Sir Robert Menzies

Posted in 1959

  • Prime Minister Menzies celebrates 10 years in officeRobert Menzies marks 10 years in office in his second term as Prime Minister.
  • Visits Canada, the USA, Britain, The Hague, Switzerland, Pakistan, India and Singapore.
  • Creation of the Australian Universities Commission:

Planting a tree at the Lodge with grand-daughter Edwina Henderson"One recommendation of the Murray Committee (1957) was that there should be appointed a permanent body to advise the Government on a balanced development of universities so that their resources might be used to the greatest possible national advantage. This recommendation led to the creation in 1959 of the Australian Universities Commission with Sir Leslie Martin as Chairman."
Sir John Bunting, R G Menzies, A Portrait, 1988 p 189.

  • With grandson Alec at East BrightonDecember: Undertakes a six-day State Visit to Indonesia.
  • In July 2000, the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon John Howard, MP, paid tribute to the Menzies legacy to education:

"The Menzies connection with education of course is well remembered. I think there were two great things that Sir Robert Menzies did for education. The one that would be best known in this gathering of course would be the extraordinary increase arising out of the Murray Committee Report in the late 1950s in the level of commonwealth provision for tertiary education. And it was through that support that university education came within the reach of hundreds of thousands of Australians who would otherwise have been denied through economic circumstances the opportunity of a university education.

Prime Minister John Howard with Michael Cook (left), Chairman, Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, London, 2000The other great contribution that Menzies made to education was the way in which he ended one hundred years of discrimination against particularly Australian Catholics whose school system they had maintained without government support since Sir Henry Parkes inaugurated the free compulsory and secular education system in New South Wales and it was replicated around Australia in the 19th century. And that particular act which contributed so much to the breaking down of what were then still quite significant barriers and it led to the development of what is probably a wider variety of choice within primary and secondary education than is perhaps available in any other comparable country around the world."
Extract from a speech delivered by Prime Minister John Howard, at the Menzies Centre for Australia Studies, Kings College, London, 7 July 2000

Australian Events

Posted in 1959

  • Jack BrabhamPopulation reaches 10 million.
  • The first power from the Snowy Mountains scheme becomes available. Prime Minister Menzies opens the scheme by switching on the turbines:

MENZIES: "I've been told that I'm to move a switch here, and as usual when I move a switch nothing happens for a little while. It takes apparently a couple of minutes for the turbines to warm up to their work. And so I shall move the switch and then we'll wait to see whether it really is beginning."

NARRATOR: By the time the first dam, Guthega, was finished in 1955 Menzies was completely behind the project. Not only was it popular but he saw that the modern consumer society he hoped to promote would need the cheap electricity provided by the scheme.
Film Australia Ltd

† Prime Minister Menzies opens the scheme

  • Japan becomes Australia's largest buyer of coal and second-largest buyer of wool.
  • Jack Brabham is the new world champion motor racing driver.

World Events

Posted in 1959

  • Alaska, 49th state of USAThe Russian spacecraft Lunik III reaches and takes photographs of the far side of the moon.
  • Uprising in Tibet against China is crushed; the Dalai Lama flees to India.
  • Dictator Fidel Castro takes power through armed revolution in Cuba and forces General Batista into exile. Castro institutes agrarian reforms.
  • Alaska is proclaimed the 49th state and Hawaii becomes the 50th state of the United States of America.

Hawaii, 50th state of USA