Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, (; 20 December 189415 May 1978), was an Australian politician who served as the 12th
prime minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing ...
, in office from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1949 to 1966. He played a central role in the creation of the
Liberal Party of Australia The Liberal Party of Australia is a major Centre-right politics, centre-right list of political parties in Australia, political party in Australia, one of the two Major party, major parties in politics of Australia, Australian politics, along w ...
, defining its policies and its broad outreach. He is Australia's longest-serving prime minister, serving over 18 years in total. Menzies studied law at the
University of Melbourne The University of Melbourne is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisation (English in t ...

University of Melbourne
and became one of
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

's leading lawyers. He was
Deputy Premier of Victoria The deputy premier of Victoria is the second-most senior officer in the Government of Victoria The Victoria State Government, also referred to as just the Victorian Government, is the state-level authority for Victoria Victoria most commo ...
from 1932 to 1934, and then transferred to
federal parliament The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislative branch A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind o ...

federal parliament
, subsequently becoming
Attorney-General #REDIRECT Attorney general #REDIRECT Attorney general In most common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of bei ...
and Minister for Industry in the government of
Joseph Lyons Joseph Aloysius Lyons (15 September 1879 – 7 April 1939) was an Australian politician who served as the 10th Prime Minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government The head of government is either the ...

Joseph Lyons
. In April 1939, following Lyons's death, Menzies was elected leader of the
United Australia Party The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. The party won four federal elections in that time, usually governing in coalition with the Country Party. It provided two Pri ...
(UAP) and sworn in as prime minister. He authorised Australia's entry into World War II in September 1939, and in 1941 spent four months in England to participate in meetings of Churchill's war cabinet. On his return to Australia in August 1941, Menzies found that he had lost the support of his party and consequently resigned as prime minister. He subsequently helped to create the new Liberal Party, and was elected its inaugural leader in August 1945. At the 1949 federal election, Menzies led the Liberal–Country coalition to victory and returned as prime minister. His appeal to the home and family, promoted via reassuring radio talks, matched the national zeitgeist as the economy grew and middle-class values prevailed; the
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor and historically spelt Labour, is the major centre-left Centre-left politics (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language ...
's support had also been eroded by
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
scares. After 1955, his government also received support from the Democratic Labour Party, a breakaway group from the Labor Party. Menzies won seven consecutive elections during his second term, eventually retiring as prime minister in January 1966. Despite the failures of his first administration, his government is remembered for its development of Australia's capital city of
Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the holding primary status in a , , , , or other , usually as its seat of the government. A capital is typically a that physically encompasses the government's offices an ...

, its expanded post-war immigration scheme, emphasis on higher education, and national security policies, which saw Australia contribute troops to the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...
, the
Malayan Emergency The Malayan Emergency, also known as the Anti–British National Liberation War (1948–1960) was a guerrilla war fought in British Malaya The term "British Malaya" (; ms, Tanah Melayu British) loosely describes a set of states on the ...
, the
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation The Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation or Borneo confrontation (also known by its Indonesian Indonesian is anything of, from, or related to Indonesia, an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It may refer to: * Indonesians, citizens of Ind ...
, and the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...

Early life

Birth and family background

Robert Gordon Menzies was born on 20 December 1894 at his parents' home in
Jeparit, Victoria Jeparit ( ) is situated on the Wimmera River in Victoria, Australia, Western Victoria, Australia, north west of Melbourne. At the Census in Australia#2016, 2016 census Jeparit had a population of 342, down from 394 five years earlier. History Th ...
. He was the fourth of five children born to Kate (''née'' Sampson) and James Menzies; he had two elder brothers, an elder sister, and a younger brother. Menzies was the first Australian prime minister to have two Australian-born parents: his father was born in
Ballarat Ballarat () is a city in the Central Highlands of Victoria Victoria most commonly refers to: * Victoria (Australia), a state of the Commonwealth of Australia * Victoria, British Columbia, provincial capital of British Columbia, Canada * Vic ...

and his mother in
Creswick Creswick is a town in west-central Victoria, Australia, Victoria, Australia 18 kilometres north of Ballarat, Victoria, Ballarat and 122 km northwest of Melbourne, in the Shire of Hepburn. It is 430 metres above sea level. At the Census in ...

. His grandparents on both sides had been drawn to Australia by the
Victorian gold rush The Victorian gold rush cut the travel time from New York to San Francisco in seven months to four months in the 1849 California Gold Rush, Gold Rush. A gold rush or gold fever is a discovery of gold—sometimes accompanied by other precious ...
. His maternal grandparents were born in
Penzance Penzance ( ; kw, Pennsans) is a town, civil parishes in England, civil parish and port in the Penwith district of Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is the most westerly major town in Cornwall and is about west-southwest of Plymouth and west-sout ...
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a historic county and ceremonial county The counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies, also referred to as the lieutenancy areas of England and informally known as ceremonial counties, are ar ...

. His paternal grandfather, also named Robert Menzies, was born in
Renfrewshire Renfrewshire () ( sco, Renfrewshire; gd, Siorrachd Rinn Friù) is one of the 32 . Located in the west , it is one of three council areas contained within the boundaries of the of , the others being to the east and to the west. It also shar ...
, Scotland, and arrived in Melbourne in 1854. The following year he married Elizabeth Band, the daughter of a cobbler from
Fife Fife (, ; gd, Fìobha, ; sco, Fife) is a council areas of Scotland, council area, Historic counties of Scotland, historic county, registration county and lieutenancy areas of Scotland, lieutenancy area of Scotland. It is situated between the ...

. Menzies was proud of his Scottish heritage, and preferred his surname to be pronounced in the traditional Scottish manner ( ) rather than as it is spelled ( ). This gave rise to his nickname "Ming", which was later expanded to "
Ming the Merciless Ming the Merciless is a fictional Character (arts), character who first appeared in the ''Flash Gordon'' comic strip in 1934. He has since been the main villain of the strip and its related movie serials, television series and film adaptation. M ...
" after the comic strip character. His middle name was given in honour of
Charles George Gordon Major-general (United Kingdom), Major-General Charles George Gordon Companion of the Order of the Bath, CB (28 January 1833 – 26 January 1885), also known as Chinese Gordon, Gordon Pasha, and Gordon of Khartoum, was a British Army officer and ...
. The Menzies family had moved to Jeparit, a small
Wimmera The Wimmera is a region In geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and ...

township, in the year before Robert's birth. At the 1891 census, the settlement had a population of just 55 people. His elder siblings had been born in Ballarat, where his father was a locomotive painter at the
Phoenix Foundry The Phoenix Foundry was a company that built steam locomotives and other industrial machinery in the city of Ballarat, Victoria, Ballarat, Victoria (Australia), Victoria, Australia. Over 30 years they built 352 locomotives for the Victorian Rail ...
. Seeking a new start, he moved the family to Jeparit to take over the general store, which "survived rather than prospered". During Menzies's childhood, three of his close relatives were elected to parliament. His uncle Hugh was elected to the
Victorian Legislative Assembly The Victorian Legislative Assembly is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of Victoria in Australia; the upper house being the Victorian Legislative Council. Both houses sit at Parliament House, Melbourne, Parliament House in Spring Stree ...

Victorian Legislative Assembly
in 1902, followed by his father in 1911, while another uncle,
Sydney Sampson
Sydney Sampson
, was elected to the federal
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...

House of Representatives
in 1906. Each of the three represented rural constituencies, and were defeated after a few terms. Menzies's maternal grandfather John Sampson was active in the trade union movement. He was the inaugural president of the Creswick Miners' Association, which he co-founded with future
Labor Labour or labor may refer to: * Childbirth, the delivery of a baby * Labour (human activity), or work ** Manual labour, physical work ** Wage labour, a socioeconomic relationship between a worker and an employer Literature * Labor (journal), ''L ...
William Spence William Guthrie Spence (7 August 1846 – 13 December 1926), Australian trade union leader and politician, played a leading role in the formation of both Australia's largest union, the Australian Workers' Union, and the Australian Labor Party. ...

William Spence
, and was later prominent in the Amalgamated Miners' Association.


Growing up, Menzies and his siblings "had the normal enjoyments and camaraderies of a small country town". He began his formal education in 1899 at the Jeparit State School, a single-teacher
one-room school One-room schools were commonplace throughout rural portions of various countries, including Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western ...
. When he was about eleven, he and his sister were sent to Ballarat to live with his paternal grandmother; his two older brothers were already living there. In 1906, Menzies began attending the Humffray Street State School in Bakery Hill. The following year, aged 13, he ranked first in the state-wide scholarship examinations. This feat financed the entirety of his secondary education, which had to be undertaken at private schools, as Victoria did not yet have a system of public secondary schools. In 1908 and 1909, Menzies attended Grenville College, a small private school in
Ballarat Central Ballarat Central (known as the Central Business Area by the City of Ballarat and sometimes simply as "Ballarat") is the central locality of Greater Ballarat in Victoria Victoria most commonly refers to: * Victoria (Australia), a state of the Co ...
. He and his family moved to
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

in 1910, where he enrolled in Wesley College. Menzies was "not very interested in and certainly incompetent at sport", but excelled academically. In his third and final year at Wesley he won a £40 exhibition for university study, one of 25 awarded by the state government.


In 1913, Menzies entered the
Melbourne Law School Melbourne Law School (MLS or Melbourne Law) is one of the professional graduate schools of the University of Melbourne. Located in Carlton, Victoria, MLS is Australia's oldest law school, and offers Juris Doctor, J.D., Master of Laws, LL.M, Doctor ...
. He won a variety of prizes, exhibitions, and scholarships during his time as a student, graduating as a
Bachelor of Laws Bachelor of Laws ( la, Legum Baccalaureus; LL.B.) is an undergraduate law degree in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guard ...
(LL.B.) in 1916 and a
Master of Laws A Master of Laws (M.L. or LL.M.; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
(LL.M.) in 1918. He did, however, fail Latin in his first year. One of his prize-winning essays, ''The Rule of Law During the War'', was published as a brochure with an introduction by Harrison Moore, the law school dean. In 1916, Menzies was elected president of the Student Representatives' Council and editor of the ''Melbourne University Magazine''. He wrote both prose and poetry for the magazine, and also contributed a song about "little
Billy Hughes William Morris Hughes, (25 September 1862 – 28 October 1952), was an Australian politician who served as the 7th Prime Minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government The head of government is eithe ...

Billy Hughes
" to an end-of-year
revue A revue is a type of multi-act popular theatrical Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a li ...

. Menzies was also president of the Students' Christian Union, a founding member of the Historical Society, and a prominent member of the Law Students' Society. He had "a reputation as an "unusually bright and articulate member of the undergraduate community", and was known as a skilful debater. However, he had also begun to develop the traits of pomposity and arrogance that would cause difficulties later in his career. His fellow law student and future parliamentary colleague
Percy Joske Sir Percy Ernest Joske, Order of St Michael and St George, CMG (5 October 1895 – 25 April 1981) was an Australian politician. Born in Melbourne, youngest of three children of Ernest Joske, a German-born solicitor, and his Victorian-born wife ...
noted Menzies as a student "did not suffer fools gladly ..the trouble was that his opponents frequently were not fools and that he tended to say things that were not only cutting and unkind but that were unjustified". During World War I, Menzies served his compulsory militia service in the Melbourne University Rifles (a part-time militia unit) from 1915 to 1919. This unit was not efficient and Menzies noted in his diary that training in even basic skills such as rifle shooting was sub-standard. He was commissioned a second lieutenant on 6 January 1915. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he did not volunteer for overseas service, something that would later be used against him by political opponents; in 1939 he described it as "a stream of mud through which I have waded at every campaign in which I have participated". Menzies never publicly addressed the reasons for his decision not to enlist, stating only that they were "compelling" and related to his "intimate personal and family affairs". His two older brothers did serve overseas. In a 1972 interview, his brother Frank Menzies recalled that a "family conference" had determined that Robert should not enlist. They believed that having two of the family's three adult sons serving overseas was a sufficiently patriotic contribution to the war effort, and that the family's interests would be served best by Robert continuing his academic career. Another reason for keeping one of the elder sons home was the health of their father, James, who was physically unwell and emotionally unstable at the time. It has been noted that, as a student, Menzies supported the introduction of compulsory overseas conscription, which if implemented would have made him one of the first to be conscripted. Promoted to lieutenant, he resigned his commission with effect from 16 February 1921.

Legal career

After graduating from the University of Melbourne in 1916 with first-class honours in Law, Menzies was admitted to the Victorian Bar and to the High Court of Australia in 1918. Establishing his own practice in Melbourne, Menzies specialised chiefly in constitutional law which he had read with the leading Victorian jurist and future High Court judge, Sir
Owen Dixon Sir Owen Dixon (28 April 1886 – 7 July 1972) was an Australian judge and diplomat who served as the sixth Chief Justice of Australia. A judge of the High Court of Australia, High Court for thirty-five years, Dixon was one of the leading j ...

Owen Dixon
. In 1920, Menzies served as an advocate for the Amalgamated Society of Engineers which eventually took its appeal to the High Court of Australia. The case became a landmark authority for the positive reinterpretation of Commonwealth powers over those of the States. The High Court's verdict raised Menzies's profile as a skilled advocate, and eventually he was appointed a
King's Counsel In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some pr ...
in 1929.

Career in Victorian state politics, 1928–1934

In 1928, Menzies entered state parliament as a member of the
Victorian Legislative Council The Victorian Legislative Council (VLC) is the upper house of the bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of s ...

Victorian Legislative Council
from East Yarra Province, representing the
Nationalist Party of Australia The Nationalist Party (or National Party) was an Australian political party. It was formed on 17 February 1917 from a merger between the Commonwealth Liberal Party The Commonwealth Liberal Party (CLP, also known as the Deakin–Cook Part ...
. He stood for constitutional democracy, the rule of law, the sanctity of contracts and the jealous preservation of existing institutions. Suspicious of the Labor Party, Menzies stressed the superiority of free enterprise except for certain public utilities such as the railways. His candidacy was nearly defeated when a group of ex-servicemen attacked him in the press for not having enlisted, but he survived this crisis. Within weeks of his entry to parliament, he was made a minister without portfolio in a new minority Nationalist State government led by Premier William McPherson. The new government had formed when the previous Labor government lost the support of the cross-bench Country Progressives. The following year he shifted to the
Legislative Assembly Legislative assembly is the name given in some countries to either a legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. ...

Legislative Assembly
as the member for
Nunawading Nunawading is a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria (Australia), Victoria, Australia, 18 km (11 miles) east of Melbourne's Melbourne City Centre, Central Business District. Its Local government areas of Victoria, local government area is the Ci ...
. In 1929, he founded the Young Nationalists as his party's youth wing and served as its first president. Holding the portfolios of Attorney-General and Minister for the Railways, Menzies served as
Deputy Premier of Victoria The deputy premier of Victoria is the second-most senior officer in the Government of Victoria The Victoria State Government, also referred to as just the Victorian Government, is the state-level authority for Victoria Victoria most commo ...
from May 1932 until July 1934.

Early career in federal politics, 1934–1939

In August 1934, Menzies resigned from state parliament to contest the federal seat of Division of Kooyong, Kooyong in the 1934 Australian federal election, upcoming general election for the
United Australia Party The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. The party won four federal elections in that time, usually governing in coalition with the Country Party. It provided two Pri ...
(UAP—the Nationalists had merged with other non-Labor groups to form the UAP during his tenure as a state parliamentarian). The previous member, John Latham (judge), John Latham, had given up the seat in order to prepare for appointment as Chief Justice of Australia. Kooyong was a safely conservative seat based on Kew, Victoria, Kew, and Menzies won easily. He was immediately appointed Attorney-General of Australia, Attorney-General and Minister for Industry in the Lyons government. In 1937 he was appointed a Privy Council of the United Kingdom, Privy Counsellor. In late 1934 and early 1935 Menzies, then attorney-general, unsuccessfully prosecuted the government's highly controversial case for the Attempted exclusion of Egon Kisch from Australia, attempted exclusion from Australia of Egon Kisch, a Czech Jewish communist. The initial prohibition on Kisch's entry to Australia, however, had not been imposed by Menzies but by the Country Party minister for the interior, Thomas Paterson. Menzies had extended discussions with British experts on Germany in 1935, but could not make up his mind whether Adolf Hitler was a "real German patriot" or a "mad swash-buckler". He expressed both views with an inclination to the former, says historian David Bird. In published essays in 1936, he called for a "live and let-live" attitude. He condemned Nazi antisemitism, in 1933 writing to the organisers of an anti-Nazi protest at the Melbourne Town Hall that "I hope that I may be associated with the protest of the meeting tonight against the barbaric and medieval persecution to which their fellow Jews in Europe are apparently being subjected". In 1939, Menzies described that "history will label Hitler as one of the great men of the century". In August 1938, while Attorney-General of Australia, Menzies spent several weeks on an official visit to Nazi Germany. He was strongly committed to democracy for the British peoples, but he initially thought that the Germans should take care of their own affairs. He strongly supported the appeasement policies of the Chamberlain government in London, and sincerely believed that war could and should be avoided at all costs. after the visit to Germany in 1938, Menzies wrote that the "abandonment by the Germans of individual liberty ... has something rather magnificent about it". Menzies also praised the "really spiritual quality in the willingness of Germans to devote themselves to the service and well-being of the state". Menzies supported British foreign policy, including appeasement, and was initially reticent about the prospect of going to war with Germany. However, by September 1939 the unfolding crisis in Europe changed his public stance that the diplomatic efforts by Chamberlain and other leaders to broker a peace agreement had failed, and that war was now an inevitability. In his Declaration of War broadcast on 3 September 1939, Menzies explained the dramatic turn of events over the past twelve months necessitating this change of course:
In those past 12 months, what has happened? in cold-blooded breach of the solemn obligations implied in both the statements I have quoted, Hitler has annexed the whole of the Czechoslovakia, Czechoslovak state. Has, without flickering an eyelid, made a pact with Russia, a country the denouncing and reviling of which has been his chief stock-in-trade ever since he became chancellor. And has now, under circumstances which I will describe to you, invaded with armed force and in defiance of civilised opinion, the independent nation of Poland. Your own comments on this dreadful history will need no reinforcement by me. All I need say is, that whatever the inflamed ambitions of the German Führer may be, he will undoubtedly learn, as other great enemies of freedom have learned before, that no empire, no dominion, can be soundly established upon a basis of broken promises or dishonoured agreements.Robert Menzies, Declaration of War, broadcast 3 September 1939
Menzies went on to say that if Hitler's expansionist "policy were allowed to go unchecked there could be no security in Europe and there could be no just peace for the world". However, in a letter written by Menzies on 11 September 1939, he privately urged for peace negotiations and the continuation of appeasement with Hitler. Meanwhile, on the domestic front, animosity developed between Sir Earle Page and Menzies which was aggravated when Page became Acting Prime Minister during Lyons's illness after October 1938. Menzies and Page attacked each other publicly. He later became deputy leader of the UAP. His supporters began promoting him as Lyons's natural successor; his critics accused Menzies of wanting to push Lyons out, a charge he denied. In 1938, as part of the 1938 Dalfram dispute, Dalfram dispute, he was ridiculed as ''Pig Iron Bob'', the result of an industrial conflict with the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia, Waterside Workers' Federation whose members had refused to load Australian pig iron being sold to an arms manufacturer in the Empire of Japan, for that Second Sino-Japanese War, country's war against China. In 1939, he resigned from the Cabinet in protest at postponement of the national insurance scheme and insufficient expenditure on defence.

First period as prime minister, 1939–1941

With Lyons's sudden death on 7 April 1939, Page became caretaker prime minister until the UAP could elect a new leader. On 18 April 1939, Menzies was elected party leader over three other candidates. He was sworn in as prime minister eight days later. A crisis arose almost immediately, however, when Page refused to serve under him. In an extraordinary personal attack in the House, Page accused Menzies of cowardice for not having enlisted in the War, and of treachery to Lyons. Menzies then formed a minority government. When Page was deposed as Country Party leader a few months later, Menzies took the Country Party back into his government in a full-fledged Coalition, with Page's successor, Archie Cameron, as number-two-man in the government. On 3 September 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany due to its invasion of Poland on 1 September, leading to the start of World War II. Menzies responded immediately by also declaring Australia to be at war in support of Britain, and delivered a radio broadcast to the nation on that same day, which began "Fellow Australians. It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially that in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that, as a result, Australia is also at war." A couple of days after the declaration, Menzies recalled parliament and asked for general support as the government faced the enormous responsibility of leading the nation in war time. Page and Curtin, as party leaders, pledged their support for all that needed to be done for the defence of the country. Thus, Menzies at the age of 44 found himself a wartime leader of a small nation of 7 million people. He was especially worried about the military threat from Japan. Australia had very small forces, and depended on Britain for defence against the looming threat of the Japanese Empire, with its 100 million people, a very powerful Army and Navy and an aggressive foreign policy. He hoped that a policy of appeasement would head off a war with Japan, and repeatedly pressured London. Menzies did his best to rally the country, but the bitter memories of the disillusionment which followed World War I made his task difficult; this was compounded by his lack of a service record. Furthermore, as attorney-general and deputy prime minister, he had made an official visit to Germany in 1938, when the official policy of the Australian government, supported by the Opposition, was strong support for Neville Chamberlain's policy of Appeasement. Menzies, then also holding the responsibility for the Department of Munitions created a couple of months earlier, led the Coalition into the 1940 Australian federal election, 1940 election and suffered an eight-seat swing, losing the slender majority he had inherited from Lyons. The result was a hung parliament, with the Coalition two seats short of a majority. Menzies managed to form a minority government with the support of two independent MPs, Arthur Coles and Alexander Wilson (Australian politician), Alex Wilson. Labor, led by John Curtin, refused Menzies's offer to form a war coalition, and opposed using the Australian army for a European war, preferring to keep it at home to defend Australia. Labor agreed to participate in the Advisory War Council (Australia), Advisory War Council. Menzies sent the bulk of the army to help the British in the Middle East and Singapore, and told Winston Churchill the Royal Navy needed to strengthen its Far Eastern forces. Closely prior to the September 1940 election, on 13 August 1940, 1940 Canberra air disaster#Casualties, three members of Menzies's cabinet had been killed in an air crash—the 1940 Canberra air disaster, Canberra air disaster—along with General Brudenell White, Chief of Army (Australia), Chief of the General Staff; two other passengers and four crew. This event weakened Menzies's government.Andrew Tink, Tink, Andrew
Air Disaster Canberra: the plane crash that destroyed a government
". ''NewSouth Books''. 1 April 2013, , Retrieved 17 April 2013 via boffinsbookshop.com.au
From 24 January 1941, Menzies spent four months in Britain discussing war strategy with Churchill and other Empire leaders, while his position at home deteriorated. ''En route'' to the UK he took the opportunity to stop over to visit Australian troops serving in the North African Campaign. Professor David Day (historian), David Day, an Australian historian, has posited that Menzies might have replaced Churchill as British prime minister, and that he had some support in the UK for this. Support came from Viscount Astor, Lord Beaverbrook and former WWI Prime Minister David Lloyd George,Australian Broadcasting Corporation documentary "Menzies and Churchill at War" (2008) by Film Australia. who were trenchant critics of Churchill's purportedly autocratic style, and favoured replacing him with Menzies, who had some public support for staying on in the War Cabinet for the duration, which was strongly backed by Sir Maurice Hankey, former WWI Colonel and member of both the WWI and WWII War Cabinets. Writer Gerard Henderson has rejected this theory, but history professors Judith Brett and Joan Beaumont support Day, as does Menzies's daughter, Heather Henderson, who claimed Lady Astor "even offered all her sapphires if he would stay on in England". Menzies came home to a hero's welcome. However, his support in Parliament was less certain. Not only did some Coalition MPs doubt his popularity in the electorate, but they also believed that a national unity government was the only long-term solution. Matters came to a head in August, when the cabinet voted to have Menzies return to London to speak for Australia's interests in the War Cabinet. However, since Labor and the Coalition were level (both sides had 36 MPs), Menzies needed the support of the Labor Party in order to travel to Britain. Amid rumours that Menzies's real intention was to launch a political career in Britain, Labor insisted that the crisis was too dire for Menzies to leave the country. With Labor unwilling to support him travelling to London and his position within his own party room weakening, Menzies called an emergency cabinet meeting. He announced his intention to resign and advise the Governor-General of Australia, Governor-General, Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, Lord Gowrie to commission Curtin as Prime Minister. The Cabinet instead urged Menzies to make another overture to Labor for a national unity government, but Labor turned the offer down. With his position now untenable, Menzies resigned the prime ministership on 27 August 1941. A joint UAP-Country Party conference chose Country Party leader Arthur Fadden as Coalition leader—and hence Prime Minister—even though the Country Party was the junior partner in the Coalition. Menzies was bitter about this treatment from his colleagues, and nearly left politics, but was persuaded to become Minister for Defence Co-ordination in Fadden's cabinet. The Fadden Government lasted only 40 days before being defeated on a confidence motion. On 9 October 1941, Menzies resigned as leader of the UAP after failing to convince his colleagues that he should become Leader of the Opposition (Australia), Leader of the Opposition in preference to Fadden. He 1941 United Australia Party leadership election, was replaced as UAP leader by former prime minister
Billy Hughes William Morris Hughes, (25 September 1862 – 28 October 1952), was an Australian politician who served as the 7th Prime Minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government The head of government is eithe ...

Billy Hughes
, who was 79 years old at the time.

Formation of Liberal Party and Return to Power

Menzies's ''Forgotten People''

During his time in the political wilderness Menzies built up a large popular base of support by his frequent appeals, often by radio, to ordinary non-elite working citizens whom he called 'the Forgotten People'—especially those who were not suburban and rich or members of organised labour. From November 1941, he began a series of weekly radio broadcasts reaching audiences across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. A selection of these talks was edited into a book bearing the title of his most famous address, ''The Forgotten People'', delivered on 22 May 1942. In this landmark address, Menzies appealed to his support base:
I do not believe that the real life of this nation is to be found either in great luxury hotels and the petty gossip of so-called fashionable suburbs, or in the officialdom of the organised masses. It is to be found in the homes of people who are nameless and unadvertised, and who, whatever their individual religious conviction or dogma, see in their children their greatest contribution to the immortality of their race. The home is the foundation of sanity and sobriety; it is the indispensable condition of continuity; its health determines the health of society as a whole.
Menzies himself described ''The Forgotten People'' collection as 'a summarised political philosophy'. Representing the blueprint of his liberal philosophy, ''The Forgotten People'' encompassed a wide range of topics including Roosevelt's Four Freedoms, the control of the war, the role of women in war and peace, the future of capitalism, the nature of democracy and especially the role of the middle class, 'the forgotten people' of the title and their importance to Australia's future as a democracy. The addresses frequently emphasised the values which Menzies regarded as critical to shaping Australia's wartime and postwar policies. These were essentially the principles of liberalism: individual freedom, personal and community responsibility, the rule of law, parliamentary government, economic prosperity and progress based on private enterprise and reward for effort. After losing the UAP leadership, Menzies moved to the backbench. Besides his overall sense of duty, the war would have made it nearly impossible for him to return to his legal practice in any event. Labor won a crushing victory at the 1943 Australian federal election, 1943 election, taking 49 of 74 seats and 58.2 percent of the two-party-preferred vote as well as a Senate majority. The Coalition, which had sunk into near-paralysis in opposition, was knocked down to only 19 seats. Hughes resigned as UAP leader, and Menzies 1943 United Australia Party leadership election, was elected as his successor on the second ballot, defeating three other candidates. The UAP also voted to end the joint opposition arrangement with the Country Party, allowing Menzies to replace Fadden as opposition leader.

Formation of the Liberal Party of Australia

Soon after his return, Menzies concluded that the UAP was at the end of its useful life. Menzies called a conference of anti-Labor parties with meetings in Canberra on 13 October 1944 and again in Albury (NSW) in December 1944. At the Canberra conference, the fourteen parties, with the UAP as the nucleus, decided to merge as one new non-Labor party—the
Liberal Party of Australia The Liberal Party of Australia is a major Centre-right politics, centre-right list of political parties in Australia, political party in Australia, one of the two Major party, major parties in politics of Australia, Australian politics, along w ...
. The organisational structure and constitutional framework of the new party was formulated at the Albury Conference. Officially launched at the Sydney Town Hall on 31 August 1945, the Menzies-led Liberal Party of Australia inherited the UAP's role as senior partner in the Coalition. Curtin died in office in 1945 and was succeeded by Ben Chifley. The reconfigured Coalition faced its first national test in the 1946 Australian federal election, 1946 election. It won 26 of 74 seats on 45.9 percent of the two-party vote, and remained in minority in the Senate. Despite winning a seven-seat swing, the Coalition failed to make a serious dent in Labor's large majority.

1949 election campaign

Over the next few years, however, the anti-communist atmosphere of the early
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
began to erode Labor's support. In 1947, Chifley announced that he intended to nationalise Australia's private banks, arousing intense middle-class opposition which Menzies successfully exploited. In addition to campaigning against Chifley's bank nationalization proposal, Menzies successfully led the 'No' case for a referendum by the Chifley government in 1948 to extend commonwealth wartime powers to control rents and prices. In the election campaign of 1949, Menzies and his party were resolved to stamp out the communist movement and to fight in the interests of free enterprise against what they termed as Labor's 'socialistic measures'. If Menzies won office, he pledged to counter inflation, extend child endowment and end petrol rationing. With the lower house enlarged from 74 to 121 seats, the Menzies Liberal/Country Coalition won the 1949 election with 74 House seats and 51.0 percent of the two-party vote but remained in minority in the Senate. Whatever else Menzies's victory represented, his anti-communism and advocacy for free enterprise had captured a new and formidable support base in postwar Australian society.

Second period as prime minister, 1949–1966

After his election victory, Menzies returned to the office of Prime Minister on 19 December 1949.

Cold War and national security

The spectre of communism and the threat it was deemed to pose to national security became the dominant preoccupation of the new government in its first phase. Menzies introduced legislation in 1950 to ban the Communist Party, hoping that the Senate would reject it and give him a trigger for a double dissolution election, but Labor let the bill pass. It was subsequently Australian Communist Party v Commonwealth, ruled unconstitutional by the High Court of Australia, High Court. But when the Senate rejected his banking bill, he 1951 Australian federal election, called a double dissolution election. At that election, the Coalition suffered a five-seat swing, winning 69 of 121 seats and 50.7 percent of the two-party vote. However, it won six seats in the Senate, giving it control of both chambers. Later in 1951 Menzies decided to hold a 1951 Australian referendum, referendum on the question of changing the Constitution to permit the parliament to make laws in respect of Communists and Communism where he said this was necessary for the security of the Commonwealth. If passed, this would have given a government the power to introduce a bill proposing to ban the Communist Party. Chifley died a few months after the 1951 election. The new Labor leader, Dr H. V. Evatt, campaigned against the referendum on civil liberties grounds, and it was narrowly defeated. Menzies sent Australian troops to the Korean War. Economic conditions deteriorated in the early 1950s and Labor was confident of winning the 1954 Australian federal election, 1954 election. Shortly before the election, Menzies announced that a Soviet diplomat in Australia Vladimir Mikhaylovich Petrov (diplomat), Vladimir Petrov, had defected, and that there was evidence of a Soviet spy ring in Australia, including members of Evatt's staff. Evatt felt compelled to state on the floor of Parliament that he'd personally written to Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, who assured him there were no Soviet spy rings in Australia, bringing the House into silence momentarily before both sides of Parliament laughed at Evatt's naivety. This
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
scare was claimed by some to enable the Menzies government to win the election. The Menzies government won 64 of 121 seats and 49.3 percent of the two-party vote. Evatt accused Menzies of arranging Petrov's defection. The aftermath of the 1954 election caused a split in the Labor Party, with several anti-Communist members from Victoria (Australia), Victoria defecting to form the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist). The new party directed its preferences to the Liberals, with the Menzies government re-elected with an increased majority at the 1955 Australian federal election, 1955 election. Menzies was re-elected almost as easily at the 1958 Australian federal election, 1958 election, again with the help of preferences from what had become the Democratic Labor Party (historical), Democratic Labor Party. By this time the post-war economic recovery was in full swing, fuelled by massive immigration and the growth in housing and manufacturing that this produced. Prices for Australia's agricultural exports were also high, ensuring rising incomes.

Foreign policy

The Menzies era saw immense regional changes, with post-war reconstruction and the withdrawal of European Powers and the British Empire from the Far East (including independence for India and Indonesia). In response to these geopolitical developments, the Menzies government maintained strong ties with Australia's traditional allies such as Britain and the United States while also reorienting Australia's foreign policy focus towards the Asia Pacific. With his first Minister for External Affairs, Percy Spender, the Menzies government signed the ANZUS treaty in San Francisco on 1 September 1951. Menzies later told parliament that this security pact between Australia, New Zealand and the United States was 'based on the utmost good will, the utmost good faith and unqualified friendship' saying 'each of us will stand by it'. At the same time as strengthening the alliance with the United States, Menzies and Spender were committed to Australia being on 'good neighbour terms' with the countries of South and South East Asia. To help forge closer ties in the region, the Menzies government initiated the Colombo Plan that would see almost 40 000 students from the region come to study in Australia over the four subsequent decades. Recognising the economic potential of a burgeoning postwar Japan, Menzies, together with Trade Minister Jack McEwan and his new minister for External Affairs, Richard Casey, negotiated the Commerce Agreement with Japan in 1957. This trade agreement was followed by bilateral agreements with Malaya in 1958 and Indonesia in 1959. With the Menzies government expanding Australia's diplomatic footprint in the region during its second term, a further six new high commissions and embassies were established in South East Asia from 1949 to 1966. Complementing Australia's growing diplomatic engagement in Asia, the Menzies government delivered a comprehensive aid programme to the region which comprised 0.65 per cent of Australia's Gross National Income by 1966. While engaging Australia more closely with its neighbours in the Asia Pacific, the Menzies government maintained a strong interest in British and European affairs, especially the unfolding Suez Crisis of 1956. With the Egyptian leader Colonel Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal Company on 26 July 1956, Britain and France reacted angrily to Egypt's restriction on the free use of this waterway for international trade and commerce. Sympathetic to British interests, Menzies led a delegation to Egypt to try to force Nasser to compromise with the West. Although, at the time it was seen as confirming Menzies's status as a world statesman, it was of vital importance to Australia's shipping trade with Britain. Menzies publicly supported the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt during the Suez Crisis. Elsewhere, Menzies publicly professed continued admiration for links with Britain, exemplified by his admiration for Queen Elizabeth II (whose Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 1953 Coronation he attended), and famously described himself as "British to the bootstraps". At a function attended by the Queen at Parliament House, Canberra, in 1963, Menzies quoted the Elizabethan poet Thomas Ford (composer), Thomas Ford, "I did but see her passing by, and yet I love her till I die".

Defence policy

Confronting the challenges of the Cold War, the Menzies government shifted Australia to a policy of 'forward defence' as the most effective means of dealing with the threat of communism abroad. Australia's defence policy was conducted in close cooperation with the United States under the aegis of the ANZUS treaty. The Menzies government responded to successive communist insurgencies by committing Australian troops to the Korean War of 1950–51, the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960, the Borneo Confrontation of 1963 and to the escalating conflict in Vietnam in 1965. To strengthen defence ties with countries in the Asia Pacific region, the Menzies government signed the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty (SEATO) as a South East Asian counterpart to NATO. On the domestic front, the Menzies government introduced a scheme of national service where 'call ups' were issued to 18-year-old men to undertake a period of compulsory military training. Established in 1951, the scheme ended in 1960 but was reintroduced in 1964 in the form of the National Service Lottery.

Economic policy

Throughout his second period in office, Menzies practised classical liberal economics with an emphasis on private enterprise and self-sufficiency in contrast to Labor's 'socialist objective'. Accordingly, the economic policy emphasis of the Menzies Government moved towards tax incentives to release productive capacity, boosting export markets, research and undertaking public works to provide power, water and communications. As Prime Minister, Menzies presided over a period of sustained economic growth which led to nation-building and development, full employment, unprecedented opportunities for individuals and rising living standards. The Menzies Government pursued what became known as "McEwenism" – a policy of high tariff protection for the manufacturing industry, so that industry would not challenge the continuing high tariffs on imported raw materials, which benefitted farmers but pushed up industry's costs. This policy was a part (some argue the foundation) of what became known as the "Australian settlement" which promoted high wages, industrial development, government intervention in industry (Australian governments traditionally owned banks and insurance companies and the railways and through policies designed to assist particular industries) and decentralisation. In 1951, the top marginal tax rate for incomes above £10,000 what is equivalent to $425,000 today, was 75 per cent under Menzies. from 1955 until the mid-1980s the top marginal tax rate was 67 per cent.

Social reform

In 1949, Parliament legislated to ensure that all Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal ex-servicemen should have the suffrage, right to vote. In 1961 a Parliamentary Committee was established to investigate and report to the Parliament on Aboriginal voting rights and in 1962, Menzies's ''Commonwealth Electoral Act'' provided that all Indigenous Australians should have the right to enrol and vote at federal elections. In 1960, the Menzies Government introduced a new pharmaceutical benefits scheme, which expanded the range of prescribed medicines subsidised by the government. Other social welfare measures of the government included the extension of the Commonwealth Child Endowment scheme, the pensioner medical and free medicines service, the Aged Persons' Homes Assistance scheme, free provision of life-saving drugs; the provision of supplementary pensions to dependent pensioners paying rent; increased rates of pension, unemployment and sickness benefits, and rehabilitation allowances; and a substantial system of tax incentives and rewards. In 1961, the ''Matrimonial Causes Act'' introduced a uniform divorce law across Australia, provided funding for marriage counselling services and made allowances for a specified period of separation as sufficient grounds for a divorce. In response to the decision by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Catholic Diocese of Goulburn in July 1962 to close its schools in protest at the lack of government assistance, the Menzies Government announced a new package of state aid for independent and Catholic schools. Menzies promised five million pounds annually for the provision of buildings and equipment facilities for science teaching in secondary schools. Also promised were 10 000 scholarships to help students stay at school for the last two years with a further 2 500 scholarships for technical schools. Despite the historically firm Catholic support base of the Labor Party, the Opposition under Calwell opposed state aid before eventually supporting it with the ascension of Gough Whitlam as Labor leader. In 1965, the Menzies Government took the decision to end open discrimination against married women in the public service, by allowing them to become permanent public servants, and allowing female officers who were already permanent public servants to retain that status after marriage.

Immigration policy

The Menzies government maintained and indeed expanded the Chifley Labor government's postwar immigration scheme established by Immigration Minister, Arthur Calwell in 1947. Beginning in 1949, Immigration Minister Harold Holt decided to allow 800 non-European war refugees to remain in Australia, and Japanese war brides to be admitted to Australia. In 1950 External Affairs Minister Percy Spender instigated the Colombo Plan, under which students from Asian countries were admitted to study at Australian universities, then in 1957 non-Europeans with 15 years' residence in Australia were allowed to become citizens. In a watershed legal reform, a 1958 revision of the Migration Act introduced a simpler system for entry and abolished the "dictation test" which had permitted the exclusion of migrants on the basis of their ability to take down a dictation offered in ''any'' European language. Immigration Minister, Alick Downer, Sir Alexander Downer, announced that 'distinguished and highly qualified Asians' might immigrate. Restrictions continued to be relaxed through the 1960s in the lead up to the Holt Government's watershed ''Migration Act, 1966''. This was despite when in a discussion with radio 2UE's Stewart Lamb in 1955 he was a defender of the White Australia policy.
(Menzies) "I don't want to see reproduced in Australia the kind of problem they have in South Africa or in America or increasingly in Great Britain. I think it's been a very good policy and it's been of great value to us and most of the criticism of it that I've ever heard doesn't come from these oriental countries it comes from wandering Australians. (Lamb) "For these years of course in the past Sir Robert you have been described as a racist." (Menzies) "Have I?" (Lamb) "I have read this, yes." (Menzies) "Well if I were not described as a racist I'd be the only public man who hasn't been."

Higher education expansion

The Menzies government extended Federal involvement in higher education and introduced the Commonwealth scholarship scheme in 1951, to cover fees and pay a generous means-tested allowance for promising students from lower socioeconomic groups. In 1956, a committee headed by Sir Keith Murray was established to inquire into the financial plight of Australia's universities, and Menzies's pumped funds into the sector under conditions which preserved the autonomy of universities. In its support for higher education, the Menzies government tripled Federal government funding and provided emergency grants, significant increases in academic salaries, extra funding for buildings, and the establishment of a permanent committee, from 1961, to oversee and make recommendations concerning higher education.

Development of Canberra as a national capital

The Menzies government developed the city of Canberra as the national capital. In 1957, the Menzies government established the National Capital Development Commission as independent statutory authority charged with overseeing the planning and development of Canberra. During Menzies time in office, the great bulk of the federal public service moved from the state capitals to Canberra.

After politics

Menzies turned 71 in December 1965 and began telling others of his intention to retire in the new year. He informed cabinet of his decision on 19 January 1966 and resigned as leader of the Liberal Party the following day; Harold Holt was 1966 Liberal Party of Australia leadership election, elected unopposed as his successor. Holt's swearing-in was delayed by the death of Defence Minister Shane Paltridge on 21 January. Menzies and Holt were pall-bearers at Paltridge's state funeral in Perth on 25 January, before returning to Canberra where Menzies formally concluded his term on 26 January. Menzies's farewell press conference was the first political press conference telecast live in Australia. He resigned from Parliament on 17 February, ending 32 years in Parliament (most of them spent as either a cabinet minister or opposition frontbencher), a combined 25 years as leader of the non-Labor Coalition, and 38 years as an elected official. To date, Menzies is the last Australian prime minister to leave office on his or her own terms. He was succeeded as Liberal Party leader and prime minister by his former treasurer, Harold Holt. He left office at the age of 71 years, 1 month and 6 days, making him the oldest person ever to be prime minister. Although the coalition remained in power for almost another seven years (until the 1972 Australian federal election, 1972 Federal election), it did so under four different prime ministers, largely due to his successor's death, only 22 months after taking office. On his retirement he became the thirteenth chancellor of the University of Melbourne and remained the head of the university from March 1967 until March 1972. Much earlier, in 1942, he had received the first honorary degree of Doctor of Laws of Melbourne University. His responsibility for the revival and growth of university life in Australia was widely acknowledged by the award of honorary degrees in the Universities of Queensland, Adelaide, Tasmania, New South Wales, and the Australian National University and by thirteen universities in Canada, the United States and Britain, including Oxford and Cambridge. Many learned institutions, including the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College of Surgeons (Hon. FRCS) and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (Hon. FRACP), elected him to Honorary Fellowships, and the Australian Academy of Science, for which he supported its establishment in 1954, made him a fellow (FAAS) in 1958. On 7 October 1965, Menzies was installed as the ceremonial office of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle as appointed by the Queen, which included an official residence at Walmer Castle during his annual visits to Britain. At the end of 1966 Menzies took up a scholar-in-residence position at the University of Virginia. He presented a series of lectures, published the following year as ''Central Power in the Australian Commonwealth''. He later published two volumes of memoirs. In March 1967 he was elected Chancellor of Melbourne University, serving a five-year term. In 1971, Menzies suffered a severe stroke and was permanently paralysed on one side of his body for the remainder of his life. He suffered a second stroke in 1972. His official biographer, Lady McNicoll wrote after his death in ''The Australian'' that Menzies was "splendid and sharp right up until the end" also that "each morning he underwent physiotherapy and being helped to face the day." In March 1977, Menzies accepted his knighthood of the Order of Australia (List of Knights and Dames of the Order of Australia, AK) from Queen Elizabeth in a wheelchair in the Long Room of the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the Centenary Test.

Personal life

On 27 September 1920, Menzies married Pattie Menzies, Pattie Leckie at Kew, Victoria, Kew Presbyterian Church in Melbourne. Pattie Leckie was the eldest daughter of John Leckie (Australian politician), John Leckie, a Deakinite Commonwealth Liberal Party, Commonwealth Liberal who was elected the member for Electoral district of Benambra, Benambra in the
Victorian Legislative Assembly The Victorian Legislative Assembly is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of Victoria in Australia; the upper house being the Victorian Legislative Council. Both houses sit at Parliament House, Melbourne, Parliament House in Spring Stree ...

Victorian Legislative Assembly
in 1913. Soon after their marriage, the Menzies bought the house in Howard Street, Kew, Victoria, Kew, which would become their family home for 25 years. They had three surviving children: Kenneth (1922–1993), Robert Jr (known by his middle name, Ian; 1923–1974) and a daughter, Margery (known by her middle name, Heather; born 1928). Another child died at birth. Kenneth was born in Hawthorn, Victoria, Hawthorn on 14 January 1922. He married Marjorie Cook on 16 September 1949, and had six children; Alec, Lindsay, Robert III, Diana, Donald, and Geoffrey. He died in Kooyong, Victoria, Kooyong on 8 September 1993. Ian and Heather were both born in Kew, Victoria, Kew, on 12 October 1923 and 3 August 1928, respectively. Ian was afflicted with an undisclosed illness for most of his life. He never married, nor had children, and died in 1974 in East Melbourne, Victoria, East Melbourne at the age of 50. Heather married Peter Henderson (Australian public servant), Peter Henderson, a diplomat and public servant (working at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia at the time of their marriage, and serving as the Departmental secretary, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (Australia), Department of Foreign Affairs from 1979 to 1984), on 1 May 1955. A daughter, Roberta, named after Menzies, was born in 1956. She was instrumental in the development of Canberra, Australia, Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory, and lives in Canberra. According to Mungo Wentworth MacCallum, Mungo MacCallum, Menzies as prime minister engaged in an extramarital affair with Betty Fairfax, the first wife of Sir Warwick Oswald Fairfax. That claim was subsequently disputed by Gerard Henderson and Menzies's own family.

Death and funeral

Menzies died from a heart attack while reading in his study at his Haverbrack Avenue home in Malvern, Victoria, Malvern,
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

on 15 May 1978. Tributes from across the world were sent to the Menzies family. Notably among those were from Elizabeth II, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia: "I was distressed to hear of the death of Sir Robert Menzies. He was a distinguished Australian whose contribution to his country and the Commonwealth will long be remembered", and from Malcolm Fraser, Prime Minister of Australia: "All Australians will mourn his passing. Sir Robert leaves an enduring mark on Australian history." Menzies was accorded a state funeral, held in Scots' Church, Melbourne on 19 May, at which Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince Charles represented Elizabeth II, the Queen. Other dignitaries to attend included current and former Prime Minister of Australia, Prime Ministers of Australia Malcolm Fraser, John McEwen, John Gorton and William McMahon (The two surviving Labor Prime Ministers Frank Forde and Gough Whitlam did not attend the funeral), as well as the Governor General of Australia, Zelman Cowan, Sir Zelman Cowan. Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom Alec Douglas-Home and Harold Wilson also attended. The service was and is to this day one of the largest state funerals ever held in Australia, with over 100,000 people lining the streets of Melbourne from Scots' Church to Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Springvale Crematorium, where a private service was held for the Menzies family and a 21-gun salute, 19-gun salute was fired at the end of the ceremony. In July 1978, a Burials and memorials in Westminster Abbey, memorial service was held for Menzies in the United Kingdom at Westminster Abbey. Sir Robert and Dame Pattie Menzies's ashes are interred in the 'Prime Ministers Garden' within the grounds of Melbourne General Cemetery. Some of Menzies's detractors also commemorated his passing in 1978, with a screenprinted poster, ''Pig Iron Bob / Dead at last'', designed by Chips Mackinolty from the Earthworks Poster Collective.

Religious views

Menzies was the son of a Presbyterian-turned-Methodist lay preacher and imbibed his father's Protestant faith and values. During his studies at the University of Melbourne, Menzies served as president of the Students' Christian Union. Proud of his Scottish Presbyterian heritage with a living faith steeped in the Bible, Menzies nonetheless preached religious freedom and non-sectarianism as the norm for Australia. Indeed, his cooperation with Australian Catholics on the contentious state aid issue was recognised when he was invited as guest of honour to the annual Cardinal's Dinner in Sydney 1964, presided over by Cardinal Norman Thomas Gilroy, Norman Gilroy.

Legacy and assessment

Menzies was by far the longest-serving Prime Minister of Australia, in office for a combined total of 18 years, five months and 12 days. His second period of 16 years, one month and seven days is by far the longest unbroken tenure in that office. During his second period he dominated Australian politics as no one else has ever done. He managed to live down the failures of his first period in office and to rebuild the conservative side of politics from the nadir it hit at the 1943 Australian federal election, 1943 election. However, it can also be noted that while retaining government on each occasion, Menzies lost the two-party-preferred vote at three separate elections – in 1940 Australian federal election, 1940, 1954 Australian federal election, 1954 and 1961 Australian federal election, 1961. He was the only Australian prime minister to recommend the appointment of four Governor-General of Australia, governors-general (William Slim, 1st Viscount Slim, Viscount Slim, and Lords William Morrison, 1st Viscount Dunrossil, Dunrossil, William Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle, De L'Isle, and Richard Casey, Baron Casey, Casey). Only two other prime ministers have ever chosen more than one governor-general. The Menzies era saw Australia become an increasingly affluent society, with average weekly earnings in 1965 50% higher in real terms than in 1945. The increased prosperity enjoyed by most Australians during this period was accompanied by a general increase in leisure time, with the five-day workweek becoming the norm by the mid-Sixties, together with three weeks of paid annual leave. Several books have been filled with anecdotes about Menzies. While he was speaking in Williamstown, Victoria, in 1954, a heckler shouted, "I wouldn't vote for you if you were the Gabriel, Archangel Gabriel"to which Menzies coolly replied "If I were the Archangel Gabriel, I'm afraid you wouldn't be in my constituency." Jo Gullett, who first knew him as a family friend of his father, Henry Gullett, wartime Minister for External Affairs, and who later served under Menzies as a Liberal Party member of parliament himself in Canberra in the 1950s, offered this assessment. Planning for an official biography of Menzies began soon after his death, but it was long delayed by Dame Pattie Menzies's protection of her husband's reputation and her refusal to co-operate with the appointed biographer. In 1991, the Menzies family appointed A. W. Martin to write a biography, which appeared in two volumes, in 1993 and 1999. In 2019, Troy Bramston, a journalist for ''The Australian'' and a political historian, wrote the first biography of Menzies since Martin's two volumes, titled ''Robert Menzies: The Art of Politics''. Bramston had access to previously unavailable Menzies family papers, conducted new interviews with Menzies' contemporaries and it was endorsed by Menzies' daughter, Heather Henderson. It was described as having "the most attractive combination of research and readability" of all the Menzies biographies. The National Museum of Australia in Canberra holds a significant collection of memorabilia relating to Robert Menzies, including a range of medals and civil awards received by Sir Robert such as his Jubilee and Coronation medals, Order of Australia, Companion of Honour and US Legion of Merit. There are also a number of special presentation items including a walking stick, cigar boxes, silver gravy boats from the Kooyong electorate and a silver inkstand presented by Queen Elizabeth II. Robert Menzies's personal library of almost 4,000 books is held at the University of Melbourne Library.

Published works

*To the people of Britain at war from the Prime Minister of Australia. Speeches delivered in Great Britain in 1941. (Longmans Green and Co, 1941) *''The Forgotten People and Other Studies in Democracy'' (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1942) *''Speech is of Time: Selected Speeches and Writings'' (London: Cassell, 1958) *''Afternoon Light: Some Memories of Men and Events'' (Melbourne: Cassell Australia, 1967) *''Central Power in the Australian Commonwealth: An Examination of the Growth of Commonwealth Power in the Australian Federation'' (London: Cassell, 1967) *''The Measure of the Years'' (Melbourne: Cassell Australia, 1970) *''Dark and Hurrying Days: Menzies's 1941 Diary'' (Canberra: National Library of Australia, 1993) *''Letters to My Daughter'' (Miller's Point: Murdoch Books, 2011)

Titles and honours

*In 1950 Menzies was awarded the Legion of Merit (Chief Commander) by US President Harry S. Truman for "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services 1941–1944 and December 1949 – July 1950". *On 1 January 1951 he was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) *On 29 August 1952, the University of Sydney conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) on Menzies. Similarly, He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the Universities of University of Bristol, Bristol, University of Belfast, Belfast, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, University of British Columbia, British Columbia, McGill University, McGill, Université de Montréal, Montreal, University of Malta, Malta, Université Laval, Laval, Université du Québec, Quebec, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Cambridge, Harvard University, Harvard, University of Leeds, Leeds, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, University of Queensland, Queensland, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, Drury University, Drury and University of California, California. *In 1954, the portrait painting ''Rt. Hon. R. G. Menzies, PC, CH, QC, MP'' by Ivor Hele, Sir Ivor Hele won the Archibald Prize *On 4 April 1960, a portrait of Menzies by William Dargie, Sir William Dargie was the front cover of Time magazine. This portrait is held by the Art Gallery of New South Wales *In 1963, Menzies was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Thistle (KT), the order being chosen in recognition of his Scottish heritage. He is the only Australian ever appointed to this order. He was the second of only two Australian prime ministers to be knighted during their term of office (the first prime minister, Edmund Barton, was knighted during his term in 1902). *On 29 April 1964 Menzies was awarded the honorary degree of a Doctor of Letters (DLitt) by the University of Western Australia. Menzies was also awarded with an Honorary Doctor of Science by the University of New South Wales. *In 1973 Menzies was awarded Japan's Order of the Rising Sun, Grand Cordon, First Class (other Australian prime ministers to be awarded this honour were Edmund Barton, John McEwen, Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam). * On 7 June 1976, he was appointed a Knight of the Order of Australia (AK). The category of Knight of the order had been created only on 24 May, and the Chancellor and Principal Knight of the Order, the Governor-General of Australia, Governor-General Sir John Kerr (governor-general), John Kerr, became the first appointee, ''ex officio''. Menzies's was the first appointment made after this. * In 1984, the Australian Electoral Commission proclaimed at a redistribution on 14 September 1984, the Division of Menzies for representation in the Australian House of Representatives in honour of the former prime minister. The division neighbours Menzies's old division of Kooyong in metropolitan Melbourne, Victoria. * In 1994, the year of the centenary of Menzies's birth, the Menzies Research Centre was created as an independent public policy think tank associated with the Liberal Party. * In 2009, during the Australia Day celebrations, the ''R.G. Menzies Walk'' was officially opened by the then Governor-General, Quentin Bryce. The walk runs alongside the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Australia's capital,
Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the holding primary status in a , , , , or other , usually as its seat of the government. A capital is typically a that physically encompasses the government's offices an ...

. * In 2012, a life-sized bronze statue of Menzies was erected on the R.G. Menzies Walk. * Sir Robert Menzies Park, in Wahroonga, New South Wales * Sir Robert Menzies Reserve, in Malvern, Victoria * The high-rise Menzies building on the Clayton, Victoria, Clayton campus of Monash University


* 1950, he was appointed a Legion of Merit, Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit * 1951, he was appointed a Order of the Companions of Honour, Companion of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) * 1963, he was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Thistle (KT) * 1973, he was appointed a Order of the Rising Sun, Grand Cordon First Class of the Order of the Rising Sun * 1976, he was appointed a Knight of the Order of Australia (AK)


* 1935, he was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal * 1937, he was awarded the King George VI Coronation Medal * 1953, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal

Freedom of the City

* 29 April 1941: Swansea * 18 November 1948: Edinburgh * 6 June 1953: Oxford * 1966:
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...


Menzies ministries

* First Menzies Ministry * Second Menzies Ministry * Third Menzies Ministry * Fourth Menzies Ministry * Fifth Menzies Ministry * Sixth Menzies Ministry * Seventh Menzies Ministry * Eighth Menzies Ministry * Ninth Menzies Ministry * Tenth Menzies Ministry

Actors who have played Menzies

* In the 1984 mini series ''The Last Bastion'', Menzies was portrayed by John Wood (actor, born 1946), John Wood. * In the 1987 mini series ''Vietnam (TV series), Vietnam'', he was portrayed by Noel Ferrier. * In the 1988 mini series ''True Believers (TV series), True Believers'', he was portrayed by John Bonney (actor), John Bonney. * In the 1996 Egyptian film ''Nasser 56'', he was portrayed by Egyptian actor Hassan Kami. * In the 2007 film ''Curtin (2007 film), Curtin'', he was portrayed by Bille Brown. * In the 2008 television documentary ''Menzies and Churchill at War'', he was portrayed by Matthew King (Australian actor), Matthew King. * Max Gillies has caricatured Menzies on stage and in the comedy satire series ''The Gillies Report''. * In the 2015 documentary ''The Dalfram Dispute 1938'', Menzies was portrayed by Bob Baines * In 2016 Menzies was portrayed by Alan Dearth in the ''A Place to Call Home (TV series), A Place to Call Home'' episode "A Place to Call Home (season 4), Home to Roost".

Eponyms of Menzies

Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Foundation

Menzies School of Health Research Australia

R. G. Menzies Building, Australian National University Library
* Menzies Research Centre
Menzies College (La Trobe University)

Robert Menzies College (Macquarie University)

Sir Robert Menzies Building (Monash University, Clayton Campus)
* The Australian federal electoral division of Menzies.Origins of Current Divisions Name – Current Divisions
Australian Electoral Commission web site
*Menzies Wing (Wesley College, Melbourne) * Menzies Research Institute *Menzies Wing (St John's College, University of Sydney)

Notes and references

Further reading

* Bramston, Troy (2019) ''Robert Menzies: The Art of Politics'', Scribe. * Brett, Judith (1992) ''Robert Menzies's Forgotten People'', Macmillan, (a sharply critical psychological study) * Chavura, Stephen A. and Melleuish, Greg (2021) ''The Forgotten Menzies: The world picture of Australia's longest-serving prime minister, Melbourne University Press. * Cook, Ian (1999), ''Liberalism in Australia'', Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria, Ch. 7 'Robert Menzies'. * Day, David. (1993) ''Menzies and Churchill at War'', Oxford University Press * Hazlehurst, Cameron (1979), ''Menzies Observed'', George Allen and Unwin, Sydney, New South Wales. * Henderson, Anne. (2014) ''Menzies at War'' * Colin Hughes, Hughes, Colin A (1976), ''Mr Prime Minister. Australian Prime Ministers 1901–1972'', (Melbourne: Oxford University Press) Chs. 13 and 18. * * * * Martin, Allan (2000), 'Sir Robert Gordon Menzies,' in Michelle Grattan, Grattan, Michelle, "Australian Prime Ministers", New Holland Publishers, pages 174–205. (very good summary of his life and career) * * * Starr, Graeme (1980), The Liberal Party of Australia. A Documentary History, Drummond/Heinemann, Richmond, Victoria.

External links

Papers of Robert Menzies, 1905–1978
National Library of Australia, approximately 82.30 m. (588 boxes) + 99 fol. boxes. * *
The Menzies Foundation

The Menzies Virtual Museum

* Listen to Menzies'
declaration of war
australianscreen online
* Menzies's declaration of war was added to the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry in 2010
The Robert Menzies Collection: A Living Library

Robert Menzies Notebook Collection
The University of Melbourne
Charcoal Sketch
– Menzies Collection * {{DEFAULTSORT:Menzies, Robert Robert Menzies, 1894 births 1978 deaths Prime Ministers of Australia Treasurers of Australia Attorneys-General of Australia Members of the Cabinet of Australia Australian Leaders of the Opposition Australian ministers for Foreign Affairs Members of the Australian House of Representatives Members of the Australian House of Representatives for Kooyong Liberal Party of Australia members of the Parliament of Australia United Australia Party members of the Parliament of Australia Australian people of World War II World War II political leaders People of the Vietnam War Australian anti-communists Australian monarchists Victoria (Australia) state politicians Melbourne Law School alumni Australian Presbyterians Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science Australian Fellows of the Royal Society Knights of the Order of Australia Knights of the Thistle Australian politicians awarded knighthoods Australian recipients of British honours Australian Queen's Counsel Queen's Counsel 1901–2000 Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports Australian Members of the Order of the Companions of Honour Grand Cordons of the Order of the Rising Sun Australian people of Scottish descent Australian people of Cornish descent People educated at Wesley College (Victoria) Deputy Premiers of Victoria Chancellors of the University of Melbourne Attorneys-General of Victoria Solicitors-General of Victoria Political party founders Chief Commanders of the Legion of Merit Articles containing video clips Australian Freemasons Defence ministers of Australia Leaders of the Liberal Party of Australia Leaders of the United Australia Party 20th-century Australian politicians Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom Fellows of the Australian Academy of the Humanities Australian memoirists 20th-century memoirists Australian military personnel of World War I