Australian Defence Policy

A discussion of Australia’s reliance on its large and powerful friends as a defence policy.

This essay aims to respond to the statement that ‘Australia has always relied on strong and powerful friends for its defence” and answers the questions, ‘is this true? , ‘why has it been so?’ and ‘ what is the position today? The paper explains that this is evident in Australia’s participation in many wars that did not directly threaten their own borders, including Vietnam, both world wars and others.
For Australia alliance (at least de facto) with a great power has been a key policy component since Federation. This has been readily apparent in its long history of close relations with firstly the United Kingdom and more recently the United States, as both an ally and a powerful friend. Australia has a long history of association with the United Kingdom and the United States which extends back to World War One and has since taken on many different forms. This essay will mainly focus on the relationship with the United States as it is more relevant to current defence policy and the United States does not posses the motherland relationship that Britain does. Since the Second World War Australia’s relationship with the United States has been one of reliance with regards to the provision of an ally to come to our aid in a time of heightened military conflict that seriously affects Australia’s security. This has evolved to encompass a reliance on the United States for the vast majority or our high technology equipment and global intelligence, resulting in a belief that this relationship is a constraint on Australia’s defence policies and thinking. In this essay, the relationships that Australia has held with the US and Britain will be discussed in both current and historical terms, particularly with regard to the advantages and disadvantages of such a reliance, relating it to the position today.”