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Howard Defends Sir John Kerr

In a radio interview with John Laws today, Prime Minister John Howard has reiterated his support for the current system of constitutional monarchy and defended the role played by Sir John Kerr in the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam Government.

In defending role and actions of the Governor-General in the crisis brought about by the blocking of the Whitlam government’s budget in the Senate in October 1975, Howard said:

“And whatever may now be retrospectively said by both Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser about 1975 what the late Governor-General then did was to remit the matter to the Australian people. And within a few weeks the Australian people could decide whether or not they agreed or disagreed with Mr Whitlam or Mr Fraser.

Now, that is the essence of a democracy and it worked on that occasion. And, of course, the other irony about 1975 is that the republicans are supporting a model which they say would still allow the future Australian president to do what John Kerr did. So, I mean, I am lost as to quite what they are getting at.

I thought for some of the Labor republicans maintaining the rage was the only thing that mattered in life yet they are now purporting to carry forward into a new republican constitution the reserve powers of the Crown, it’s like having a monarchy without the monarch which is an interesting proposition within itself. But that’s for them to answer.

I thought what Sir John Kerr did in 1975 at least provided a democratic outcome. I mean, if you look back on 1975 the last person who, in my view, should be criticised is the late Governor-General. I think if people felt strongly about 1975 they should direct their criticism either against Mr Fraser or Mr Whitlam.”

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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