Catallaxy is running a bit of November 11 nostalgia, so I thought I’d join in.
Here’s a reedit of my comment on the thread, and an invitation to others to tell us where they were. I go back as far as JFK. I was about 6 and my dad was trying to listen to a crackling radio and shouting at me to shut up. I couldn’t imagine what could be so important.
On November 11 I was coming out of an exam at ANU, turned on the radio in my car and the commentator said something like ‘it was like walking into an ambush’. It was obviously about the constitutional crisis, but I didn’t know who had walked into what ambush and it took me ages to get the bloody radio to cough up with the information that Gough had walked into the ambush.
But then there was all sorts of speculation that maybe it was a double cross.
I wasn’t a great political junkie, never was and never will be, but I used to turn on ABC radio every morning when I got up in swot vac and listen to wonderful speeches. Great speeches were made by Gough, Kim Beazley (Snr obviously), McClelland. Were there any good speeches on the other side? Steele Hall gave some great speeches also attacking Fraser from the Liberal side of politics. “The honourable gentleman is playing with fire. He will get his fingers burned”. He nearly did too!
I am a lot more sympathetic to Fraser now than I was then. He was just taking political advantage. That’s what politicians do. But Kerr’s behaviour remains a disgrace. A constitutional head of state deceiving his Prime Minister. Had he not done so Whitlam would have won the battle, and lost the war in eighteen months. A much happier outcome given that the ALP was (after the departure of Cairns, Connor and Cameron) governing quite well. But of course it was the prospect of Labor’s governing well that made blocking supply all the more urgent for the Liberals.
No-one thought they’d covered themselves in glory as an Opposition and they were scared Labor might clamber back into contention.
Where were you on Nov 11 1975 – and what were you thinking?