Liberty Newsletter - August 2020

Liberty Newsletter - August 2020


The debate about what I did has been contributed to partly by lawyers but dominantly by academics who are not lawyers and who clearly do not understand anything at all about our constitution.” (Sir John Kerr letter to the Palace 17/11/1975)


Professor Jenny Hocking is an Emeritus Professor of History at Monash University. She has spent several years in taking the National Archives of Australia (NAA) to court to force them to release the communications between former Governor-General Sir John Kerr and Sir Martin Charteris, private secretary to the Queen. They had been deposited by Sir John Kerr as a matter of historical interest but there were later conditions imposed that they were not to be opened without the approval of the private secretary to the Queen and the secretary of the Governor-General. Professor Hocking’s litigation went right up to the High Court which decided that they were in the national interest. Accordingly, the NAA decided to release them.

In her statements to the media and indeed throughout this whole, costly exercise, Professor Hocking has clearly shown a lack of understanding of both the Australian Constitution as well as our system of governance under the Crown. She was hoping that the papers would reveal that the Queen had personally ordered the Governor-General to sack the Australian prime minister but the letters clearly showed that Sir John Kerr had neither informed the Queen, nor the Palace prior to the action he took to terminate the commission he had earlier given to Gough Whitlam to form a government. Our Australian Constitution plainly states that, under Section 64, the appointment and termination of a minister is solely within the power of the Governor-General. As we have often said in the past, upon appointment the Governor-General assumes the position of the monarch in Australia. He also assumes separate powers under the Constitution. Although he acts always as the representative of the Queen, he does so independently and without the need to reference the Queen.

The cost of Professor Hocking’s and her Australian Republican Movement, of which she is a council member, seeking to undermine our monarchy in this manner means that the taxpayer has to foot a bill of more than two million dollars for the court actions alone!


I was invited to attend the ‘event’ of the opening of the ‘Kerr Letters’ in Canberra on Tuesday 14 July 2020 and was able to do so through the kindness of a young person who drove me to Canberra and straight back. The Archives presented me with a copy of all the papers, comprising 211 letters plus over a thousand annexures. Fortunately, all on a USB stick.

It was truly fascinating to read the letters as it gives a direct insight into the mind of the Governor-General facing a tumultuous crisis brought on by a stubborn prime minister and a recalcitrant leader of the opposition, both of whom would not give way leaving the only option open to force an election to the people. Sir John Kerr knew that any action he took would polarise the nation and that he, and not Whitlam or Fraser, would bear the blame.

The letters were in no way formal reports to the Queen, but were sent to her private secretary who would then absorb and condense the information so that he could properly inform Her Majesty on what was happening in her realm of Australia. There was no sinister motive or indeed nothing untoward. In fact, the letters were a sort of cathartic release valve for the Governor-General as he had no one else he could speak to so frankly as he did in his letters.

Speaking frankly and without reservation is why such communications between Governors-Generals and the Palace are kept confidential. After the Queen is Queen of Australia and the Governor-General her representative. However, no longer can a Governor-General or a prime minister convey their innermost thoughts to the Queen or anybody else now that the High Court has determined that letters marked private are no longer private if it determines them to be in the public interest.

I have been questioned by journalists who cannot understand why such correspondence should be confidential. I have responded that such communications should not be open to the Twitterati as they are private exchanges about matters of state. It can be said to be similar to a discussion between a patient and a psychiatrist or psychologist. The letters which Sir John Kerr wrote were a sort of therapeutic release valve for a person who was placed in an invidious position of having to make a decision in the interests of the nation which he knew could well end up with him being reviled by the very people he was trying to save.

Used with the permission of the artist Johannes Leak



In 2001 I delivered a paper on 1975 and this is included in my earlier book ‘In Defence of Australia’s Constitutional Monarchy’ (ISBN: 07734-66967).

In writing the paper, I drew upon my personal knowledge of the participants, most of whom I had met, including Sir Martin Charteris, later Baron Charteris of Amisfield.

I have always supported the position that Sir John Kerr took and cannot understand why or how senior monarchists could ever have supported a person like Gough Whitlam who, it can be said, started the trend towards a republic. I know of one present-day monarchist leader who even went so far as to join the Labor Party because of the dismissal. Likewise, I have come across a number of long-term members of the Liberal Party who are republicans solely because of the dismissal. It is to be hoped that the release of these letters will show them that Australia’s system of constitutional monarchy worked, because, in the end, the whole matter was put to the people for them to decide. That is how our democracy under the Crown works. We now know that Sir John fully expected the people to return Whitlam to power and he was fully prepared to resign as Governor-General. As it is, the pressures on him became so much that he took to drink and died a broken man, forsaken by most, including the man he appointed caretaker prime minister, Malcolm Fraser. Let us hope that history records that Sir John Kerr was an Australian patriot.

Many members have asked for further information on 1975 - we shouldn’t forget that it was 45 years ago and generations have since grown up without much knowledge of what actually happened in this, the greatest political crisis in Australian history. The Paper can be accessed on this website at: Reminiscences




So, as you can see, since our last newsletter a lot has been happening. In the month leading up to the release of the Kerr Letters on 14 July 2020, republicans combined with the media were working on a major campaign to try to turn people against the Queen.

On Saturday 12 July, the Daily Telegraph had a huge spread about a poll conducted by YouGov headed ‘Vive La Republic!’  which showed apparent massive swings against the monarchy. However, the questions were warped because they seemed to question whether we should still be tied to the United Kingdom or whether we should have an Australian as head of state.

This totally ignored the fact that Australia became an independent nation in 1901 with a constitution drafted by Australians and freely given by Britain to Australia - a fact both republicans and the media ignore.which showed apparent massive swings against the monarchy. However, the questions were warped because they seemed to question whether we should still be tied to the United Kingdom or whether we should have an Australian as head of state.

The media played their part by airing a number of scandalous driven programmes on the Royal family.

The campaign probably passed most people by because it was totally and absolutely deflated, along with the republicans themselves, once the Kerr letters were released and their conspiracy theories obliterated.


Our hearts go out to all of our members and supporters resident in Victoria who are essentially isolated in their homes for six weeks or possibly more mainly due to incompetence on the part of the Victorian government. Our prayers and thoughts are also with all AML members and their families across Australia and, indeed around the world, who have caught the virus.

The presence of the virus moving around the community means that it is difficult for most of our volunteers to travel to our headquarters to work on mailouts such as this one. Accordingly, we have had to print and envelope in stages resulting in a delay. Postal deliveries can also take much longer than previously.

Some people question us on doing a mailout, but there are many more others who indicate how grateful they are that we bother. Besides, we are a member-based organisation, indeed, the largest monarchist such group in the country and it is our duty to maintain contact with our members and to keep them informed of monarchist events and of our own activities.


Obviously, any thought of major social activities has been put aside particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, but we are holding regular online webinars, now every three weeks. You can view past webinars on our website under

Our next webinar will be on Thursday 20 August at 7:30 PM with Beverley McArthur MP speaking on “The Socialist Republic of Victoria - the failure of the Victorian Government to manage the virus - why you wouldn’t want a republic in Australia!”

Mrs McArthur is a financial member of the Australian Monarchist League.


We now have a few products in our shop on our website, mainly badges & pens. We also have AML items such as T-shirts on our cafépress page ( Orders for products on our website are handled by our volunteers but orders via cafépress are dealt with direct by them and we receive a tiny commission. We have set up the availability of bulky and specialist products in this manner as we simply do not have the staff to handle any sort of volume.

A new item in our website shop is soon to be AML facemasks. These have been developed as a 2-layer fabric with an additional PM2.5 replaceable filter (totalling 7 layers) which far exceeds the government’s recommendation of 3ply cloth masks. The removable filter allows for a longer product life while washing and reusing the mask. Additional details will be provided online. We would expect the cost to be around $30 for 3 masks including postage and packing.


For some months I have been mentioning the need for an educational programme to teach all Australians on our constitutional system of governance and I am pleased to advise that The Australian Nationhood Foundation has now been incorporated and I am also pleased to advise that it has recently received charitable (but not deductible gift recipient) status. In this regard it was necessary that it be established as an entity separate from the Australian Monarchist League. It therefore has its own board of directors and its own office.

A new website has been created and this will soon be linked to training sessions on the Constitution and the role of the Queen and the Crown within our system of governance. The training sessions will be available to all Australians, mainly free of charge and for this purpose a board of advisory academics is being established. Of course, our progress is delayed by the current situation, however, we are slowly but surely moving ahead. The logo of the Foundation is alongside.

A number of leaflets on Magna Carta and the Crown have been distributed in the name of the Foundation and we will shortly be producing material in simple terms explaining our system of governance. All of our material will be available free of charge for distribution, although we do ask for a self-addressed envelope to cover postage.

All this, of course costs a fair amount of money and donations to the Foundation would be very much appreciated. Once the website has been launched, it will be easier for those who wish to donate online to do so.


On Saturday the 31st October 2020 Queensland will go to a state election. Whilst the Australian Monarchist League is not involved in party politics, we are engaged in what has regrettably become the political debate over constitutional change to a republic.

Whilst we have an increasing number of politicians who have become active members of the League, regrettably they are all from the conservative side of politics. Whilst there are Labor Party politicians its policy requires all their members to support a republic. As one Labor MP put it, “I would be dis-endorsed if I spoke up for the constitutional monarchy.” Senator Joe Bullock, a monarchist and life member of the League, was a Labor Senator but he resigned from the Senate and left the Labor Party. 

However, one of our most prominent monarchist politicians is Jarrod Bleijie MP, member for Kawana. Jarrod is a life member of the League and a current spokesperson. It was he who first re-introduced Queen’s Counsel which then spread to all States and federally, except in New South Wales. It was Jarrod who also, amongst many other monarchical changes, arranged for the new Brisbane Courts building to be named ‘the Queen Elizabeth Courts’.

Dr Christian Rowan MP, member for Moggill, is another Queensland MP who is a life member of the League.

We need these and other monarchists in parliament and it becomes virtually obligatory that we support them in their re-election campaigns. In doing so, we are not aligning ourselves to any one political party, but only to members of the League and in this case, life members. We need them in the Parliament and hopefully in the ministry.

We will be in touch with members and supporters to advise how you can assist. If you do wish to help please let us know at [email protected] 


With the Corona restrictions likely to continue for at least the rest of the year, we are mailing hard copies of our newsletter only to those without email. However, we have faced a problem with Bigpond and Optus emails as these servers reject emails from our server and however much we have tried there is little we can do about the matter. We have therefore included with this mailing financial members whose emails are being returned. However, it would be of assistance if you are receiving this mailing and have an email address other than Bigpond or Optus to advise us of it so we can ensure our newsletter gets through to you.


We live day to day in these uncertain times amidst a hidden enemy knowing not what the future holds. However, we have much to be grateful for that we live in a democracy where no one, not even the prime minister, is free to make a decision which affects the lives of so many without being held accountable either now or in future times. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote:

“Sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!”

Yours sincerely

Philip Benwell
National Chair











Showing 2 reactions

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  • Martin Hess
    commented 2020-08-15 11:40:02 +1000
    Thank you for a very informative newsletter esp re the Hocking debacle re the correspondence between Sir John Kerr and Her Majesty. I agree that this episode should be used to inform the Australian public about the stability of our system. Rather than being seen as a ‘dismissal’, the 1975 events should be seen as the Crown re-enforcing the public’s democratic right to have a say in how we are governed and by whom. The landslide repudiation of Whitlam is proof positive of this. I am very interested in the Australian Nationhood Foundation. Great initiative. Happy to assist where I can. Regards and thanks again. Dr Martin Hess. Royalla. NSW.
  • Philip Benwell
    published this page in Newsletters 2020-08-13 13:30:21 +1000