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The Dismissal

There is no more dramatic event in our political history than the dismissal. This book is the definitive story, filled with fresh documents, revelations and new interviews that change our understanding of this event. It is also a brilliant forensic analysis of the ruthless, proud and stubborn main players - Malcolm Fraser, Gough Whitlam and Sir John Kerr.

As keys to our understanding, Kelly and Bramston examine four central aspects of the dismissal- the real attitude of Buckingham Palace towards Kerr; whether Kerr tipped Fraser off about his plan; Kerr's deception of Whitlam; and Kerr's dealings with former High Court judges Sir Garfield Barwick and Sir Anthony Mason. In the gripping story that follows, the ambitions and flaws of Whitlam, Fraser and Kerr are laid bare as never before.

Drawing on a range of new sources, some of which have never before been made public - including hundreds of pages from Kerr's archives - this remarkable account is dispassionate in its analysis, vivid in its narrative and brutal in its conclusions.

It exposes the true motivations, the extent of the deceit and the scale of the collusion.

'It was a premeditated and an elaborate deception.' Paul Keating

Booklovers earn $1.95 in rewards when purchasing this title

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Title: The Dismissal
  • Author: Paul Kelly, Paul Kelly
  • Edition: 1
  • Publisher: Penguin Australia Pty Ltd
  • ISBN: 9780670079209
  • Length: 3.7 centimetre
  • Width: 16.0 centimetre

RATINGS & REVIEW

8/06/2017 8:44:29 AM - Edward
Interesting but not as well written as Kelly's earlier books
This book deserves its success because it is fairly well organized and also has a number of interesting new materials, such as correspondence between Whitlam and UK Prime Minister Wilson, and more evidence on Buckingham Palace's perspective on the Dismissal and on the heads-up given to Malcolm Fraser concerning the Dismissal. The authors also dip into John Kerr's files but I was very disappointed with the authors' coverage of them which is limited to vague snippets: we are told Barwick told Kerr that Whitlam's book The Truth of the Matter was very inaccurate, but we are not told why; we are told about an unpublished book by Kerr written in the early 1980s but are given little insight into it, perhaps because of rights issues concerning the Kerr manuscript. As the above paragraph suggests, I would have liked to see a better accounting of what the principals said (in books, speeches, and interviews) about the Dismissal that has been shown by examination of the fuller record not to be true. My main complaint is about the writing. The book has a clunkiness and sloppiness in its drafting that did not characterize Paul Kelly's prior books on the Whitlam era. It appears that, in the hurry to get the book out and not be scooped on the material in their book, the authors kept a tight rein on circulation of their draft, with the result that the repetition and poor writing in that draft made it into print. We know from Troy Bramston's book on Paul Keating that Bramston is a pretty good researcher but a poor writer, as was evident in Bramston's use of the word "diffuse" as though it means "defuse." Paul Kelly has evidently taken Troy Bramston under his wing but, instead of making sure that Bramston's writing style was up to the standard of print journalists of earlier eras, he has produced joint work with Bramston that alternates between good and bad writing; between producing a monograph for the ages and putting out a quickie, stylistically poor piece of work. I would also question whether their attributions in the footnotes are 100% accurate. A Fraser quote on page 185 is attributed to a May 1995 interview with Paul Kelly, but the quote seems drawn partly from page 290 of Philip Ayres' book Malcolm Fraser. Specifically, the words "if there wasn't an election, the Opposition would need to explain itself" are in both books. One other point: the authors state, "Fraser never made any public statement accepting any political responsibility for the dismissal." (p. 224) This is blatant hyperbole. Fraser defended the dismissal publicly many times both as Prime Minister and subsequently, and he fought the 1975 election in a situation in which his defeat would have signified public disapproval of the Dismissal. So to say he didn't take "any political responsibility for the dismissal" is silly. Here is one counterexample: in the House of Representatives (February 28, 1978), Fraser said: "We need to remember... the authentic voice of the people of Australia when they had the opportunity to vote at the [1975] election. Who then was vindicated? Sir John Kerr and the decision he took were vindicated as being proper and right and as being for the protection of the people of Australia." Furthermore, on another occasion Fraser cast the 1975 election as a referendum on his own decision to block supply (see his remarks at the Constitutional Convention 1976). The two perspectives he gave on the 1975 election can be reconciled by his July 14, 1977 statement in which Fraser said that "it must be accepted that in the constitutional circumstances then existing Sir John acted in the only way that the high duties of his office allowed him to act. " So: Fraser expressed the view that Kerr had no choice to dismiss Whitlam in light of the circumstances of 1975, which had been initiated by a Fraser decision (to block supply); and Fraser viewed the 1975 election as amounting to a popular vote on the merits of the latter decision, combined with the Governor-General's response to the resulting impasse. Fraser's public defense of Kerr and his tracing of Kerr's action to his own decision, along with the fact that Fraser stood at an election that he acknowledged was a referendum on the Dismissal, imply that Fraser *did* take some political responsibility for the Dismissal.
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