Australians deserve to know our history

Australian Republic Movement

The Australian Republic Movement today welcomed the partial release of further palace letters between the Palace and Governors-General Sir Paul Hasluck, Sir Richard Casey, Sir Zelman Cowen and Sir Ninian Stephen, as reported today in The Australian.

However, it was deeply disappointing to hear that substantial parts of the letters have been redacted by the National Archives, and that the letters have only been provided to one journalist, rather than made publicly available. There is no reasonable justification for this censorship. The Archives claims to “connect Australians with the nation’s memory, identity and history” ¹ but once again we see the Archives exercising a very selective memory and denying Australians access to Australia’s history.

The extent to which the Palace reportedly corresponded with the Governors-General on sensitive political matters and “constitutional functions” including discussions about the commissioning of a new Prime Minister during a hypothetical political crisis should alarm all Australians.

The Queen’s Private Secretary Sir Martin Charteris is also reported to have taken partisan positions in the correspondence, initially backing the election of the Whitlam Government, saying “change was precisely what was needed.”

Chair of the Australian Republic Movement, Peter FitzSimons AM called on the National Archives to make all of the correspondence open to the public, unredacted.

“It’s outrageous that once again Australians are being denied access to their own history” Mr FitzSimons said.

“There is frankly no good reason at all why this important correspondence between the Palace and these Governors-General about Australia’s political affairs should be kept secret.

“The Australian Republic Movement calls on the National Archives of Australia to immediately release the correspondence in full.

“How many other citizens of liberal democratic countries are denied access to their own history, by their own institutions? Did I say ‘outrageous’? Outrageous!” Mr FitzSimons said.


/Public Release. View in full here.