Tim Sterne has just finished a 2,500 words essay about Robert Menzies. Yes, that's right. He could have written more, but he stopped at 2,500 words exactly. Anything else would have been superfluous.
Anyway, I don't see why he should be the only one to write about a subject as wildly exciting as the Australian Prime Ministers. That's right, I'm going to do it too!
Unverified Facts About Australian Prime Ministers for the Uneducated Person
Edmund Barton was the only man unfortunate enough to be the first Australian Prime Minister, mainly because there were no Prime Ministers before him. He couldn't help it, so don't hold it against him.
Stanley Bruce, Lord Melbourne.
Not much is known about Stanley Bruce, apart from the facts on public record. When he was born he was either to be called Stanley Bruce or Bruce Stanley (depending on which way he came out, and what he was wearing at the time). He came from a long line of Stanley Bruces: his father was called Stanley, and his mother was called Bruce.
There has been some speculation that his sordid upbringing led him to taking up a career in politics, but such vile speculations are not for this blog.
In his spare time, he liked to compose simple little villanelles, grow tulips, and wear a variety of evening gowns for the pleasure of his three fox terriers, Spotty, Dotty, and Hotty.
Robert Gordon Menzies
Bob Menzies long and steady Prime Ministership of Australia is marked by the fact that he didn't do very much for a great deal of it: it was distinguished by its undistinction. Menzies started off by boldly doing very little, continued by courageously achieving not much, set not a great deal of goals for the next heroic stage of his career, achieved this, then finished it off (in a brilliant coup de grace) by retiring before anything untoward (ie, anything at all) happened.
After he made his resignation speech, a backbencher sneezed, and several state dailys picked up on this, and ran it as a headline in their papers. But Menzies could hardly be blamed for this.
Harold Holt's main achievements as a Prime Minister were drowing and doing things that Gough Whitlam could take credit for.
Gough Whitlam was a progressive, and like most progressive Prime Ministers, achieved a great deal. From the very beginning of his Prime Ministership, he busied himself by running up huge government debts, stacking the senate, involving his government in a number of scandals, and making decisions without consulting the opposition, the senate, or his own cabinet. He industriously claimed the earlier achievements of the Liberal Party for himself, and bustled about, excusing the crimes of numerous communist dictators.
Therefore, it can honestly be said of Whitlam that he may not have done Australians very much good, but at least he certainly did something.
John Howard is the Prime Minister Australia doesn't know it has. He is referred to by his supporters as "That guy, you know," and his detractors as "Him!" or, "That evil little man!" When he goes home, his wife glares at him, and says, "Oh, You!". People at the shops simply greet him with, "Oh, hi, Mr ... " before trailing off and staring blankly at the ceiling.
Howard himself takes great pains to appear 'ordinary' and 'everyday', meaning, essentially, that he doesn't get noticed at all. He presumably likes it this way.
If voters in other democracies get the leader they deserve, voters in Australia got somebody they didn't know to work in a position they didn't quite realise existed, for ... no particular reason at all.
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
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