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The palace letters amount to an act of interference in Australian democracy – The Guardian

The letters, a small treasure chest of our history, show that Australia should now do away with subservience to a governor general and move on



In the curious way things sometimes play out in the breaking news cycle, much of the instant coverage after the release of the palace letters the gripping trove of correspondence between the Queen, her representatives and governor general John Kerr in the run-up to the dismissal of Gough Whitlam focused on Kerr not giving the Queens a heads-up before moving against the prime minister.
Thats certainly a fact. In one of the letters, the Queens private secretary Sir Martin Charteris thanks Kerr for being a good chap by keeping the monarch out of the muck. If I may say so with the greatest respect, I believe that in NOT informing The Queen what you intended to do before doing it, you acted not only with perfect constitutional propriety but also with admirable consideration for Her Majestys position, he says.
But amplifying this particular insight misses the larger truth of what this profoundly important cache of correspondence lays bare.
Its a statement of the obvious to acknowledge two things: 1975 was a different time, another era, another country even; and the capacity for Britain to influence the affairs of Australia is a yoke this country has willingly accepted, and will go on accepting until we have the imagination and the gumption to insist that our head of state be one of our own rather than a monarch in another hemisphere.
But it is incredible to read, with the hindsight of 40-plus years, with Australia having made the transition from forelock-tugging colonial outpost to respectable middle power, these minute deliberations, back and forth, between Yarralumla and the palace (an institution supposed to float airily above politics) about what should be done to resolve a political deadlock in another hemisphere created by a couple of bullheaded, egomaniacal politicians Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser.
It is truly bizarre, in an era of great power competition, when countries are correctly worried about incursions on their sovereignty, to be reading a collection of letters laying out what reads in a contemporary times like an act of interference in Australian democracy. It is extraordinary that a tiny unelected outpost of Britain in Australia should be deciding the fate of a democratically elected prime minister in between comparing notes about the desirability of unofficial trips to Paris and Norfolk.
But thats the story of the letters.
These letters make it very clear that Kerr kept the palace very much in the loop about his thinking. Australias governor general was clearly a nervous, exhaustive, effusive, backside-covering correspondent. It doesnt matter whether he gave the Queen an explicit five-second warning that he was about to Base jump and sack a prime minister. Kerr was transparent in his deliberations over a long period of time, and was given comfort at various times by Charteris.
I felt righteous anger reading this. I felt the affront to my democracy
Charteris obviously counselled all the proper things. Quoting Kerr to himself, the Queens man said the crisis had to be worked out in Australia. The Queen had no wish to intervene. He noted that Fraser had a clear political motive in pushing the crisis to the brink he wanted to bring about an election he was likely to win.
Charteris urged caution, noting he was sure

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