Today is the 40th anniversary of the Joint Sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate, held during the term of the Whitlam Labor government.
The Joint Sitting, the first and only ever held, took place over two days, August 6 and 7, 1974.
Gough Whitlam described the sitting as “a last resort to enable the democratic will of the Australian people to prevail over blind obstruction”.
The proceedings took place in what is now Old Parliament House. They were chaired by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Jim Cope. The Liberal Opposition Leader (and future Speaker) was Bill Snedden. The Governor-General was the just-appointed Sir John Kerr.
The only member of either house who attended the Joint Sitting and is still serving is Philip Ruddock. Now the member for Berowra, in 1974 he was the 31-year-old Liberal member for Parramatta and still in his first year as a member of the House.
The Six Bills
Six bills were submitted to the Joint Sitting, all of which had been first passed by the House of Representatives in 1973, following the election of the Whitlam government. [Read more…]