*** World War II -- Australia World War II political cosequences

World War II Australia: Declaration of War (September 1939)

Australian declaration of war
Figure 1.--The Australian Parliament did not declasre war on Germany, Primeminister Robert Menzies simply suid tht as Britain had declared war, Australia was at war. Despite the World War I experience, there was no opposition to this. Australiasns still believed that their security was tied up with that of Britain. And the Germans had no way of getting at Australia. There would, however be a renewed opposition to conscription.

Australia joined Britain in fighting NAZI Germany after the German invasion of Poland one houur after Nrutish Prime-Minister Nevile Chamberlain anniunced that Britain had declared war (September 1939). Like Britain, Australia did not declare war on the Soviet Union which also invaded Poland. The Australian experience in World War I had created a considerable pacifist sentiment in Australia, but news of Hitler and the NAZIs had also alerted Australians to the nature of the NAZI regime, alyhough not the full dimensiions of the evil involved. Thus when Britain declared war on Germany, the Australian Government followed Britain's head long into the greatest conflict in history. Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced, "Fellow Australians, it is my melancholy duty to inform you officially, that in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that, as a result, Australia is also at war. No harder task can fall to the lot of a democratic leader than to make such an announcement." (September 3, 1939). The Australian Parliament for some reason had not ratified the 1931 Westminster Statute, and so lacked an independent foreign policy. The Prime-Minister recognised this when he simply said that as Britain was at war with Germany, so Australia was at war with Germany. There was no serious oposition in Parlament to this, but there was no actul vote. And unlike the declaration of war, conscription would prove an issue. At the time the Australian focus was on Europe. And the population still considered themselves secure behind the protective shield of the Brtish Royal Navy. But Britain like Australia had cut military spending to the bone and that shield it would soon prove was not what it once was. Most Australians still felt that Britain was the mother country and guaranted Australian security. Conservative Prime-Minister Mendies was soon replace by Labour Prime-Minister John Curtin who would be Australia;s war-time leader. Much less attention was focused on Japan which had invaded China. After all, Britain had what was considered an impregnable bastion at Singapore and the Americans with their powerful fleet held the Philippines Islands. This of course changed dramatically when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor (December 1941). Now the War was no longer on the other side of the globe and Australia would be in the thick of it. More than 2 years later after the Japanese launched the Pacific War, Australia ratified the Westminster Statute, backdated to 1939.


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Created: 2:59 PM 3/25/2023
Last updated: 2:59 PM 3/25/2023