AUSTRALIA: The Governor General's Coup d'Etat

In days when monarch ruled as well as reigned, sacking a Prime Minister was a well-exercised royal prerogative. Things are supposed to be different nowadays—at least within the British Commonwealth—but it did not seem so in Australia last week. There the personal representative of Queen Elizabeth II, Governor General Sir John Kerr, seemingly seized with the spirit of George III, fired Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, leader of the Labor Party, and installed Opposition Leader Malcolm Fraser as head of a caretaker government. Invoking constitutionally questionable powers never before exercised in Australia,...

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