Browne, Peter: Postwar boomer (RG Menzies 50 years on)

Browne, Peter

Postwar boomer‘, Inside Story, 18 January 2016

Long essay looking back from Sir Robert Menzies’ retirement 50 years ago to the events of his 16-year reign (and even glances at his earlier time in office in 1939-41).

Menzies and his government – across their full sixteen years, with the booms and busts ironed out – rode the international postwar boom more capably than his critics acknowledge but not as well as his greatest admirers claim. Official unemployment stayed below 2 per cent throughout the period, and successive waves of migrants were accommodated remarkably peaceably. What they didn’t do so well was to anticipate the next round of economic and social challenges.

Among other resources on Menzies, there is the Robert Menzies Collection, John Howard’s book on the Menzies era, AW Martin’s biography, Menzies’ letters to his daughter, and Norman Abjorensen’s book on the departure of prime ministers; Menzies was unique in the manner of his going. Soon there will be Menzies: The Shaping of Modern Australia, edited by JR Nethercote.

Peter Browne is editor of Inside Story.

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