The Palace Letters: Jenny Hocking in conversation with Kerry O’Brien
Byron Writers Festival is proud to present an evening of conversation between celebrated journalist Kerry O’Brien and author and academic Jenny Hocking on her revealing new book The Palace Letters: The Queen, the governor-general, and the plot to dismiss Gough Whitlam – a ground breaking account in which Hocking discloses the obstruction, intrigue and duplicity she faced during her 10-year campaign to expose the truth behind the dismissal.
When: Tuesday 8 December, 6 – 7.30pm (AEST)
Where: Byron Theatre, 69 Jonson Street Byron Bay
Theatre Tickets: $25 Members / $30 General
Accessibility This event will be Auslan interpreted.
Health & Safety
This is a Covidsafe event, therefore we will be operating at restricted capacity with social distancing measures in place.
For the health & safety of all, signage & sanitising stations are set up throughout the venue.
We ask that you adhere to all Covid guidelines while attending the event.
Jenny Hocking is emeritus professor at Monash University, Distinguished Whitlam Fellow at the Whitlam Institute at Western Sydney University, and Gough Whitlam’s award-winning biographer. Her appeal against the decision of the Federal Court in the Palace letters case was upheld by the High Court on 29 May 2020.
About Kerry O’Brien
Kerry O’Brien is an Australian journalist and author. Over 25 years he anchored the iconic ABC current affairs programs – Lateline, 7.30 and Four Corners. His memoir is Kerry O’Brien: A Memoir.
About The Palace Letters
Gough Whitlam was a progressive prime minister whose reign proved tumultuous and divisive after 23 years of conservative government in Australia. When a hostile Senate refused to vote on his 1975 budget, the political deadlock that ensued culminated in his unexpected and deeply controversial dismissal by the governor-general, Sir John Kerr.
Kerr was in close touch with the Palace during this period, but, under the cover of being designated as personal, that correspondence was locked away for decades in the National Archives, and embargoed by the Queen — potentially forever. This ruse denied the Australian people access to critical information about one of the most divisive episodes in the nation’s political history.
In the face of this, Professor Jenny Hocking embarked on what would become a ten-year campaign and a four-year legal battle to force the Archives to release the letters. In 2015, she mounted a crowd-funded legal challenge, securing a stellar pro bono team that took her case all the way to the High Court of Australia. In May 2020, despite being opposed by the Archives, Buckingham Palace, and the full resources of the federal government, she won her historic case.
The Palace Letters is the ground-breaking account of her indomitable fight. Drawing on material from the Palace letters, Kerr’s archives, and her submissions to the courts, Hocking traces the collusion and deception behind the dismissal, and charts the secret role of High Court judges, the leader of the opposition, Malcolm Fraser, and the Queen’s private secretary in fostering and supporting Kerr’s actions.
Hocking also reveals the obstruction, intrigue, and duplicity she faced during her campaign, raising disturbing questions about the role of the National Archives in fighting access to these historic letters and in enforcing, against Australia’s national interests, royal secrecy over its own documents.
This project is supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund