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Was the Governor General right to argue that he had the constitutional authority to dismiss the Whitlam Government or was Whitlam correct in arguing that the principle of responsible government should prevail On the 11th November 1975 the Australian Governor General Sir John Kerr dismissed the federal Government of Gough Whitlam and commissioned Opposition Leader Malcolm Fraser as Prime Minister The dismissal and the events leading to it clearly demonstrated the friction between constitutional authority and responsible government In a spiral of events responsible government and the overall concept of democracy was blatantly ignored and technicalities within the constitution abused leading to the dismissal of a democratically elected Prime Minister While the Governor Generals decision was constitutionally allowed it was certainly not the responsible or democratic action that should have been taken Despite their victory in the double-dissolution election of 1974 the Labor Party found themselves once again without a majority in the Senate deadlocked with the LiberalNational coalition at 29 seats each with 2 going to the independents1 They received a further blow with the death of one Labor Senator and the resignation of an other In this particular situation according to the Constitution under Section 15 such vacancies were to be filled by the state from which the former senator came from by a nomination from a joint sitting in the House of Parliament However in the principal of responsible government and democracy unwritten convention had developed that the casual vacancy should be filled by a member of the same political party in this way maintaining the representation of the previous election Both the New South Wales and Queensland governments broke with this convention and the two vacancies were not filled by the Labor Partys nominees Even at this early point the tension between written and unwritten constitution was starting to take effect As a result of the actions of the State governments Whitlam faced a Senate where the Opposition could block
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