Australian statesman Robert Gordon Menzies began his career as a lawyer. In 1928 he entered the provincial government and was elected to the Australian parliament in 1934.
From 1934 to 1939 he served as Australia's Attorney General, and in 1939, became Prime Minister upon the death of Joseph Lyons, a position he held for two years.
From 1943 to 1949, he led the parliamentary opposition to the Liberal government. Menzies was re-elected Prime Minister in 1949, remaining at that post until 1966.
He established strong ties with the US, and was instrumental in guiding Australia's development of a thriving economy.
Robert Menzies’ Camera is an episode from the series The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures, produced in 2007.
The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures
Award winning cartoonist and yarn spinner, Warren Brown, reveals the emotional lives of Australian Prime Ministers through 10 objects they used every day or even adored – from Robert Menzies’ home movie camera, to Joseph Lyons’ love letters, Harold Holt’s briefcase and Ben Chifley’s pipe. These treasures reveal the nation’s leaders, as you have never seen them before.
The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures is a Film Australia National Interest Program produced in association with Old Parliament House and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The Tragic Death of Robert Urich & His Wife
Robert Urich was known throughout the world as a tough guy, having starred in such television programs as VEGA$ and Spenser: For Hire. However, many audience members didn’t realize that, while Robert Urich was famous for doing battle with tough foes on the screen, he would end up having to fight an even tougher battle later on in his life. As well, unlike the scripted episodes of the television programs that made him famous, this was a battle that he wasn’t going to win. Join Facts Verse as we attempt to uncover the tragic death of Robert Urich and his wife.
Robert Urich was a television actor was was most popular for playing a sleuth in various series, including VEGA$ and Spenser: For Hire. In 1975, he was married to actress Heater Menzies, who is perhaps best known for playing one of the Trapp children in the beloved 1965 musical film The Sound of Music. They would stay together for several decades, and wouldn’t be driven apart until tragedy struck. Both Urich and Menzies would end up meeting tragic ends, separately.
Despite his tragic end, things didn’t start out too bad for Robert Urich. The Emmy-winning actor saw a good deal of fame at his peak, and still managed to receive steady work leading up to his untimely demise. His very first role in television came in 1973, with a minor role on the television program Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. From there, he would go on to a minor role in the television program S.W.A.T., giving him a taste of the more action-oriented roles he would become most known for. Before long, he was given a more meaty role in the television program Soap, a primetime comedy meant to function as a parody of popular soap operas at the time. His role in that program would only last for a season, at which time he was killed off for the first season’s big cliffhanger ending. However, greater things awaited the aspiring television actor, and this was merely the first step.
After his role on Soap ended, Urich went on to find an even greater role for himself, that of Dan Tanna, a private detective in the series VEGA$. This hit series, which ran from 1978 to 1981 on the ABC network, catapulted the actor to somewhat of a household name, and solidified him in the mind of an audience as a tough guy who knew how to get to the bottom of a case. Although the series didn’t last as long as one might expect, the image of Urich as a tough guy persisted, and he eventually found a similar role as the title character in the television program Spenser: For Hire. This series, which was based on the Spenser book series by Robert Parker, aired from 1985 to 1988, solidifying a fairly successful decade for the television star. After the series ended, Urich would continue to find sporadic work on television, although his toughest case was still yet to come, and it would be one that the actor wouldn’t be able to crack.
Perhaps Urich’s most famous role after his peak of success would come in the form of The Lazarus Man, in which the actor played a wandering man who was suffering from amnesia. It was on the set of this show, though, where the first signs of Urich’s inevitable downfall would first rear their ugly head. You see, during the production of The Lazarus Man, Urich learned that he was suffering from a rare type of cancer known as synocial cell sarcoma. He was upfront with the production company about it, telling them that he would need to undergo treatment but that he was still willing and able to perform. They signed an agreement allowing him to continue working, but ended up canceling the show before it’s second season.
Feeling that the show was cancelled as a result of his diagnosis, Urich would eventually sue the production company, Castle Rock Television, for a sum of around $1.5 million in 2000. Even in the midst of the lawsuit, though, Urich was incredibly cordial, and ended up settling out of court for an undisclosed amount. According to him, it was a simple disagreement, and everyone involved was a good person. Sadly, though, Urich wouldn’t live on to shine his positive outlook for very much longer. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to click the like button to show your support for more content like this being made in the future. As well, subscribe if you want to be the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on the way!
Robert Urich ended up passing away from his sarcoma in 2002, leaving behind his wife, Heather Menzies, who fought alongside him every step of the way. The two lasted through over 25 years of marriage, and fought the cancer together until the end. However, Urich’s passing wouldn’t be the end of Menzies and her own personal battle with the demon known as cancer. Before we get into that, though, let’s take a quick look at Menzies herself.
Menzies, despite appearing in The Sound of Music, was never quite as big of a star as her husband. However, she was every bit as talented. When her family moved from Canada to Los Angeles when she was just a teenager, Menzies began taking a serious interest in show business, landing her part in The Sound of Music when she was only 14 years of age. Although that was arguably her biggest role, she would continue finding sporadic work in show business afterwards, even meeting her future husband on the set of a commercial for Libby’s Corned Beef Hash. She was both an actor and a ballerina, and she used this experience to the best of her abilities in any job that she could get. Other notable roles that she performed in include minor roles in the television programs Bonanza, Dragnet, and The Bob Newhart Show. However, she also managed to get a few feature film credits under her belt, including in the films Piranha and The Computer Worse Tennis Shoes.
Despite her talents and skills when it came to acting and dancing, Menzies found her true passion when she met her husband, and subsequently became much more focused on her family than on her career. Heather Menzies and Robert Urich had three children together, and managed to keep one of the most secure and healthy relationships in Hollywood history, despite the hardships that the two would eventually face. Their close bond makes it not at all surprising that Menzies herself would become incredibly passionate about the subject of cancer, and she would dedicate her life to forming the Robert Urich Foundation after her husbands passing. The foundation, which was founded to help further research regarding sarcoma, was a passion project for Menzies, and one that would help her fill the void left by her late husband. However, this battle against cancer would eventually go on to take on a new meaning for Menzies, as she was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017, at which point she only had four weeks left to live.
Heather Menzies passed away on Christmas Eve of 2017, surrounded by the family that her and Robert Urich had created together. Their three children stuck with her until the very end, just as Menzies had done for her husband over 15 years prior. Many would find it somewhat ironic that the woman who persevered and helped her husband through his cancer diagnosis only to wind up dedicating her entire remaining life to fighting cancer would end up passing away from the disease, especially in the short amount of time she did. It’s an incredible tragedy, but one with a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. Both Urich and Menzies will continue to be defined not by their deaths, but by the love they left behind, both in the form of their children and their passion for battling the devastating illness that they both inevitably succumbed to.
When all is said and done, Menzies was likely not all that afraid of leaving behind this world to rejoin her husband of so many years, and, despite the tragedy, there are many who would view this sad tale of a decades-long struggle as one with a somewhat happy ending, however bittersweet. People, both famous and non-famous alike, will continue struggling with cancer, yet hopefully the love and work that Urich and Menzies left behind, apart and together, will help alleviate some of that pain for future generations. The Robert Urich Foundation continues to operate in the hands of the two star’s children, including their son, Ryan Urich. As well, Ryan grew up to become a doctor after the experiences of his parents, in hopes that eventually he would be able to make a difference for people destined to a similar fate.
There’s certainly a lot of pain and sadness in the tragic tale of Robert Urich and his wife, Heather Menzies, but there’s also a good deal of both love and hope. The two loved each other until the very end and beyond, with the late Urich’s wife dedicating her entire life to fighting the disease that took her husband until her own passing at the hands of a similar fate. In their marriage, we can see a perseverance and love that is all-too-rare in relationships, especially ones that occur in the public sphere. The two lasted together for over two decades of marriage, and their love was still growing strong after both of their flames went out. As well, that strong love managed to be passed down to their children, who kept the flame alive by dedicating their own lives to helping those who were experiencing a similar pain. There is a lot of darkness in the world, but there is also a lot of light, and the tragic tale of Robert Urich and Heather Menzies is just one small example of both blossoming out of the same place.
If you’re a fan of either Robert Urich or Heather Menzies’ screen work, comment down below to share what your favorite moment from their career was! Or, if you’d like, simply share what you think is the most hope-inspiring bit of this tragic Hollywood tale. As always, like the video to support more content like this being made in the future, and subscribe and hit the notification bell to be the first to know when more content is on it’s way!
Robert Menzies (1894-1978) was a long-serving prime minister of Australia, known for his political conservatism, his opposition to communism and for forging an alliance with the United States.
Born in remote western Victoria, Menzies attended Wesley College and Melbourne University. Unlike most young men of his era he did not volunteer for military service in World War I the reasons for this are a matter of some debate. Menzies graduated with a law degree then worked briefly in private practice.
In 1928, Menzies entered politics, first as a member of the Victorian state parliament, then six years later in the national legislature. Menzies was both conservative and Anglophile, deeply loyal to Britain and the British monarchy. He also expressed some admiration for the achievements of Adolf Hitler in Germany, a country he visited in 1938.
In April 1939, Menzies became prime minister of Australia after the sudden death of the incumbent, Joseph Lyons. He remained in office until August 1941 when Menzies’ own party lost its majority in the parliament.
Menzies was returned to government in a general election in December 1949. A strident anti-communist, he took immediate steps to reduce the communist threat to Australia. Of particular concern was the rise of communist China, which fuelled concerns about the Domino Theory.
Menzies and his government adopted a position of ‘forward defence’, deploying troops in foreign countries to halt communism before it reached Australian shores. He also sought to establish political and military ties with the United States.
In 1950, Menzies deployed Australian military personnel to both the Malayan Emergency and the Korean War. In October 1950 the Menzies government passed the Communist Party Dissolution Act, a law that banned the Australian Communist Party, confiscated its property and banned known communists from government jobs. This legislation was ruled unconstitutional and overturned by Australia’s High Court in March 1951. Menzies responded by organising a referendum to alter the constitution. This referendum (September 1951) was narrowly defeated.
Menzies committed Australia to two significant Cold War treaties: ANZUS, a tripartite military alliance with the US and New Zealand (signed September 1951) and SEATO, an eight-nation Asia-Pacific alliance (September 1954).
In April 1954, the Australian government was rattled by the Petrov affair: the defection of a Soviet diplomat that led to heated scenes and claims of Soviet espionage in Australia. Menzies exploited the Petrov incident and fears of communist infiltration to attack the Labor Party and win the April 1954 federal election.
One of Menzies’ last major Cold War decisions was to provide Australian military support to South Vietnam, sending military advisors (1962) and then combat troops (1965). Menzies retired from politics in January 1966. He penned his memoirs and served for five years as chancellor of his alma mater, Melbourne University.
Menzies died in May 1978. His funeral service in Melbourne was attended by around 100,000 people.
Menzies History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The earliest known forbear of the surname is Robert de Manieres, a Norman from Mesnieres, near Rouen, Normandy. His name appeared in the "Roll of Battle Abbey," an honor roll of all those who fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD. He was first granted land in Kent and Surrey under Odo, Bishop of Bayeux.
One branch of the family remained in England to eventually become the Dukes of Rutland with the surname of Manners, the Normanized Saxon way of pronouncing this name. However, with growing dissatisfaction under the Conqueror's rule, one branch of the family (it is not certain whether this was the most senior branch) moved north, probably with Margaret, King Malcolm Ceanmore's second wife, where they were granted lands in Lothian. They moved from the Lowlands into the Highlands in about 1090. They settled in the Lands of Culdares in Glenylon.
Set of 4 Coffee Mugs and Keychains
Early Origins of the Menzies family
The surname Menzies was first found in Midlothian, where it is quite understandable that the native Gaelic had difficulty with this Norman surname, and it can be found in various forms, among them: Mengues, Mingies and Meyners.
The reason for these variations is the attempt to pronounce the "y" in Menyers (another variation of the original) in the Gaelic results in a cross between the sound of a "y" and that of a "g". Within a century the Clan were truly Gaelicized, although for Court purposes the first Chief retained the name of Sir Robert de Meyners.
Sir Robert had risen in court circles, under King Alexander II to the position of Chamberlain of Scotland in 1249. The earliest surviving charter of this Clan is held by the Moncreiffes. In the Charter we find a grant of Lands of Culdares (now spelt Culdair) "as freely, quietly, fully and honorably as any Baron within the Kingdom of Scotland is able to give such land." The witnesses to this deed, which established a barony within the Earldom of Atholl, were David de Meyneris and also Alexander de Meyneris.
Sir Robert was also granted lands in Rannoch that had belonged to King Alexander's own family. One cannot then help but conjecture that he had, in fact, married one of the King's daughters (that his sons took the Royal name of David, and Alexander may be evidence to this), however, this is not recorded. Sir Alexander, Sir Robert's son, was granted Aberfeldybeg in Strath Tay and the property of Weem. The reason for these grants is again not recorded, but we may draw the same conclusion.
The Communist Party Dissolution Bill and its Aftermath
Robert Menzies sought to rid Australia of communism through the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 and a subsequent referendum.
The hysteria of the early 1950s resembled a religious fervour in its intensity. In a speech on 23 May 1950, Ben Chifley summed up the feelings of the time:
This measure [the Dissolution Act] will to some degree be administered in an atmosphere of national hysteria, worked up by politicians and other persons, and by the press … There is great danger that the hysteria and fear complex that has been aroused may result in grave injustices being done to individuals. The multitude can make grave mistakes. It was the multitude, by its vote, that sent Christ to be crucified.
The Dissolution Act reflected this.
The Dissolution Act
The drafters of the Dissolution Act drew upon many sources. Michael Kirby has identified the United States’ Smith Act 1946, South Africa’s Suppression of Communism Act 1950 and Australia’s Unlawful Associations Act 1916 as probable influences.
Among the more remarkable features of the Dissolution Act were the nine recitals that prefaced the operative sections of the legislation. The recitals were included in order to shore up the weak constitutional foundations of the Act. There were obvious constitutional difficulties with banning the Australian Communist Party (ACP) and imposing restrictions upon communists under the Commonwealth’s defence power in a time of relative peace.
Recitals four to eight set out Parliament’s view of communism and the ACP. For example, recital four provided:
AND WHEREAS the Australian Communist Party, in accordance with the basic theory of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin, engages in activities or operations designed to assist or accelerate the coming of a revolutionary situation, in which the Australian Communist Party, acting as a revolutionary minority, would be able to seize power and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat
Section 3 of the Dissolution Act defined ‘communist’ as ‘a person who supports or advocates the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin.’
This definition raised problems of interpretation. The imprecision of the language meant that the potential denotation was enormous. A ‘communist’ might have been a socialist, like many members of the Labor Party and many unionists, who supported or advocated one or more aspects of Marx’s teachings. Read literally, a person who supported only the objectives of Marx or Lenin was a ‘communist’.
The definition of ‘communist’ caused members of the Labor Party, especially in its left wing, considerable concern. Menzies had on prior occasions sought to link the socialist agenda of the Labor Party with the basic tenets of communism. For example, in commenting upon Labor’s attempt to nationalise Australian banking in 1947, Menzies stated:
further consideration of the facts reveal that this socialisation measure is no example of unpremeditated illegitimacy. It is, on the contrary, the normal child of long-considered socialist policy which, in Australia, for the last 25 years, has been deeply influenced by communist and revolutionary ideas.
On another occasion Menzies argued ‘Communism has the same basic aims as Socialism. Only the means are different. The resultant state would be identical under either system.’ If Menzies was correct, it is difficult to envisage that many members of the Labor Party could have escaped the ambit of Dissolution Act.
Section 4 of the Dissolution Act declared the ACP to be an unlawful association, provided for its dissolution and enabled the appointment of a receiver to manage its property.
The machinery for declarations by the Governor General that organisations, other than the ACP, were unlawful was provided by section 5. The provision targeted bodies that supported or advocated communism, were affiliated with the ACP or whose policies were substantially shaped by members of the ACP or communists. Once unlawful, an association would be dissolved under section 6 and a receiver appointed under section 8.
Section 5 clearly included organisations that may have been substantially controlled by communists but did not espouse communist ideology. Bodies like the communist controlled Peace Council, which achieved wide non-communist support, could have been proscribed. Given the indeterminate boundaries of political doctrine, a wide variety of left-orientated organisations might also have been declared.
Even the ACTU might have been banned under section 5. It was the belief of some registered unions that deregistration followed by declaration was ‘only a short step’ away. The President of the ACTU, Albert Monk, argued in 1950:
Experience throughout the world has shown that the banning of one political party by a Government, irrespective of political ideology, has always been a prelude to suppression of other political parties and the smashing of Trade Unions with imprisonment of Trade Union Officials, in many countries without trial.
Section 7(1) provided that a person would be liable to imprisonment for five years if he or she knowingly committed acts that included continuing to operate as a member or officer of an unlawful association or carrying or displaying anything indicating that he or she was in any way associated with an unlawful association. Section 7 was a blatant infringement of civil liberties. For example, a person became liable to imprisonment for wearing a badge with the words ‘Communist Party Conference 1948’ or ‘The Australian Peace Council stands for peace in Korea’.
Under section 9, the Governor General could declare any person who was a communist or member of the ACP in the same manner as laid out for organisations in section 5. A sanction was to be applied not according to a person’s acts but according a person’s beliefs. Once declared, a person could not hold office in the Commonwealth public service or in industries declared by the Governor General to be vital to the security and defence of Australia (section 10). Should a person wish to contest a declaration by the Governor General, he or she could do so under section 9(4), but ‘the burden shall be upon him to prove that he is not a person to whom this section applies’ (section 9(5)).
The Passage of the Bill Through Parliament
The Dissolution Bill caused division in the Labor Party as its members and factions struggled to reach a unified approach. The increasingly powerful Victorian faction favoured active and unqualified support for the Bill, while a larger group of members, including Chifley and Evatt, preferred a policy of passive and qualified support. Initially, Chifley and Evatt were able to achieve Caucus acceptance of their view.
The passage of the Bill through the House of Representatives was a bitter affair. Labor members were subjected to constant slander from the Government members, while the Government was often subject to taunts from the opposition alleging an association with fascist and Nazi influences.
Menzies’ second reading speech was a superb exercise in rhetoric and persuasion. He spoke for nearly an hour and a half to the frequent applause of Government members with only two inaudible interjections from the opposition. The Bill was justified upon the premise of a world-wide communist infiltration of democratic societies.
Menzies cited examples of the dangers of communism by referring to works such as The Foundations of Leninism by Joseph Stalin and a pamphlet by Lance Sharkey. By quoting communist propaganda Menzies cultivated the anxieties of Australians. Frequent and out of context reference to phrases such as ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, ‘violent proletarian revolution’ and ‘overthrow of the bourgeoisie’ could only harden the minds of those lacking the knowledge to comprehend the communist dogma.
In his second reading speech Menzies listed 53 persons whom he asserted were communists in positions of authority in Australian unions. This was intended to provide concrete evidence to the public that there were numerous communists in powerful positions and that, as a consequence, Australia’s well-being was threatened. The public, still remembering the 1949 coal strike, took little convincing.
Menzies later admitted to the Parliament that five of the persons ‘named’ on 27 April 1950 were not communists. This error served to illustrate the dangers inherent in Menzies’ onslaught upon communism given that a person declared to be a communist bore the onus of proving his or her own innocence and had no recourse to a jury trial. Menzies response to this argument was:
Does anyone really believe that in such a matter, which concerns our very existence, the opinion of nineteen of the King’s Ministers, responsible for public safety, should be set aside by the decision, or rather by the doubts, of one man or six or twelve elected to jury service?
The support Menzies gained from the press added credibility to his assertions. The Sydney Morning Herald published the following headline on its front page on 28 April 1950, the day after Menzies’ second reading speech:
MR. MENZIES MOVES BILL TO OUTLAW REDS
Will Deal With King’s Enemies
In the same edition, the Sydney Morning Herald stated in its editorial ‘The moral and political justification for the measure [the Dissolution Bill] is stated in its ‘recitals’ – a series of devastating and unanswerable propositions, indicting the communist conspiracy.’
As a foreboding of subsequent years, Menzies brilliantly exploited the divisions that emerged within the Labor Party over the Bill. After listening to Menzies’ second reading speech Chifley commented ‘This is a political measure aimed at splitting the Labour Movement’.
The Labor Party regained some political ground in Chifley’s reply to Menzies’ speech. Despite frequent interjections by Government members, Chifley delivered an impassioned address devised to hold his Party together as much as to attack the legislation. Chifley’s reaction to the Bill is summed up by this passage of his speech:
It opens the door for the liar, the perjurer and the pimp to make charges and damn men’s reputations and to do so in secret without having either to substantiate or prove any charges they might make.
Labor’s approach to the Bill was to support amendments designed to return the onus of proof to the State where a declaration by the Governor General was contested. Evatt handled the lion’s share of the battle against the Government and fought for the amendments tirelessly. The alterations were passed when the Bill reached the Labor controlled Senate.
The Government rejected the amendments despite the fact that the changes would have diminished the Bill’s prejudicial effect on civil liberties without substantially altering its effect on communism. Despite this, the Bill was laid aside on 23 June 1950. By rejecting the amendments and forcing the Labor Party to either take the Bill as it stood or reject the Bill as a whole, Menzies heightened the tension and division within the Labor Party. This demonstrated that the Bill involved more than an attack on communism. It represented an opportunity for Menzies to damage the Labor party.
On 29 September 1950, the Dissolution Bill was reintroduced into the House of Representatives. This time the Federal Executive of the Labor Party caved in and on 16 October 1950 passed what became known as the ‘chicken’ resolution. Mounting public and Party pressures and the possibility of a double dissolution election being fought upon the Bill led to the change of heart. The Federal Executive stated that:
The federal executive has decided that, to contest the sincerity of the Menzies Government before the people, and to give the lie to its false and slanderous allegations against the Labor Party, that the Bill should be passed in the form in which it is now before the Senate.
This resolution bound Labor Senators to the humiliation of allowing the Dissolution Bill to pass unamended through the Senate. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 19 October 1950 and became law with the Governor General’s assent the next day.
The High Court Challenge
The ACP, ten unions and several communist union officials took little time to challenge the validity of the Dissolution Act. On the same day that the Act came into force eight actions were commenced in the High Court against the Commonwealth and various persons connected with the Act. Each action sought to obtain a declaration that the Act was not within the constitutional competence of the Commonwealth.
Evatt, then the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, astonished all concerned by announcing on 25 October 1950 that he would represent the communist-led Waterside Workers’ Federation and its communist official, James Healy, in the High Court challenge to the Dissolution Act. Chifley must have been deeply concerned about the effect that Evatt’s decision would have on the deepening divisions in the Labor Party. The Victorian Branch passed a motion condemning Evatt. However, in Parliament Chifley vigorously supported Evatt as Chifley viewed Evatt’s determination to fight the Act as being consistent with Evatt’s long championship of civil liberties.
Harold Holt, for the Government, summed up what could be the only result of Evatt’s decision ‘rightly or wrongly the people of Australia will read into the appearance of the right honourable gentleman a sympathy and support for the cause which he seeks to defend.’ JA Ferguson, the New South Wales President of the Labor Party, said that Evatt’s acceptance of the brief was ‘ethically correct, professionally sound, and politically very, very foolish.’
On March 9 1951 the High Court, with Chief Justice Latham dissenting, declared the Act to be invalid on the basis that it was beyond the power of the Federal Parliament to suppress an organisation under its defence power on its own opinion in a time of peace. In a departure from the legalism pervading the decision, Justice Dixon stated:
History and not only ancient history, shows that in countries where democratic institutions have been unconstitutionally superseded, it has been done not seldom by those holding the executive power.
In the wake of the High Court’s decision, Menzies declared ‘This is not the end of the fight against communism, it is merely the beginning.’
A week after the High Court’s rebuff, and somewhat ironically, Menzies called a double dissolution of Parliament on the basis of the Senate’s failure to pass a Bill dealing with the Commonwealth Bank. Communism was, however, the issue of the day and was the stick with which Menzies proceeded to beat his Labor opponents.
The Liberal Party’s campaign slogan in Tasmania was ‘Menzies or Moscow’. Menzies won the poll held on 28 April 1951 with a reduced majority in the House of Representatives but with a majority in the Senate. Evatt was opposed in his seat by World War II hero Nancy Wake who campaigned on the slogan ‘I am the defender of freedom Dr Evatt is the defender of communism’. Evatt retained his seat by 243 votes.
Menzies then sought the power to deal with communism by way of referendum under section 128 of the Constitution. The referendum put to the people of Australia on 22 September 1951 sought to graft section 51A onto the Constitution. Section 51A would have allowed the Commonwealth to legislate with respect to communists and communism, to enact the Dissolution Act and to amend that Act within certain limits. If passed, the ungainly section 51A would have enabled Menzies to legislate with the utmost freedom to suppress communism. The alteration thus posed an even greater threat to political freedom than the Dissolution Act.
Menzies argued for a ‘yes’ vote on the ground that communism had to be countered and that, as the High Court had showed that the Commonwealth did not possess the constitutional power to suppress communism, the Constitution was inadequate and had to be altered. Initially, the referendum proposal attracted massive electoral support.
In Parliament, Evatt, now Leader of the Opposition, described the attempt to amend the Constitution as ‘one of the most dangerous measures that has ever been submitted to the legislature of an English-speaking people.’ Holt, in a now familiar role, responded by saying:
The House has just been listening to the most notable defender of Communism in Australia. The leader of the Opposition has spoken at considerable length and, at times, with some degree of fervour in a role in which this country is becoming increasingly accustomed to see him in both the Parliament and the law courts.
Evatt invested his considerable energy into the fight against the referendum. Despite a lack of support from many sections of the Labor Party, Evatt travelled thousands of kilometres to address numerous meetings. His advocacy for the ‘no’ vote was based less on logic than upon a heartfelt awareness that the referendum proposal contravened fundamental democratic freedoms.
Evatt argued that the referendum proposal would grant the Commonwealth despotic powers that could be used to deal indiscriminately with the enemies of the Government. At times, Evatt sought to associate the proposal with the techniques of Hitler. In four weeks of campaigning Evatt turned the tide of support for a ‘yes’ vote towards a ‘no’ vote. Evatt had tapped the traditional reticence of the Australian people to support constitutional change. Even vehement anti-communists like Jack Lang, Archbishop Daniel Mannix and Laurie Short came to back Evatt’s position.
The referendum failed to gain the support of a majority of electors by a narrow margin, 2,317,927 ‘yes’ votes to 2,370,009 ‘no’ votes. Menzies was bitter about the loss, accusing the proponents of a ‘no’ vote of misleading the public with a ‘wicked and unscrupulous’ campaign.
Evatt won a crucial victory for himself, the Labor Party and Australia by leading the defeat of the referendum. Commenting upon the result he said:
I regard the result as more important than half a dozen general elections. The consequences of a mistaken vote in an election verdict can be retrieved. But an error of judgement in this constitutional alteration would tend to destroy the whole democratic fabric of justice and liberty.
5.1 explains social, political and cultural developments and events and evaluates their impact on Australian life
5.2 assesses the impact of international events and relationships on Australia’s history
5.3 explains the changing rights and freedoms of Aboriginal peoples and other groups in Australia
5.4 sequences major historical events to show an understanding of continuity, change and causation
5.5 identifies, comprehends and evaluates historical sources
5.7 explains different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the past.
This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.
United Australia Party Edit
The United Australia Party had been formed as a new conservative alliance in 1931, with Labor defector Joseph Lyons as its leader and John Latham, hitherto leader of the Nationalist Party of Australia as his deputy. The stance of Lyons and another former Labor minister, James Fenton, against the more radical proposals of the Labor movement to deal the Great Depression had attracted the support of prominent Australian conservatives. In March 1931, though still a member of the ALP, Lyons supported a no confidence motion against the Scullin Labor government and the UAP was formed from a coalition of citizens' groups and with the support of the Nationalist Party.  In November 1931, Lang Labor dissidents chose to challenge the Scullin Labor government and align with the UAP to pass a 'no confidence' and the government fell.
With Australia still suffering the effects of the Great Depression, the newly formed United Australia Party won a landslide victory at 19 December 1931 Election, and the UAP commenced its first term in government in January 1932.  The Lyons Government won three consecutive elections, pursuing a conservative fiscal policy of balanced budgets and debt reduction, while stewarding Australia out of the Depression.
Lyons death in April 1939 saw Robert Menzies assume the Prime Ministership on the eve of World War II. After a decade in office, the party had declined in popularity, and faced the demands of war in a shaky coalition with the Country Party. Forced to rely on the support of independents following the 1940 election, Menzies resigned in 1941, whereupon the UAP was unable to replace him with a suitable leader and allowed the leader of the junior coalition party, Arthur Fadden to take office. The Fadden Government lasted just 40 days, before the independents crossed the floor bringing Labor's John Curtin to the Prime Ministership just prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War.
Labor's John Curtin proved a big war time leader and the Curtin Government won in a landslide in the 1943 election. In the aftermath of this defeat, the UAP began to disintegrate, and Australian conservatives and anti-socialist liberals looked to form a new political movement to counter the Australian Labor Party.
Foundation of Liberal Party Edit
Fourteen political parties had allied to form the United Australia Party, but disenchantment with the United Australia Party was now widespread. A group of New South Wales members had formed the new "Democratic Party". This new group looked to Robert Menzies to provide leadership.  Menzies called a conference of conservative parties and other groups opposed to the ruling Australian Labor Party which met in Canberra on 13 October 1944, and again in Albury in December 1944.   The formation of the party was formally announced at Sydney Town Hall on 31 August 1945. 
Menzies had served as Prime Minister as leader of the United Australia Party from 1939–1941.  From 1942 onward, Menzies had maintained his public profile with his series of "Forgotten People" radio talks, similar to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "fireside chats" of the 1930s, in which he spoke of the middle class as the "backbone of Australia" but as nevertheless having been "taken for granted" by political parties and of being effectively powerless because of lack of wealth on the one hand, and lack of organisation on the other.  
Outlining his vision for a new political movement in 1944, Menzies said:
". [W]hat we must look for, and it is a matter of desperate importance to our society, is a true revival of liberal thought which will work for social justice and security, for national power and national progress, and for the full development of the individual citizen, though not through the dull and deadening process of socialism. 
Menzies wanted the new party to be independent of interest groups like big business and so sought to organise a structure under which the Party would only receive money from individuals in small amounts, rather than from trade groups or associations. 
After only modest gains against Labor at the 1946 election, Menzies saw out another three years as opposition leader – opposing Labor's efforts to nationalise Australia's banks, criticising petrol rationing and speaking out against Communism in the early stages of the Cold War. Menzies characterised the incumbent Chifley Government as "socialist". With Arthur Fadden of the Country Party as his deputy, Menzies led the Liberal-Country Party Coalition to victory at the 1949 election.  He was now to become the longest serving prime minister in Australian history.
Following victory in the 1949 election, the Menzies Government secured a double dissolution election for 28 April 1951, after the Australian Labor Party-controlled Senate refused to pass the Menzies' banking legislation. The Liberal-Country Coalition was returned with a reduced majority in the Lower House, but with control of the Senate. The Government was returned in the aftermath of the Petrov affair in the 1954 election and again after the formation of the anti-Communist Democratic Labor Party split the Australian Labor Party early in 1955 and Australia went to the polls in December 1955. John McEwen replaced Arthur Fadden as leader of the Country Party in March 1958 and the Menzies-McEwen Coalition was returned again at elections in November 1958 – their third victory against Labor's H V Evatt. The Coalition was narrowly returned against Labor's Arthur Calwell in the December 1961 election, in the midst of a credit squeeze. Menzies stood for office for the last time in the November 1963 election, again defeating Calwell, with the Coalition winning back its losses in the House of Representatives. Menzies went on to resign from parliament on 26 January 1966. 
Menzies' 1949 Cabinet had the leader of the Country Party, Arthur Fadden, as the Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister and included Dame Enid Lyons as the first woman to serve in an Australian Cabinet. 
Economy and trade Edit
After winning office in 1949, Menzies fulfilled his promises to end rationing of butter, tea and petrol and provide a 5 shilling endowment for first born children, as well as for others. 
Australia experienced a prolonged economic boom during the Menzies years. Menzies remained a staunch supporter of links to the monarchy and British Commonwealth but formalised an alliance with the United States and launched post-war trade with Japan, beginning a growth of Australian exports of coal, iron ore and mineral resources that would steadily climb until Japan became Australia's largest trading partner.  John McEwen, as minister for commerce and for trade negotiated the Agreement on Commerce between Australia and Japan which was signed in July 1957. The agreement carried political risk for the Menzies government, because memories of atrocities perpetrated on Australians by Japan in World War II were still strong in the community. Britain meanwhile was negotiating entry into the European Economic Community in the early 1960s with major implications for Australian trade, which had previously enjoyed preferential treatment in the UK. McEwen was active in maintaining tariff protections for agriculture, mining and manufacturing, which he believed would sustain employment and contribute to national defence. 
In the Menzies Government, McEwen 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 the early 1950s, external affairs minister Percy Spender helped to establish the Colombo Plan for providing economic aid to underdeveloped nations in Australia's region. Under the scheme, many future Asian leaders studied in Australia. 
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. 
Other than blocking the nationalisation of the Banking system by the Labor Party, Menzies privatised the Commonwealth Oil Refinery. The wool industry remained a mainstay of the economy through the 1950s, indeed it was said that the Australian economy "rode on the sheep's back".  Nevertheless, important developments in further industries occurred, such as the construction of Australia's first commercial oil field at Moonie in Queensland in 1961. 
In 1960, the government split the Commonwealth Bank of Australia into the Commonwealth Banking Corporation and the Reserve Bank of Australia. 
While for most Australians the Menzies era was an era of prosperity, the nation experienced high inflation during the early years of Menzies' rule. The Korean War increased demand for commodities. Wool in particular boomed, leading to a rise in growers' incomes, but also to inflation. The Arbitration Court helped stabilise wages from 1953. From 1959–1960 Australia experienced something of a boom, spurred by overseas speculators and high domestic spending – resulting in recession by 1961, following a "horror" mini-budget designed to slow the economy. Unemployment reaching 2.1% (at that time considered "high") and Menzies went on to win the 1961 election by just one seat. Following the election, Menzies and Treasurer Harold Holt introduced another mini-budget designed to spur growth and the economy was in recovery. 
Foreign affairs Edit
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) the consolidation of Communist regimes in China, North Vietnam, North Korea and Communist insurgencies elsewhere. 
Cold War Edit
Menzies was firmly anti-Communist. In 1950 his government committed troops to the Korean War and attempted to ban the Communist Party of Australia. Menzies secured passage of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill through Parliament in June 1950.  Although it had popular support, for many it went too far in such measures as allowing the disqualifying of declared Communists from public offices, or industries considered vital to defence. The Bill had the support of anti-Communist Labor Senators, and so passed through Parliament. Early in 1951 however, the High Court declared the Act invalid for unconstitutionally interfering with civil liberties and property rights. Following the 1951 election, Menzies held a referendum seeking power for the Federal Parliament to legislate "With respect to Communists or Communism as the Parliament considers to be necessary or expedient for the defence or security of the Commonwealth". Labor leader H V Evatt campaigned against the proposal and the referendum was narrowly defeated. 
In 1951, during the early stages of the Cold War, Menzies spoke of the possibility of a looming third world war. Soviet diplomat Vladimir Petrov and his wife defected from the Soviet embassy in Canberra in 1954, revealing evidence of Russian spying activities and Menzies called a Royal Commission.  The Labor Party split over concerns about the influence of the Communist Party over the Trade Union movement, leading to the foundation of the breakaway Democratic Labor Party(DLP) whose preferences supported the Liberal and Country Party, in return for key concessions, like funding for Catholic schools. The new Party never won a House of Representatives seat, but often held the balance of power in the Senate. 
Treaties and defence Edit
Australia signed the official Peace Treaty with Japan in San Francisco in 1951, but by this point, the world had entered a new and tense period in international relations – the Cold War.  With the memory of Japanese expansionism fresh in the Australian experience, and with the commencement of the Cold War seeing the Soviet Union dominating Eastern Europe, the Chinese Communist Party winning the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and Communist North Korea invading South Korea in 1950, Australia sought security outside its traditional allegiance to Britain. 
In June 1950, Communist North Korea invaded South Korea. The Menzies government responded to a United States led United Nations Security Council request for military aid for South Korea and diverted forces from occupied Japan to begin Australia's involvement in the Korean War. The entry of Communist China into the war saw allied forces driven backwards down the peninsula. After fighting to a bitter standstill, the UN and North Korea signed a ceasefire agreement in July 1953. Australian forces had participated in such major battles as Kapyong and Maryang San. 17,000 Australians had served and casualties amounted to more than 1,500, of whom 339 were killed. 
Analysts voiced fear of the "domino theory", according to which South East Asia would fall to Communism state by state. In defence policy, Menzies moved Australia to a policy of "forward defence" and committed troops against Communists insurgencies in South East Asia – the Malayan Emergency, and Indonesia's policy of Confrontation and, near the end of Menzies' prime ministership, the early stages of the Vietnam War. 
In 1951, the first call ups were made under the National Service Act, which provided for compulsory military training of 18-year-old men, who were then to remain on the Army Reserve for five years. The Scheme trained 227,000 men between 1951 and 1960 (when it ended).  In 1952, a program of British nuclear weapons testing began in Australia. The program was based at Maralinga, South Australia from 1954 until 1963 (and was later the subject of a Royal Commission investigation). National Service was reintroduced in 1964, in the form of the National Service Lottery, under which Marbles of birth dates were drawn from a lottery barrel. The Scheme remained in place until 1972 and saw 63,000 men conscripted. 
The Menzies Government entered the first formal military alliance outside of the British Commonwealth with the signing of the ANZUS Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States in San Francisco in 1951. External Affairs Minister Percy Spender had put forward the proposal to work along similar lines to the NATO Alliance. The Treaty declared that any attack on one of the three parties in the Pacific area would be viewed as a threat to each, and that the common danger would be met in accordance with each nation's constitutional processes.
In 1954, the Menzies Government signed the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty (SEATO) as a South East Asian counterpart to NATO. 
In 1959, Australia signed the Antarctic Treaty agreeing a legal framework for the management of Antarctica. 
Suez Crisis Edit
Robert Menzies' was despatched to Cairo by an 18 nation committee to act as chairman in negotiations with Egyptian President Nasser following his 1956 nationalisation of the Suez Canal during the Suez Crisis. Western powers had built the trade canal, but Egypt was now seeking to exclude them from a role in its ownership or management. Menzies felt that Nasser's actions threatened Australia's interests as a trading nation and an ally of Britain.  
Menzies' 7 September official communique to Nasser presented a case for compensation for the Suez Canal Company and the "establishment of principles" for the future use of the Canal that would ensure that it would "continue to be an international waterway operated free of politics or national discrimination, and with financial structure so secure and an international confidence so high that an expanding and improving future for the Canal could be guaranteed" and called for a Convention to recognise Egyptian sovereignty of the Canal, but for the establishment of an international body to run the canal. Nasser saw such measures as a "derogation from Egyptian sovereignty" and rejected Menzies' proposals. 
Menzies hinted to Nasser that Britain and France might use force to resolve the crisis, but United States President Eisenhower openly opposed the use of force and Menzies left Egypt without success.  Menzies voiced support for the subsequent Anglo-French military operation in Egypt, which resulted in a humiliating withdrawal and the resignation of the British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden.
Commonwealth of Nations Edit
The Menzies era saw the sun set on the British Empire and the expansion of the Commonwealth of Nations as its successor. Menzies and Australians in general remained deeply loyal to the institution of the Monarchy in Australia and the 1954 Royal Tour by Queen Elizabeth II and her consort, Prince Philip was greeted by wild enthusiasm across the continent. Harold Macmillan then became the first British Prime Minister to visit in 1958.
The first tour by a reigning monarch saw her cover 10,000 miles by air and 2,000 miles by ground.  On a later Royal Tour in 1963, Menzies famously and effusively praised Queen Elizabeth by quoting an Elizabethan era poem: "I did but see her passing by and yet I love her till I die". 
As decolonisation proceeded around the British Empire, the Menzies Government followed Britain's lead and imposed economic sanctions on Southern Rhodesia when the Ian Smith government had declared self-government to maintain white minority rule. 
Society and welfare Edit
The Menzies Government instigated a series of important reforms to immigration laws, which resulted in the erosion of the restrictions of the unofficial White Australia Policy which had privileged British migrants over all others since the time of Australian Federation in 1901 and abolished restrictions on voting rights for Aboriginal people, which had persisted in some jurisdictions.
In 1953 the government introduced a number of reforms to the existing provision of health services. These reforms served as the basis for the future expansion in the provision of public health and aged care services. The first major health reform was the creation of a voluntary, contributory national health scheme through the National Health Act,1953. This was followed by the Aged Persons Homes Act, 1954, the Aged and Disabled Persons Care Act, 1954 and the Home Nursing Subsidy Act, 1956. National subsidies for residential aged care services commenced in 1963. In implementing these reforms the Menzies Government promoted the role of private insurance funds and private health care providers (mainly charitable and religious based organisations), rather than adopting the model adopted in the United Kingdom with the introduction of the National Health Service in the 1940s.
In 1960, the Menzies Government introduced a new pharmaceutical benefits scheme, which expanded the range of prescribed medicines subsidised by the government.
Marriage and divorce Edit
Through the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959, the Menzies Government introduced a uniform divorce law across Australia and recognised "no-fault" divorce by allowing a specified period of separation as sufficient grounds for a divorce. It was eventually replaced by the Family Law Act 1975. In 1961, the Menzies Government used the powers granted by section 51(xxi) of the constitution to pass the Marriage Act 1961, which gave the federal government exclusive jurisdiction over the formation of marriages. It remains in force although it has been amended on several occasions. 
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, 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 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."
Aboriginal affairs Edit
Campaigns for Aboriginal rights gathered pace in Australia during the Menzies era. When Menzies assumed office, Aboriginal people were still excluded from voting in Federal elections in Queensland and West Australia. In 1949, Parliament legislated to ensure that all Aboriginal ex-servicemen should have the 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' Commonwealth Electoral Act provided that all Indigenous Australians should have the right to enrol and vote at federal elections.   In 1963, Yolngu people petitioned Parliament, with the famous Yirrkala bark petitions, after the government excised land from the Arnhem Land reserve, without consulting the traditional owners. 
Echoing developments in the United States and elsewhere in the Western World and their disintegrating colonial empires, attitudes to race underwent significant shifts in Australia during the Menzies era. Aboriginal artists like Albert Namatjira could gain great popularity and be presented to the Queen on her first Royal Tour, but under existing law still needed to be "granted" Australian citizenship. Indigenous activists like Douglas Nicholls and Faith Bandler continued their long campaign of lobbying governments for legal reform and University of Sydney students led by Charles N. Perkins sought to expose inequalities with their freedom rides in the mid-60s. Menzies' successor Harold Holt instigated the famous 1967 Referendum, which saw a 90% endorsement from the electorate to automatically include Aboriginal peoples in the national census.
Education, science and infrastructure Edit
The Menzies Government extended Federal involvement in education and developed the city of Canberra as the national capital. Menzies introduced the Commonwealth scholarship scheme in 1951, to cover fees and pay a generous means-tested allowance for bright 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' pumped funds into the sector under conditions which preserved the autonomy of universities. 
In 1954, the government established Mawson Station in Antarctica as Australia's first permanent base on the continent and in 1957, Davis Station was constructed. 
In 1956, Television in Australia began broadcasting. In a significant step, Menzies opted for a hybrid system, licensing both commercial and public broadcasters. 
The Australian Atomic Energy Commission (now Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) was set up under the Atomic Energy Act in 1953 and Lucas Heights Nuclear Reactor commenced operation in 1958. 
From 1960 the Government allowed the United States to establish satellite tracking stations in the A.C.T. – resulting in the construction of Orroral Creek, Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla.  The National Astronomical Observatory, a 64-metre radio telescope at Parkes was opened in 1961.  These facilities would prove crucial to the United States Lunar Program. Australia joined the International Telecommunications Satellite Consortium in 1964.
In 1960, money was set aside for the construction of the long-delayed Lake Burley Griffin – the original centre-piece of the design for Canberra. 
In 1962, an interstate coaxial cable linking the Eastern seaboard cities was completed. International direct dial was achieved with the opening of the Commonwealth Pacific Cable in 1963, in a scheme designed to link the Commonwealth by phone. 
Menzies era Edit
In his last address to the Liberal Party Federal Council in 1964, Menzies reflected on the "Liberal Creed" as follows:
As the etymology of our name 'Liberal' indicates, we have stood for freedom. We have realised that men and women are not just ciphers in a calculation, but are individual human beings whose individual welfare and development must be the main concern of government. We have learned that the right answer is to set the individual free, to aim at equality of opportunity, to protect the individual against oppression, to create a society in which rights and duties are recognized and made effective." 
Though often characterised as a "conservative" period in Australian history, the Menzies era was a period of sustained economic boom with rapid technological advance and Australia experienced the beginnings of sweeping social change – with the arrivals of rock and roll music and television in the 1950s. Melbourne hosted the Olympics and iconic Australian performers like Barry Humphries, Johnny O'Keefe and Slim Dusty emerged in the arts scene during the 1950s. Though support for the monarchy in Australia remained strong, Australia's cultural and political identity began a slow shift away from its traditional British allegiance.
Retirement of Menzies Edit
Menzies was Knighted in 1963, and was honoured in 1965 by being appointed to succeed Winston Churchill as Constable of Dover Castle and Warden of the Cinque Ports.  Menzies' second period as prime minister lasted a record sixteen years and seven consecutive election victories and ended in his voluntary retirement on 26 January 1966, aged 71.  Harold Holt replaced the retiring Menzies in 1966 and the Holt Government went on to win 82 seats to Labor's 41 in the 1966 Election. 
The Robert Gordon Menzies Scholarship to Harvard is one of Australia's most prestigious national awards for postgraduate study in the United States. Inaugurated in 1967 by prominent Australian alumni of Harvard to honour the Australian statesman and longest-serving Prime Minister, the Menzies Scholarship grants have assisted over eighty-eight talented Australians to undertake post graduate study in a wide range of disciplines. While not exhaustive, these include architecture, education, public health, law and business and the broader arts and sciences.
The Selection Committee may award up to two Menzies scholarships valued at up to US$60,000 each. We are also currently building capital to support an additional Menzies Scholarship to be offered for study at the Harvard Business School. This was instigated by the MBA class of 1970 and enjoys their ongoing support
To be awarded a scholarship, the candidate must be accepted by Harvard into their selected program on a full-time basis, for study at Harvard. The ideal candidates are Australians whose primary objective, after completing their studies , is to make a significant contribution to this country's development and advancement, in their chosen field
Funding of the scholarship is provided by the Harvard Club of Australia via generous donations and additional fund-raising activities of the club. Awarded in partnership with the Australian National University, the scholarship fund is managed by the ANU Endowment Office and scholarship administration is carried out by the ANU. -
Applicants submit their application to Australian National University. Applications are then reviewed and shortlisted with the best and most eligible candidates being invited for an interview by the Selection Panel. The selection panel consists of 3 representatives from ANU and 3 representatives appointed by the Harvard Club of Australia.. The Selection Panel usually has a number of past winners serving on it.
Applications open in November each year and close by the following February. Interviews are then conducted in April. Once the winners have accepted the terms of the scholarship, a media release is issued announcing the successful candidates. The ANU then liaises with the successful candidates as required, in preparation for the transfer of funds and their leaving for the United States.
The awarding of the Menzies Scholarship to Harvard, always amongst a group of outstandingly talented candidates, is intended to widen the perspective and deepen the capacity of those fortunate enough to be successful. Each year the winners benefit into the future from the efforts, contributions and experiences of those who preceded them. In this context we encourage Menzies Scholars to become involved in the Harvard Club of Australia on their return to Australia and contribute, in any way they consider appropriate, to the ongoing success of the Robert Gordon Menzies Scholarship.
Australian National University
Robert Menzies of Culterallers, WS
Robert Menzies of Culterallers was admitted to the Society of Writers to the Signet on 3 August 1742. He served his apprenticeship with James Baillie. He was the eldest son of John Menzies, M.D. He died on 28 August 1769. He married, in December 1749, Margaret Thomson, daughter of the Reverend John Thomson, Minister of West Liberton. A History of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet: 143
Evidence from the National Records of Scotland
1732-51: Papers relating to the title of Robert Menzies of Culterallers, heir to his grandfather, Alexander Menzies of Culterallers, and his settlement of residual debts with the trustees of Thomas Menzies of Letham and William Dickson of Kilbucho. National Records of Scotland, Baillie of Coulterallers, reference GD1/1155/15
28 August 1736: Dumfries burgess ticket in favour of Robert Menzies of Culterallers. National Records of Scotland, Baillie of Coulterallers, reference GD1/1155/55
12 April 1737: Lanark burgess ticket in favour of Robert Menzies of Culterallers. National Records of Scotland, Baillie of Coulterallers, reference GD1/1155/55
28 July 1747: Rothesay burgess ticket in favour of Mr Robert Menzies, WS. National Records of Scotland, Baillie of Coulterallers, reference GD1/1155/55
31 March 1748: Minute of sale by Angus McDonald, Edinburgh, eldest son to Angus McDonald of Kenknock, and John Campbell of Barcaldine for John, lord Glenorchy. Said Angus McDonald, senior, was to grant Lord Glenorchy disposition of Kenknock and Eastermore and other lands in barony of Glenlyon, sheriffdom of Perth, in feu contract of 5 October 1699 by John, earl of Tullibardine, as restricted by decree of House of Lords concerning grazings and sheallings, for sterling. Consent of James, duke of Athole, was to be obtained to said alienation. Reg. B.C. & S. 25 February 1725. Written by George Martin, servant to Alexander Robertson, W.S., who witnesses with Robert Menzies of Culterallers, W.S., and John Campbell, Cashier to the Royal Bank. National Records of Scotland, Papers of the Campbell Family, Earls of Breadalbane (Breadalbane Muniments), reference GD112/2/92/10
30 September 1752: Dingwall burgess ticket in favour of Robert Menzies of Culterallers Esq. Embroidered tag and seal. National Records of Scotland, Baillie of Coulterallers, reference GD1/1155/55
20 January 1759: Peebles burgess ticket in favour of Robert Menzies Esq. of Culterallers. Tags, no seals. National Records of Scotland, Baillie of Coulterallers, reference GD1/1155/55
9 May 1760: Hamilton burgess ticket in favour of Robert Menzies of Culterallers Esq. With painted coat of arms. National Records of Scotland, Baillie of Coulterallers, reference GD1/1155/55