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Ep.120: Cosa successe quando venne licenziato Gough Whitlam

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La corrispondenza segreta tra il governatore generale d'Australia e Buckingham Palace è stata resa pubblica. Senza nessuna parte censurata, le 220 lettere rivelano che la regina non era a conoscenza del licenziamento dell'ex primo ministro Gough Whitlam nel 1975.

SCARICA la trascrizione col testo a fronte in inglese.    

Italian

"Well may we say 'God Save the Queen' because nothing will save the Governor General." 

L'11 novembre del 1975 l'ex primo ministro Gough Whitlam si fermò sui gradini della sede del parlamento di Canberra circondato da decine di persone. 

Criticò duramente il suo licenziamento da parte dell'allora governatore generale Sir John Kerr. 

Le decisioni che hanno portato all'evento, che in seguito divenne noto come la crisi costituzionale del 1975, sono state finora avvolte da segreto. 

La corrispondenza storica tra la regina Elisabetta II e Sir John, custodita dagli Archivi Nazionali, è stata resa pubblica dopo una battaglia di quattro anni lanciata dalla storica Jenny Hocking. 

In una sentenza che ha visto sei giudici a favore e uno contrario, l'Alta Corte d'Australia ha riscontrato che le lettere non sono personali, ma piuttosto documenti del Commonwealth che devono essere disponibili per l'accesso del pubblico ai sensi delle disposizioni dell'Archives Act. 

Hocking afferma di essere sollevata dal fatto che le lettere siano disponibili alla lettura di tutti. 

"We've achieved, I think, legally, a little bit of colonial upstartery and enabled letters that Buckingham Palace would normally keep locked away for decades and have already kept locked away for decades to be made available to the Australian people; to become part of our history." 

Le 211 lettere descrivono in dettaglio le discussioni tra Sir John e il segretario privato della regina Martin Charteris sulla possibilità di licenziare Whitlam e sciogliere il parlamento. 

Il 4 novembre 1975, una settimana prima che Whitlam venisse rimosso dalla sua carica, Charteris scrisse a Sir John dicendo che stava gestendo la situazione con abilità e saggezza. 

Avvertì Sir John di usare i suoi poteri solo come ultima opzione. 

"It is also clear that you will only use them in the last resort and then only for Constitutional – and not for political – reasons”...“To use them is a heavy responsibility and it is only at the very end when there is demonstrably no other course that they should be used."

Il giorno del licenziamento di Whitlam, Sir John scrisse a Buckingham Palace sottolineando che non aveva comunicato direttamente alla regina la sua decisione. 

“I should say I decided to take the step I took without informing the palace in advance because, under the Constitution, the responsibility is mine, and I was of the opinion it was better for Her Majesty not to know in advance, though it is, of course, my duty to tell her immediately." 

Phillip Benwell, presidente nazionale della Australian Monarchist League, afferma che non era necessario includere la regina. 

"It was not her place to involve herself one way or the other. Her duty, her role, and the role of the Governor General was to ensure that the constitution was upheld." 

Ma la Hocking sostiene che preoccupa che l'uso dei poteri di riserva sia stato persino discusso con il palazzo. 

"He advises the Governor General on the nature, and the powers, and the potential use of the reserve powers. And the reserve powers is one of the most contentious areas in Australian political, legal and constitutional structures because it is highly contested. Some would claim it doesn't exist at all. For the Queen's Private Secretary to be commenting to the Governor-General who was about to exercise those powers on the existence and possible use of those very powers I think is alarming." 

Il leader dell'opposizione Anthony Albanese sostiene che le lettere evidenziano un appannamento sulla nozione di democrazia in Australia. 

"It is, I think, a blight on our character as a nation that a democratically-elected government was dismissed." 

Whitlam reagì al suo licenziamento con immensa rabbia. 

Oltre quarant'anni dopo, la sua rabbia ispira ancora una nuova generazione di persone a chiedere che l'Australia diventi una repubblica. 

Sandy Biar, direttore nazionale dell’Australian Republican Movement, afferma che è tempo che il paese recida i legami con la monarchia britannica. 

"We need an Australian Head of State, who represents Australians first, and only, and is accountable to Australians We shouldn't have to wait four decades to find out what decisions were made in our name." 

English 

"Well may we say 'God Save the Queen' because nothing will save the Governor General." 

On November 11, 1975 former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam stood on the steps of Parliament House in Canberra surrounded by scores of people. 

He condemned his dismissal by then Governor General Sir John Kerr. 

The decisions leading up to the event, which later became known as the Constitutional Crisis of 1975, was shrouded in secrecy. 

Historic correspondence between Queen Elizabeth the Second and Sir John, guarded by the National Archives, have been released. 

It comes after a four-year court battle launched by historian Jenny Hocking. 

In a six to one ruling, the High Court of Australia found the letters are not personal, but rather Commonwealth records that must be available for public access under the provisions of the Archives Act. 

Ms Hocking says she is relieved the letters are available for all to read. 

"We've achieved, I think, legally, a little bit of colonial upstartery and enabled letters that Buckingham Palace would normally keep locked away for decades and have already kept locked away for decades to be made available to the Australian people; to become part of our history." 

The 211 letters detail discussions between Sir John and the Queen's private secretary Martin Charteris about the possibility of sacking Mr Whitlam and dissolving parliament. 

On November 4, 1975, a week before Mr Whitlam was removed from power, Mr Charteris wrote to Sir John saying he was handling the situation with skill and wisdom. 

He cautioned Sir John to only use his powers as final option. 

"It is also clear that you will only use them in the last resort and then only for Constitutional – and not for political – reasons”...“To use them is a heavy responsibility and it is only at the very end when there is demonstrably no other course that they should be used." 

On the day of Mr Whitlam's dismissal Sir John wrote to Buckingham palace, outlining he had not told the Queen directly of his decision. 

“I should say I decided to take the step I took without informing the palace in advance because, under the Constitution, the responsibility is mine, and I was of the opinion it was better for Her Majesty not to know in advance, though it is, of course, my duty to tell her immediately." 

Phillip Benwell National Chair of the Australian Monarchist League, says it was unnecessary for the Queen to be included. 

"It was not her place to involve herself one way or the other. Her duty, her role, and the role of the Governor General was to ensure that the constitution was upheld." 

But Ms Hockey says that it is concerning the use of reserve powers was even discussed with the palace. 

"He advises the Governor General on the nature, and the powers, and the potential use of the reserve powers. And the reserve powers is one of the most contentious areas in Australian political, legal and constitutional structures because it is highly contested. Some would claim it doesn't exist at all. For the Queen's Private Secretary to be commenting to the Governor-General who was about to exercise those powers on the existence and possible use of those very powers I think is alarming." 

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese says the letters highlight a tarnish on the notion of democracy in Australia. 

"It is, I think, a blight on our character as a nation that a democratically-elected government was dismissed." 

Mr Whitlam responded to his sacking with immense anger. 

Over four decades on his rage is still inspiring a new generation of people to call for Australia to become a republic. 

Sandy Biar, the National Director of the Australian Republic Movement, says it is time for the country to break ties with the British monarchy.  

"We need an Australian Head of State, who represents Australians first, and only, and is accountable to Australians We shouldn't have to wait four decades to find out what decisions were made in our name." 

Report by Sonia Lal and Brett  

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