Talk:Robert Menzies

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Early comments[edit]

Menzies did not have a record 17 year term. His second term in office was from December 1949 to January 1966, in all about 16 years and slightly less than a month. If you include his first term, it becomes about 18 and a half years.


Anyone who has read the article will understand what the sentence means. (Save us from pedants.) Adam

Its not pedantic, it's accurate.


About the Menzies'es decision not to enrol in World War I :

Ithe statement you made to me in which you said : "You have twice inserted this: "Since the family has made enough of a sacrifice to the war with the enlistment of these brothers..." Firstly, many families lost three or more sons in the war without complaining, as Menzies' opponents pointed out. neither Menzies nor his family ever put this forward as the reason why Menzies had not enlisted - in fact Menzies never gave a public explanation at all, he merely said it was for "private reasons." So this excuse is your opinion, not a fact. It is not "NPOV" to insert your idea about why he didn't enlist."

Whilst I cannot recall the precise source in which this "enough of a sacrifice" line was made, (it wasn't mine) I have come up with the following.

"World War I broke out during the years when Menzies was pursuing the law course at Melbourne University. It was considered at the time a fair thing if two boys out of a family of four went to the war. Menzies's two elder brothers enlisted and went overseas after a family conference in which it was agreed that Menzies should not enlist but should complete his law course. Compulsory military training within Australia was then in operation and Menzies had become a lieutenant in the Citizen Forces. He continued to hold this commission until his period of compulsory service ended on his attaining the age limit." Sir Percy Joske, Sir Robert Menzies, 1894-1978 - a new, informal memoir, 1978 p 18.

It is not NPOV to use that same old just-barely-short-of "Menzies was a coward" line as a statement of fact. It is NPOV to allow the family's version, or some suitable statement in defence of it all, to go in.

I cannot understand your other problems with what I added. Possibly it was influenced by this issue. It is not necessary to have multiple links to the same year - you must have had 1941 in that article about three or four times. The 36 faceless men issue did exist - are you saying that is false?

I am willing to discuss these matters with you, but simply deleting them without discussion or explanation is not on. Arno 04:21, 5 Jan 2004 (UTC)

  • I didn't say Menzies was a coward - I quoted what Page said. If you want to quote Joske as giving the explanation he gives, that is fine. My objection is not to the opinion, but to you simply inserting into the text as an unsourced opinion.

(Having said that, my opinion is that Joske is wrong: it was not considered a "fair thing" for third sons not to enlist. Otherwise there would not have been the widespread anger against Menzies among ex-servicemen that there was when he entered politics in the 1920s, and again in 1939. Perhaps you are unaware that Joske was a Liberal MP and an old friend of Menzies, or that he also was a law student who didn't serve in the war, despite being of military age.)

On the other matters

  • It is WP policy to wikify all dates. I used to find it annoying but now I do it automatically. I suggest you get used to it, because if you don't the WP pedants will come along behind you and do it anyway.
  • The details of the 36 faceless men episode belong in ALP history, not in a biography of Menzies. It is sufficient to say that he used the issue to win the 1963 election. Adam 04:32, 5 Jan 2004 (UTC)


I'll check the wp policy. It does seem absurd.
But as far as Joske is concerned - we have a conservative opinion (Page's) that argues in favour of Menzies having enlisted, and one against. I feel this is sufficiently NPOV.
The 36 faceless men are a part of Menzies's history in that it did contribute to his 1963 victory. Otherwise, you'll need to remove the Petrov Affair from this article on similar grounds. Arno 04:54, 5 Jan 2004 (UTC)


By reverting my changes you have re-inserted several ungrammatical sentences and at least one clear error of fact into the article. Since you won't let me correct them, you can now figure them out for yourself. Adam 04:48, 5 Jan 2004 (UTC)


This came when I was replying to your first answer. Look - do feel free to correct the grammar or to point it out to me , I'll correct it. I don't mind that at all. Arno 04:54, 5 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I can't see why people want to deny Menzies' extraordinary record at the outbreak of WWI. The family decision thing is a furphy - compare and contrast with the [Handcock family of Myrrhee, Victoria]. Albatross2147 12:53, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

1963 royal tour[edit]

what's the source for the widespread contemporary embarrassment at Menzies's "did but see her" line? or for the indifference at HM's 1963 tour?

Look, If Menzies said this - and I beleive that he did - then leave it in. But write about it neutrally. References to "Australia cringing" is NOT NPOV. Arno 09:58, 4 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Brisbane Line[edit]

In 1943 after claims from Labor minister Eddie Ward that Menzies had left Australia open to invasion with the infamous Brisbane Line strategy and a resulting royal commission into the affair, Curtin won a huge election victory.

I notice someone cut this bit out after I added it, perhaps I am missing something here but this was a big part of Menzies' political life in 1943. The Brisbane Line controversy dogged Menzies right up until anti-communist motives moved to the forefront in Australian politics and I think needs to be mentioned. --kudz75 02:04, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I cut it out because it's innaccurate and POV. There was no "Brisbane Line strategy," infamous or otherwise, it was all a beat-up by Ward and the anti-Menzies press. It was an issue at the 1943 election but in no way decisive, since Ward was widely and rightly regarded as a ratbag. Adam 14:58, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Many people thought there was such a strategy. Some people still do.

Regards, BenAveling 07:33, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

I think it's commonly accepted that belief in this was widespread. Menzies certainly claimed he'd never devised or approved of such a strategy, and that indeed, it never existed, but it pursued him all the same. It was a decisive issue, and one he felt strongly enough about to again try to clear his name in his memoirs. It's definately relevant to any comprehensive article on Menzies, even if it's simply mentioned that many did (and do) believe it existed, and that he strenuously denied that it did. El Castro 03:34, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

If the Brisbane Line didn't exist, it should have been invented.--Jack Upland (talk) 17:02, 14 December 2014 (UTC)


It was also because of the way he pronounced his surname; it was phonetically closer to Mingzies than to Menzies.

Regards, BenAveling 07:35, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

This is an old and tiresome argument. It is true that the original Scots pronunciation of Menzies is "Mingus," but the Australian Menzieses never pronounced it that way, and that is not the origin of the nickname Ming, which derives from Ming the Merciless, who was popularised by a film in 1936 just as Menzies was rising to prominence. It was probably reinforced by people pointing out the similarity to the Scots name. Adam 10:23, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

I just want to point out that Highland identity and Scots language are incongruous. Highlanders spoke (and in some cases, still speak) Ghàidhlig, aka Scots-Gaelic, a Goidelic Celtic language. Scots is very specifically a Lowland linguistic feature and a member of the Germanic language family. Is this something that could be corrected in the body of the entry? If PM Menzies was both proud of his Highland heritage and wanted to use Scots pronunciation because of his own personal confusion of the distinct groups, then could that at least be explained as his own error rather than that of the article contributors? Smaddock (talk) 12:38, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

"Scots" here means "Scottish", not "pertaining to the Scots language". My understanding is that the traditionalist Menzies did point out the original pronunciation of his name (but not insist on it) and that this chimed in with the Ming the Merciless character.--Jack Upland (talk) 07:34, 27 October 2013 (UTC)


Is his name pronounced "Mingis" oder "Menzess". See 16:42, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

Refer to above. It is pronounced "Men-zeez" Kewpid 19:32, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Ming the Merciless[edit]

This edit removed the ref to "Ming the Merciless" with the comment "undoubtedly, you need a source for that". The correct way to ask for sources is to annotate with {{fact}} or a similar template. Or to discuss on the talk page. Please review WP:Bold, which says "please note: 'be bold in updating pages' does not mean that you should make large changes or deletions to long articles on complex, controversial subjects with long histories" and suggests some ways to proceed.

One source is Tasmanian Federation online which says "Known as Ming the Merciless because of brilliant legal mind". I can't find the reference to Flash Gordon quickly and do not have access here to the two biographies quoted but they should be checked before the comment is removed. Hence I have rolled back.--A Y Arktos\talk 21:31, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Replacing Churchill[edit]

The Australian historian David Day has suggested that Menzies hoped to replace Churchill as British Prime [sic], and that he had some support in Britain for this. Other Australian writers, such as Gerard Henderson, have rejected this theory.

I don't see how this is relevant to our article on Menzies. This is a theory that apparently only one historian has. I could dream up any wacko theory about Menzies (or any plausible one, for that matter), but surely the mere existence of my theory does not mean it merits mention here. Does it? JackofOz 06:49, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

He didn't invent the theory, many have suggested it previously, and I for one think it has some substance to it. Read Judith Brett on Menzies attitudes to Britain and his jealousy of Churchill. As to relevance, Menzies' long stay in Britain, and his belief that he needed to go back to Britain, led directly to his fall as PM. Adam 06:53, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

If many have suggested it previously, why is David Day getting all the credit for it, and why aren't the others mentioned at all? JackofOz 07:08, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Because's he's now the leading historian of the period and has done the most work on it. Adam 07:23, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Any suggested reading where Day brings up the topic? If it's "true" it's very interesting and should stay in the topic.Jockmonkey 09:20, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

I don't think anyone apart from Day has ever suggested this as a bona fide theory. Gerard Henderson gave him a good kicking in media watch dog about it too. The fact Day can't cite any other source for this apart from his own research strikes me that he just made it up. (talk) 03:50, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

It seems relevant to this that Menzies became Warden of the Cinque Ports, replacing Churchill.--Jack Upland (talk) 16:56, 14 December 2014 (UTC)


I know we follow an official government site on this, but still, why isn't he numbered 12th and 17th? Biruitorul 02:21, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

The convention is to number each PM once only. It means he was the 12th man to be PM, not that his was the 12th ministry - ministries have a separate numbering system. Adam 02:41, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

Thank you. Biruitorul 01:34, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

Months in London[edit]

I think that saying Menzies "did his best" during the early years of World War II is biased reading of his actions. His unwarranted months is the UK "meeting" with officials is unmentioned here, (well, removed) without explanation or justification. mangonorth

The months in London are mentioned in the next paragraph. We could say more, but the deleted phrase "under the pretence of 'meeting' with the British cabinet" is way too POV. Peter Ballard 02:16, 5 July 2007 (UTC)


Why is it that there seems to be absolutely zero pictures of Ming anywhere at all before 1939? has 109 pages but do you think there's any before 1939? It really is a pity. The collection of images of PMs is getting pretty good now. A youthful picture of Australia's longest serving PM sure wouldn't go astray. Timeshift 01:37, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

  • A possible source might be the Parliamentary library of Victoria, or the Supreme Court of Victoria. Menzies was a barrister and a Victorian state MP in the 20s and early 30s. These will not be online sources, it would require someone to actually do the legwork, and there may or may not be copyright issues, but public interest should override any issues around the use of an 80-year-old photo owned by a government institution. Darcyj (talk) 23:38, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Shire of Menzies[edit]

I don't believe this could be considered an institution, but I don't particularly care enough to fight to have it removed. Timeshift (talk) 01:30, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

Good solution Jack. Timeshift (talk) 01:55, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. -- JackofOz (talk) 01:57, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

These edits have several issues... keep, fix, or revert? Timeshift (talk) 03:52, 2 June 2009 (UTC)


This user wonders why Menzies' infobox mentions the reigning British monarch during his time in office whereas most/all other Australian PM infoboxes don't. (talk) 08:33, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Sir Robert[edit]

I replaced most instances of "Sir Robert" with "Menzies". This is consistent with the Manual of Style and other articles (see Winston Churchill, for example). Wikipeterproject (talk) 11:52, 12 August 2010 (UTC)


The article contains many point of view edits, such as this uncited sentence: "He managed to live down the failures of his first term in office, and to rebuild the conservative side of politics from the nadir it hit in 1943." Accordingly, it needs a significant cleanup, with citations to reliable secondary sources. This is a big job, requiring significant research, and I don't have time at the moment, but I not the need for it here and hope someone can help! Wikipeterproject (talk) 11:56, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

British to the boostraps[edit]

I'm wanting to track down exactly when he said this, and in what context the remark was made. Or did he say it more than once? Was he talking about himself specifically, or about Australians generally? -- (Jack of Oz =) (talk) 02:58, 20 September 2010 (UTC)

Appointed his cousin to the High Court[edit]

In 1958, Menzies appointed his cousin Douglas Menzies to the High Court. Regardless of the merits of the individual concerned, a PM appointing a close relative to such a high profile post would certainly attract some nepotistic comment these days. Did the press or the Opposition of the time have anything to say about the matter? -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 23:36, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Anyone? I also mentioned this question here. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 22:08, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately it is just too late to be covered by Trove. But politics was generally more gentlemanly in those days. I don't think that Doc Evatt, himself a former judge, would have smeared a colleague in that way. No doubt Robert Menzies was acting on advice. I think the appointment of Garfield Barwick was far more political and problematic.--Jack Upland (talk) 23:24, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

"In 1941 Menzies spent months in Britain..."[edit]

And Canada. En route from London back home to Australia he extensively stopped over in Ottawa where the Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was serving his 17 1/2 years as head of government, not dissimilar to Menzies' eventual term as PM in Australia. Given the community of interest by Australian and Canadian heads of government during the second year of World War II, virtually identical constitutional structures and situation as sovereign members of the (then) British Commonwealth and relationship with Great Britain and the Crown, plus Menzies' and King's virtually identical ethnicity and religious affiliation -- clearly vast interests in common (plus the fact that Menzies was an Australian lawyer at a time when both Australia and Canada's ultimate legal appeal was to London, where commonly judges from each others' countries presided over such hearings; indeed, back then differences apart from climate were substantially cosmetic, the 1901 Australian constitution inserting a hyphen in Governor General, changing "province" to "state" and "lieutenant-goveror" to "governor"; even today one mostly must merely remember to address a court justice as "Your Honour" rather than "My Lord" or "My Lady") -- his lengthy stopover in Ottawa surely bears mention. Masalai (talk) 00:49, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

1949 Election. "picked up seats".[edit]

The main text says:

He picked up 48 seats in a House of Representatives that had been expanded to 121 members, while Labor picked up only four. The net 44-seat swing is still the largest defeat of a sitting government at the federal level in Australia.


But what does "picked up" mean? Does it mean a gain of new seats compared to some baseline? Or does it mean won in absolute terms? If it is the first, then of course the newly formed (but high profile) party would win a lot of new seats off baseline of zero. And of course the old party would "pick up" only a handful.

On the other hand, if it means that in Labor had only 4 seats in the 1949 parliament, then that is a truly amazing historical fact, which should be emphasized more clearly. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:32, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Actually 1949 was the second election for the Liberal Party; they had been around for 1946 as well and done extremely badly, winning only 15 seats. So the gain of 48 is from the base of 15. Labor, meanwhile, gained 4 from a base of 43, having done very well in 1946. I agree that the wording is ambiguous and would suggest "picked up" (which is colloquial anyway) should be changed to "gained". Frickeg (talk) 00:11, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

It's not a swing, just like in by-elections where a major party doesn't contest. If labor didn't hold all those new seats, how did those seats swing to the Libs? I've reworded the section. Any concerns? Timeshift (talk) 11:36, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

Styles from birth[edit]

As E-II-R's coronation was 2 June 1953, why was the change of title from KC to QC in 1952? Pdfpdf (talk) 09:57, 30 November 2012 (UTC)

Because she became Queen the instant her father George VI died on 6 February 1952. The old maxim "The king never dies" means there is never a moment, not even a micro-second, when the crown is vacant. Coronation of the British monarch is an important event, but it does not make anyone the monarch. Edward VIII never had a coronation at all, but he was certainly king (until he abdicated). -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 04:08, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Jack! Cheers, Pdfpdf (talk) 11:46, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

First Prime Ministership - Billy Hughes???[edit]

The text implies that Billy Hughes was temporarily PM before Fadden was elected, but this doesn't seem to appear elsewhere in Wikipedia (e.g., on the list of PMs). So did the Little Digger get up again as PM??? The point is that Frank Forde was Australia's shortest serving PM because he held office in the interregnum between Curtin's death and Chifley's election by Labor Caucus. So was there an interregnum here???--Jack Upland (talk) 10:45, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Resigning as party leader and as prime minister aren't the same thing. I agree the text could use some reworking, but Menzies stayed formally prime minister until the Coalition elected a new leader. You'll notice the text says he resigned as leader on 27 August, but the infobox says he was prime minister until the 29th. Frickeg (talk) 11:14, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Hang on a minute. Firstly, with all due respect, please don't cite this Wikipedia page as a source when we're trying to improve it!!! Secondly, the PM is just a convention, and the convention is that the leader of the party (or Coalition) that controls the House of Reps is the PM and is duly sworn in. Give me another example when the party leader is not PM. If what you are saying is true, this is a serious anomaly. Arguably, Menzies would have been a PM but NOT head of government. He would not have confidence on the floor of the house and Australia could have been thrown into the dangerous situation of having no PM, or even worse not being sure who was PM. And this was in wartime!!! A practical example would be if a crisis emerged in this interregnum. What if Hughes and Menzies have totally different views on what to do??? Do you (or anyone else) have a reputable source that explains this anomaly???--Jack Upland (talk) 19:57, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Hardly an anomaly. It's a convention but invariably when a PM resigns or is deposed they don't lose both posts at the same second and even when a PM loses the confidence of the House they're still in office in caretaker mode until a new one can be determined and actually sworn in. A recent example is when Kevin Rudd returned - he won the leadership one day but wasn't sworn in as PM until the next. Overnight Julia Gillard was still PM but not Labor leader. Timrollpickering (talk) 20:45, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

I don't think you're thinking it through. We're not talking about a time lag here.--Jack Upland (talk) 01:57, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

To put it another way, Curtin won the election without a clear contender. The UAP (later to return to the older name of the Liberal Party) had dumped its leader and replaced him with a political hasbeen and Labor rat. However, the UAP were not backing Hughes for PM. They were backing Fadden, who as Country Party leader was the head of the junior party in the Coalition. UAP supporters would be entitled to ask what potential PM they were being asked to vote for. That sounds like an anomaly to me.--Jack Upland (talk) 00:32, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
The CP leader as leader of the Coalition was an anomaly, sure, although I believe the UAP were quite clear that Fadden was the leader of the Coalition (and, fun fact, in 1943 the CP ended up with eleven seats to the UAP's twelve, so it wasn't quite such a gap). The UAP was falling apart by that point anyway. But the fact that Menzies was prime minister for two days after resigning as leader of the UAP is not an anomaly, it's just the way the system works, because leader of the largest party in the house is something the party decides, while being PM is an appointment made by the Governor-General. As to what would have happened if Hughes and Menzies disagreed, well, I don't think we need worry about hypotheticals. Frickeg (talk) 00:41, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

In a wartime situation it's not a hypothetical, it's a serious risk to national security. No wonder the Liberals have airbrushed this episode from their official history.--Jack Upland (talk) 01:23, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

I seriously do not get what the big deal is here. It's a ridiculous hypothetical because Menzies resigned as party leader, and the UAP party room then voted to support Fadden. He also made it clear he was resigning as prime minister but that takes a little while to take legal effect. It wasn't up to Hughes, it was up to the party room. If the UAP had voted to support Hughes as prime minister (hardly likely), then prime minister he would have become. Otherwise he was bound to do as the party room dictated and defer to Fadden. Frickeg (talk) 01:34, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
I agree with the first sentence of that comment. You don't get it. In fact, I was wrong: it is even more anomalous than I said, because Curtin took power before the election???!!! That apparently is "situation normal" in your book???!!! My only question is: what's the book? Alice in Wonderland? Wizard of Oz? Grimm's Fairytales? Pull the other one. It's got bells on it.--Jack Upland (talk) 00:06, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
I am frankly baffled by the tone of this comment (a year later! Better late than ... oh, never mind). Where did I say anything about it being normal? More to the point, do you have any issue with the article as it stands, or would you prefer to cast aspersions on my sanity? Frickeg (talk) 02:45, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
My reference was to the comments by you and by Timrollpickering that it was not an "anomaly" and no "big deal". I wasn't questioning anybody's sanity: it was the situation that was CRAZY. I was prompted to revisit the issue because of the recent discussion about Harold Holt. I don't think there is any problem with that. In terms of the article, I think it would be good to have more information about what happened. Unfortunately, this crisis seems to have been airbrushed out of history.--Jack Upland (talk) 06:16, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
In future, if you a referring to a situation rather than a person, perhaps a bit less of "you don't get it" and "what's your book" might be useful. But I would have no issue with expanding the material there in a neutral fashion. Frickeg (talk) 08:14, 14 December 2014 (UTC)

Visit to Germany and impressions of Nazi regime[edit]

I removed the following text:

Menzies spent several weeks in Nazi Germany and was extremely impressed with the achievements of the "New Germany" (such as the abolition of trades unions, suppression of the right to collective bargaining and outlawing of the right to strike); he was also "deeply impressed" by the "spirituality" of the German people, their unselfish attitude, their less materialist outlook on life, and their preparation to make sacrifices on behalf of the Nation. On returning to Australia the following month Menzies unashamedly expressed favourable views of Nazism and the Nazi dictatorship, based as he said on his own first hand experience. In October 1938, after five years of escalating violence against the Jews and others, and scarcely one month before the infamous Nazi atrocity known as Kristallnacht, he made a speech in Sydney where he drew a contrast between the quality of the leadership of Lyons (then Australian PM) and Hitler (then German Chancellor); Menzies' critique strongly favoured Hitler.

Reference: "Interview with David Bird, author of Nazi Dreamtime". Retrieved 2012-11-13.  In this ABC Radio National interview, author David Bird claims that the information concerning Menzies' pro=Nazi sympathies is not new (further information can be found Bird's book Nazi Dreamtime (2012)).

The notion that Menzies was a Nazi sympathiser is disputed by the Liberal party and by Menzies's daughter. I suggest this text needs reworking with additional references and context to provide more balance. Landscape goats (talk) 01:09, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

It could be more NPOV, but I don't think the party or the daughter are neutral or competent sources.--Jack Upland (talk) 07:20, 27 October 2013 (UTC)


I have removed this:

[PM of a small nation]...that depended on Britain for defence against the looming threat of the Japanese Empire, with 100 million people, a very powerful military, and an aggressive foreign policy that looked south.

This is distorted historical hindsight. Japan was not part of WW2 at this point (i.e., not at war with the British Empire, including Australia). Was Menzies alert to the Japanese threat? I don't think so. After all, he earned the nickname "Pig Iron Bob" during his battle with the Communist-led waterfront union which was trying to black ban the export of iron ore to Japan. On coming to power Curtin insisted on withdrawing Australian troops from Europe, reversing Menzies' policy. One of the reasons that the Japanese "sneak attack" on Pearl Harbour, Hong Kong, and Singapore was so successful is that the threat did not loom very large in people's minds. Moreover, WW2 was not about defence of Australia. Australian troops fought in defence of the British Empire, whether in Singapore or in the Sahara.--Jack Upland (talk) 22:41, 9 December 2014 (UTC)