How Much Did The Queen Know Before PM Gough Whitlam Was Axed?

This would've made an excellent arc on The Crown.

After years of waiting and peerless persistence from historian Jenny Hocking, the Palace Letters – i.e the correspondence between then-governor general Sir John Kerr and Queen Elizabeth II before, during, and after the controversal dismissal of then-PM Gough Whitlam in 1975 – are finally here and hoo boy are they spicy as hell.

The GOAT team dive right into the Palace Letters and this whole Gough Whitlam/John Kerr/Queen Elizabeth II dismissal scandal on ‘It’s Been A Big Day For…’ below:

The Palace letters are a big effing deal and are more than just 1,200 pages of correspondence John Kerr and Queen Elizabeth II gossiping about Gough Whitlam prior to his dismissal some 45 years ago. Not only was Whitlam’s dismissal a big moment in Australian history, the letters help shed some light on the Queen’s involvement in what is arguably the biggest constitutional and political crisis of our country,

And what are the big takeaways from these Palace Letters that have been kept under lock and key for nearly five decades? There’s heaps to comb through but there are ultimately three huge revelations from these letters:

  • John Kerr dismissed Gough Whitlam and didn’t tell Queen Elizabeth II first.
  • John Kerr didn’t warn Gough Whitlam he was to be fired because he believed the then-PM was also trying to get him fired. Yes, it’s very backstabby in a high school sense.
  • Gough Whitlam called up Buckingham Palace as a regular citizen after his dismissal to ask Queen Elizabeth II for his job back.

So in short, Queen Elizabeth II definitely knew what was going on and certainly knew more than what she let on at the time.

Okay, so you’re probably wondering what the big deal is in regards to the Queen’s involvement in all this. The answer is, well, also a big effing deal.

Contrary to the popular belief, Australia isn’t a republic and the constitution states that we’re still under Queen’s thumb even though she doesn’t really interfere with the governing of our country. The ultimate power still rests with her and the governor general in terms of having a final say in governing matters, they just choose to let us take care of ourselves in favour of doing out own thing.

So to have Queen Elizabeth II and then-governor general John Kerr play such a major part in the dismissal of an Australian PM, regardless of whether it was Gough Whitlam or someone else, is a huge. Nothing like that has happened before or since.

Now since there are 1,200 pages in the Palace Letters – John Kerr was described by the National Archives director as a “chatty correspondent – it’s going to take some time to read them all, but boy is the tongue-burning tea worth it all.

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The VIC Govt Knew About Those Loose COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Guards

It just keeps getting worse for Victoria.

The state of VIC and the Victorian government is in a spot of bother following a second wave of COVID-19 cases stemming from the wild Melbourne hotel quarantine scandal that involved several levels of failure, including claims that the employed security guards for the quarantine program were ill-prepared, ill-equipped, and couldn’t keep it in their pants around those infected with the coronavirus.

But as horrendous as the Melbourne hotel quarantine is and how the state of VIC (and the rest of Australia’s East Coast) is now up shit creek because of it, apparently the Victorian government knew all about the lax security guards well before the second wave of COVID-19 cases began.

The GOAT team talk about life after COVID-19 lockdown on ‘It’s Been A Big Day For…’ below:

According to leaked emails obtained by The Age, senior Victorian government health officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) were warned about using inexperienced security guards for VIC’s hotel quarantine scheme in an email sent by a senior bureaucrat at the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions in late March, less than 24 hours after said scheme began.

The email read: “We request that Victoria Police is present 24/7 at each hotel starting from this evening. We ask that DHHS urgently make that request as the control agency.” 

There were also requests for additional face mask and gloves to be supplied as the amount of PPE available was far from adequate, as well as clarifications on policies concerning what the quarantined people can or can’t do.

The senior bureaucrat at the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions sent a second email on March 30 to the DHHS demanding police support following an incident when a quarantined traveller left their hotel room for a smoke, and indicated that the hired security guards were “not adequate.” In response, a top official from Emergency Management Victoria stated that police weren’t required as the guards could just dial 000 for an emergency.

Interesting that this is the response to those quarantined in a posh hotel given how the government had no hesitation in sending police to guard Melbourne’s public towers when those were in lockdown. Just saying.

The claims from these leaked emails backs up those previous allegations about the various failings of the Victorian government’s COVID-19 hotel quarantine scheme, which include claims that security guards hooking up with quarantined guests, no social distancing rules being followed, and a worrying lack of PPE.

Following the failure of the Melbourne hotel quarantine scheme, the Victorian government launched an inquiry into what exactly went wrong on July 2.

Given all that’s come out about this botched hotel quarantine scandal, one can’t help but feel like this is the Victorian government scrambling to fix a problem they knew about well ahead of time but did little-to-nothing to prevent the inevitable COVID-19 fustercluck that Australia is having to deal with (again).

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

Scott Morrison Is Going On Holidays But Swears He'll Be WFH

King of timing.

The PM’s somewhat sloppy handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been mitigated by the fact that Australia was doing pretty well in containing the disease despite all the self-made complications. Now that Victoria is experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases due to some seriously irresponsible quarantine practices, ol’ mate Scott Morrison has decided now’s the time to step up and *checks notes* take some holiday leave so he can vacation with his family to Sydney.

Speaking of Scott Morrison and COVID-19, the GOAT team talk about life after lockdown on ‘It’s Been A Big Day For…’ below:

During his COVID-19 update presser on July 10 (via ABC News), Scott Morrison casually shoehorned in a bit about how his family will be headed to the “outskirts of Sydney” for the school holidays, how he’ll only be taking “some time” off to be with them, and how it’s not a vacation since he’ll be WFH the entire time thanks to technology allowing him to “take briefings, calls and meetings in dealing with the situation whether it be Victoria or the other situations in the country.”

But don’t worry, folks, because Scotty From Marketing says just because he’s “not standing in front of a camera it does not mean I am not behind my desk or doing what I need to do on a daily basis,” and he’ll be back in Canberra in no time!

Is now the time for the leader of a country to be going on holiday while a second wave of COVID-19 cases is surging in one of its most populous states?

Perhaps not, but this habit of taking vacations while Australia is in the middle of a serious crisis isn’t new for Scott Morrison seeing as how he jetted off to Hawaii while we were fighting the bushfires at the start of 2020, only be dragged kicking and screaming back home after being called out.

Other than his family vacation WFH holiday plans, the other important things of note mentioned by Scott Morrison during his presser included how we must keep up with social distancing rules and face masks, international arrivals being halved, the Victoria hotel quarantine fiasco getting a national review, the hasty denial that the crappy COVIDSafe app was a failure, and a non-update on whether we can travel to New Zealand (we still can’t).

So all in all, a pretty standard Scotty From Marketing press conference. But let’s look on the bright side: at least Scott Morrison told us about his supposed WFH holiday and whereabouts he’s headed this time around.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

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