The Whitlam Government – 50 years on, with Professor Jenny Hocking

December 16, 2022

Past Events

Jenny Hocking

To mark the 50th anniversary of the election of the Whitlam Government, Per Capita was joined by Emeritus Professor Jenny Hocking, award-winning biographer and political commentator. From party reform and policy renewal, to forming the first Labor government in 23 years, Professor Hocking shared her insights into the renovation of the party platform, the “It’s Time” campaign and the 1972 election.

Professor Jenny Hocking is an award-winning author, Emeritus Professor at Monash University, Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and inaugural Distinguished Whitlam Fellow at the Whitlam Institute, Western Sydney University. She is the author of numerous books including the acclaimed two-volume biography of Gough Whitlam, short-listed for several major literary awards including the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, The Age Book of the Year and the National Biography Award, and winner of the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ Barbara Ramsden Award.

In 2016, Jenny commenced legal action against the National Archives of Australia seeking public access to the secret ‘Palace letters’ between the Queen and the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, relating to Kerr’s 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam government. In May 2020, in a 6:1 decision, the High Court found in Jenny’s favour, ending the Queen’s indefinite embargo over the letters, and paving the way for their release.

Professor Hocking’s latest book The Palace Letters: The Queen, the governor-general, and the plot to dismiss Gough Whitlam tells the story of this remarkable archival research journey and legal battle to secure the release of the Palace letters, and their impact on the history of the dismissal of the Whitlam government. It was published in November 2020 with a foreword by the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull and has been described as ‘a political thriller’, an ‘absorbing courtroom drama’, and ‘vital Australian history’. The Palace Letters was awarded a Special Commendation in the 2020 Henry Mayer Award for best book on Australian politics, and a Commendation in the Mander Jones Awards.

Professor Hocking spoke at Per Capita’s monthly John Cain Luncheon on 14 December, 2022.

Watch the recording below: