Australia and foreign and defence policy during WWI

by Susan Murray - Published on: 19 August 2009
Categories: New releases
Published on: 19 August 2009

At the start of the First World War, Australia was a fledgling nation, still strongly tied to Britain and the Empire. But even in those early days, Australia’s leaders could see that we needed to be able to defend ourselves as well as support others in need. A ‘Pacific fleet’ to protect Australia, New Zealand and other British outposts in the region was of utmost importance to Australia, but less important to Britain facing a war in the Atlantic and at her doorstep.

During the War, these conflicting priorities intensified as Australia struggled to decide whether to conscript soldiers to fight overseas as well as for home defence. Ideas of loyalty to the Mother Country, and the precedence of Britishness over national pride were tested. Following the war, Australia’s leaders lobbied to retain the annexed German outposts in the Pacific, and Prime Minister Hughes believed that the Allies deserved reparation for the costs of the war.

Neville Meaney has explored these issues in-depth in his 2-volume work, A history of Australian defence and foreign policy. Volume 2, Australia and World Crisis 1914-1923 will be launched by Professor Kim Beazley. A new print of Volume 1, The Search for Security in the Pacific has also been released to coincide with the release of Vol 2.


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