Explore Australian Responses to the Decline of Britain as a World Power in the Twentieth Century.

Topics: World War II, Australia, United Kingdom Pages: 10 (3387 words) Published: August 25, 2012
At the turn of the twentieth century Britain was a forced to be reckoned with in relation to economic and military supremacy. It is no surprise then that Britain’s dominions were heavily dependent upon the Empire for economic and defence purposes. Australia was no exception when it came to relying the Empire; in particular Australia’s links with Britain were strong in the areas of economic dependence and military protection as well as having vast cultural ties. However with the progression of the twentieth century and the decline of British power these ties underwent a number of changes to the point where Australia’s current relationship with Britain is almost as an equal power as opposed to being a simple dominion. Australia’s changing economic, defence and cultural ties as a result of Britain’s declining world power status will be addressed throughout this essay. ECONOMIC TIES

Throughout the early part of the twentieth century, whilst Australia was still an extremely new country, Britain provided for a number of economic needs of her dominion. In particular Australia was particularly reliant on the mother country in the areas of trade and immigration to assist with the financial security and growth of the new country. These two areas and the changes that occurred over time will now be discussed. TRADE DEPENDENCIES

At the beginning of the twentieth century Britain was a force to be reckoned with in relation to economic supremacy; despite this the mother country produced little of what she consumed in her own boarders. In fact a majority of her produce was imported from her dominions of which Australia was one . For a better part of the century Australia was extremely dependent on the British market as an outlet for her wool, wheat, diary and meat products (p56) . This inflow of British capital was absolutely essential to Australia who, without Britain, would have had trouble providing for the basic needs to the public. Still despite this inflow of British currency Australia still needed more assistance from Britain in the form of loans to continue to develop the new country at an acceptable rate. Even with the industrialisation Germany, Japan and America which threatened Britain’s economic supremacy (as well as her world power status); Australia’s economic dependency continued . During the post World War One era the relationship between Britain and Australia was beginning to show signs of strain due to Britain’s decreasing strength in the pacific. This strain between Britain and Australia lead to the increase of trade to countries other than Britain after the war, particularly Japan . Despite the strain the Australian government’s reliance on British trade and loans continued at such an alarming rate that during the 1930’s Britain were forced to send Sir Otto Niemeyer to assist Australia in her struggles with debt from loans . These economic worries forced Australia to improve relations with Britain as the government relied heavily on Britain. During the later half of the century Australia’s trade dependency with Britain slowly decreased with more trade occurring with Japan and America; both of whom were becoming important world powers . It seems apparent from this decrease in the trade dependency that the Australian government were responding to the decreasing power of Britain and turning to the countries that were going to be of more importance towards the end of the century. These were steps in ensuring the economic future of Australia as a country that was experiencing such a decline in economic supremacy could surely not be continuously relied upon. Another area in which Australia’s economic security relied upon Britain was continued growth from immigration. IMMIGRATION & GROWTH

It is no surprise that at the beginning of the twentieth century the country that Australia was most heavily reliant on for emigrants was Britain. The inflow of more British emigrants meant that inflow of more British capital...
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