New exhibition gives Howard perspective on Australia’s ‘greatest PM’ | HerCanberra

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New exhibition gives Howard perspective on Australia’s ‘greatest PM’

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Who would a former prime minister nominate as Australia’s greatest prime minister? For John Howard, the answer is Robert Menzies.

In a first for a national collecting institution, a former prime minister has guest-curated a new exhibition which will help mark the 75th anniversary of Robert Menzies’ first term as prime minister.

Menzies: By John Howard will give visitors to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House (MOADOPH) an exclusive insight into the man who became Australia’s longest-serving prime minister–Robert Menzies.

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Robert Menzies (1894–1978) became prime minister on 26 April 1939 when he replaced Earle Page, who was caretaker prime minister following the death of Joseph Lyons. He resigned as prime minister on 29 August 1941 after losing the support of many in his party. He went on to serve a record-breaking 16-year term as prime minister from 1949–1966.

Howard believes that, ‘in the long sweep of history’, Menzies was Australia’s greatest prime minister. In this exhibition, guest-curator Howard shares his personal reflections and insights into Menzies’ short, intense first term(1939-41), exploring these politically-charged years.

“He was given a tremendously difficult hand. He arrived as prime minister when his government was running out of steam and the world was sliding towards war,” said Mr Howard, who reflects that Menzies went on to become Australia’s greatest prime minister after his short and tumultuous first term.

“He had a compelling speaking style. He was the greatest political orator I’ve heard, andI say that without hesitation,”said Mr Howard.

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Ms Daryl Karp, Director of the Museum of Australian Democracy at OldParliament House said, “Mr John Howard has the unique ability to be able to provide personal insight into a life that drew many parallels to his own, and a man he admired greatly.”

Items on display include significant items from private and national collections including the PrimeMinister’s desk, personal diaries and films from his 1941 trip to meet with Churchill and Roosevelt. A number of items on display have been loaned by the Menzies family and have not been seen in public before.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Menzies’ 1941 diaries On loan from the National Library Museum of Australia.” type=”image” alt=”18 April diary entry – low res.jpg” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]

 the essentials

What: Menzies: By John Howard
Where: Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
When: On display until September 2015. Old Parliament House, home to the Museum of Australian Democracy is open daily 9am–5pm,
How much: Free after admission ($2 adults, $1 children and concessions, $5 family).

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