Talk:History of Australia (1901–45)

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Australian independence[edit]

The beginning of the twentieth century saw the final result of nearly two decades of negotiations with regard to federation, with the approval of a federal constitution by all six Australian colonies and its subsequent ratification by the British parliament in 1900. This resulted in the creation of an independent Australian nation as of January 1, 1901.

It is disappointing to find such an egregious error in the first paragraph of a new article. The Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 was no more an "independent nation" than New South Wales had been in 1900. The six Australian states continued to be self-governing British colonies as they had been before federation. All that had happened was that they had ceded certain of their legislative powers to a federal parliament, under an agreement codified in a written constitution. All Australian legislation, state and federal, remained in theory subject to reservation by the representatives of the Crown (who were also representatives of the Colonial Office) and could be overridden by imperial legislation. The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act could in theory be amended or repealed by the Imperial Parliament. Australia had no independent diplomatic representation. Australia used British currency. Australia's waters were both legally and in practice controlled by the Royal Navy and British shipping legislation. Australia had only the rudimemts of independent armed forces, and these were intended to be mere auxilliaries of the imperial forces. Federation was neither in theory or in practice a declaration of independence from the United Kingdom - a suggestion which would have horrified most Australians and certainly never occurred to Barton, Deakin, Griffith etc when they brought it about. It is true that de facto the Commonwealth enjoyed almost complete legislative independence - but then so had the colonies for many years before federation. If Australia was an "independent nation" in 1901, then so had Tasmania been in 1900. Adam 05:20, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

It isn't a new article. It was my cruddy attempt at writing a lead section to fit what was left of the content from the larger article. In any case, I've fixed the error. Rebecca 05:29, 5 July 2006 (UTC)
Quite a few of the comments from Adam aren't correct. In law, through various Acts of Australian Parliaments and the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the status of the Crown Colonies had changed at federation from Colonies to States of a self-governing, federal nation (a Dominion) of the British Empire. The creation of the Dominion of Canada is a similar example from 1867. In becoming States, a fundamental (and intended) shift in the status of these jurisdictions had occurred. In terms of independence, a much more significant autonomy was intended and created, both legally and within the concept of national identity, than a transition to some kind of federal colony (who's ever hear of a federal colony anyway, why would one bother). In terms of identity, Australians of the first decades of the 20th century thought of themselves as both Australian and British i.e. a dual identity. Similar perhaps to how many English and Scots conceive themselves to be both British, and English or Scottish, today (and in the 1800s and 1900s). Agreed, it was not an example of a United States style declaration of independence with guns ready, but it was a statement of independence and autonomy from the English and the United Kingdom within the context of the wider British Empire. Adam's notes betray a misunderstanding of the term British as it applied to the British Empire of the time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Etatdaccord (talkcontribs) 02:16, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

why where people wont to be a nation? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:55, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

From history after 1901[edit]

These references were given on the History of Australia since 1901, it's unclear if they were actually used to write the article, however they may be useful to expand this and the after 1945 article.--Peta 02:47, 18 July 2006 (UTC)



  • Kenneth A. MacKirdy, "Australia" in Robin W. Winks; ed. The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources Duke University Press. 1966. pp 144-73, detailed historiography
  • W. David McIntyre, "Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands" in Judith M. Brown and William Roger Louis, eds; The Oxford History of the British Empire. Volume: 4: The Twentieth Century Oxford University Press 1998, pp 667-92
  • Geoffrey Blainey. The Rush that Never Ended: A History of Australian Mining (Melbourne, 1963).
  • G. C. Bolton, The Oxford History of Australia, Vol. V, 1942-1988: The Middle Way (Melbourne, 1990).
  • Verity Burgmann and Jenny Lee (eds), A People's History of Australia 4 vol McPhee Gribble/Penguin, Melbourne, 1988
  • Hilary Carey, Believing in Australia: A Cultural History of Religions (Sydney: Allen&Unwin, 1996),
  • Charles Manning Hope Clark, History of Australia 6 vol (Melbourne University Press, 1962, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1981, and 1987)
  • Frank G. Clarke, Australia: A Concise Political and Social History (Sydney: Harcourt Brace, 1992)
  • Frank G. Clarke; The History of Australia Greenwood Press. 2002
  • Roger Covell, Australia’s Music: Themes of a New Society (Melbourne: Sun Books, 1967)
  • Leslie Finlay Crisp, Australian Federal Labour Party, 1901-1951 (London, 1955)
  • F. K. Crowley; Australia's Western Third: A History of Western Australia from the First Settlements to Modern Times 1960
  • David Day, Claiming a Continent: A New History of Australia (Sydney: HarperCollins, 2001)
  • Steve Dowrick, Riaz Hassan, Ian Mcallister, eds; The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia Cambridge University Press. 2003
  • Ulrich Ellis, A History of the Australian Country Party (Melbourne, 1963).
  • Brian C. Fitzpatrick, The British Empire in Australia: An Economic History, 1834-1939 (Melbourne, 1941)
  • Lyndhurst Folkine Giblin, The Growth of a Central Bank: The Development of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, 1924-1945 (1951)
  • Henry Mackenzie Green, History of Australian Literature: Pure and Applied 2 vol (Sydney, 1961)
  • William Keith Hancock, Australia (London, 1930)
  • Paul Hasluck, Government and the People, 1939-1942 (Canberra, 1952).
  • Leonie Kramer, ed., The Oxford History of Australian Literature (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1981).
  • Stuart MacIntyre, The Oxford History of Australia, Vol. IV, 1901-1942: The Succeeding Age (Melbourne, 1986).
  • David P. Mellor, The Role of Science and Industry (1958), in WW2.
  • John Rickard, Australia: A Cultural History (Harlow: Longman, 1988)
  • Tim Rowse, Australian Liberalism and National Character (Malmsbury: Kibble Books, 1978).
  • Russell Ward, A Nation for a Continent: The History of Australia, 1901-1975 (Richmond, 1988).
  • A. T. Yarwood and M. J. Knowling, Race Relations in Australia: A History (Sydney: Methuen, 1982)

Specialized academic studies[edit]

Military and Naval[edit]

Web References[edit]

  1. Sydney "Sydney, nsw shelled by a japanese submarine on 8 june 1942" Check |url= value (help). Peter Dunn's Australia at War. 31 October 2000. Retrieved 2006-02-25. 

Primary sources[edit]


The map is excellent with a couple of minor exceptions. The Australian Capital Territory was orginally names the Federal Capital Territory in 1911. Its name was changed in 1938. Austraia's only other mainland territory is the Jervis Bay Territory. It was added to the FCT in 1915 to provide the captital with a port. In 1989 the JBT became a separate territory when the ACT gained self government. Alan Davidson 01:02, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Image of the "He's coming south" poster[edit]

I think that this image should be removed. The image is used on a number of articles, but isn't terribly useful in this one as it isn't actually very representative of Australia's wartime experience. The Australian Government was aware that there was no serious likelihood of an invasion by about April 1942, and that this was a remote threat after the Battle of Midway in June. It continued propaganda warning of an invasion until 1943 to encourage participation in the war effort, however. Australian forces were consistently on the offensive against the Japanese from about September 1942 until the end of the war three years later. As such, this image isn't at all representative of the Australian war experience, and actually dates from a cynical campaign to scare people about the war (the wartime Queensland Government banned the poster on the grounds that it was alarmist). My source for this is this 2002 article by Peter Stanley (the then-senior historian at the Australian War Memorial). Nick-D (talk) 03:47, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

Hi. Your article is interesting, but it doesn't argue that the Australian people didn't fear invasion. It also notes that "He's Coming South" was a propaganda angle used during the war, and that Curtin's own actions indicate that he was in fact personally very fearful of Japanese attack. So, I would say the poster is a relevant illustration of a real attitude that was present on the Australian homefront through the war. Certainly, Japan's advance from December 1941 had Australians fearing attack (and Australian policy makers had actively feared it long before this) and following the breach of the Malay Barrier by early 1942, Australia was not only open to Japanese attack, it actually suffered repeated Japanese attacks on land (if we count Australian New Guinea) sea and air - Darwin was pulverised in Feb 1942, Sydney Harbour penetrated in June 1942, the Centaur hospital ship sunk a full year later in May 1943. Curtin told his Cabinet the threat of invasion had passed only in Sept of 1943. Taking all this into account, the record suggests that Australian governments feared Japanese invasion/attack from at least late 1940 to mid 1943, while Australian civilians and service personnel were dying in significant numbers on the Australian mainland and nearby Australian territories and waters all through 1942 and 1943 (and continued to die in the New Guniea campaign in 1945). I would also say that I am yet to meet a person who lived through the war years who has not spoken of a fear of Japanese attack. Bomb shelters were dug, seaside suburbs depopulated northern cities stricken by panic at various stages. I would therefore keep the poster as an illustration of both Australian wartime propaganda used on the homefront and as a relevant representation of the Pacific War experience for Australian civilians. That said, I think there is room to include elements of Stanley's analysis within our broader text.Ozhistory (talk) 05:55, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Ozhistory. Stanley admits that Australia was indeed worried-- not just Curtin but the military. "By early March [1942], Cabinet, on the advice of the Australian Chiefs of Staff, anticipated a landing around Darwin in early April and a landing on the east coast by May." [Stanley p 5] Stanley argues (footnote 24) from one MAGIC intercept that in March 1942 Japan was not at that time planning to invade. Instead it was planning to cut off Australia by moving east. [Stanley p 3] If that had succeeded, Australia would be doomed. Historians agree it was a very close call for the Allies at Coral Sea Midway (June 1942), Guadalcanal and New Guinea. Stanley assumes the Allies would win those battles and all would be ok--an assumption Curtin was not about to make before the battles took place. Stanley says that Curtin's predictions were wrong--but that is not to say his fears were baseless. Curtin and most Australians were terrified of an invasion. [Stanley says "The reaction of the Australian people to the crisis of early 1942 has been described as one of “panic”. Certainly official and other historians have heightened the drama of the months in which invasion was regarded as possible." p 3] The poster does indeed capture the thinking of the public and gov't in 1942--and that is what the article is about. Stanley argues one very narrow point: an invasion by the Japanese Army. Stanley says not to worry, Japan instead was only planning to cut Australia off. But that would leave Australia isolated and helpless and forced to come to terms with Japan without an invasion. Rjensen (talk) 08:26, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

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