Menzies, Sir Robert Gordon (mĕnˈzēz) [key], 1894–1978, Australian statesman. A barrister, Menzies was elected to the Australian House of Representatives in 1934 and was attorney general (1935–39) in Joseph A. Lyon's government. Upon Lyon's death (1939), Menzies succeeded him as leader of the United Australia party (later the Liberal party) and as prime minister. In 1941 his party lost the election, and he led the opposition in the House from 1943 to 1949, when the Liberal-Country coalition defeated Labour at the polls and Menzies again became prime minister. He retired in 1966, making him the longest continuously serving Australian prime minister. During his terms in office, Menzies pursued a conservative, anti-Communist policy. He unsuccessfully tried (1951) to ban Australia's Communist party, and he dispatched Australian troops to support the U.S. effort in South Vietnam (see Vietnam War.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.