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Australia in the British Empire

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James Trapani

on 4 November 2016

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Transcript of Australia in the British Empire

Australia in the British Empire
The colonies in the Empire
- Australia was established by Britain
- Its inhabitants were considered British
- We shared a culture, an outlook and a language with Britain.
- We looked upon Britain, especially England, as the height of
civilization and took enormous pride in Britain’s achievements.
- Many Australians routinely referred to Britain as “home”, even
after several generations.

Australia fighting for Empire
- Australia's security was intertwined with the British Empire between 1788 and 1942.
- Hence, our citizens fought for the interests of the British Empire abroad.
- This section will overview those conflicts.
- It will also define our motivation through the spectrums of:
World War I
Inter-War Period
- The period of time between WWI and WWII witnessed a gradual shift in the global balance of power.
- However, the failure of Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations brought the world back to the brink of war within two decades.
- The Great Depression of the 1930s divided the globe into economic blocs that made war unavoidable.
- The remilitarisation of Germany and Japan during the 1930s was not confronted by the West leading to the greatest conflict in human history - WWII.
World War II
- World War II was a global war which decimated the international balance of power.
- In many ways, it accelerated the fall of world imperialism.
- The old imperial Empires fell like dominoes to the new industrial power of Germany.
- In its void new, and often dangerous, ideas emerged in world politics.
- This destruction of power and institutions meant that everything in the world would change.
- This was also true for Australia despite our relative isolation from major conflicts.
Australia and Britain After 1942
Prior to 1942 Australia had never really considered its place in the world. It was British. t was part of the Empire. The Empire's interests were our interests.
Prior to 1942 the British were our most important source of:
1) Defence
2) Trade
3) Immigration
4) Identity and citizenship.
The slow fall of the Empire meant that this all had to change.

Australia in the British Empire Today
Despite the changes that Australia was forced into, it still has close ties to the British Empire. Since 1942 these have continued to include:
-Governmental Authority
-Collective internationalism
-Military support
-Shared global outlook
-Common identity

Some suggest that this continuing relationship makes Australia's participation in regional and global politics difficult.
What was the British Empire?
How did it become the biggest Empire in history?
What was it doing in Asia?
How big was the Empire in the Pacific?
How did it relate to its colonial possessions?
British "High" Imperialism
Early "Australian" participation
The Boer War
The Dependency Hypothesis
The Loyalty Hypothesis
What was WWI?
Why did Australia join?
Why did Australians fight?
The Western Front
Women and the "home-front"
Grief and Remembrance
The decline of the British Empire
The Depression
Imperial Preference
The Rise of Japan
The Washington Conference and the Statute of Westminster
What was WWII?
Ideological competition
The fall of the British Empire?
The Japanese Threat to Australia
Curtin's Call to America
Australia turns to the US for defence
Australia turns to Asia for trade
Australia goes global for immigration
Australia defines citizenship
Australia remains part of the British Empire
A Constitutional Monarchy
Part of the British Commonwealth
Committed to Anglo-alliances.
Committed to our British Identity
Confused about our place in the world
- British geography and the balance of power in Europe.
- The British Empire was founded through
"piracy" (Ferguson, 2003, pp. 7-10).
- The Americas and the Atlantic slave trade.
- Asia and the British East India Company.
- India - "the jewel of the East"
- Africa - "High Imperialism"

- Asia was viewed as the centre of the global economy in the C18 and C19.
- Economists such as Adam Smith viewed Asia as the key to success.
- As much of Asia was colonised by the time the British got there, they focused their efforts on:

1) India
-Establishments of ports since 1600
-Increasing power in the loosely governed Southern section from 1700.
-Informal control from fall of Mughal Empire in 1757
-Transfer of power to crown following rebellion of 1858

2) China
-Increasing trade under the Qin dynasty.
-Establishment of ports in the South.
-Opium Wars
-Increasing power over China from 1840s
- Every colony was different and the treatment was defined by the type of Imperial possession it was.
-Settler Societies like Australia and Canada became "Dominions". This meant that the internal politics were not overly controlled by the empire. It did collect taxation in those colonies. However they were expected to contribute to the Empire by providing troops, assisting British commerce, and improving favoring the interests of the "Commonwealth".

Australians participated in a series of imperial conflicts on behalf of the British Empire.
This set the political precedent of Australians fighting for Empire that would be much more significant in South Africa and the two world wars.
The Early conflicts were:
- The Maori Wars 1845-1872
- The Sudan Expedition 1885
- The Boxer Rebellion 1900

None of these conflicts directly served Australian interests - but they were important to the Empire - hence -important to Australia

The Boer War was fought from 1899- 1902.
Around 16,000 Australians fought in South Africa.
267 Died.
- British Army withdrew from Australia in 1870
- Emerging tensions between our security interests and Britain’s interests from late C19
- Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902 was not well-received in Australia, coming in a context of rising concerns about Japan’s military prowess and White Australia policy
- Early efforts of Australia after Federation to prepare for our own defence:
- Compulsory military training
- Creation of the Australian Navy
- Founding of Duntroon military college

- Moreover, while you can see some attempts at independence - the anxieties over Asia meant that it still saw the value of the Empire.
-The British Empire remained responsible for our borders until 1942.

Australians were fiercely loyal to the Empire.
Every British Person had a relative back home.
To defend the Empire was to defend common wealth.
Hence, we gladly fought for Empire.
The Empire was seen as a positive force in the world.
- The Period of High Imperialism lasted from the 1870s until WWI.
- High Imperialism was motivated by economic and commercial interests in the periphery.
- For Britain this meant:
- Competition with Europeans, the US and Japan
- Invasion and occupation of strategically important islands in the Pacific.
- Invasion and occupation of strategically important areas of Asia and Africa - especially around the Suez Canal and the Cape.
- The weakening of independent Asian states to the advantage of British commercial interests.
- Above all, this meant WAR:
-War with natives,
-War with other Empires,
-And it would result in war with the world.

-Australia's early military history must be seen in this context.
Major Events
Type of War
Human Cost
Political cost
Joseph Cook, the Liberal Prime Minister, declared that "all our resources in Australia are in the Empire and for the Empire".
The Labor opposition leader, who would become Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher pledged full support for Britain. Fisher stated "...when the Empire is at war, so also is Australia". He also pledged "our last man and our last shilling"

This was less of a decision than a formality.
- Australia was part of the British Empire.
- The British Empire was at war in Europe
- Hence, Australia was at war in Europe.
The government had an obligation to fight for the British Empire.

- But the people had no obligation to fight.
- Australia never employed conscription. We did come close though. Once enlistments declined in 1916, the government gave the people a plebiscite. It was narrowly defeated 51 to 49.
- The second plebiscite in 1917 asked the Australian people "Are you in favour of the proposal of the Commonwealth Government for reinforcing the Commonwealth Forces overseas?"
- Again it was voted down.

- Then we must ask - If the Australian troops were not forced to participate, why did they go?
- The most popular theories include:
1) The expeditionary mentality.
2) Obligation to the Empire.
3) Propaganda, masculinity and mate-ship.

- Regardless of why, over 330,000 Australians went to Europe to fight between 1915 and 1918. This represented 13% of the Australian male population.
- 61,000 died. (around 2.4% of the male population),
-Another 152,000 were wounded. It is said that Australia had a 65% casualty rate ad that this was the highest of any belligerent in WWI

- The first world war was the largest military conflict in human history.
- Australia's participation in this war is seen as the birth of the nation.
- However, like all wars the reality was little more than the slaughter of young men for the interests of global politics.
- Why Gallipoli?
- The campaign.
- The ideology of Gallipoli:
-Simpson and his donkey
-Differentiation to Britons.

-Myth building
Lecture Overview
- Australia's Early History is defined by its participation in the British Empire
- Over half a million Australian men fought for the interests of the British Empire between the mid-19th century and 1942.
- This poses a few difficult questions:
- What is/was the British Empire?
- What were their global interests?
- How did this concern Australia?
- Why did we fight for the Empire?
- Were people living in Australia considered British or Australian?
- What battles defined ANZAC?
- What made us leave the imperial defence alliance?
- How have we related to the Empire since?
- How do we related to the Empire today?
The Fall of European Imperialism was inevitable by the onset of WWII. Three ideological movements sought to replace it:

1) Fascism/Nazism:

2) Communism:

3) Corporate Capitalism:
WWII was a war over ideology and the global balance of power.
Major Events
Political Cost
Human Cost
Type of War
- Overview of Japan's war in Asia

- Pearl Harbour (7/12/1941):

- The fall of Singapore (8-15/2/1942):

- Bombing of Darwin (19/2/1942):

- Invasion of Papua (22/7/1942):
- Even before the fall of Singapore, Australia realised that its territorial integrity was at risk.
- Curtin was in contact with both Churchill and Roosevelt by early December 1941.
- By the end of that month, and following the US entry into the war, Curtin decided to leave the British Empire's defence system.
- He told the Australian people of December 27:
“Without any inhibitions of any kind, I made it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom”

- Within a few months we were engaged in "total war".
- Our troops returned from Africa and we ratified the "Statute of Westminster" in 1942.
- We will detail the how America defeated Japan more next week.
-But it should be acknowledged that this decision saved Australia from much worse attacks.
Continued to support British Imperialism
- Every person living in Australia, prior to January 26 1949, was considered a "subject of the British Empire.
- Hence, they were a partial citizen of Britain as the concept of Australian citizenship had not been invented yet.
- In 1948 the Australian parliament established the "Australian Citizenship Act".
- After it was enacted the following became citizens of Australia:
-People born in Australia or New Guinea.
-Spouses of those above.
-Children of above.
-Peoples who had regularly lived here for five years.
- After 1949 people were both Australian citizens and subjects of the British Empire.
- An amendment in 1984 removed the latter term.
- It is interesting that all of these changes are extremely reluctant reactions to global circumstances.
If Australians and their governments were given the choice it would have made none of these changes during the 1940s and 1950s.

- Given this reality, it made whatever maneuvers it could to remain close with the British Empire. Its citizens understood the betrayal of WWII and were reluctant to face the world outside of the British Empire.
- The end of the British Empire meant the end of its ability to protect Australia from foreign threats.
- It initially receded from Asia to protect its interests in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. However, through two pivotal events global power was handed to the US.
1) The Greek Civil War - Britain turned its influence over Greece to the US in 1946 to keep it out of Soviet hands
2) The Suez Crisis - The US took control of events in Egypt to keep it in the Western sphere in 1956.
- Australia reluctantly realised that the US were becoming the leader of the capitalist world and sought an alliance with them in 1951.
- Prior to 1942, Britain had a global empire and the world's largest navy.
- By 1957 it was a second tier power engaging in regional trade at the expense of its former colonial empire.
- The 1957 Treaty of Rome opened the European Economic Community - a trade block of non-Communist European countries.
- Hence, we lost our biggest and most important trading partner to Europe.
- That same year, Menzies went to Japan to establish a new economic partner.
- Within a decade Japan replaced the UK as our primary trade partner - with other Asian countries increasing in significance.
As cited in previous lectures:
- There were insufficient British immigrants to come to Australia
- Hence, we looked to other Europeans to fill their void.
- Australia has gradually become less British with more global influences on race and culture.
- The US has also increased in cultural influences since the 1960s.
- Despite the slow moves away from Britain including:
-Attaining our own currecny (1966)
-End of Imperial hounour (1972......and 2015)
-Using our own anthem (1984).
- We are still connected to the Empire by our head of state.
- Australia is one of the 53 sovereign states that form the British Commonwealth.
- Since decolonisation the stated objectives of the Commonwealth are:
-World Peace
-Human Rights.
- The last major "Charter of the Commonwealth" was signed by Julia Gillard in 2013. It stated an opposition to: "all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds"
- The deconstruction of the British Empire took over 40 years.
- In all cases it sought to ensure its interests prior to leaving.
- Hence, it was natural that military crises would emerge.
- Australia fought for Britain twice after 1942:

1) Malayan Emergency (1955-1964):

2) Indonesian Konfrontasi (1962-1966):
- The American, Alfred Thayer Mahan, promoted an alliance between all of the anglo nations of earth in the late nineteenth.
- It is no coincidence that countries of similar ethnic, social, economic and cultural history ally in war. All of the anglo countries opposed Nazism and Communism and are now opposed to Islamic extremism.
- Even though it is for America, we fought, and fight, in alliance with the UK in major wars in Asia and the Middle East.
-Despite the shifts in Australia's cultural identity from British to American since the 1960s, Australia still holds a great affinity for the Empire.
-It still prefers British sports and hobbies over American.
-It still possesses British social and political values over American
-And perhaps more importantly, more preference is given to the memorial of soldiers of British conflicts (which seem just) to that of American conflicts (which seem unjust).
-Australia still views itself as a European country, despite its physical location.
-Our position in the UN is within the group "Western Europe and other".
-Our reluctance to engage with Asia (beyond economics) is a result of the isolationist tendencies that our participation in the British Empire brought.
-Australia has been a loyal servant of the British Empire since before its federation.
-Support for the Empire was universal prior to 1942.
-Australian men fought and died for this empire.
-Australia's moves away from the empire were reluctant and forced upon it.
-Its response to that shift has defined its place in the world since 1942.
-That shift has also changed a lot within our borders.
We look at our relationship with the global leader - the USA.
In order to do so we need to look at:
-The emergence of the US.
-The distinctive nature of US expansionism and exceptionalism.
-Its increasing role in the world during the world wars.
-Its post-war global architecture.
-Australia's place within that architecture.
-The nature of our security relationship
-The nature of our economic relationship
-The nature of our diplomatic diplomatic relationship
-The future of ANZUS
- In order to accommodate the rise of Japan, the Pacific powers met in Washington in early 1922.
- The meeting sought to establish a peaceful balance of power among the naval powers of the Pacific.
- The result is referred to as the 5:5:3 solution. This meant that the US and the UK were allowed 525,000 tons of Naval vessels, while Japan were allowed 315,000 tons. The smaller powers of France and Italy were allowed 135,000 tons. The USSR was not invited. There were also provisions to match specific types of equipment like aircraft carriers.
- Australia's navy was considered in the UK allowance and our navy actually decreased as a result of this.
- The treaty survived until 1936.
- The "Statute of Westminster" 1931, was Britain's attempt to return sovereignty to its colonial dominions. It allowed countries like Australia to leave the protective umbrella and make plans to defend itself.
-It was a sign of British weakness.
- Australia was cautious of Japanese militarisation since its federation in 1901.
- Japan's defeat of Russia in 1904 and annexation of German territory in China exacerbated these fears.
- In 1931, Japan invade Manchuria - which was part of China.
- In 1936, Australia stopped trade with Japan.
- In 1937, Japan invaded China - effectively beginning the Pacific War. (More on Japan in week 10).
- The 1929 Wall Street stock market collapse initiated the greatest economic crisis in modern history.
- The economic system in America and parts of Europe came to the brink of collapse.
- Australia also went through the depression. Unemployment peaked around 30%.
- Like in all of the developed world, depression led to radical political thought - both on the right and left.
- The inter-war period was defined by resistance movements within the imperial borders.
- The League of Nations had emphasised global self-determination - inspiring a generation of civil rights thought and decolonisation movements - most significantly in India and the Middle East.
- Suppressing these movement took a lot of resources.
- The rise of the US and Japan had also decreased British naval supremacy.
- By 1918 the decline had begun.

- The depression split the world into economic blocs.
- The US dominated the Western Hemisphere.
- Russia and Germany increased their influence on continental Europe.
- Accordingly, Britain had to revive its economy through leaning on the Empire.
- For Australia this meant a new form of economic dependency - removing other trading avenues.
- We happily did it for the Empire though.
Women also played a significant role in the war:
1) Serving as nurses

2) Running Patriotic funds

3) Running memorials

4) Giving their sons and husbands to the Empire.
Explain the rise of the British Empire in Asia
What was the statute of Westminster? How did it change the relationship to the dominions?
Overview the fall of the British Empire.
Define the relationship with Britain today.
Go to join.kahoot.it
Full transcript