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Sir John Kerr Drunk At The Melbourne Cup

In 1977, the Melbourne Cup, the so-called “race that stops a nation”, was stopped in its tracks by a drunken appearance from the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr.

Just two years since the dismissal of the Whitlam government on November 11, 1975, Kerr presented the Cup to the connections of Gold and Black. The horse was trained by Bart Cummings and ridden by John Duggan.

Kerr’s slurred speech is the gold standard vice-regal appearance for political aficionados.


During his presentation of the cup, Kerr was heckled and booed by the crowd. The memories of the dismissal were still raw. Lubrication encouraged a defiant response from the Governor-General.

Kerr was just weeks away from retirement. A few months later, the Fraser government appointed him to the position of Ambassador to UNESCO. After a public outcry over the appointment, Kerr’s sole decision as Ambassador was to arrive in Paris and tender his resignation.

  • Listen to Kerr’s 1977 Cup presentation (2m)
  • Watch Kerr (2m)

This picture shows Kerr with Bart Cummings and John Duggan:

Sir John Kerr at the 1977 Melbourne Cup

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