SPEECH: Reflecting on the True Legacy of Sir Robert Menzies

May 23, 2017

Mr Conroy: (Shortland) (13:56): This week marks the 75th anniversary of Menzies’ famous ‘Forgotten People’ speech, and it is appropriate to reflect on his true legacy, rather than the hero worship we have seen from those on the other side. The true legacy is this: no-one was more in favour of World War I than Robert Menzies, yet he refused to serve. Later on, in the 1930s, he stopped the wharfies refusing to sell pig iron to Japan. And no-one was a greater appeaser of Nazi Germany than Robert Menzies. So much so that 11 days after Germany invaded Poland, he was still in favour of appeasement. This is what he wrote to our high commissioner in London:

I feel quite confident that Hitler has no desire for a first class war. Nobody really cares a damn about Poland as such.

He wrote:

Some very quick thinking will have to be done when the German offer arrives to provide for a resettlement of the whole map of Europe.

This is 11 days after the invasion of Poland. After World War II he supported the Suez invasion. After that, he entered Australia into the Vietnam War on a lie—a lie that cost 500 Australians their lives and wounded 3,000 further Australians. This is the true legacy of Robert Gordon Menzies: a warmonger who deceived the Australian public and cost Australian lives.

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