Sir Robert Menzies Lecture

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The Sir Robert Menzies Lecture is an annual lecture delivered in Melbourne, by a prominent politician, academic or other noteworthy individual, about various aspects of modern liberalism. The lectures have been held annually since 1978, and are named in honour of Sir Robert Menzies, Australia's longest serving Prime Minister.[1]


The lecture was first proposed by the Monash University Liberal Club in 1976, when the president of the club was Michael Kroger, and it was held in its early years at the Robert Blackwood Hall on the Clayton campus of the university. The inaugural speaker was the then Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. The establishment of an on-campus conservative lecture was a bold move in a time where student politics were predominantly left-wing. The 1981 appearance of Margaret Thatcher drew strong protests from students; at the same time, Thatcher's lecture was one of the best-remembered of the series.

After the first lecture, the Sir Robert Menzies Lecture Trust was established to ensure the year-to-year running of the finances and organisation of the lecture. The inaugural chairman of the Trust was Alan Gregory AM (1978 to 2010). Since 2010, Ron Wilson has been chairman of the Trust.

With the exception of Thatcher's 1981 speech, the lecture has been maintained as a free event, and is now held each year at Parliament House, Melbourne. The Monash University Liberal Club continues to be involved with the Trust in the operation of the lecture.

John Howard is the only person to have given the lecture on two occasions (in 1980 when he was the Federal Treasurer, and again in 1996 after he had become Prime Minister).


Sir Robert Menzies willingly agreed to lend his name to the Trust, but died before the inaugural lecture was delivered. The founding patron of the lecture was Sir Robert's widow, Dame Pattie Menzies, and the current patron is their daughter Heather Henderson.


Year Lecturer Position Venue
1978 Malcolm Fraser Prime Minister Robert Blackwood Hall Monash University
1979 Andrew Peacock Minister for Foreign Affairs
1980 John Howard Treasurer
1981 Margaret Thatcher Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1982 Sir Garfield Barwick Former Chief Justice of Australia
1983 Sir Sridath (Sonny) Ramphal Commonwealth Secretary-General
1984 Sir Rob Muldoon Prime Minister of New Zealand
1985 Professor David Kemp Professor of Politics, Monash University
1986 Hugh Morgan CEO of Western Mining Corporation
1987 Dame Leonie Kramer Various positions
1988 Don Mazankowski Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
1989 Sir Paul Hasluck Former Governor-General
1990 John Hewson Leader of the Liberal Party
1991 Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Blainey Former Dean of Arts at the University of Melbourne
1992 Jeff Kennett Premier of Victoria
1993 Sir Harry Gibbs Former Chief Justice of Australia
1994 Professor Allan Martin Professor
1995 Sir Zelman Cowen Former Governor-General
1996 John Howard Prime Minister
1997 Peter Costello Treasurer
1998 Don Argus CEO of National Australia Bank
1999 Petro Georgiou Member of Parliament (he held Sir Robert Menzies's former seat of Kooyong)
2000 Claude Smadja managing director of the World Economic Forum
2001 Chris Patten UK Member of the European Commission
2002 Alexander Downer Minister for Foreign Affairs
2003 Tony Abbott Minister for Health and Ageing
2004 Philip Ruddock Attorney-General
2005 Michael Thawley Australian Ambassador to the United States
2006 Julie Bishop Minister for Education, Science and Training
2007 Richard Alston Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
2008 Gerard Henderson Executive Director of the Sydney Institute Victorian Legislative Assembly
2009 Malcolm Turnbull Leader of the Liberal Party Victorian Legislative Assembly
2010 Lecture Postponed due to ill health of lecturer
2011 Noel Pearson Director Cape York Institute Victorian Legislative Assembly
2012 Jeff Bleich United States Ambassador to Australia Victorian Legislative Assembly


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