We have received two letters on the dismissal, which in the public interest should be well known. The first is from Sir David Smith, whose book, Head of State, is the definitive book on the role of the Governor-General, including the dismissal of the Whitlam Government. Sir David raises one aspect of the political crisis ignored not only by most of the media, but, extraordinarily, by Malcolm Fraser. Sir David writes:
What is also missing from accounts of the Dismissal is the fact that Labor made 170 attempts after 1950 to try and defeat government money bills in the Senate for the sole purpose of forcing the governments of the day to early elections. Whitlam himself made the last two attempts against the Holt and Gorton governments respectively, and he and Senator Murphy spoke eloquently in the Parliament in defence of this strategy, as I
have recounted in "Head of State". Murphy said he was proud of
Labor’s tradition in this matter.
The real tragedy is that the Fraser government was totally unaware of these precedents, and thus severely handicapped in defending itself. I first spoke about this matter at an ANU Law School seminar in the Senate Chamber of Old Parliament House in 1995, held to mark the twentieth anniversary. Fraser was also a member of the seminar panel, and when I had finished speaking he turned
to me and said, David, I never knew that. May I have a copy of your paper?
John Brett, who plays such a significant role in the advancement of civics education in Toowoomba, raises important issues especially about the role of Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen. Mr. Brett writes:-
“ Dear David,
Your excellent item yesterday, "The Dismissal
Again", in the light of Dennis Shanahan’s revelations raises the question once again, "why don’t journalists talk to the people who were there? There is hardly any necessity to doubt Santamaria’s attempt to influence the Prime Minister, that is proper and legitimate for community leaders. How else do the politicians know what we want or don’t want, now that our "representatives" are doing something else? It would be interesting to learn what Dennis Shanahan thinks about a foreign politician flying into our country to seek some favour from our present Prime Minister, at the same time dislocating the traffic of a whole city at
great cost to his hosts. No, they have to divert our attention from the real significance of that dismissal, just in case a Governor General has to send another player off the field for breaking the rules, which seems to be becoming a habit. The mischief afoot here can easily be disposed of by referring to the records as set out by those involved in the "dismissal", where we find no conflict in
the records. The first evidence that needs to be called is Sir
David Smith’s, the man at the legal centre of the whole affair and the witness to all that was said of importance. Nobody is discrediting his extensive evidence, least of all calling him a liar. He stands unchallenged, but completely ignored. Any genuine reporter ignoring Sir David’s evidence is obviously not
genuine. So what is he up to? Then there is Sir John Kerr’s account of the dismissal, together with all that
led him to that correct decision. In his book, "Matters Of Judgement", he has quite a lot to say about Bob Santamaria. (Pages 144-157.) Seeing Sir John was
the central figure of the whole affair, his previous experiences with Santamaria might surprise Dennis. Or is Dennis ignoring Sir John as well as Sir David? But the most forgotten about incident in the whole affair concerns the role played by Sir Joh Bjelke Peterson. Sir Joh arrived in Melbourne late to attend the Liberal-Country party coalition meeting to discuss the withholding of supply.
On arrival the chairman Malcolm Fraser, told Sir Joh, "They had
decided to allow supply to pass in the Senate and Tony Eggleton was in the next room drafting a statement for the media". (Page 136 "Don’t you worry about That", Joh’s Memoirs.)
Sir Joh’s response was immediate, "You people must be bonkers…..".
He warned them that if Whitlam stayed we would get his republic, about which Whitlam said, "Whether you like it or don’t, I’m still going to be the first president of the republic of Australia, and what’s more you can call me Mr President any time you like, because that’s exactly what I’m going to be". (Page
I think people like Dennis Shanahan, should be asked, "Why do they ignore the massive amount of material written by those who were there"?
Furthermore, if these participants are wrong why are they not challenged or exposed by our media intelligentsia? There has to be another agenda somewhere.
But we should be ever thankful for these Knights of our realm, who did their duty so honestly and conscientiously and left us their account of this pivotal point in our history. Two have now departed in Honour, but to Sir David Smith we can still extend our thanks for his continual fidelity in this affair. Our thanks Sir David, and well done. Keep at them David (Flint).
With best wishes, etc”