Professor Jenny Hocking has a vitally important and deeply interesting speciality focus in her work: the real story behind the Governor General’s dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam on 11 November 1975. Yes, it is the subject already of seemingly hundreds of books, documentaries and think-pieces already, but through her tireless research and thanks to newly revealed information, Hocking’s discoveries and new analysis tells us what the subtitle of this book promises: “Everything you were never meant to know about November 1975”.
It’s a slim little book, really feeling like a dossier in your hands, and wastes no time getting to the point. By not attempting to retell the story that has already been told a thousand times, Hocking focuses instead on six specific events and individuals, using them to reveal different elements and perspectives which sometimes shockingly change the whole story. These include: what the palace knew, how High Court Justices were involved, and the ambush around the half-Senate election.
Incredibly, this is a very gripping read. The content is shocking, Hocking’s knowledge and passion is obvious, making it very compelling. It is an astonishing secret story of the planning, people and collusion behind the removal of Gough Whitlam. Hocking has brought together the unknown, the overlooked, and the clandestine to create a kind of non-fiction political thriller.
Hocking is working at a vital time, as she is able to continually revise and update the story as newly released material becomes available. In this edition, she has access to Sir John Kerr’s private papers, which reveal the continuing collusion between Opposition Leader Malcolm Fraser and Kerr after the dismissal, providing further evidence of Kerr’s reward for making Fraser Prime Minister. Hocking also examines the mystery of the Palace letters, and challenges why the Australian people are not allowed to see vital documents from such an incredible part of history.
Australia needs determined, talented researches like Jenny Hocking. With her continued work, she ensures Australians are told the real story of their history, so we can better understand its implications and how we collectively find a way forward. Hocking’s doggedness ensures we don’t just accept the story we are told, but are shown the truth about the machinations and agendas at play when our democratically-elected Prime Minister was fired by an appointed representative of our English Head of State.