A few days after the constitutional crisis began, the former Prime Minister and founder of the Liberal Party, Sir Robert Menzies, issued a statement supporting Malcolm Fraser’s decision to block Supply.
Menzies said he was compelled to speak out because of the “nonsense” being talked about the constitutional position of the Senate.
Menzies said that powers of the Senate were expressly set out in the Constitution. “It would be absurd to suppose that the draftsmen of the constitution conferred these powers on the senate with a mental reservation that they should never be exercised.”
Whilst acknowledging that the Senate ought not exercise its power just because it objected to a particular financial measure, Menzies said: “But these are not the circumstances today. The government has, in the last 12 months, itself put up a record of unconstitutionality and, if it is not too strong a word, misconduct on a variety of occasions.”
Menzies was Australia’s longest-serving prime minister. He held office on two occasions, between 1939-41 and 1949-66, for just over 18 years in total. He initiated the formation of the Liberal Party in 1944.
Text of statement released by Sir Robert Menzies.
Statement by Sir Robert Menzies
As is well known, I have, for a long time abstained from entering into any current political controversy. But the circumstances today are such as to compel me to break that silence. For, quite simply, I think more nonsense is being talked about the constitutional position of the senate than I can comfortably listen to, or read.