Skip to main content

Historical documents

236 Note by Bruce of Conversation with Robinson

[LONDON], 6 July 1943

Robinson came to see me-a farewell visit before his departure. He
opened the conversation by a few graceful references to the
invaluable work I was doing and how greatly it was appreciated.

This attitude on his part makes it difficult not to be a little
cynical with regard to humans. [1] Robinson then went on to talk
about Evatt, in a most patronising way. He said Evatt was greatly
improved on this trip and that he had had no trouble at all this
time. The only doubtful moment he said was at one stage in
America. This must have been the time when he, Robinson, was
cabling frantically to Bracken. [2]

We then discussed the question of the forthcoming election and
Robinson told me that he had received a telegram from Massy-Greene
[3] which suggested there were grave doubts that the Government
would get back. I expressed my surprise at this view although I
said that from what I had heard from the Editors who were over
here [4] [I] had rather changed the view that I had formed, namely
that the Government would certainly get back with an increased
majority.

Robinson's attitude was rather that he did not think Massy-Greene
was very closely in touch with politics at the present time and he
doubted whether his views could be relied upon. He expressed his
own opinion as being that the Government would come back with an
increased majority.

Robinson then proceeded to tell me that there was no chance of the
Prime Minister coming over here, basing this view upon the fact
that Mr. Curtin had taken so strong a line with regard to Menzies
coming back here when he was Prime Minister. [5] Robinson
suggested that only in the event of a complete easing of the
situation in the Pacific could the Prime Minister feel justified
in leaving Australia.

He then indicated, however, that Beasley would probably be coming
and that if he did, he, Robinson, would be coming too as he had
given a promise to the Prime Minister he would do so, although he
was getting somewhat tired of beating up and down the world.

As far as I could follow it, the position seems to be that
Robinson has established the legend with the present Government
that it is necessary for the success of visits of Ministers to
this country that they should be chaperoned by him. This, if true,
is most unfortunate as it would be very much better if Beasley
came here without having Robinson in his train.

Otherwise nothing of any interest arose.

Robinson, as usual, assumed an attitude of great cordiality
towards myself, but I would not trust him a yard.

S.M.B.


1 See Document 237, third paragraph.

2 No record of this episode has been found.

3 Sir Walter Massy-Greene, who had served in the Hughes, Bruce and
Lyons ministries between 1919 and 1933. Massy-Greene and Robinson
were both associated with the Collins House group of mining
companies.

4 F. L. Dumas (Chairman and Managing Director of the Adelaide
Advertiser), E. T. Kennedy (Chief Executive Officer, Associated
Newspapers Ltd, Sydney), H. A. McLure-Smith (Editor of the Sydney
Morning Herald) and C. P. Smith (Managing Editor and Director of
the West Australian). See Bruce's note of conversation on 17 July
on file AA:M100, July 1943.

5 See Advisory War Council minute 467 of 14 August 1941 in
AA:A2682, vol. 3. Curtin had in fact said that 'If the Government
should decide that the Prime Minister should proceed abroad, he
was agreeable if such a course were practicable', but he had also
expressed the belief 'that the Prime Minister's primary duty
required his presence in Australia'.


[AA:M100, JULY 1943]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top