The 89-year-old Canberra man who in 1975 announced the dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam on the steps of the old Parliament House has passed away. Sir David Smith, who served as the Official Secretary to five Governors-General, never wavered from that decision, which would later define his career.
How did Sir David Smith die?
The man whose remarks sparked Australia’s biggest constitutional crisis has passed away.
On November 11, 1975, a day that is infamous in Australian political history, Sir David Smith served as Governor-General Sir John Kerr’s official secretary.
Before it happened, no one had any inkling that Sir John would fire former prime minister Gough Whitlam.
It was a shocking deed that startled the country and a significant event in Sir David’s life.
Sir David Smith cause of death
Death cause of Sir David Smith still unknown.
Sir David’s duty as secretary was to read the proclamation dissolving the Labor administration led by Mr. Whitlam on the steps leading up to Parliament House.
An incensed mob was present as word of the dismissal had already circulated.
In the end, just the conclusion could be heard because much of his words was muffled.
Who was Sir David Smith?
From 1973 to 1990, Sir David Smith served as the Official Secretary to five governors-general, including Sir John Kerr in 1975 when he ousted the Whitlam administration in his capacity as governor-general.
One of the most emotional scenes in the drama revolved around Sir David (as he wasn’t known at the time; the Queen knighted him at Balmoral Castle in 1990).
On November 11, 1975, a public worker reading the formal proclamation of the dissolution of parliament while dressed in formal attire stood on the steps of Parliament House and said the words “God save the Queen.”
“Well may we say “God save the Queen,” for nothing will save the governor-general,” said deposed prime minister Gough Whitlam as he stood in front of the microphones.
The proclamation you have just heard read by the governor-general’s Official Secretary was countersigned ‘Malcolm Fraser’, who will undoubtedly go down in Australian history from Remembrance Day, 1975 as Kerr’s curMr Whitlam
The proclamation, which the governor-Official general’s Secretary just read, was countersigned by “Malcolm Fraser,” who will unquestionably be remembered in Australian history as Kerr’s cur as of Remembrance Day, 1975, Mr. Whitlam continued.
Later, a mob attacked David Smith’s car while he and his boss were in Melbourne. When demonstrators broke the Rolls Royce’s window, he was hurt. In the back seat, Sir John and Lady Kerr felt secure. Not David Smith, though.
Ink, dye, and smoke bombs “exploded across and surrounding the automobile and police motorcycle escort,” according to the reports at the time.
“Sir John’s car was directed to a back entry while demonstrators clashed violently with police officers. There, 100 protesters booed and yelled “Sieg heil.”
Sir David Smith wiki
On August 9, 1933, David Iser Smith was born in Melbourne to Polish immigrants with the last name Szmitkowski, which was later anglicised to Smith. According to family lore, an official who couldn’t pronounce the immigrants’ names welcomed them on the pier and announced, “We’ll have to call you Smith,” so that’s what they were called.
David Smith attended Scotch College, Princes Hill State School, the University of Melbourne, and the Australian National University after that.
Sir David Smith career
In 1953, he began his career in the Australian Public Service. From 1958 through 1963, he served as the Minister of Interior and Works’s private secretary. Then the governors-advisory general’s Federal Executive Council named him as Secretary. From 1971 to 1973, he was in charge of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Government Branch.
In 1973, he was appointed the governor-official general’s secretary under Sir Paul Hasluck.
He published a book titled Head of State that was his personal description of the events of 1975 and was a member of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy.
Additionally, he had a lengthy history of criticising Gough Whitlam, labelling him a “failure”.
Sir David stated to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2004 that “it’s time he say sorry to his party for being such a failure as leader.”
After the government was relocated up the hill and the original structure was converted into the Museum of Australian Democracy, he started working as a guide there in his retirement.
It’s time he apologised to the Australian people for his failures as prime minister and for appointing the most inept administration in our nation’s history. It’s also time he told the truth about the events of 1975.
Visitors were shocked to see one of the main characters from the 1975 events on the steps of Parliament House in the room where the film of those events was playing on loop (though somewhat older).
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Sir David Smith family
“Sir David Smith was a reputable, knowledgeable person. He was quite kind to visitors to MoAD, sharing his knowledge “a museum representative stated.
He is survived by his three sons and his wife June, whom he wed in 1955.
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