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The Australian War of Independence 1975-76

 

(Australian Alternative History Time Line 1975-76)

 

 By David Atwell, dmatwell@nobbys.net.au

 

 

1 January 1975

Gough Whitlam; Australian Labor Party (ALP), is Prime Minister of Australia.

 

Jim Cairns (ALP) is Deputy Prime Minister.

 

Billy Snedden; Liberal Party (LP), is Opposition leader.

 

Doug Anthony; Country Party (CP), is Deputy Opposition leader.

 

LP & CP in coalition.

 

R. E. X.  Connor (ALP) & Cairns both have authority to raise secret loans for the government.

 

 

7 January 1975

 Connorís loan authority revoked.

 

 

10 March 1975

Cairns approaches businessman George Harris about loans worth $2000 million.

 

 

14 March 1975

Andrew Peacock (LP) calls for LP leadership issue to be resolved.

 

 

21 March 1975

Malcolm Fraser (LP) overthrows Snedden as LP leader.

 

 

20 May 1975

Cairnsí loan authority revoked.

 

 

6 June 1975

Cabinet reshuffle. Cairns is replaced as Treasurer by Bill Hayden (ALP)

 

 

2 July 1975

Fraser reveals that Cairns has continued loan inquires & mislead Parliament. Cairns is dismissed from the Government.

 

 

12 July 1975

 Don Dunstan (ALP) narrowly wins the South Australian state election.

 

19 August 1975

 Hayden ALP Budget announced.

 

26 August 1975

Fraser replies to the ALP Budget.

 

9 September 1975

Queensland Premier Jo Bjelke-Petersen (CP) appoints Albert Field Queensland Senator to replace ALP Senator Milliner (died in office).

 

14 October 1975

It is revealed in Parliament that Connor continued to negotiate for loans & mislead Parliament. Connor resigns.

 

Fraser decides to block the Budget.

 

16 October 1975

Senate blocks the Budget with a majority of one - a combination of LP & CP numbers and Albert Field.

 

Whitlam govt stays in office.

 

1-10 November 1975

Negotiations take place between the ALP & LP/CP. No mutual settlement to the crisis can be found.

 

11 November 1975

The Governor-General John Kerr secretly phones the Chief Justice of the High Court for advice. Chief Justice Barwick (a former LP MP) suggests that Kerr has the power to dismiss the Whitlam govt & appoint Fraser as PM.

 

Kerr secretly phones Fraser for his advice which is to sack the Whitlam govt & call for new elections.

 

At 11am Kerr, in a simple letter, dismisses the Whitlam govt & calls for new elections. Fraser is made caretaker PM.

 

At 1pm, after discovering his govt has been dismissed by Kerr, Whitlam stands on the steps of Parliament & refuses to go. He announces "Well may we say God save the Queen, because nothing will save the Governor-General!" Whitlam & his fellow members return to the House & Senate.

 

The LP/CP boycotts Parliament. Fraser & Kerr, however, are stunned. Confusion reigns as to who is the legitimate government of Australia.

 

Protests break out across Australia both supporting & condemning Whitlam.

 

12 November 1975

Barwick declares that Whitlam is acting unconstitutionally & must obey Kerrís dismissal order.

 

Whitlam dismisses Barwick and cries treason.

 

Parliament declares unanimously (the LP/CP are not there) that Kerr has acted unconstitutionally & must resign.

 

Both Kerr & Barwick refuse & once more demand that Whitlam resign or be himself charged with treason.

 

Fraser opens the "Rump" Parliament at The Lodge (the PMís residence in Canberra). The Rump government is sworn in by Kerr & is ordered to remove Whitlam from the Parliament Building.

 

Manning Clark, Australia's most prominent historian, writes: "Have we become a nation of bastards?".

 

Protests continue throughout Australia. Arrests are made, but violence is minimal.

 

13 November 1975

Whitlam & the others refuse to leave the Parliament Building & have blockaded themselves in.

 

Fraser opens negotiations, but Whitlam decrees that Fraser can only surrender with no negotiated conditions or terms.

 

Protesters are calming down, while Australia starts to watch the drama unfold on national TV.

 

14 November 1975

The Queen of Great Britain refuses to become involved in the Australian Crisis. The UK Parliament declares it can do nothing as per the articles of the Westminster Act 1931.

 

The governments of India, Singapore, Malaysia & China all express outrage at Kerrís & Fraserís actions & withdraw their ambassadors in protest.

 

Fraser & Whitlam continue negotiations.

 

15-17 November 1975

Fraser & Whitlam continue negotiations.

 

Small protests continue across Australia.

 

18 November 1975

Kerr demands immediate action from Fraser to resolve the situation.

 

Fraser orders all power & phones to be cut to the Parliamentary Building. This proves to be pointless as the Building has its own generators & radio network. Word quickly leaks out about the latest action.

 

A crowd of onlookers/protesters starts to build around Parliament. TV & press personnel are everywhere covering the events.

 

19-20 November 1975

Fraser & Whitlam continue negotiations.

 

Small protests continue, but life starts to get back to normal for most.

 

21 November 1975

Negotiations break down as neither party is willing to budge.

 

22 November 1975

The crowd has gathered to several thousand people outside Parliament. Whitlam addresses the people who are mostly supporters. They cheer every word.

 

Opinion polls clearly show outrage against Kerr & Fraser in this matter. If an election was held today the ALP would win hands down.

 

Kerr is furious after watching Whitlam on TV exciting the crowd. Again he orders Fraser to do something.

 

23 November 1975

Fraser orders the Federal Police to surround the Parliamentary Building & remove the crowd now numbering some 10 000.

 

The Federal Police move slowly & cautiously. Although fights break out, no one is seriously hurt. About 100 people are arrested. All this is shown on live TV.

 

Protests again start up around Australia.

 

Bob Hawke, national leader of the Australian Union movement, declares a national strike for November 24 (next day).

 

24 November 1975

Most union members go on strike. This includes most of the Federal Police in Canberra. Other State police officers remain on duty. There are only two Federal Police officers surrounding the Parliamentary Building.

 

The crowds & media return to their previous locations where they were evicted from the previous day.

 

Kerr watches all this on TV and is furious. He orders Fraser to call out the army & surround the Parliamentary Building.

 

Large protest marches are in every city in Australia. Many sense a new beginning for Australia. There is some violence, but the protesters are mostly peaceful.

 

25 November 1975

Fraser defers calling out the army, albeit they have been on alert since November 11.

 

Fraser & Whitlam start negotiations again.

 

Protests across Australia continue, albeit not as large.

 

26 November 1975

Negotiations continue between Fraser & Whitlam, but yet again they get no where.

 

Letter bombs are sent to Jo Bjelke-Petersenís office in Brisbane. An office clerk is badly injured when one explodes while opening it. Bjelke-Petersen announces a state of emergency as a result.

 

27 November 1975

Most Australians stay home to watch the show in Canberra.

 

Kerr again orders Fraser to call out the army.

 

Fraser reluctantly complies & the army cautiously moves the crowd & media away from the Parliamentary Building area.

 

All remains quiet.

 

28 November 1975

Although the Canberra crowd protests the armyís presences, there is little they can do.

 

Whitlam orders the army to stand down. His orders are ignored.

 

Kerr threatens Whitlam that he will charge him with treason if he does not vacate Parliament.

 

Whitlam refuses Kerrís order. Parliament passes the John Kerr Treason Act & demands Kerr be arrested & brought before Parliament for trial.

 

No one arrests Kerr.

 

29 November 1975

Kerr charges Whitlam with Treason. He orders Fraser to arrest Whitlam & all the ALP MPs in Parliament as traitors.

 

Fraser defers the matter to his Attorney General who, with Barwick, issues the warrants.

 

Australia is stunned while witnessing these extraordinary events.

 

30 November 1975

Whitlam is ordered to surrender himself & the others to the army. They have 24 hours, otherwise the army will storm the Parliamentary Building.

 

Whitlam & the others refuse to surrender & once more orders the army to stand down. The army ignores Whitlamís orders.

 

Protests start again. Several hundred people are arrested in Queensland.

 

1 December 1975

Fraser defers the armyís actions for a further 24 hours trying to avoid any bloodshed. Kerr is furious at Fraser.

 

Fraser threatens Kerr with the sack if he does not restrain himself.

 

Australia remains quiet as the day goes by.

 

2 December 1975

The army once more demands Whitlam & company to leave the building. There is no reply.

 

At 2pm The army storms Parliament. Although several people are hurt, no one is killed. Whitlam, Hayden & Cairns cannot be found.

 

Australia riots. Battles start in every major city. The police struggle to keep control. Hundreds are injured, but no one is killed. Hundreds of protesters are arrested.

 

Manning Clark prophesies on evening TV, that "blood with flow in the streets".

 

3 December 1975

Fraser calls for calm. He is ignored.

 

Riots continue across Australia. The centre of Sydney catches on fire. Five protesters are killed in the blaze. The fire department manages to control the fire & finally puts it out.

 

Brisbane resembles a battle zone. No one, although hundreds are injured, is killed.

 

Dunstan appeals for calm in South Australia. Most protesters respond positively & protest peacefully. Those arrested earlier are released.

 

Although violent protests occur in Victoria, Western Australia & Tasmania, police manage to control the situation.

 

4 December 1975

Bjelke-Petersen declares marital law in all of Queensland. Public servants are made special constables. Many refuse & go on strike. Protests continue.

 

Across Australia protesters settle down.

 

There is no sign of Whitlam, Hayden or Cairns.

 

5 December 1975

Hayden is caught trying to get into Queensland (his home state). He is immediately arrested & charged with treason.

 

Although protests simmer across Australia, they are mostly non-violent.

 

6 December 1975

The Day the Earth Moved. A huge protest crowd moves on the Brisbane Courthouse where Hayden is held. Police are out in force but are greatly out numbered. It appears 50 000 protesters are in the crowd. The police charge with battens which infuriates the crowd. They turn into a riotous mob & charge through the police lines injuring most of the police. Five police later die due to the hand-to-hand combat. Buildings are set alight & Brisbane starts to burn. The police at the Courthouse are ordered by Bjelke-Petersen to open fire. 29 protesters are killed and at least 60 more wounded. The crowd scatters rampaging through the streets of Brisbane.

 

Australia is shocked into silence by the events in Brisbane, which are broadcast nationally via TV.

 

7 December 1975

Protests start throughout Australia demanding Bjelke-Petersen be arrested & charged for murder.

 

Cairns arrives in Brisbane & organises a march to the Premierís residence in Brisbane. As smoke fills the air in the background, 50 000 protesters march. They approach a line of public servant special constables who surrender their firearms & join the crowd. A desperate battle ensures at the Premierís residence wherein Cairns is shot & killed while trying to stop the violence. The crowd rushes forward, disarms or kills the police & captures Bjelke-Petersen. In full view & televised over national TV, Bjelke-Petersen is shot several times in the head.

 

Anarchy rules in Queensland. The army leaves its bases & heads for Brisbane.

 

8 December 1975

Australia is horrified by the events in Queensland.

 

Fraser declares Marital Law throughout the nation.

 

Dunstan argues that Fraserís Marital Law declaration is unconstitutional & threatens to secede his state from the Commonwealth. Fraser orders South Australiaís Governor, Mark Oliphant, to dismiss Dunstan.

 

Riots continue in Brisbane as the rest of Australia gets ready for civil war.

 

9 December 1975

South Australia secedes from the Commonwealth.

 

Kerr now orders Oliphant to dismiss Dunstan. Oliphant refuses & points out that Kerr & the Australian government no longer has any legal jurisdiction in South Australia.

 

Fraser orders the army to move on Adelaide & remove Dunstan & Oliphant.

 

Dunstan has pre-empted Fraserís actions & ordered the SA state police to prevent the army leaving its barracks. Fortunately the police outnumber the army five to one. The army remains in its barracks.

 

Western Australia just watches the events in the East in horror.

 

10 December 1975

The army tries to enter Brisbane. Street battles commence & combat ensures. Hundreds become casualties on both sides.

 

Fraser & Kerr become nervous as events have gotten out of hand. The majority of Australians demand the blood of both.

 

Whitlam remains hidden but releases a media statement demanding that Fraser & Kerr resign & that the ALP be reinstated as the legitimate government.

 

11 December 1975

The street battles continue in Brisbane. Tanks are brought into the frey. Hundreds more become casualties.

 

The UN, UK & USA all protest the situation in Australia.

 

Protest marches again start throughout New South Wales & Victoria. Canberra is under tight military control.

 

12 December 1975

The army eventually makes its way into central Brisbane. Brisbane is a total war zone. Fighting continues. More casualties occur.

 

News gets out that some prisoners have been executed by the army. Its rumoured that one of these is Hayden.

 

13 December 1975

On the day the peaceful federal election was supposed to occur all hell breaks loose. Brisbane is overwhelmed with people of all ages & sex. The small army contingent is forced to surrender rather than fire on women & children.

 

The working class cities of Newcastle & Wollongong in NSW revolt & declare independence. The LP Premier of NSW, Lewis, orders the police to restore order. Most police call in sick. The others refuse to leave the police stations. The crowd though keeps control & no rioting occurs.

 

14 December 1975

A stand off occurs as Lewis considers what to do next.

 

Kerr demands that Lewis crush the rebellion & restore order.

 

Whitlam arrives in Newcastle to a heroís welcome. He proclaims the Federal Republic of Australia. The Newcastle & Wollongong leaders announce their allegiance.

 

Lewis begins negotiations with the rebels. Whitlam requests that Lewis join the new Republic.

 

15 December 1975

Kerr & Fraser are horrified by the Whitlam declaration. They order Lewis to arrest Whitlam. Lewis defers.

 

Lewis rejects Whitlamís requests and demands that he surrender himself to the police. Whitlam refuses.

 

Dunstan, upon hearing Whitlamís declaration of a Republic, announces that South Australia is now a member of the Republic.

 

16 December 1975

The Queensland ALP &, ironically, LP form a coalition government in Brisbane. Marital Law is immediately lifted & rioting stops. The clean up begins.

 

Lewis calls on the army to reinstate law in Newcastle & Wollongong. The army cautiously leaves their barracks.

 

Some army personnel phone the rebels telling them of the armyís movements. The rebels arm themselves with what they can & set up barricades.

 

17 December 1975

The Northern Territory announces that it will join the Republic. The local army commander swears his allegiance to the Republic.

 

The army moves towards Newcastle & Wollongong where a stand off takes place.

 

Lewis again opens negotiations with Whitlam.

 

18 December 1975

The working class cities in Victoria of Geelong, Ballarat, & Bendigo rebel & declare allegiance to the Republic. The Victorian government does nothing.

 

The Eureka Flag is once more raised in Ballarat.

 

Negotiations continue between Lewis & Whitlam.

 

Kerr demands Lewis to send in the army. Lewis says no, he wishes to negotiate.

 

19 December 1975

The ALP/LP Queensland government announces that it will join the Republic.

 

Kerr is furious. He orders the army in Townsville to send troops to Brisbane & restore order. The Townsville army base refuses to answer any calls.

 

Negotiations continue between Whitlam & Lewis, but to an avail.

 

20 December 1975

Kerr orders the army into Newcastle & Wollongong. The troops at Newcastle refuse to move.

 

Battle, however, commences at Wollongong. Hundreds of casualties are suffered by both sides.

 

Lewis is furious that he has been bypassed. He phones Fraser & demands Kerrís dismissal. Fraser rejects the demand.

 

21 December 1975

The Victorian police move on Ballarat. Several people are seriously injured, but there are no deaths. Many of the rebels escape.

 

Battles around Wollongong continue. More casualties occur. Tensions rise on the Newcastle front, but no fighting starts.

 

The army commander in Townsville declares for the Republic.

 

22 December 1975

A cease fire is agreed to for the Christmas - New Years period.

 

Negotiations commence between all parties. Whitlam & Dunstan on one side - Fraser, Kerr & Lewis on the other.

 

23-31 December 1975

Christmas cease fire holds.

 

Negotiations continue.

 

The Boxing Day Cricket Test match is enjoyed in Sydney with no disruptions.

 

On New Years Eve, the army & rebels at Newcastle spontaneously organise a One Day Cricket match between their lines. Army wins 198 runs to 176. It is the only victory the army has.

 

Life appears to be returning to normal.

 

1 January 1976

The country is divided. Half is still under the old regime, while the other half is now a Republic.

 

New Years Cricket Test Match in Melbourne. The MCG is full. Just as play commences, thousands of protesters storm the ground. Many are from Ballarat. The spectators hurl abuse at the protesters, then the police move in. The protest turns violent & a protester is shot & killed. The spectators, who at first cheered the police, now turn on them. 100 000 Melbourne citizens crush the police presence, arm themselves & then riot. The Victorian LP Premier Hamer, who was at the cricket, is captured by the crowd.

 

Melbourne turns into a battle field as the mob riots. Police have no way to control the situation. At dusk, sanity returns. Union leaders & members of the Victorian ALP announce that Victoria is now a member of the Republic.

 

2 January 1976

The Newcastle army units declare for the Republic & joins the rebels.

 

The Wollongong army units copies the same actions as in Newcastle.

 

Lewis, upon hearing the events in Melbourne, Newcastle & Wollongong, changes sides & declares NSW for the Republic.

 

3-4 January 1976

All becomes quiet throughout Australia.

 

5 January 1976

Whitlam, at the head of an army column, heads off down the Hume Highway from Sydney to Canberra.

 

Kerr & Fraser (along with their families) board a RAAF VIP jet to Perth.

 

At 5pm on a brilliant summerís afternoon in Canberra, Whitlam enters the Parliamentary Building to return to work as Australiaís PM.

 

6 January 1976

Kerr & Fraser leave Perth for London. Neither ever return.

 

10 January 1976

Whitlam calls into session the Parliament. Many LP/CP MPs take their seats in the Interim Republican Parliament.

 

11 January 1976

A Constitutional Convention is called for 1-21 February 1976 to write a Republican Constitution. Although Tasmania & Western Australia have not declared for the Republic, they agree to send delegates.

 

12 January 1976

Parliament passes the Memorial Act. It has:

 

Two public holidays: December 6 becomes Martyr's Day & December 14 becomes Independence Day.

 

Two honour awards: the Hayden Medal for Services to Australia & the Cairns Medal for Peace. Both become the highest honour that any Australian could be awarded.

 

1 February 1976

Republican Constitutional Convention starts.

 

21 February 1976

A Republican Constitution is ratified by all the states & territories. Tasmania & Western Australia join the Federal Republic of Australia.

 

1 April 1976

The first Republican Elections are held. Whitlam narrowly defeats Peacock to form a government. Mark Oliphant is appointed President.

 

A new party, the Democrats, wins its first seats in the Senate. Its leader is Don Chipp.