The Search for the Palace Letters: Jenny Hocking v Fuckingham Palace
By guest columnist Tess Lawrence
Warrior Australian historian and colonial upstart Jenny Hocking notoriously took on Queen Elizabeth 11, Fuckingham Palace, Australia’s anal-retentive fortress of ‘forbidden history’, the National Archives, the Attorney-General and the Office of the Governor General – and won!
For years the diminutive, pixie faced Hocking and her formidable team of lawyers stormed the continuum of legal barricades put up by this obsequious group of forelock-tugging monarchical subjugates, dismantling spurious legal argument that basically strove to deny fellow Australians the truth about the role of the/our British monarch and her man in Oz, Governor General Sir John Kerr in the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam Government.
The ruptures caused by ‘The Dismissal‘ still loom large upon the nation’s political and societal psyche.
The legal stoush was one thing. The years leading up to the Courts quite another. All up a decade or more, and even to this day, Hocking is fighting facile restrictions on her access to our national archives.
What is going on?
The NAA is behaving more like Lubyanka than the guardian of our past and thus a guide to our future. It is our library. It doesn’t belong to our Monarch, and it certainly doesn’t belong to censorial bureaucrats.
The archives belong to us. Our history belongs to us. Shameful or otherwise.
You would think that our Attorneys General and the National Archives of Australia would both be in Hocking’s and thus our corner, leading the charge to champion the release of correspondence between the late Queen and her hapless self aggrandising and needy lapdog, Sir John. It’s embarrassing to even reflect upon the entire scenario.
The Search for the Palace Letters and The Search for Jenny Hocking
At 8pm tomorrow night in a world premiere, ABC television will broadcast the much-awaited film ‘The Search for the Palace Letters‘ based on Hocking’s own non-fictional historical thriller, The Palace Letters.
The documentary might well have been sub-titled ‘The Search for Jenny Hocking’.
Despite Hocking’s prolific writings and public appearances, like her opponents in the courtroom and public fora, we do not have her measure. She is a natural and generous teacher and communicator and her passion for history is matched by her determination to share it. In her writings she has that precious ability to combine academic prowess with literary flourish. In a gumnut shell, she is a compelling storyteller, who breathes life into history. Question and answer sessions are an audience favourite because she has a well-earned reputation for calling it as she sees it, invariably drenching her answers with her wry wit and sense of humour. I know, because I’ve seen her in action.
Last year, whilst appearing on the wonderful podcast series, The Scandal Mongers, Hocking caused spluttering and outrage in the British and international media when she called for our King to apologise for his personal interference (when he was Prince) and support for Sir John Kerr’s role in the Whitlam government’s dismissal.
The Scandal Mongers is presented by the dynamic duo of Andrew Lownie and Phil Craig. You can read about it in full in this article The AIM Network published in March.
Lownie himself has been fighting his own battles in the UK that in many aspects mirror Hocking’s experiences here. He wrote an exclusive article for The AIMN last year on his own struggles with the Palace and the British Government.
Below: Hocking’s appearance on The Scandal Mongers remains a popular episode. Lifelong cobbers Andrew Lownie and Phil Craig are wonderfully jovial, irreverent intellects and co-hosts. They are two sharp dudes.
The Search for the Palace Letters will give us greater access to Hocking’s personality and what drives her. It’s fascinating that her life and professional partner, Daryl Dellora is the director and again, has teamed up with producer Sue Maslin. Both are festooned with awards and accolades under the Film Art Doco banner.
Of course, this brings an inevitable professional voyeurism and curiosity as to how Dellora treats his subject, with whom he is intimately involved. Then again, as a family, the Hockings underwent so much to take on The Firm and The Establishment. And the third eye of the camera will reveal secrets and provide insight.
Such battles are not always won in the courtroom, but rather around the kitchen table, in the dead of night, in bed. Endless hours of research, fact checking, cross checking, briefings, emails, phone conversations. It’s daunting. At times, frightening. You have to nurture morale. Try not to be dissuaded by the negativity and indifference of others. It’s sometimes scary. One inevitably bites off more than one can chew.
Hocking also whistleblower – exposing corruption within collusive system
Let us not forget Jenny Hocking is also a whistleblower.
Make no mistake, the dismal affair in my book, that led up to The Dismissal constituted corruption and arguably, corruption of constitutional propriety, insofar as royal and direct interference in our political affairs and government leadership are concerned.
These arduous campaigns for justice are all pervasive, as well I know. Subtext and back stories form arterial alleyways to the brain. One has to stay alert. Legal opponents throw everything at you. Vigilance and strategy become endemic bedfellows. You sleep almost with your eyes open. It is not an obsession. It is not even a compulsion. It is a requirement, part of the job, in order to try to stay one step ahead.
Whistleblower often one person against many
Onlookers sometimes forget that invariably the whistleblower is simply one person fighting a phalanx of opponents to expose injustice for the greater good.
And so often when all is finally revealed and the calumny exposed, we learn that many others knew of the wrong doings. That in itself can be dispiriting, disheartening.
Why did Jenny Hocking’s opponents spend millions of taxpayers’ monies to try and block access to the Queen/Kerr letters? Because they knew what was in the files. They knew that the Queen and Kerr would be exposed as the main key and culpable players in an end game that ultimately was to bring down the Whitlam Government.
It’s all there in the Palace Letters. And to read the bilge written by those who wrote that the palace letters didn’t reveal any such thing, is simply another attempt at fake news and revisionism of history, indeed journalism itself and is an indictment of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the machinations of the Queen, Fuckingham Palace and ‘The Firm’.
Impediment to accessing our own history comes from enemies within
Besides, since the High Court decided in Hocking’s favour and blowout after the publishing of The Palace Letters, container loads of evidence of Palace interference in political affairs have been published, as recently as this week and this day, as the Epstein files attest.
The impediments to accessing our own history comes not so much from ‘foreign’ entities but rather from the enemies within. And they are legion.
The next time someone tells you, one person can’t make a difference, you might consider citing Jenny Hocking as someone who did. As someone who does.
The Search for the Palace Letters. ABC TV, Monday, January 8.24. 8pm AEDT
Tess Lawrence is Contributing editor-at-large for Independent Australia and her most recent article is The night Porter and allegation of rape.
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