The event often referred to as ‘The Dismissal’ occurred on 11 November 1975 when the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, used his ‘reserve powers’ to dismiss Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and his Labor party government.
As the Queen’s representative in Australia, the Governor-General has two types of power: executive power and reserve power. The Governor-General regularly uses their executive powers but rarely exercises their reserve powers.
The Australian Constitution gives the Governor-General executive powers, but their reserve or discretionary powers are not specified in the Constitution. They come from the authority of the Queen, who the Governor-General represents. The principal guide to these powers is convention (tradition). This means the exact nature and scope of these powers is arguable.
There has been no change to the Constitution concerning the Governor-General’s powers so, if a similar situation was to occur, it would still be possible for a prime minister and government to be dismissed from office.