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John Howard joins ABC to explore the years of Menzies

NewsKevin Perry
  Former Prime Minister John Howard.  image source - News Corp Picture: David Caird

Former Prime Minister John Howard.
image source - News Corp
Picture: David Caird

The ABC has confirmed it has commissioned a new documentary HOWARD ON MENZIES: THE MAKING OF MODERN AUSTRALIA.

This new two-part documentary series presented by former Prime Minister John Howard will shed new light on a period of Australian politics that has, until now, been largely overlooked by historians and cultural commentators.

The series has been commissioned at a time when the ABC has been increasingly criticised by right-wing commentators  for not doing enough to acknowledge the history of conservative politics in Australia.

Howard, our second-longest serving Prime Minister, makes a compelling case that the 16 years of Menzies’ leadership, from 1949 to 1966, was fundamental to the creation of the growing prosperity of modern Australia. Far from lost decades, these were the years that Australia recovered from the trauma of war and depression, and established itself as an affluent, educated, outward-looking democracy envied by a troubled world.

“The Menzies years established much of the prosperity that Australia enjoys today, laying the foundations of one of the world’s most successful societies,” said Mr Howard.

“I am pleased to be able to bring what insight I can to the life and career of our most successful political leader, a man whose legacy has been greatly underestimated.”

Steve Bibb, ABC TV Head of Factual, said: “HOWARD ON MENZIES is an intensely personal reflection on politics, values and the transformation of Australian society, told with the insight that only the ultimate insider can bring to the great events of the era. It invites us to think again about Menzies and the country that elected him.”

Based on his recent sweeping book, The Menzies Era, Howard will explore the major political events of the period – the Korean War; the failed attempt to ban the Communist party; the drama of the Petrov affair; the rancorous split in the ALP; our entry into the war in Vietnam; and importantly the rise of the great Australian middle class which was a feature of the 1950s and 1960s.

Howard asks a simple question: “What self-evident strengths of modern Australia are due to the actions of governments of the Menzies era?”

Part political memoir, part social history, Howard will talk to eye-witnesses, and surviving key political figures of the Menzies era, as well as commentators and others who can bring a special perspective to the period. These will include former Prime Ministers Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke, members of the Menzies family, historian Geoffrey Blainey, political chronicler Paul Kelly, former Menzies staffer Tony Eggleton, and cultural icons Barry Humphries and Clive James.

HOWARD ON MENZIES will premiere on ABC in 2016.