Free for educational use
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 5min 19sec
Tags - Australian History, biography, British Empire, filmmaking, historical representations, icons, identity, media, media and society, national identity, Prime Ministers, representations, World War 2, see all tags
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About the Video Cliptop
Robert Menzies’ Camera is an episode from the series The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures, produced in 2007.
The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures
Award winning cartoonist and yarn spinner, Warren Brown, reveals the emotional lives of Australian Prime Ministers through 10 objects they used every day or even adored – from Robert Menzies’ home movie camera, to Joseph Lyons’ love letters, Harold Holt’s briefcase and Ben Chifley’s pipe. These treasures reveal the nation’s leaders, as you have never seen them before.
The Prime Ministers’ National Treasures is a Film Australia National Interest Program produced in association with Old Parliament House and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
A student thinks critically and interpretively using information, ideas and increasingly complex arguments to respond to and compose texts in a range of contexts.This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.
When Britain declared war on Germany in 1939 Prime Minister Robert Menzies declared Australia was also at war.
In 1941 he flew to Britain (the first Australian Prime Minister to fly overseas rather than go by ship). On route he visited Australian troops in Singapore, and realised how vulnerable Singapore was to attack. In Britain he asked Prime Minister Churchill to increase Singapore’s defences, but without success. Menzies also reluctantly committed Australian troops to what became a disastrous campaign in Greece.
Menzies also saw the devastation of the German bombing campaign on London and other major cities. He took his wind-up film camera everywhere he went, and his very personal record of the visit includes strikingly informal footage of a young Princess Elizabeth.
On his return to Australia in 1941 he lost the confidence of members of Cabinet and his party who believed he was an electoral liability and he was forced to resign. As an Opposition backbencher during the war years, he helped create the Liberal Party and became Leader of the Opposition in 1946. At the 1949 federal election, he defeated Ben Chifley’s Labor Party and once again became Australia’s Prime Minister.
Robert Menzies (1894 -1978) was Prime Minister of Australia twice; from April 1939 to August 1941 and December 1949 to January 1966. Robert Menzies’ camera is held at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.
Writing a biography
One form of communication about a Prime Minister can be through a biography. A biography of a Prime Minister should tell us about:
- The person’s background
- His life before politics — and how that shaped his later life
- Why the person entered politics
- How the person became Prime Minister
- What the person achieved, and failed to achieve, as Prime Minister
- The influence of others on him in the role
- His life after the Prime Ministership
- An assessment or evaluation of the impact of the role on him, and his impact on the nation.
You should research these aspects, and then use the object as a way of focusing on or introducing your biographical story to your readers.
Your presentation can be as:
- A journalistic article
- An imaginary memoir
- A formal biographical article
- A PowerPoint-supported oral presentation
- A debate (e.g. that Prime Minister X contributed more to Australia than Prime Minister Y)
- Or some other format.