Date range
Open the calendar popup.
Open the calendar popup.

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.


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

Category: International relations

Topic: History