Colony and Empire

Section Four



Britain put Australia's defence interests as a far second to her own. It was this attitude which fuelled Australian moves towards independence. As E.M. Andrews explained: These defence concerns were felt in earlier decades; for instance, "the establishment of a French convict settlement in the New Hebrides (1864) caused temporary alarm".(89)

In 1883, it was rumoured that Germany was contemplating the annexation of New Guinea. The colony of Queensland sent a magistrate to formally take possession of the territory (and the adjacent islands) in April 1883; but this action was disallowed by the British Prime Minister, Gladstone, who had been "officially assured that Germany had no designs in the neighbourhood". The incompetence of the British action was shown when Germany annexed Papua and Samoa in the following year.(90)

As E.M. Andrews stated: At the onset of World War One, on 10 August 1914, the Australian government, abiding by its prior arrangement, placed the Australian Navy under the control of the British Admiralty. "From that date, all ships, officers and seamen of the Commonwealth Naval Forces became an integral part of the Imperial Navy", a situation which lasted "for the duration of the war". This was an act of national subservience, rather than an act of national sovereignty.(97)


The British dismissal of Australia's interests was such that, after providing naval protection for Australia for quite some years, Britain passed the responsibility for Australia's forward naval defence into the hands of the Japanese!!! This was arranged under the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of 1904.

Of these arrangements - organised on Australia's behalf by our "Mother Country" - one poet at the time aptly wrote:(98)
The war drums beat! The scene is changed!
The brown man is a brother.
Alas for dear Australia White!
The Japs are pals of Mother!
E.M. Andrews has explained the British government's attitude: In 1908, Australia's Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin, in view of the British concentrating their naval forces in Europe, "then engineered, before informing the British, the visit of the American 'Great White Fleet' in August-September that year - to a rapturous reception in Australia".(102)

This move was designed to show Australia's potential enemies the military might of our "American friends"; however, this move towards the USA was not popular with the British government (who believed that Australia should remain within Britain's sphere of influence, not America's).(103)

Following the Japanese defeat of Russia in 1905, and Britain's 1909 hysteria regarding being out-gunned by the German's new naval strength, It has been remarked that "This formidable indictment of Admiralty policy was perhaps the most significant in the history of the emergence of the dominions from imperial tutelage". E.M. Andrews says that such a comment "probably exaggerates", but adds that "It would have been significant, if World War I had not turned attention to Europe and obscured the lessons of the crisis, which had to be learnt all over again in the 1940s."(106)


Another aspect of the "downside" to Australia's adherence to the British Empire was that this imperial relationship committed Australia to numerous wars, in which we should've had no part.

For example:

Note: Boer War and World War One figures are combined battle and non-battle casualties, World War Two figures are battle casualties only.

Note: In the war against Japan (1941-1945) Australia suffered 17,501 dead, and 13,997 wounded/injured (these figures are battle casualties only); while 21,467 were made Prisoners Of War (POWs).(110)

British bungling over Singapore cost us some 17,000 Australians being made Prisoners Of War by the Japanese, of which massive numbers were to die in captivity: Of the 7,289 Australian men and women made POWs by the Germans and Italians, 234 (3%) did not survive to be repatriated; however, of the 21,467 Australians made POWs by the Japanese, some 7,602 (35%) were to die as POWs.(111)

Note: The war against Germany and Italy is commonly referred to as the "European theatre", however, reference to this war against Germany and Italy (and other nations) also includes actions in North Africa and the Middle East.


                          Battle       Non-Battle         Total

Boer War
Dead                         274              314           588
Other casualties             538               35           573
Total                        812              349          1163

World War One
Dead                      53,884            6,400        60,284
Other casualties         155,133          431,448       586,581
Prisoners Of War           4,044              n/a         4,044
Total                    213,061          437,819       650,909

World War Two
(against Germany and Italy)
Dead                       9,572
Other casualties           9,480
Prisoners Of War           7,289
Total                     26,341

The ramifications of these useless wars are enormous.

World War One saw the loss of the cream of a young generation of Australians. In general, it was the strong, brave, worthy, and patriotic men who "joined up" to fight in this country's military forces; and - while there were many who were not allowed to join up (such as those deemed medically unfit), or who objected to the war for nationalist reasons - the cowards and unpatriotic formed a sizeable proportion of those who stayed behind. It should make us wonder if it is the offspring of the latter group that now rule Australia.

As David McNicoll once said: "Gallipoli and France in World War I, Malaya and the islands in World War II, plus navy and airforce, saw the flower of our manhood lost. Who knows? If those tens of thousands of Australians had returned, they would have bred more of their kind to retain traditions in which they believed and prevent their country ending up the multicultural shambles it has become".(113)


Under international law, Australia had no option but to enter the First World War, as E.M. Andrews has explained: The fact is, the First World War should have been irrelevant to Australia. As an independent nation, Australia would've had no business in entering a war of European politics (and losing 60,284 Australians, as well as incurring 586,581 other casualties). That Australia was tied to Britain legally, politically, and by social culture ensured our entry into this needless war, and the ensuing loss of "the cream of Australia's youth". Australia's development was set back by uncountable years by the killing and maiming of some of the best of our nation's upcoming new generation.


During the Second World War, Britain developed a "Beat Hitler first" policy, whereby the fight against the Japanese became a secondary consideration. However, Australia's Prime Minister, John Curtain, put our national interests first, and recalled our troops back from North Africa - despite the attempts of Winston Churchill (Britain's wartime Prime Minister) to stop him. Those troops were badly needed to defend Australia against the expected Japanese invasion (while other allied troops were available to take their place in North Africa).(116)


When Britain declared war on Germany in 1914 (the First World War) and in 1939 (the Second World War), it was taken for granted that this meant that Australia was automatically at war too.(117)

It has been pointed out by W.G McMinn that, in regards to the First World War, K.H. Bailey says, regarding the Second World War, Later, under the following Labor Government, the Prime Minister, John Curtain, and the Minister for External Affairs, Dr. H.V. Evatt, arranged for "Royal instruments" to confer upon the Governor-General the power to declare "a state of war with Japan, Finland, Hungary and Romania" (the proclamation of which was to be countersigned by the Australian Prime Minister). So, Australia declared war upon Japan by itself, but only - in effect - following Royal (i.e. British Government) permission to do so.(120)

Colony and Empire

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