The seemingly endless second prime ministerial stint of Liberal Party stalwart Robert Gordon Menzies from 1949 to 1966 was not, as it is now often portrayed, a period of unbroken certainty, somnolence and solidity. The first years of the Menzies restoration in particular were quite rocky. For a start, when Menzies won the 1949 federal election, his incoming government faced a hostile Senate. Sixteen months later a double-dissolution defeat for Labor ended the impasse. But success on this front was shortly followed by the historic 1951 referendum campaign in which Menzies unsuccessfully sought to ban the Communist Party of Australia.…
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