R.G. Menzies — a very ‘clubbable’ prime minister

It is perhaps not well known that Robert G. Menzies immensely enjoyed the social life of the clubs he was a member of. He had membership in three during his career: the West Brighton, the Savage, and the K.K. They provided a clean relaxing break from his busy life first in the law and then in politics. Sir John Bunting, Menzies’ Cabinet Secretary and Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department, devoted several pages to Menzies’ ‘clubbability’ in his book R.G. Menzies: A Portrait. Those pages are reproduced below.

Edmund Burke’s Club is organizing a dinner to commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta (15th June 1215) and the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo (18th June 1815) at Melbourne’s Savage Club for the 16th of June 2015. As with the very enjoyable dinner on the eve of our Edmund Burke conference, the dinner will take its lead from R.G. Menzies.

MENZIES was a considerable club man. But that straight away needs an explanation, because the clubs he most used were not of the usually understood variety. There are various dictionary definitions of clubs. For what are now understood as the traditional clubs, the Concise Oxford formula seems to go closest: ‘body of persons combined for social purposes, and having premises for resort, meals, temporary residence etc.’ Clubs of this sort, modelled on British precedent, have always existed in Australia. They are social clubs obviously, but they are also clubs that people join for business and professional reasons. These were not really for Menzies. He visited them often enough, and the equivalent clubs elsewhere, and, as a guest, was perfectly at home and happy. But although he was in them, he was not of them, nor of their style. His main choices, in his home city of Melbourne, fell on three quite other clubs: the Savage, the West Brighton and the K.K. These were clubs for the inner Menzies. (I omit, which would be at my peril if he were to know, the Melbourne Scots, but it does not, I think, come into this narrative.) Continue reading

The Christmas story according to St Luke, translated by Mgr Ronald Knox

The infancy chapters 1 & 2 of


Translated by Mgr Ronald Knox, 1945

MANY have been at pains to set forth the history of what time has brought to fulfilment among us, following the tradition of those first eye-witnesses who gave themselves up to the service of the word. And I too, most noble Theophilus, have resolved to put the story in writing for thee as it befell, having first traced it carefully from its beginnings, that thou mayst understand the instruction thou hast already received, in all its certainty Continue reading

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s

The Scriptures are an essential part of our literary heritage
22nd Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 22:15-22
After this the Pharisees withdrew, and plotted together, to make him betray himself in his talk. And they sent their own disciples to him, with those who were of Herod’s party, and said, Master, we know well that thou art sincere, and teachest in all sincerity the way of God; that thou holdest no one in awe, making no distinction between man and man; tell us, then, is it right to pay tribute to Caesar, or not? Jesus saw their malice; Hypocrites, he said, why do you thus put me to the test? Shew me the coinage in which the tribute is paid. So they brought him a silver piece, and he asked them, Whose is this likeness? Whose name is inscribed on it? Caesar’s, they said; whereupon he answered, Why then, give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. And they went away and left him in peace, full of admiration for his words.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Conservatism’s radical prophet

by John Ballantyne

Originally published in News Weekly, June 19, 2004

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) is famous as the English poet who wrote Kubla Khan and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but today is almost forgotten as one of the greatest political thinkers of his time.

He was the first conservative to advocate social and political reforms as a means of maintaining a stable and cohesive society. He warned against the dangers of unchecked industrialisation, criticised the then prevailing ideology of the unfettered free-market, and called for far-reaching reforms to give the poor a greater stake in the economy. Continue reading