High Court decides ‘Palace letters’ to be released

Jenny Hocking has won her High Court bid to gain access to letters exchanged between the Queen and then governor-general John Kerr at the time of Gough Whitlam’s dismissal.

Hocking has been fighting for access to the documents since 2016, and is writing a book, The Palace Letters, to be published in November this year.

The National Archives of Australia had refused to release the letters until now, claiming they were private papers.

Beyond the implications for the letters themselves ‘Professor Hocking has also achieved an outcome with potentially wide-ranging implications that should put all Commonwealth officials on notice about their responsibility to be transparent about Australian political and democratic history.’ writes Isabelle Reinecke in The Sydney Morning Herald.

The publication of The Palace Letters is important to Scribe publisher Henry Rosenbloom: ‘I was working for the Whitlam government when it was dismissed by Kerr on 11 November 1975,’ said Rosenbloom. ‘The dismissal was a searing experience for me — but, more importantly, the controversy and the mystery about the events of those days still resonates, and still needs to be resolved, if possible.

‘Jenny Hocking has done more than any other individual to uncover the secret history of the dismissal, and her account will carry immense authority and credibility. I’ll be editing her manuscript, and we’re all looking forward very much to publishing it.’

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