The first joint sitting of the Australian Parliament

The joint sitting of 1974 remains a unique occurrence in Australian political history.
 
Never before or since has this method been used to overcome a deadlock between the two chambers of the nation's parliament.

As a direct result of this extraordinary event, Australia was given a universal healthcare system, and a more democratic electoral system. 
 
The joint sitting was one of the defining events of Gough Whitlam's political career. Whitlam was both a reformer and a constitutionalist. He saw the constitution as a living document. The joint sitting confirmed him in his belief that the Constitution could be used 'as an instrument of reform', rather than an obstacle to it. It also exemplified his willingness to practise 'the art of the possible' and break new political ground in practising reform within the bounds of the Constitution.
 
This online feature explains how the event unfolded, what led to it, and why it matters today.

1 - Parliament in deadlock
2 - The election that changed nothing





3 - the first joint sitting
4 - Why does it matter today
5 - References and further reading