John Howard, Historian Of Menzies, Addresses National Press Club

Ahead of the broadcast of his television documentary on Sir Robert Menzies, former prime minister John Howard has addressed the National Press Club.

Howard

It was Howard’s 40th appearance at the Canberra press club. The documentary on Menzies will be shown on ABC television at the end of this month.

Howard spoke about the Menzies period but also commented on contemporary politics.

He said Senator Sam Dastyari had become a liability for the ALP. He also warned the major parties against embracing identity politics and cautioned against too much legislative interference in political donations. [Read more…]


On This Day In 1966: Menzies Retires, Holt Government Takes Office

Having announced his retirement on January 20, Sir Robert Menzies officially departed the prime ministership on this day in 1966. Harold Holt’s first ministry was sworn in at the same time.

It was a historic moment 50 years ago that brought to an end the political career of Australia’s longest-serving prime minister. Menzies had been Prime Minister for two years between April 1939 and August 1941. He formed the Liberal Party in 1944 and served for six years as Opposition Leader before defeating the Chifley Labor government in December 1949.

Menzies went on to win six more elections in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1961 and 1963. When he retired, he had been prime minister for 16 years and 5 weeks.

Holt

Harold Holt took office at the age of 57 with a ministerial career that had started 26 years earlier. He had first served under Menzies in 1940 and had been Treasurer since 1958. [Read more…]


Abbott On The Liberal Party’s 70th Anniversary

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has used his weekly video message to remember the 70th anniversary of the Liberal Party.

The Liberal Party was founded in 1944, following conferences in Canberra and Albury that were convened by Robert Menzies. Menzies was a former leader of the United Australia Party (UAP). He had been effectively deposed from the party’s leadership in 1941. The UAP collapsed in the aftermath of its landslide defeat in the 1943 election. [Read more…]


75 Years Ago Tonight: Robert Menzies Declares That Australia Is At War

Seventy-five years ago, on September 3, 1939, Prime Minister Robert Menzies broadcast to the nation the news that Australia was at war.

Menzies was 44 years old. He had been prime minister since April 26, 1939, taking over the leadership of the United Australia Party after the death of Joe Lyons.

Menzies would be forced from office in 1941 and the ALP’s John Curtin would carry the war effort whilst Menzies set about forming the Liberal Party. He returned to the prime ministership at the 1949 election. Winning another six elections, Menzies retired undefeated in January 1966, having served as PM for over 18 years.

  • Listen to Menzies’s announcement of war:

Edited transcript of Menzies’s announcement on September 3, 1939.

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. [Read more…]


December 10: Most Popular Federal Election Date

Today, December 10, is the single most popular day for federal elections in the history of the Australian federation.

Federal elections were held on this day in 1949, 1955 and 1977.

All three elections held on December 10 resulted in substantial victories to the Coalition.

In 1949, Robert Menzies swept the Chifley government out after 8 years of Labor rule.

In 1955, in the aftermath of the ALP Split, Menzies called an early election and won his fourth consecutive victory.

In 1977, Malcolm Fraser won a second term in office, defeating Gough Whitlam in a near-repeat of his 1975 landslide.

December is also the single most popular month for federal elections. Twelve of the 44 federal elections since 1901 (27%) have been held in December. The last was on December 1, 1984.

Two elections have been held on December 13, in 1919 and 1975. Two elections have also been held on December 16, in 1903 and 1922. Two elections have been held on August 21, in 1943 and 2010.


More Anniversaries: Three Elections, A Floating Dollar And The Redfern Speech

Twenty-nine-years ago today, the Hawke government floated the dollar.

It was a move little understood at the time but now regarded as timely and crucial to Australia’s economic development. Whilst former prime ministers Hawke and Keating still differ over who had most influence on the decision, no-one questions its significance. [Read more…]


Anniversaries Galore In The First Week Of December

The first week of December is a big week for political anniversaries.

Today, for example, is the anniversary of the swearing-in of the Rudd Labor government in 2007. Channel 10 News reported it this way:

Looking back at Rudd: [Read more…]