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Byron Shire
December 10, 2022

The Dismissal Dossier

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Everything you were never meant to know about November 1975

Jenny Hocking’s book sheds new light on the Gough Whitlam dismissal. Photo Janusz Molinski

In The Dismissal Dossier Professor Jenny Hocking exposes the definitive story of the most divisive episode in Australia’s history – the dismissal of Gough Whitlam’s Labor government. She brilliantly brings together a hidden history – a mixture of the unknown, the overlooked and the clandestine – to write a political thriller: the story you were never meant to know.

Previously in her award-winning biography of Gough Whitlam, Jenny Hocking revealed the astonishing story behind the dismissal – the secrets, the planning and the people. Never before released material from Sir John Kerr’s private papers revealed the secret role of High Court Justice Sir Anthony Mason and Kerr’s collusion with Malcolm Fraser.

Now, Hocking’s forensic investigations reveal explosive files in the UK National Archives that add a disturbing dimension to this untold story. Hocking reveals the Palace connection and unravels the web of intrigue behind the British Home Office’s link to Whitlam’s dismissal in the name of the Queen.

The Dismissal Dossier by Jenny Hocking.

Following these discoveries, Hocking instigated a legal challenge headed by the eldest son of Gough Whitlam, Antony Whitlam QC, to access the letters and telegrams between Sir John Kerr and the Queen, sent between August 1974 and December 1977.

In March this year the court ruled that the Palace letters are ‘personal’ and not Commonwealth records and are to remain closed until at least 2027, with their release even after that date subject to the approval of both the governor general’s official secretary and the Queen’s private secretary.

‘The decision to retain the Queen’s embargo over these letters as “personal” is the latest iteration in the highly contested and still evolving history of the dismissal, which has long been cloaked in secrecy, error and even outright deception,’ said Hocking. ‘The Kerr papers have given up some startling revelations, which have transformed our knowledge and understanding of the history of the dismissal of the Whitlam government.’

‘I had hoped that by securing the release of the Palace letters, all Australians could finally know the full story.’

At Byron Writers Festival Jenny Hocking will feature in conversation with Kerry O’Brien, who describes Hocking as a ‘dogged and resourceful history detective sleuthing her way past the impediments thrown in her path, to crack the secrets of Kerr’s and the Palace’s ­archives.’

Tickets at www.byronwritersfestival.com.

• See more news and articles on the 2018 Byron Writers Festival.

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The Festival is finally here! The small team at Byron Writers Festival works all year to create this renowned gathering, Australia’s largest regional literary festival that explores the myriad threads of our daily lives, our communities and the broader world.


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