This is a colour photograph that shows Bob Hawke, then President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and National President of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), speaking at a rally to protest the dismissal of the Whitlam government by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr. The photograph was taken on the lawns outside (Old) Parliament House in Canberra on 12 November 1975, the day after the dismissal. Dismissed prime minister Gough Whitlam is on the right of the frame, partly obscured by a loudspeaker.
- This photograph shows an aspect of the event that is referred to as 'the Dismissal' or the 'constitutional crisis' of 1975. On 11 November 1975 the Governor–General Sir John Kerr (1914-91) revoked Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam's (1916-2014) commission to form a government, despite Labor's majority in the House of Representatives. The Governor–General's aim was to break a constitutional impasse brought about by the refusal of the Senate, then controlled by the Liberal–Country Party (the Country Party has since been renamed the Nationals), to pass supply (money or appropriation bills).
- The photograph shows ACTU President Bob Hawke (1929-) speaking at the Canberra rally. While a number of unions called for a nationwide strike, Hawke, fearful that industrial action could lead to rioting (a fear shared by the media), urged restraint, calling on workers to donate a day's pay to the ALP election campaign instead of striking. Despite Hawke's appeal, some workers did take strike action.
- Around 5000 people who attended the Canberra rally. Protesters included public servants, students, and transport and building employees. The rally passed a motion condemning Whitlam's dismissal and called on ACT workers to give the ALP 'a day's pay for democracy'.
- The photograph shows a group of protesters hold up a placard with a caricature of caretaker prime minister and Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser (1930-2015), with the words 'It takes a Mongrel to know a Kerr', while a 'Public Servants for Labor' banner can be seen on the right of the photograph.
- In the days immediately following the dismissal, rallies were held in city centres throughout Australia. Despite these shows of support, Fraser's conservative coalition won the 13 December election with a massive swing of 7.4 per cent against Labor.
- The photograph indicates the association between the trade union movement and the ALP. The rally was organised by the Australian Capital Territory Trades and Labour Council and the Public Servants' Fund for Labor and was addressed by a number of union leaders and Labor politicians, including Whitlam.
- Public servants were among Whitlam's supporters. In mid–October, political commentators were warning that without passage of supply the government would run out of funds to pay its bills within weeks. The government's bills included public servants' salaries, capital works and recurring costs.
- Media interest in the events surrounding Whitlam's dismissal was high. The Dismissal and the events leading up to it remain the most dramatic and controversial news story in Australian political history.
- Bob Hawke was ACTU President from 1970 until he entered parliament in 1980. He was Australia's longest–serving Labor prime minister, winning a Labor record of four successive terms from 1983 until 1991. Partly in response to Whitlam's 'crash through or crash' approach to government, Hawke's leadership style was consensus–based and he achieved a degree of accord between unions and business.