Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 November 2005) . . Page.. 4167 ..
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak) adjourned to the next sitting.
Motion (by Mr Corbell) proposed:
That the Assembly do now adjourn.
Dismissal of Whitlam government
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (5.48): Mr Speaker, in the frenzy of celebrating the 30th anniversary of the dissolution of parliament and the calling of a general election in November 1975, the Labor Party and, quite regrettably, many in the media have attempted to rewrite history. I have spoken before about these history revisionists and I thought it appropriate to ensure the facts were on the record on this occasion.
Unfortunately for his enthusiastic followers, Mr Whitlam will go down in history for what he is: not as the grand old man of Labor, but as the vain and failed leader of a dysfunctional and incompetent government. He will be remembered as a dissembler, unable to rise above his grudge against the then Governor-General, a Governor-General who did precisely what his oath of office and the Australian constitution required of him.
A fact that Labor cannot dispute is that the federal nature of our constitution provides that the Senate undoubtedly has constitutional power to refuse or defer supply to the government. Whether you like it or not, the Senate was correctly exercising its constitutional power in delaying the passage of the supply bills. Mr Whitlam himself knew that, for he had attempted on many occasions to use that power to block the passage of budget bills, notably in 1967 against the Holt government and again in 1970 against the Gorton government.
Mr Whitlam also accepted and advocated that a Prime Minister who cannot secure supply must resolve the matter either by resigning or by advising a general election. In attempting to block the Gorton government’s budget and force an election, Mr Whitlam said:
We all know that in British Parliaments the tradition is that if a money bill is defeated … the government goes to the people to seek their endorsement of its policies.
I was quoting from Hansard of 1 October 1970. If the Prime Minister refuses to do so, the Governor-General has the authority and indeed the duty under the constitution to withdraw the commission of the Prime Minister. Therefore, Mr Whitlam was and still is totally wrong to say that he was dismissed unconstitutionally.