Page Title: Sir Robert Menzies (417x71 gif)
Small Picture Of PM (110x110 gif)

Page Title: History In Brief.

1894 - 1978

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 17 years - still the record term for an Australian Prime Minister. Born in Jeparit, Victoria, the son of a country shopkeeper, Menzies studied law at Melbourne University.

He had become known as a brilliant advocate by the time he entered the Victorian parliament in 1928.

He held various portfolios and became the deputy premier.

Menzies was Prime Minister when World War II began in 1939.

In 1934 he won the federal seat of Kooyong for the United Australia Party and become attorney-general under Joseph Lyons. When Lyons died in 1939, Menzies became leader of the United Australia Party and Prime Minister. His first term was overshadowed by personal rivalries in his own party and the war crisis.

In 1941 he lost the confidence of members of Cabinet and his party and was forced to resign. As an Opposition backbencher during the war years, he helped create the Liberal Party and became Leader of the Opposition in 1946.

At the 1949 federal election, he defeated Ben Chifley's Labor Party and once again became Australia's Prime Minister.

In opposition Menzies set about constructing a new conservative party, the Liberal Party, and as its head, won power from Labor in the 1949 election. Thus began his record 16 years as Prime Minister. He was knighted in 1963 and in 1977 was the first person to be appointed AK. Among his many achievements was the provision of extensive federal assistance for education. Menzies retired as Prime Minister and from parliament in 1966.

Knighted in 1963, he was further honoured in 1965 by being appointed Constable of Dover Castle and Warden of the Cinque Ports.

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