CELEBRATING 75 YEARS OF A MENZIES LIBERAL PARTY
...but is it a celebration or a wake?
Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.
If 75 is old then old age has finally caught up with me and I am more confused and frustrated than ever. You see my very best friend when I was a kid was Robert Menzies and later, after having spent an extended time at Canberra’s ANU, I was faced with an antipodal view of life.
I have never thought of myself as Left or Right because I see things in isolation from these different labels. I will never believe in abortion or capital punishment, I believe that life in all its fickle forms is not for us to judge whether it should be snuffed out or not.
Although I was brought up in a strict religious environment I am vehemently atheistic because I have seen religion cause more unhappiness, destitution and deaths than any nuclear weapon.
I believe in the monarchy only because Menzies did and most believe it should stay. I also did but see her passing by... it was on Wattletree road and I only recall a flawless complexion. I believe in sovereign borders only because of the mess endured by all without them.
I stood for the Liberal Party only because I could see the damage that Whitlam was causing and I almost won Labor’s safest Federal seat of Fraser in Canberra. (Too close for comfort.) I never saw myself as a politician but I was angry that what Mr (at the time) Menzies had instilled in me had eroded over time.
I wondered at Labor’s preoccupation with free universities, health and education until I realised that heath and education were its largest union base. Higher education for everyone was essential for the indoctrination of malleable minds for future Labor votes... it can be seen today with intolerant university youths led by intolerant post graduates who should be promoting freedom of speech, yet instead are intent on shutting it down... but only when opinions differ from theirs.
This blog was born out of Gillard’s desire to inhibit freedom of the media and astonishingly media, for the greater part, went along with it. I was devastated when The Age, under David Syme started to drift from long-held Aussie values, so I left.
Yet, when a Churchill Fellowship took me inside the world’s greatest newspapers, I began to understand it wasn’t just The Age that was changing, the world’s media had already changed from providing information with scant informed commentary to providing commentary with scant informed information.
A now renovated No 2 Haverbrack Avenue, Malvern
Mr Menzies had a profound effect on me. The Caulfield newsagency was flooded with calls complaining that their morning papers hadn’t arrived. I was held up at No 2 Haverbrack Avenue, Malvern with Mr Menzies, (he jokingly called it, "Have a look Avenue".)
He would peruse The Age’s headlines, and with me sitting behind the steering wheel of his big black Bentley and he still in his pyjamas and dressing gown, we talked shit about everything that mattered to both of us until Mrs (at the time) Pattie Menzies called him for breakfast. My initial interest in politics was set in concrete.
Somehow his scowling eyebrows and gravelly voice did not intimidate me as it did those opposite. He let me talk about everything I was interested in, and he complained of people he was dealing with and what was coming up next week.
He loved Carlton footy team and cricket in general and would park at the ground fence probably to avoid boring club bosses.
My parents would often listen to his radio broadcasts but I never told them of my close friendship with him. No-one knew.
Later, much later, I was drawing cartoons of him. Some were not very complimentary but I knew he would understand. We both knew the importance of a newspaper’s independent commentary. I was devastated when he died. Later I became friends with other Prime Ministers but none equalled the stature or wisdom of Sir Robert Menzies.
Liberal Party Prime Ministers of today are foreign to the Liberal Party of old.
Canberra's Alan Reid
After having lost the confidence of his Cabinet he resigned in 1941. He then returned from the political shadows in 1945 to become Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister, despite Canberra's greatest ever political correspondent, Alan Reid, (above) writing, “... for Menzies, there is no way back in Australian politics.”
Menzies said: “I do not believe that the real life of this nation is to be found either in great luxury hotels and the petty gossip of so-called fashionable suburbs, or in the officialdom of the organised masses. It is to be found in the homes of people who are nameless and unadvertised, and who, whatever their individual religious conviction or dogma, see in their children their greatest contribution to the immortality of their race. The home is the foundation of sanity and sobriety; it is the indispensable condition of continuity; its health determines the health of society as a whole.” There is not a word different he or I would say today. He was no wanker.
But I wonder if he would bother to order The Age today.