Robert Gordon Menzies
Other names:
Job / Known for: Prime Minister of Australia and founder
Left traces: The Menzies Foundation
Date: 1894-12-20
Location: AU Jeparit, Victoria
Date: 1978-05-15 (aged 84)
Resting place: AU
Death Cause: Myocardial infarction
Spouse: Pattie Maie Leckie (1920–1978)
Children: Kenneth (1922–1993), Ian (1923–1974), Heather (born 1928)
Parent(s): James Menzies and Kate Sampson
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It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.
About me / Bio:
Robert Menzies was a prominent Australian politician and lawyer who served as the 12th prime minister of Australia for a total of over 18 years, making him the longest-serving prime minister in Australian history. He held office twice, first from 1939 to 1941 and then from 1949 to 1966. He was also the leader of the United Australia Party (UAP) in his first term and the founder and leader of the Liberal Party of Australia in his second term. Menzies was born in Jeparit, Victoria, on 20 December 1894. He was the fourth of five children of James Menzies, a storekeeper and politician, and Kate Sampson, a miner's daughter. He attended various schools in Ballarat and Melbourne before graduating with first-class honours in law from the University of Melbourne in 1916. He became a barrister in 1918 and quickly established himself as one of the leading lawyers in Victoria. He was appointed a King's Counsel in 1929, the youngest in Victoria at the time. Menzies entered politics in 1928 as a member of the Nationalist Party, which later became the UAP. He was elected to the Victorian Legislative Council and then to the Legislative Assembly, serving as Attorney-General and Minister for Railways. In 1934, he resigned from state politics and won the federal seat of Kooyong as a UAP candidate. He became Attorney-General and Minister for Industry in Joseph Lyons' government and was also deputy leader of the UAP from 1935. He resigned from cabinet in 1939 over a dispute about national insurance. Menzies became prime minister in April 1939 after Lyons died in office and Earle Page served as caretaker for 18 days. He led Australia into World War II and spent four months in England in 1941 to participate in Winston Churchill's war cabinet. However, he faced opposition from his coalition partner, the Country Party, and from some members of his own party. He lost the confidence of his party and resigned as prime minister in August 1941. He was succeeded by Arthur Fadden, who lasted only 40 days before being replaced by John Curtin of the Labor Party. Menzies remained as leader of the UAP until 1943, when he lost his seat at the federal election. He then helped to create a new conservative party, the Liberal Party of Australia, which he became the inaugural leader of in August 1945. He led the opposition against Curtin's successor, Ben Chifley, until he won the federal election in December 1949. He formed a coalition government with the Country Party and returned as prime minister. Menzies' second term as prime minister lasted for over 16 years, during which he won seven consecutive elections. He presided over a period of economic growth, social stability, immigration expansion, higher education development, national security policies, and international alliances. He strengthened Australia's ties with Britain and the United States, supported the creation of NATO and SEATO, signed the ANZUS Treaty and the Colombo Plan, sent troops to Korea, Malaya, and Vietnam, recognised Israel and Japan as sovereign states, opposed communism and apartheid, promoted British Commonwealth cooperation, and supported constitutional reform. Menzies retired as prime minister in January 1966 at the age of 71. He was succeeded by Harold Holt, who drowned a year later. Menzies remained active in public life until his death in May 1978. He wrote several books, gave lectures, served as chancellor of the University of Melbourne, and was involved in various cultural and educational organisations. He was knighted in 1963 and received many honours and awards, both in Australia and abroad. He was widely regarded as one of the most influential and respected figures in Australian history. Menzies was married to Pattie Maie Leckie, a journalist and political activist, from 1920 until her death in 1978. They had three children: Kenneth, Ian, and Heather. Menzies was a devout Presbyterian and a keen sportsman. He enjoyed cricket, golf, tennis, chess, and bridge. He was also fond of literature, music, art, and history. He had a distinctive voice and a sharp wit, which he used to great effect in his speeches and debates. He was known for his loyalty to his friends and his principles, as well as his ambition and determination. He was nicknamed "Ming" by his supporters and "Pig Iron Bob" by his critics.
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