Remembering The Dismissal – on Twitter

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AS NOVEMBER 11 draws near, Australians’ thoughts turn to the commemoration of Armistice/Remembrance Day, Ned Kelly’s death by hanging in Old Melbourne Jail and more recently, the 1975 Dismissal of the Whitlam Government by Governor-General Sir John Kerr.

Paul Daley, as depicted by Canberra artist Barbara van der Linden
Paul Daley, as depicted by Canberra artist Barbara van der Linden

Now Canberra writer Paul Daley is joining the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House in with a Twitter campaign marking mark the 40th anniversary of ‘The Dismissal’.

The campaign will tell the story of the event through the voices of participants like Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Sir John Kerr and others who were involved in or witness to this dramatic day in Australian history, a day filled with more drama than the average theatre, including a flashback to the ‘Night of the Long Prawns’ in 1974.

“Faced with a vast body of research—books, media, transcripts of speeches, personal recollections and the official documents — this became a wonderful, confronting and challenging project. It was certainly a journey of discovery that brought me a new perception of and intrigue with events of almost half a century ago,” said Paul Daley.

The idea is to capture the intrigue and drama of the Dismissal of the Whitlam Government and will take followers on a journey back in time to relive this historic moment in Australia’s democratic history. It’s not the first time Daley has joined MoAD to seek out the drama in history; he was one of the collaborators on “The Hansard Monologues” several years ago.

The social media campaign, #Dismissal1975 will run from tomorrow, October 13 to November 11 and will follow the timeline of the Dismissal in 1975 day by day. Events will be tweeted in ‘real time’.

Senior Historian at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Libby Stewart hopes the campaign will help to highlight the changes in the way Australians now engage with democracy. “If the Whitlam Government had access to a 24-hour news cycle and social media channels like Twitter, the chain of events that led to the Dismissal might have gone a very differently,” she says.

“#Dismissal1975” will also share and feature some of the iconic documents, film and photos from The Dismissal, including the letter of dismissal signed by the Governor-General, now housed at the National Archives.

“#Dismissal1975” via the museum’s Twitter @MoAD_Canberra from October 13 to November 11. Daley’s project essay can also be read at dismissed.moadoph.gov.au/hashtag-dismissal-1975.html

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