The Legacy of Menzies

Date01 September 1966
Published date01 September 1966
DOI10.1177/002070206602100305
Subject MatterArticle
The
Legacy
of
Menzies
David
Corbett*
Observers
of
Indian
politics used
to
ask
"After
Nehru, what?"
Mr.
Nehru
had
seemed,
for
seventeen
years,
completely
to
domin-
ate
Indian
policy
If
that
was
true
of
India
in
the
Nehru
era,
it
was
equally
true
of
Australia
in
the
Menzies
era. For
sixteen
years,
from
1949
to
1965,
Sir
Robert
Menzies
was
Prime
Minister,
not
only
in
the
sense of
first
among
equals,
but
Prime
Minister
in a
particularly
dominant,
almost
autocratic
sense.
Compared
with
him,
his
Mimsters
seemed
to
be
minor
figures,
and
the
leaders
of
the
official
Opposition,
the
Australian Labor
Party
though
colourful
personalities
(Dr.
Evatt,
the
leader
from
1951
to
1960
particularly
deserved
that
description) nevertheless
were
condemned,
or
condemned
themselves,
to
virtual
insignificance
in
competition
with
him.
Just
as
India's
policies
have persisted
under
the
Congress
leadership
since
Mr.
Nehru's death,
so
too one
can
expect
that
in
Australia
Sir
Robert
Menzies'
retirement
will
reveal
that
policies
and
attitudes
which
have
been
attributed
to
him
per
sonally
are
in
fact
those
of
the
majority
of
influential
Austra-
lians,
and
are
likely
to
outlast
the
man.
Sir
Robert
has
expressed
his
admiration
for
Alfred Deakin,
the
first
Prime
Minister of
the
Commonwealth
of
Australia.
He
speaks
of
Deakin as
the
great
constructor,
the
man
under
whose
aegis
the
major
settled
policies
of
the
Australian
community-
protective
tariff,
immigration control,
wage
arbitration,
national
defence,
judicial
control
of
the
constitution-were
enacted
into
law
If
Deakm
was
the
great
constructor
Menzies
was
the
great
adaptor.
The settled
policies
have
been
slowly
altered,
but
with-
out
much
visible,
outward
sign
of
the
change.
Sir
Robert's
public
manner has
been
characterized
by a
cer
tam
lordly
hauteur.
He would
toss
off
a
withering
quip
at
the
expense of
anyone
who
disagreed
with
him.
(At
a
Brisbane
meeting
during
his
last
election
campaign,
in
1964,
he
dealt
with
a
lady
interjector
thus:
"I
gather
that
you
are
neither
young
Professor
of Politics,
Flinders
University
Adelaide.

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