Howard on Menzies: Building Modern Australia
Writer/Director Simon Nasht
Producer Ruth Cross
Executive Producers Stuart Menzies, Simon Nasht
ABC TV, Screen Australia, Screen NSW, ABC Commercial, Menzies Research Centre
2 x 57 mins documentary series
Released 2016 on ABC TV September 18, 7.40pm September 25, 7.40pm
Robert (Bob) Menzies is Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister (PM). John Howard is one of his biggest admirers and Australia’s second-longest serving PM. In this unique two-part series, Howard examines Menzies’ career and legacy to prove the point that Menzies deserves more credit for the very positive part he played in shaping modern Australia. His exploration of the times captures: the drama and ruthlessness of politics; the far-reaching impact of international conflicts; and the way migration, bold trading initiatives and an emphasis on education transformed the nation. Beyond just his own recollections and research, Howard invites historians, academics, journalists and former politicians from the left and the right, including Bob Hawke, to challenge him on his beliefs. He also seeks input from his contemporaries in the creative industries, including Clive James, Barry Humphries and Thomas Keneally. Another PM, Paul Keating, once told the Parliament that Menzies put the country “into neutral” during the 1950s but Howard disagrees. He says the economy and the middle classes grew, giving many Australians a taste of the peace and tranquillity of the good life. The series also reveals an enormous amount about the pursuit and use of power and how the game of politics is played – back then and now.