM. It could be talk about the weather for all we know. Wikipedia is not the place for breathless speculation about what is contained inside a locked box.
The guts of the section boils down to the fact that Kerr was contemplating his powers and possible courses of action before acting. Well, whoop-de-doo. Of course he didn't just come up with the notion on 11 November 1975. He was well aware of the reserve powers before accepting the position, and he contemplated his potential for action as the Whitlam government went increasingly off the rails. He makes it clear that he thought the Loans Affair was unsound if not illegal. As a former NSW Chief Justice, he had his own views on constitutional practice. Whitlam was of the opinion that Kerr could not act except under advice from him, but Kerr certainly did not share that view.
As the Queen via Charteris made plain after the event, Kerr had kept her informed about the situation in Australia. A Charteris based source confirms that the Queen would delay acting on any advice from Whitlam to dismiss Kerr - by insisting on written advice and time for consideration. This is hardly surprising and does not amount to "Royal involvement". On the contrary.
I think that we can usefully ditch the whole misleadingly-titled section. --Pete (talk) 17:07, 18 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If it's a question of whether the entire section should be deleted or not? then perhaps an Rfc is required? It's up to you guys. GoodDay (talk) 17:21, 19 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I haven't said that, but this and the CIA section seem to be ever expanding.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:09, 19 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The article has grown, in less than a year, by some ten percent, see here, and, as I said, mostly in the CIA and Royal sections. Much of it is allegations that have not been the source of proper proof, or of somewhat dubious relevance because Kerr did not need to be told what the reserve powers were. Cannot we dispose of the Archives matter in, request was made, request denied (or so I assume, the article does not say), matter brought in the courts. Update when necessary, if the matter fails in the courts, possibly reduce to a single or at most two sentences. And I'd like to see better sourcing than to Wikileaks without a URL for the document in question.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:39, 19 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've cut some matter in the CIA section that seems unduly long and detailed, especially since much of it is sourced to primary sources, and it is very detailed and given a more favourable placement (the last word) considering that we sum up those who say there was no CIA involvement in a few words, including Paul Kelly. What remains needs to be better sourced, with specific links. I wonder that we use a 20 year old oral history at all when there are more comprehensive and recent secondary sources.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:05, 20 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
These sections should exist because reliable sources discuss them, even if certain Wikipedians think they are twaddle.--Jack Upland (talk) 07:57, 20 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with you, but the same high standards as in the rest of the article need to apply here.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:53, 20 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd argue that the paragraph is not needed unless there's an actual scandal. If there's anything meaningful in it, it can probably go elsewhere. Anywikiuser (talk) 10:48, 8 May 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Heseltine confirmed this account" - this appears to be the first mention of any Heseltine, and it is not wikilinked. It might refer to Michael Ray Dibdin Heseltine, Baron Heseltine, but this is not at all clear. (talk) 13:42, 24 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

CIA involvement section[edit]

This section has serious issues - why are uncritically quoting a random American journalist's claim that Kerr received CIA funding? Why are we uncritically using a John Pilger opinion piece - a non-historian, non-Australian resident who is "a strong critic of American, Australian, and British foreign policy" - as a major source? Should Christopher Boyce's claims be included in the article at all given his background? Why are none of the numerous academic works about the dismissal cited in this section? Ivar the Boneful (talk) 22:47, 6 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would favour getting rid of the section, which has a tendency to grow, either by deletion or by spinning it out to its own article.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:05, 6 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree with both. I hadn't looked at Boyce before, but now suspect that someone who gave him as an example of a person without credibility might be accused of overkill. Pilger (who can be good) has little else. And, to my recollection, the claim never had Whitlam's support. Yes, let's remove the section. I can't see enough in it for a stand-alone article. Errantius (talk) 00:00, 7 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well Pilger had this: in case you wonder how bias he is. (talk) 01:04, 20 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Disagree: this allegation sometimes gets referred to and should be covered here. I don't see the relevance of the fact that Pilger is a "non-Australian resident". I also don't see the relevance of Boyce's "background".--Jack Upland (talk) 01:15, 7 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree, it's bizzare. For context, John Pilger is busy right now blaming NATO for Russian invasion of Ukraine. In case you had any questions about his "neutrality". (talk) 01:02, 20 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That you disagree with it doesn't make Pilger's view of no value here. Allegations of CIA involvement in Australian politics were rife before, during, and for a long time after the dismissal. They probably contributed to public disquiet about the events. It would be wrong for this article to not mention those allegations. So long as we describe them that way, all is fine. HiLo48 (talk) 01:38, 20 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Someone has removed the CIA involvement section. This should not have been done without more discussion. That there was involvement is not even controversial (there's a discussion of the release in 2020 of formerly secret documents here), though of course the extent and effect of the involvement are controversial. The facts (e.g. the telex sent by Thomas Shackley - head of the CIA East Asia desk - to ASIO, and shown to Kerr) should be stated as facts, and allegations arising therefrom should be described as allegations. This is an important matter that should not simply be airbrushed out of what purports to be a serious summary of the history. The section should be reinstated. Insulation2 (talk) 09:55, 28 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have created a new article based on the deleted section: Alleged CIA involvement in the Whitlam Dismissal.--Jack Upland (talk) 02:10, 29 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Do we really need the 'caretaker' bit, in this article? We don't have it in the infobox at Malcolm Fraser's bio. There, it describes him as prime minister his entire (1975-83) tenure. GoodDay (talk) 18:04, 11 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, we state that Fraser had agreed, if made PM, to initiate no new policies pending the election, so that's consistent with him being a caretaker.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:24, 11 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is commonplace for governments to be in caretaker mode from the moment an election is called. Fraser would have been a caretaker PM multiple times, as would every other PM at least once since McEwan except for Abbott and Albanese (who is yet to seek re-election, if he makes it that far, and going on post-Howard history that's a bold call). --Pete (talk) 20:37, 11 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The 'caretaker' prefix is pointless. Fraser was appointed prime minister on 11 November 1975, nothing more & nothing less. He didn't have to keep his promise (no new policies) to Kerr, as the governor-general wasn't about to dismiss him & go back to Whitlam. GoodDay (talk) 01:33, 12 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Correct. 2001:8003:3758:8700:BDC4:5951:6E61:C199 (talk) 00:48, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That bit about not having to keep his promise is the strawest straw man I've ever seen. And the bit about "nothing more & nothing else" is quite inaccurate.
When a person defeats an incumbent at a general election, they're appointed PM, without any sort of conditions or restrictions. When a PM advises a general election and the parliament is dissolved, they go into caretaker mode, which means no new policies, no major appointments etc, until the result of the election is clear. Fraser was the only PM ever appointed for the first time who was in caretaker mode from the moment of his appointment. He was unique in that respect, and I daresay he will remain so forever. Of course it needs to be explicitly stated that his initial term, from 11 November, was as a caretaker PM, NOT as an unfettered PM as would normally be the case when one PM succeeds another. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 08:35, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I respectfully disagree. But, it's nothing I'm willing to get into an edit-spat over. That's why I haven't removed the prefix. GoodDay (talk) 13:52, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But surely you have to state why you disagree, no? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 20:54, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Because he was appointed prime minister. GoodDay (talk) 22:17, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's no answer. Yes, he was appointed prime minister, but with certain limitations until the election result was known. Whether he chose to honour the undertaking he gave to adhere to those limitations, or not, is beside the point. The point is he was subject to those limitations. No other PM appointed for the first time has ever had such limitations. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 09:44, 16 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm inclined to agree with JackOfOz here on the importance of that distinction. The Drover's Wife (talk) 10:52, 16 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My position hasn't changed on this matter. But again, I'm not going to make any attempts to remove the prefix. GoodDay (talk) 00:12, 17 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikipedia’s reputation is at stake[edit]

I am wondering what is happening here. The first five paragraphs of this in certifiably important encyclopaedic entry have no citations. The basic facts are now fading into remote history so I inserted one reference from recent reading, to a book by perhaps the most eminent scholar in the field, Professor Jenny Hocking. The reverter called it “unnecessary” – no reason why, no talk contribution, no beg to politely disagree – just revert.

I searched the rules and could not find any style manual item discouraging references for lead paragraphs. Occasionally I have made mistakes. My record shows, however, that I have always thanked those who have corrected me in good faith.

I noticed other entries have been similarly and superficially reverted. Done in such a facile way, I believe, is a serious offence to a fellow editor/contributor. The only question which should be asked by a reverter is — Is this a significant correction/alteration? Is it a fact backed by a respected source or not? And if an editor considers they must do it - a civilised, polite, reluctant reason should be respectfully given in the talk page.

If it is a disputatio inter doctores then there are ways to check the facts or relate to the public the existence of the dispute. This is especially important in such a central pericope of Australian history.

I also consider that the unjustified remarks - “conspiracy theories” - “advert” - “sensationalist” are most disrespectful to one of our most distinguished historians. Inter alia, Professor Hocking has written unquestionably well-researched books on Lionel Murphy, Gough Whitlam, the Dismissal and the Palace Letters. Her publishers are Cambridge University Press and Melbourne University Press. Various books have received a number of awards. To call her conclusions “conspiracy theories” in such an offhand way without any source to back it up, I consider disrespectful in the extreme. It also brings Wikipedia, as an objective authority, into disrepute with the general public.

In the politest way possible, I ask Skyring and Hairy Dude to have a really good look at their past reversions and justify them academically if possible. If not, revert the reversions.Gladiator-Citizen (talk) 03:34, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The WP:LEDE should be a summary of the whole article, which of course will be well referenced. So sticking something in the lede that isn't in the main body is wrong to begin with and giving it WP:UNDUE prominence.
Secondly, Hocking's book is sensationalist conspiracy theory. Read Paul Kelly's response. He knows this topic better than anyone and has some hard comments about Hocking's theories in the (sadly) less well known book he published after her clickbait thriller.
Basically there's nothing at all surprising in the Palace letters except that Kerr was a weak character seeking justification from HM for his sneaky actions and HM really wanted nothing at all to do with it. Hocking tries to portray Buckingham Palace as all up in the business, giving coded instructions on how to kick Whitlam out, and being the secret power bypassing democracy. Crap like that.
There is zero evidence for Hocking's theories. She puts forwards various documents and invites the reader to connect the dots. That is WP:SYNTHESIS and entirely inappropriate here. If Hocking could find someone to state what she claims, then she would identify and quote them and so would every other historian with an interest. Why not create an article - if there is not one already - with all the CIA nonsense and add in Hocking's book? That's where her stuff belongs, not in a serious arrticle where we try to present sourced factual information. --Pete (talk) 04:41, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is a bit of a stretch. Hocking is a prolific scholar about Whitlam and the dismissal with one opinion. Kelly is a prolific writer with an opposing ideological opinion of similar legitimacy. I can't speak to his early career work because I was young or not born, but his work in recent years is extraordinarily conservative. I personally find them both too partisan for my liking, but the suggestion that Kelly as the right-wing journalist is more authoritative than Hocking as the academic biographer is ideological nonsense. There's no need for a reference to that particular Hocking work in the lead as nothing specific is being referenced to it, but in the rest of the article we should just report the sources, and the disagreements between the sources, as ever. The Drover's Wife (talk) 07:26, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Kelly has interviewed virtually everyone involved in the episode. He was there at the heart of it while it unfolded. He has written multiple books on the personalities and the events. He is extraordinarly well-regarded. This is the first time I've ever heard him referred to as having a conservative leaning. He is quite sympathetic to Whitlam, regarding him as a victim, at least in Kerr's handling of him.
His book on the letters and Hocking debunks her views point by point. Hocking's theory that the Palace was an active player is simply not sustained by any facts; her take on the relationship between sovereign and governor-general has more to do with Disney than constitutional reality. The Queen is unable to issue orders to the Governor-General on anything significant and certainly not in this case. She is pushing sensationalist barrow to lift her profile - and book sales - and we should not be part of this. --Pete (talk) 07:47, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is the first time you've ever heard that the former editor of The Australian who kicked off its push to the right, who's continually obsessed with the separation of church and state being a bad thing, likes to go on about the gay agenda being promoted in schools, who is opposed to most LGBT and racial discrimination laws, calls euthanasia "state-sanctioned killing" and hates events that celebrate minorities in general, among many eccentricities, is "conservative"? Pull the other one. Your take on Hocking is similarly blinkered, and you're misrepresenting her views in order to dismiss them. We don't ignore major, widely-cited contributions to a topic because you think we shouldn't be part of citing people you disagree with, nor do we prioritise partisan viewpoints because you do agree with them. We just cite the sources and explain the controversy. The Drover's Wife (talk) 08:48, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree. We cite all reliable sources.--Jack Upland (talk) 08:56, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Clarify @Jack Upland:, @Gladiator-Citizen: & @The Drover's Wife: please. Has material been removed, because the Australian monarch was mentioned? GoodDay (talk) 14:09, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Absolutely right User:The Drover's Wife. The comments denigrating an esteemed scholar's award-winning work are disgraceful and bring this page into disrepute. It should now be noted as having questions over its neutrality. 2001:8003:3758:8700:E5FF:4323:AFEF:2345 (talk) 07:55, 16 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm hoping it's not because the scholar mentioned Elizabeth II & Buckingham Palace, in her writings on this event. GoodDay (talk) 00:16, 17 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi User:Gladiator-Citizen, please see MOS:LEADCITE. Citations should typically be avoided in the lede as it's primarily a summary of information that is already in the article (and should thus already be sourced with an inline citation). ITBF (talk) 05:33, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have no idea why Gladiator-Citizen is trying to get me involved. I've made a grand total of two edits to this article: adding a link and conforming it to MOS, nothing content-related. I don't know the authors involved in this dispute and have no opinion as to their reliability as sources. I will say one thing in response to the above, though: WP:SYNTHESIS is a guideline about Wikipedia content, a consequence of the core policy against original research in Wikipedia's original content. It does not apply to Wikipedia's sources, which are allowed to (and in fact generally should) be original research and make syntheses that would be improper for Wikipedia. It is wholly misconceived to condemn a source on the grounds that it would breach WP:SYNTHESIS if it were Wikipedia content. Hairy Dude (talk) 13:24, 14 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Musical comedy[edit]

It seems like the musical comedy was never performed. How should be handle this?--Jack Upland (talk) 04:37, 24 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm still waiting for some response, in an earlier discussion on this talkpage. GoodDay (talk) 04:39, 24 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I can't see that discussion. I'm inclined to delete the reference.Jack Upland (talk) 05:12, 24 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The above discussion (concerning the dismissal), where there's complaints about removal of info based on which author was more reliable - Hocking or Kelly. GoodDay (talk) 05:37, 24 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've removed it.--Jack Upland (talk) 08:37, 25 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

net/overall majority[edit]

G'day Graham87, don't political scientists say an "overall" majority (own side + speaker), leaving "net" to statisticians? Errantios (talk) 03:15, 24 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Errantios: I have no idea; I was just undoing edits by a banned editor. If you want to take over responsibility for the edit I undid, you can feel free to revert me. Graham87 03:36, 24 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Graham87: No problem: see the reason for my change. Errantios (talk) 21:44, 24 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

does the Constitution *actually* say this?[edit]

@Wehwalt it's an established belief, repeated in this very article, that the Constitution forbids the Senate amending money bills or the Budget.... but i can't see that in the actual Constitution. Doubtless it is another convention that has become so established that it is thought to be "fact". AUSPOLLIE (talk) 09:52, 19 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See section 53 of the constitution. ITBF (talk) 10:58, 19 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting, by message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments, with or without modifications

My point is that the Constitution does gives the Senate some leeway and this also seems to be why blocking outright is not forbidden. The intention seems to be that both the ability to suggest amendments/ommisions to money and Budget bills combined with the Senate's right to block those bills outright, gives the Senate quite a lot of intended power over the Budget. AUSPOLLIE (talk) 11:18, 19 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

All of s 53 needs to be read, including these earlier bits (my italics):
Powers of the Houses in respect of legislation.
53. Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
Errantios (talk) 19:25, 19 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]