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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 (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.

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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…]


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Addresses Australian Parliament

The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, has addressed the Australian Parliament in Canberra today.

Abe

Abe and Prime Minister Tony Abbott both spoke to a joint sitting of the two houses in the House of Representatives. Abe’s delivered his speech in English, which is being interpreted as a high compliment from the Japanese.

Abbott told the House: “Since 1957, Australian coal, iron ore and gas has powered Japan’s prosperity; and Japanese cars, consumer goods and electronics have transformed Australians’ lives. Australians are grateful for the Japanese trade and Japanese investment that has helped to build our modern prosperity. Above all, we appreciate the mutual respect and trust that has underpinned the commercial relationship. [Read more…]


The 1974 Joint Sitting Of Parliament

The 1974 joint sitting of the Commonwealth Parliament is so far the only one in the history of the federation.

When the Liberal-Country Party opposition threatened to block Supply in April 1974, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam called a double dissolution for May 18. He used five bills on electoral reform, Medibank (Medicare), and petroleum and minerals as the grounds.

Returned at the election, Whitlam immediately resubmitted the five bills that had been the basis of the double dissolution. They were passed by the House but again rejected by the Senate. On August 6, 1974 the parliament met in a joint sitting and the five bills were passed over two days. [Read more…]


Double Dissolutions, Joint Sittings And Reserve Powers

This is a paper produced by the Parliamentary Education Office.

It provides an excellent overview of double dissolutions, joint sittings and the reserve powers of the Governor-General. [Read more…]


Sir William Deane’s Speech On the Centenary of the Australian Parliament

The Governor-General, Sir William Deane, presided at the opening of the Commemorative Meeting of the Commonwealth Parliament.

DeaneThe joint sitting of the Parliament took place in Melbourne’s Exhibition Building.

The Centenary of Federation joint sitting took place one hundred years to the day since the First Commonwealth Parliament met in 1901.

The First Parliament met in Melbourne’s Parliament House until it moved to Canberra in 1927.

During that time – 1901-1927 – the Victorian Parliament met in the Exhibition Building.
[Read more…]