Major Turning Piot on Britain-Australia Relation

Topics: World War II, Australia, Royal Navy Pages: 6 (1986 words) Published: May 24, 2013

This essay researches how the fall of Singapore in 1942 could be regarded as a major turning point in British-Australian relations. In this essay, academic sources in the University of Wollongong Library and other sources from notes of Humanities lectures and tutorials of the University Access Program at the University of Wollongong College were used. The main arguments are that the fall of Singapore in 1942 played a significant role in shifting Australian-British relationships which had previously been paternalistic in nature. Before the fall of Singapore in 1942, Australia had maintained a strong relationship with Britain in many aspects such as defence, economics, politics and immigration. However, the failure of the Singapore Strategy in 1942, saw Australia's relationship with Britain starting to shift, ultimately significantly and permanently. From 1942, Australia started to act more independently by reducing Britain’s involvement in its wartime operations and shifting its relationship towards other dominant allies and particularly the United States, and post-World War II to Asian countries (ie. Japan). This essay concludes that the fall of Singapore in 1942, could be regarded as a major turning point of British-Australian relations as before 1942, Australia was relied primarily on Britain but after 1942, Australia looked to other allies for its security and development.

From 1901-1941, Australia and Britain had a significant relationship supported by shared heritage, common values, closely coordinated strategic mentality and interests. In terms of defence, for example, the Australian army was committed to defend Britain or any parts of the British Empire under threat. In return, between 1920 -1930, Britain built an impregnable great Royal Navy Fleet in Singapore, known as the Singapore Strategy, to show its commitment to the Far East and also to increase commitment in Britain’s ability to defend its Empire which included Australia (Grey 1999, pp122-130). According to the Military History of the British Empire (2013), the Singapore Strategy is defined as a naval defence policy of the British Empire that was included in the series of war programs from 1919 to 1941 to prevent possible attacks from the ambitions of the expanding Japanese Empire. In December 1941, in their search for new colonies, the Japanese finally invaded and attacked Malaya and then Singapore. With the fall of Singapore in 1942, Australia’s relations with Britain was significantly threatened and this could be regarded as a major turning point into their relations. This can be justified by the fact that before 1942, Australia was mostly relied to Britain in many aspects of life. However, due to the collapse of the Singapore Strategy, Australia changed its relations with Britain and looked to other dominant allies such as America (Crotty, Roberts 2009). Therefore, in comparing, Australian-British relations before and after the fall of Singapore, it is clear to say that the fall of Singapore in 1942 was a major turning point in these relations.

Since colonisation in 1788, Australia and Britain had a strong relationship dominated by the British colonial mindset and interests, reflecting a population that was of British decent (Gare & Ritter, 2008; Waters, 2001). This can be seen in terms of immigration as Bridge (1991, p3-40) stated that Australia’s population had supplied 97% of British immigrants. The two countries had established a strong relationship before 1942 in defence, economy and politic affairs. In terms of defence, Australia’s defence relied primarily on the Royal Navy and its Singapore base (Grey, 1999; Richard, 2006). The Singapore Strategy was considered the best strategy to defend the British Empire in the Far East and protect them in the case of any threat especially from Japan, which was their most feared enemy, due to the Japanese empire ambitions in the Pacific sea (Campbell 2006, pp1). In addition, Australia...
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