PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 976


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: 14/08/1964

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 976

Speecha by the Prime Minister; the rit. Hon,, Sir Robert Menzies
Sir and Chief Justice
I say to the Chief Justice that on behalf of
my wife T thank you for this handsome souvenir. For the
first three or four days I will begin to think that it's
mine. A little later my wife will be saying to me, " Where
are those silver trays of ours?" ( Laughter) and then in a
year's time she will say, " Where is my silver tray?" kLaugnter)
Now I mention this fact to you because this r. roves that I am
not only married but a father0 I know what goes on.
T think I ought to tell you Sir that when I
received the invitation1 to be the Father of ih(. Year it
struck me as Laving a slightly hilarious undertone. [ Laughter)
I was n bed ill, I was in a weakened condition, I had a couple
of doctors looming at me over the foot of the bed and discussing
whether I ought to be allowed to go ibroad. if they had left
that to the electors it might have been a different result
( Laughter) tut they were discussing it purely on medical
grounds. It was at this stage that I received an invitation
to be th Father of the Year, and at first I th. ought somebody
was having a bit of fun with me Father of the Year. As far
as I can recall. itts thirtysix years since I last found myself
a father ( Laughter) and you know, that's a long time for some
of you young chaps not very long fcr ire. So my instinct
was to say, 10h, no, no, no." Then they brought me the list
of the Fathers of thie Year and this really put me back in my
bux. There was Sir Edward Hallstrom I'm sorry he is not
here today but he knows all about zoos and other things. And
there's Harry Jensen who went uncomfortably ( Laughter)
if you know what I mein. I can't allow Harry Jensen to be
something that I'm not. " Laughter) So that was a good step.
Then there was Joe Cahill who was an old political
sparring partner of mine, and a great friend of mine. Then
the copper Colin Delaney. ( Laughter) I've always felt
uncomfortable in the presence of the police ( Laughter) except
when he sits next to me at some function, and then I realise
that, really, the police are friends of everybody and probably
that explains why so few people get arrested but, anyhow......
There's Adrian Curlewis. I read his name with profound respect.
He's a District Court Judge and, what is much more important,
he is a lifesaver. ( Laughter) Well, your District Court
Judges here are County Court Judges in Victoria and I never
knew one of them to be a lifesaver. ( Laughter) On the contrary,
I had great trouble with them when I was a Junior at the Bar.
And so I went Norman Gregg. Well, of
course, Norman is one of the great eye men in the world. He
deals with people in such fashion that whenever they look at
him or anybody else thereafter, they look at them in a kindly
light. He does things to the optical affair you see. And so
I understood why he should be the Father of ? he Year. / 2

Then as for the Chief Justice, there's nothing I can
do about a Chief Justice. Chief Justices are very difficult
people. Even when I was at the Bar myself, Sir, not appearing
before you but appearing before a State Chief Justice and a
Commonwealth Chief Justice I found myself under enormous constraint
by about three o'clock in the afternoon, so that instead of looking
at His Honour, the Chief Justice, and saying, " You knew, old boy,
you're talking nonsense" ( Laughter) I would in fact say, " With
infinite submission, if the Court pleases" so that I kn* ow about
that. So apart from that, my qualifications are very sketchy.
If I had been named the Grandfather of the Year, I
would have taken this as a nice compliment because within the
last twelve months well, you must picture me in my bed at
Canberra at half past seven on Sunday morning. This is not a time
of day on Sunday that any of you care to contemplate, nor do I,
but my wife was away somewhere and I was there and the telephone
rang and, inadvertently I answered and it was my elder son who
said to me, " Congratulations Da you have five grandsons" and I
said, " Oh, what did you say?" You know the mind moves slowly
at half past seven in the morning on Sunday ( Laughter) and I said,
" Son wha. did you say?" He said, " Yes, Dad. Twins. Twin
granAsons." Now that, I think, was a great thins, but I hasten
to say that except by indirection, except as a very remote cause,
Sir, I had nothing to do with it.
Well why does one like to be a father? Why does one
like to be a grandfather? By and large, you knw, grandcdiliren
I say this to some of you are rather more engaging than sons and
daughters. I speak with reluctance about my own daughter who is
the most marvellous creature in the world. But, anyhow, sons you
know, you rebuke them, you send them to school, you try to instruct
them when they get back. If you had my experience, you frequently
found that your corrections were different fr'om the corrections of
their schoolmaster, which gave me a very low opinion of schcol-
S masters. ( Laughter) But you know, you havn all the to and fro,
haven't you, of your own family. With grandchildren) yru see them
at their best. When they get a little damp, when they get a
little difficult, you hand them back to their parents and say,
" Aren't they absolutely sweet?" ( Laughter); so, on the whole,
this grandfather business -ppeals to me. If you could arrange
for me Sir, to live for another twenty years, I would like to
be nominated as the Grandfather of the Year. But as it turns
out, you will have to do it post mortem.
There is just one serious thing I would like to say
to you. I hope not too serious. But we are here we are
fathers, some of us are grandfathers. In other words we are
here because we have something in common and that is he continuity
of the race. This is the tremendously important thing the
continuity of the race. We don't always pay as much attention to
this perhaps as we should. I very well remember, and I have more
than once referred to it the first time I read Walter Scott
read " Ivanhoe". I remember the archers' contest in " Ivanhoe's
and the bowman saying, when he was asked to fire " a twinkling,
willow wand," " Well$" he said, " my grandsire drew a stout bow at
the Battle of Hastings and I trust not to dishonour his name".
Now you may say this is rather saccharine, this is a little
sentimental. It stuck in my mind; it must have stuck in the
minds of many people " My grandsire drew a stout bow". I would
like to think I was the kind of grandfather about whom under
different circumstanccs, in different terms, my grandsons might
speak some day because I think this would be a guarantee of
continuity of what we all believe to be the right spirit. / 3

You know, when Winston Churchill wias making those
speeches of his those immortal speeches of his, those
marvellous broaa~ casts and doing that job of his that nobody
will, I hope, ever forget, at that time if somebody had taken
the speeches of the Younger Pitt ndo in the beginning of the
nineteenth century, 11+ 0 years before, if anybody had looked at
the Younger Pitt's speeches at a time when it wasn't Hitler
but Napoleon, at a time when invasion was thought likely, at
a time when martello towers were springing up all around the
invasion area as again in 194+ 0 and 194+ 1, and had read them,
he would have found that the language was different but each
great leader was pronouncing a feeling and a fervour which
related to the morale of the country,
Pitt was no doubt tkie greatest of statesmen at the
turn of the nineteenth century, just as Winstcn Churchill is
the most significant figure in history in our time. But this
was because they had a sense of continuity. Winston Churchill
was not unc~ onscious of what Pitt had said. Winston Churchill
was not unconscious of what John Marlborough had done at the
beginrnizzg of the eighteenthi century, he wasn't unconscious
of what his ancestors had done, of what all the great men in
our history had done, All he had to do was toa translate this
to the current state of affairs, I am an immense believer in
continuity, I believe that a sense of history, a sense of
what has been done in the past and what may happen in the
future does more to produce sanity of mind and ' udgment and
s-6ability of spirit thin anything else that -you can thirk
about. The sense of continum. ty.
If ve ever get to that deplorable state, Sir in
which we think we are here today and gone tomorrow and ihat
nothing matters very much, there wim'Li be no continuity in our
history and there wontt be a Father of the Day in fifty years'
time, a Father of the Year. And therefore I feel that what
you are doing is to contribute something to the rense of
continuity the sense of history which has produced In our
veins and In our mindis and in our hearts, the great causes in
our lifetime of our survival and of our success,

Transcript 976