Australia–United Kingdom relations

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Anglo-Australian relations
Map indicating locations of Australia and United Kingdom


United Kingdom
Monthly value of Australian merchandise exports to the United Kingdom (A$ millions) since 1988
Monthly value of UK merchandise exports to Australia (A$ millions) since 1988

Australian – British relations are one of the closest international relationships in existence, marked by culture, institutions and language, extensive people-to-people links, aligned security interests, sporting tournaments (notably The Ashes, a Test Cricket series), and vibrant trade and investment cooperation.


The long-standing relationship between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Commonwealth of Australia formally began in 1901 when the six British Crown colonies in Australia federated, and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed as a Dominion of the British Empire.

Australia fought alongside Britain and its Allies in World War I, notably at Gallipoli (against Turkey) and the Western Front. It fought with Britain and its allies again in World War II, protecting Britain's Pacific colonies from Imperial Japan.

Until 1949, Britain and Australia shared a common nationality code. The final constitutional ties between United Kingdom and Australia ended in 1986 with the passing of the Australia Act 1986.

Formal economic relations between the two countries declined following Britain's accession to the European Economic Community in 1973. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom remains the second largest overall foreign investor in Australia. In turn, Australia is the seventh largest foreign direct investor in Britain.

Due to Australia's history as a colony of Britain, the two nations retain significant shared threads of cultural heritage, many of which are common to all Anglosphere countries. English is the de facto language of both nations. Both legal systems are based on the common law.

Pom is a common nickname given by Australians to British people, said in jest without malice or prejudice, in a similar way to how British (and other) people call Australians Aussies, and refer to Australia as "Oz" or "down under" (a reference to the fact that Australia is notable for being entirely in the southern hemisphere).


Streams of migration from the British Isles to Australia played a key role in Australia's development, and the people of Australia are still predominantly of British or Irish origin. According to the 2011 Australian Census, around 1.1 million Australians were born in Britain, despite the last substantial scheme for preferential migration from Britain to Australia ending in 1972.

The former prime minister, Julia Gillard, was born in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan in Wales. The leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, and current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott was also born in Britain, although to Australian parents.

There is a population of around 400,000 Australians in Britain, especially in Greater London.[1]


Australia House, home of the High Commission of Australia, London.
The British High Commission in Canberra

The contemporary political relationship between London and Canberra is underpinned by a robust bilateral dialogue at head-of-government, ministerial and senior officials level. As Commonwealth realms, the two countries share a monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and are both active members within the Commonwealth of Nations. In 2006, British Prime Minister Tony Blair became the first British head of government to address the Australian Parliament.

Australian maintains a High Commission in London. The United Kingdom, in turn, maintains a High Commission in Canberra.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Born Abroad – Australia". BBC News. 2005-09-07. Retrieved 2007-10-17.