The dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam

On 11 November 1975, Governor-General Sir John Kerr terminated Gough Whitlam's appointment as Prime Minister of Australia. 

At 1.00pm on 11 November 1975, Governor-General Sir John Kerr handed a letter to Gough Whitlam terminating his appointment as Prime Minister of Australia.

Kerr also terminated the appointment of Whitlam’s ministers—and, effectively, of his government. The letter identified section 64 of the Australian Constitution as the authority for this action.

Curriculum areas

  • Year 7 Civics and Citizenship
  • Year 9 Civics and Citizenship

Questions

  • How and why did an elected government—with a majority in the House of Representatives—come to be dismissed?
  • Who were the key people involved? What were their roles?
  • What were the consequences of the dismissal for the key people involved and for the nation?

Records