PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 627

SPEECH AT THE OPENING OF THE E.D. MCKINNON WING AT BALLARAT COLLEGE, BALLARAT, VIC.

Photo of Menzies, Robert

Menzies, Robert

Period of Service: 19/12/1949 to 26/01/1966

More information about Menzies, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/10/1962

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 627

 13TH OCTOBER, 1962.

Sirs, As the weather appears to be threatening, I think I had better begin by declaring the E. D. McKinnon Wing open.

( Laughter) ( Applause)

I am really not the best qualified person to do a task of this kind because, in my own fashion, I am a bigoted what is the word? Ballaratian, or Ballarat. I have been called worse names than that in my time. But,
Sir, I want to thank you for what you have said about my wife and I am happy to tell you that I have no reasonable doubt that by the time she arrives back in Australia she will be completely restored to her normal and almost turbulent vigour, ( Laughter)

I was delighted when I heard about this appeal.
I was a little taken aback when my colleague, Dan McKinnon,
procured somebody to write to me about it and gave me a
broad hint that a little donation from me would not come
amiss, And, as usual, he succeeded, I am not an old Ballarat
College boy, I am an old boy of a school in Ballarat which
has long since disappeared and if I am feeling a little
expanded occasionally I always explain to people " Grenville
College you see" ut it disappeared twelve months after
I lft ioe ( Laughter) It was a small school and when I
look back on those days, towards the en( of the first decade
of the century many of you won't remember it I remember
Grenville College a school so small that I got a game in
the football team ( Laughter). There was Ballarat College,
too just around the corner, under the headmastership of a
gentleman who I thin! I am right in saying was irreverently
referred to as Joe Garbetto I am open to correction on that
pointo Grenville College was nearby, and across the street,
was the boardinghouse of Ballarat College, We had well
let's say about 3' boys in our declining years, Ballarat
College might have had 50 or 60. The Ballarat Grammar
School, well, it was small in numbers but high in Anglican
pride, and between the lot of us, we didn't amount to more
than a fraction of the other schools. The Agricultural High
School was established, Oh dear, Sto Pat's next door,
And I want to tell you that I can very well remember
an occasion in the winter when, strangely enough, the snow
had fallen in Ballarat, fourteen inches of it, and we, being
less than the dust went around to Ballarat College and they
between us less than the dust, We collected the Ballarat
Grammar School and still we didn't have enough numbers and we
went to the School of Mines where we secured a few earnest
volunteers. Having recruited our strength in this fashion, we
went up to St. Pat's determined to storm them out. ( Laughter)
That was where we fell in, because with that low cunning that
characterises some people, they had waited for us ( Laughter)
and we were stormed out and we recovered some form of order
about a mile south of Lake Wendouree, Anyhow, theseEae simple
recollections. 00 0 0 0/ 2

But the great thing was that just as these schools
looked as if they might fade out and disappear, there came
about here a great pride in the idea of the schools, and what
has happened since then to Ballarat College what has happened,
on the other quarter of the Lake to the Grammar School? These
things give me immense satisfaction. In the case of Ballarat
College, I am happy to say -that I expect them, because there
is no greater tradition in the world than the Scots tradition
ol" scholarship. It would have been a monstrosity if Ballarat
College had disappeared. As it is, it is in the full flight
this magnificent growth, this great Appeal so magnificently
successful, under the auspices of my distinguished friend,
Mr. Dan McKinnon. These are all proofs of the fact that our
tradition from Scotland is a tradition of scholarship, a
tradition of pride, a tradition of independence,
I used to be rather fond of telling people that years
and years ago, being in Scotland on the estate of a well-known
man, I walked out on a Saturday morning and found myself talking
to what is described in Scotland as his cow-man, This was
his hired man. In most countries he would have been regarded
as instinctively, a rather illiterate fellow but very good
wit~ h the cattle, And inside ten minutes we had walked to the
corner of the field, and inside another ten minutes we were
leaning on a railing, and he was talking better philosophy and
metaphysics to me than any profesor I have ever met. He was
the man in charge of the cattle. This is a tremendous
inheritance, a tremendous instinct.
The other ' thing I want to say to you is that ther'e
are a lot of people who think that schools exist2 even good
ones, and universities exist to provide people with a certificate
that will enable them to earn a certain amount of money a Year,
This, ofT course is, in a sense, true. 3 ut in a profound Aense,
false. The great task of a great school is to produce,
not necessarily great men -that's a matter of chance but
men of quality, women of quality, people who have a sense of
the community in them, rather than a sense of their own
individual advantage. Therefore, I hope the day will never
come when schools like this chutrch schools, independent
schools will disappear in the great name of uniformity, In
fact Sir, that brings me to the last thing that I want to
say Z-0 you. Because the rain is falling.
There is, in our own country I say this to you
after great experience and thnought a frightful passion for
uniformity. This is a disastrous passion whoever goes to
school in Queensland must be taught in exactly the same way
as whoever goes to school in Tasmania-whatever rules apply
to people who live in the tropics must be exactly the same as
the rules that apply to people who live in the half-frozen
South. This, I venture to say, is nonsense. The genius in
our race, and in the history of our race has not been a genius
for uniformity. It's been a genius for Aifference, for individuality,
for personality developed, for a superb conflict of mind
with mind, so long as they are all instructed, civilised, sensible
minds. And that's why I hope the day will never come when schools
like Ballarat College will have been submerged in the broad
stream of purely State institutions,,
Don't let us be too uniform,, Let us be individual.
Let us have our own character,, Let us believe in our own traditioiL
because if we do that we will contribute to the sum total of
Australian nationhood something superbly valuable and indeed
imperishable. Now, on the whole, I am getting wetter than you are,
but I think the time has come to say, " You are now relieved from
duty," I have the singular privilege of declaring the Dan
McKinnon Wing of this great and famous school open.
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Transcript 627