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ACM Home arrow Reserve Powers of the Crown arrow Sir Anthony Mason and the dismissal

Sir Anthony Mason and the dismissal Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 27 August 2012

Sir Anthony Mason confirms he was the other judge who advised Sir John Kerr on the exercise of the reserve powers when then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam tried to govern without a grant of supply from Parliament ( The Sydney Morning Herald 27 August, 2012).  

Let us remember that this was a political and not a constitutional crisis, as so many in the commentariat would have it. This political crisis, brought on by the ambition and obstinacy of two politicians Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam, and Mr. Whitlam's determination to rule unconstitutionally, was resolved under the constitution by the Governor-General ensuring the people could decide the political issues democratically in  an election. This took place on 13 December, 1975.

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 Sir Anthony Mason, who later revealed he had long been a republican even while accepting two imperial honours, says he also advised that Mr Whitlam be warned before being dismissed. This was so that he could have the opportunity of going to the election as Prime Minister. 

On 11 November 1975, Mr. Whitlam attended on the Governor-General to advise a half Senate election. 

If the State Governors s had agreed, which seemed unlikely, the new senators would not have taken office until 1 July 1976.   

Sir John Kerr asked Mr. Whitlam whether he still refused to him to call an election for the house of Representatives. When Mr. Whitlam declined to  advise the Governor-General to do this, he withdrew Mr. Whitlam's commission.  

He then invited Mr. Fraser  to form a caretaker government on condition that he advised the Governor-General to dissolve both houses and call an election for 13 December.

 

 
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