Robert Menzies

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Robert Gordon Menzies was Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister. He held the office twice, from 1939 to 1941 and from 1949 to 1966. Altogether he was Prime Minister for over 18 years – still the record term for an Australian Prime Minister.

Robert Menzies was born in Victoria in 1894. He went to primary school in Ballarat, then to a high school at Wesley College in Melbourne. He graduated in law from the University of Melbourne in 1916 and became a barrister in 1918. He débuted in court in an Engineers Case and won in 1920 and established his reputation as a barrister.

Menzies’ success in the Engineers’ case brought offers of briefs in the area of industrial law. He was involved in much of the litigation surrounding the ongoing maritime and waterfront disputes of the 1920s.

In October 1928 Menzies entered the Victorian Legislative Council, having won a by-election for the seat of East Yarra. Within weeks he was made minister without portfolio in a new minority Nationalist State government, formed when the Labor government had lost the support of the cross-bench Country Progressives.

During his early years in parliament, Robert was highly involved in international Nationalist Party matters. In 1920 he helped establish the ‘Young Nationalists’ a group that focus’ on attracting young men into politics. The head of the orginisation welcomed the idea and invited Menzie to join the central executive of the National Federation. Later on the Young Nationalists took over the State Nationalist Party orginisation. Robert then won the presidency of the Victorian National Federation in September 1931.

Robert Gordon Menzies was 44 years of age when he was sworn in as Prime Minister for the first time on 26 April 1939. Menzies was in office twice, from 1939 to 1941 and from 1949 to 1966. During these 17 years he significantly contributed to Australia’s post-war development and prevented the communist threat from reaching Australia; an issue he...
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