40th Anniversary Of The 1974 Joint Sitting Of Parliament

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”.

Joint Sitting

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 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…]


Gough Whitlam At 98; John Faulkner On A Life Of Endurance, Longevity, Resilience And Extraordinary Contribution

Gough Whitlam celebrates his 98th birthday today.

Whitlam

Whitlam served as Labor Prime Minister from December 5, 1972 until his dismissal by the Governor-General on November 11, 1975. He was the nation’s 21st Prime Minister and is the longest-lived of all of them.

The ALP’s honorary historian and keeper of the party’s institutional memory, Senator John Faulkner, did not forget Whitlam’s birthday when he rose to speak in the Adjournment Debate last night. The speech followed a day of excitement in the Senate, although the drama seems pale by comparison for those of us who remember the Whitlam years.

Whitlam may be remembered now for the manner of his removal from office, but Faulkner makes clear that he is not defined by it. Faulkner said: “Tomorrow, 11 July, marks Gough’s 98th birthday, a time to celebrate his longevity, his resilience and his extraordinary contribution to this nation.”

  • Listen to Faulkner’s speech (9m – transcript below)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Watch Faulkner (9m)

Hansard transcript of Senator John Faulkner’s speech in the Adjournment Debate.

Gough

Senator FAULKNER (New South Wales) (18:36): A fortnight ago, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Rupert Murdoch had once directed his editors to ‘kill Whitlam’. Notwithstanding that, I am delighted to report that Edward Gough Whitlam is very much alive. Tomorrow, 11 July, marks Gough’s 98th birthday, a time to celebrate his longevity, his resilience and his extraordinary contribution to this nation. [Read more…]


Busting The Budget: Greens MP Condones Blocking Of Appropriation Bills By Senate

A NSW Greens MP, David Shoebridge, has advocated a parliamentary process that could see the Senate block the government’s Appropriation Bills, a tactic not employed since the constitutional crisis of 1975 that resulted in the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

ShoebridgeShoebridge today released a paper titled: “Busting The Budget – How to Stop the Abbott Budget”. The former barrister, who has been a member of the NSW Legislative Council since 2010, says the Senate could demand amendments to the Budget, as allowed under Section 53 of the Constitution.

Referring to Section 53, Shoebridge says: “In other words, the Senate can demand the Supply Bill be amended by refusing to pass it unless amendments are made. It can provide those amendments to the House of Representatives and force the Abbott government to either accept the amendments or see the budget voted down.”

Shoebridge says most functions of government would be able to continue, even if the Senate refused to pass the two Appropriation Bills. He says public servants are contracted to the Commonwealth and would receive the “necessary wages payments in due course”. He says: “The effect would be to delay the payment of public servants for the period of any impasse in the Senate.”

Shoebridge says the Senate can “choose the grounds on which to fight the budget” by refusing to agree to cuts to local government, social welfare, education, health and the environment. He says this will “force the Abbott government to either agree to these fair amendments or see its entire budget defeated with the consequential shut down of much of the government”.

What is Appropriation?

Governments cannot spend money without the approval of Parliament. Section 83 of the Constitution says that “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law”. [Read more…]


Brian Harradine, Long-Serving Independent Senator Expelled By ALP, Dies, 79

Brian Harradine, an influential independent senator from Tasmania, who was expelled by the ALP in 1975 following a long and bitter dispute in the aftermath of the 1950s Labor Split, has died at the age of 79.

Harradine was elected as an independent senator from Tasmania at the 1975 double dissolution election following the dismissal of the Whitlam Government. He was re-elected five times (1980, 1983, 1987, 1993 and 1999) and served for 30 years. He chose not to contest the 2004 election and left the Senate on June 30, 2005.

At various times, Harradine’s vote was a crucial balance of power factor in the Senate, especially between 1996 and 1999 when he was instrumental in supporting the Wik legislation and voting to privatise Telstra. He voted against the Howard government’s GST legislation in 1999.

A socially conservative Catholic, Harradine was an organiser with the Federated Clerks Union in the 1950s. He was Secretary of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council and a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions executive from 1964 until 1976. He founded the Tasmanian division of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association in 1967. [Read more…]


Paul Keating Turns 70

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating turns 70 today.

Keating was 25 when he entered the House of Representatives as the Labor member for Blaxland in October 1969. He was 47 when he became Australia’s 24th prime minister in December 1991. He remained PM until March 1996 when he was defeated by John Howard’s coalition.

Keating

Keating’s first ministerial appointment came in the dying days of the Whitlam government. Following the sacking of Minerals and Energy minister Rex Connor, Keating became Minister for Northern Australia on October 21, 1975, serving for three weeks until the government was dismissed by the Governor-General on November 11. He is the youngest of the eleven surviving ministers of the Whitlam governments. [Read more…]