In the 1960s Britain's external policies underwent a profound revision as the government sought to redefine Britain's post-imperial role: London gradually turned away from its imperial and global commitments and towards Europe, a process seen principally in Britain's applications to the European Economic Community [EEC] between 1961 and 1972, as well as in the 1968 decision to withdraw from east of Suez.
This book examines Anglo-Australian relations against this context and explores the radical changes that took place during the 1960s, tackling the question as to why the ties of ethnicity and empire which had once bound Australia and Britain became practically inconsequential by the early 1970s. Drawing on a broad range of British and Australian archival sources, the author charts how Britain's turn to Europe gradually but inexorably loosened these historic ties. He explains how Australia perceived the challenge of Britain's retreat from empire, and analyses the policies successive Australian governments implemented to minimise its impact. He argues that, anxious not to antagonise Britain for fear it would drift further away, Canberra opted to avoid confrontation with the erstwhile 'mother country'; Australian policy-makers gradually accepted the developing new realities and sought to diversify their country's trading options away from its traditional markets in Britain towards the Asia-Pacific region, while also cautiously redefining its strategic priorities in Asia.
Dr ANDREA BENVENUTI teaches in the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of New South Wales.