Roll out the Red Carpet – Palace Letters to be opened on Bastille Day

The Green Light

The National Archives has announced that the Palace Letters will be made available on 14 July 2020.  These are the letters between the former Governor-General Sir John Kerr and Buckingham Palace in the period before the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

Significantly, they will be released without exemption.

High Court Action

The decision follows a determined and lengthy legal battle by historian, Professor Jenny Hocking, a Whitlam biographer, to gain access to the documents.  Her attempts included a successful appeal to the  High Court of Australia.  That case concerned the argument that the personal letters were “Commonwealth records” and could therefore be subject to a valid request for access under the Archives Act 1983 (Cth).   Previously,  I provided a summary of the High Court decision which was published in the July edition of LSJ.

The Contents

There are six files which include more than 1000 pages and 212 letters, many with attachments such as newspaper clippings, reports, and copies of letters related to meetings and events attended by Sir John Kerr during his tenure as Governor-General.


It is likely that some of the material could shed new light of the role of the royal family in former prime minister Gough Whitlam’s sacking in 1975.


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