John Kerr (Governor-General)

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Sir John Robert Kerr, AK, GCMG, GCVO, QC (24 September 1914 – 24 March 1991) was the 18th Governor-General of Australia. He dismissed the Labor government of Gough Whitlam on 11 November 1975, marking the climax of the most significant constitutional crisis in Australian history. He had previously been the 13th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.


Kerr's career

Kerr was born in Balmain, a working-class suburb of Sydney, where his father was a boiler-maker. He entered the prestigious selective high school Fort Street High School. He won scholarships to the University of Sydney and graduated in law with first class honours and the University Medal, being called to the New South Wales bar in 1938. At Fort Street, he met Dr H.V. Evatt who later became a judge of the High Court of Australia, and became a protege of his for many years. In 1938 Kerr married Alison Worstead, with whom he had three children. He spent World War II working for an Australian intelligence organisation, the Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs, a fact that later gave rise to many conspiracy theories. In 1946 he became principal of the Australian School of Pacific Administration and the first Secretary-General of the South Pacific Commission.

Kerr returned to the bar in 1948, becoming a prominent lawyer representing trade union clients and a member of the Australian Labor Party.[1]:p.142 He intended to seek Labor endorsement for a parliamentary seat at the 1951 election, but withdrew in favour of another candidate.[1]:p.135 After the Labor split of 1955, however, he became disillusioned with party politics. He disliked what he saw as the leftward trend of the Australian Labor Party under Evatt's leadership, but was not attracted to the breakaway group, the Democratic Labor Party.[1]:p.146 During the decade of the 1950's, he joined the anti-communist advocacy group established by the United States' CIA, the Association for Cultural Freedom, joining its Executive Board in 1957.[2]:p.248

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