Sir Robert Menzies

Posted in 1939

    • Robert Menzies with Sir George Knowles at Parliament House, 21 MarchMarch: "After distancing himself from the ailing Lyons (PM), Menzies resigned his Attorney-General and Industry portfolios and the deputy leadership of the UAP (held since 1935). He was objecting to the government's failure to implement its own National Insurance scheme in the face of opposition from Melbourne financial interests."
      The Macquarie Book of Events, 1983 p 347.
    • Menzies is elected leader of the UAP after the death in office of Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, and following the nineteen-day caretaker Prime Ministership of Earle Page, Leader of the Country Party.
    • 26th April: Robert Menzies becomes Prime Minister of Australia. James and Kate Menzies fly to Canberra on 3 May to attend the opening of Parliament with their son Robert as Prime Minister. For Mrs Menzies, aged 73, it is her first flight.

Prime Minister Menzies with his parents, James and Kate, at Parliament House, 24 May

  • In his first radio broadcast as Prime Minister, Mr Menzies said:

"I am a singularly plain man, born in the little town of Jeparit, on the fringe of the Mallee; educated at Ballarat, in a state school, and then by scholarship at a public school and Melbourne University. Apart from having parents of great character, intelligence and fortitude, I was not born to the purple." 

3 September 1939

"Fellow Australians,
It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially that in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that, as a result, Australia is also at war.
No harder task can fall to the lot of a democratic leader than to make such an announcement.

Great Britain and France with the cooperation of the British Dominions have struggled to avoid this tragedy. They have, as I firmly believe, been patient. They have kept the door of negotiation open. They have given no cause for aggression.

But in the result their efforts have failed and we are therefore, as a great family of nations, involved in a struggle which we must at all costs win and which we believe in our hearts we will win."