‘Cheats Shouldn’t Prosper’ Badge #2015-0002
Black badge with yellow lettering inscribed, ‘Cheats shouldn’t prosper.’
The 1975 election campaign was fought against the background of the dismissal of the Whitlam government. In 1975 the Whitlam Labor government, unable to pass supply bills in the Senate, was dismissed from office by Governor General Sir John Kerr and replaced by a caretaker Liberal/National Country Party government led by Malcolm Fraser. The Dismissal dominated political discourse for many years afterwards and, even decades later, still evokes strong feelings from both sides of the debate.
In the 1975 election campaign Whitlam refused to style himself as ‘Leader of the Opposition’, instead preferring ‘Leader of the Majority in the House of Representatives’. He maintained that his dismissal had been a breach of convention and that he had a right to govern as Labor had held a majority in the lower house until the Dismissal and dissolution of Parliament. He campaigned on this basis, calling for Australians to reject the new government as having come to power through unjust means. Badges worn by Labor supporters featured slogans such as ’Shame Fraser Shame’ and ‘Cheats Shouldn’t Prosper’ (Sally Young, 2005. From banners to broadcasts: a collector’s book of political memorabilia, p. 26).
The Fraser government campaigned heavily against Labor’s record: the economic situation was considered dire, unemployment and inflation were high, and there had been a series of scandals under Whitlam’s leadership. The public’s initial outrage cooled and polls heavily favoured the Coalition, which won 91 seats in the House of Representatives to Labor’s 36. This, in combination with a significant majority in the Senate, remains the largest majority ever in the federal parliament.