The Nature of the Australian Governments Response to Communism and International Events in the Post WWII Era
Australias governments response to Communism and international events in the post WWII era was one of fear, suspicion and paronoia. Communism was mainly feared due to propoganda and the “Domino Effect”. The Domino Effect was a policy that speculated that if one land in a region came under the influence of communism, all would follow, like toppling dominoes. This worried Australia as communism had spread through Asia and was getting closer to Australia. It was also believed that communism would ruin daily Australian life and put our culture and freedom at risk. The government of the time introduced many new foreign and domestic policies in the hope of preventing communism from spreading to Australia. It attempted to permanently get rid of all communism and communists in Australia by outlawing communism and opressing communists and those who had sympathetic view towards them. The world events of the time also greatly influenced how the government reacted and how so much fear and paranoia was created. The super powers were the leaders of the Cold War and competed against each other in every way possible.
In response to the threat of communism two types of policies were formed by the government in hope to eliminate the communist threat. These were domestic policies and foreign policies. The domestic policies were policies put into place to keep control, watch and stop communist activity in Australia while foreign policies were policies usually created to keep communism from spreading to Australia by fighting or gaining alliances to fight in the countries the threat was coming from. The policies Robert Menzies introduced that came under the foreign category related to communism were the treaties he signed, the actions he took to ensure Australia a stronger bond with the USA, and the Forward Defence Policy. Australia became aware of its distance from its allies and as the threat moved closer, sought neighbouring alliances. Australia signed two treaties, SEATO and ANZUS, and created a plan to possibly gain more alliances called the Colombo Plan. SEATO, South-East Asia Treaty Organisation, was established in 1954 and was created for countries who were against the spread of communism. This benefited Australia both by giving them closer protection and “converting” many Asian countries before they could become communists. The government believed this would stop the domino effect in its tracks. Propoganda that shows how the public wouldve have been taught to see communists and communism spreading can be shown in the second image, “The Anti-Communist propoganda poster circa 1950s”. This poster shows an old man that could perhaps symbolises the Jewis leader of Communism with webs coming out of his fingers attached to spiders. The spiders could symbolise the communist countries and the web, the communism. It is showing how communism is spreading around the earth and was made to create fear among people and countries. Propoganda like this would have convinced the people that communism really was spreading and that they needed to back their government up in everything they wanted. The side of the world without the web also appears lighter this could suggest that the communist side is evil and the anti-communist side is good. ANZUS, Australia, New Zealand, The United States, was established in 1951 and served mainly to strengthen Australias alliance with the United States. The treaty implied that if one member of the treaty should be attacked, the others would defend and fight for them. However this was not binding. The Colombo Plan was created in order to offer assistance both socially and economically to less developed countries in South East Asia. Australia provided medical, educational and technological support in hope they would gain friendships with these countries and mold them into a country that would be less likely to fall into communism.
Australias relationship with Britain had weakened at this time and Australia was left basically defenseless against the communism threat that was spreading closer and closer to them. An alliance with the USA became the best option for Australia as they were one of the Super Powers and had sufficient resources to protect Austalia. Robert Menzies steps towards achieving this bond were signing the treaty with them, joining the Korean war at their request, allowing them to use Australia as a base and a place to test their nuclear missiles and allowing them to build submarines here. Australias and the rest of the worlds reliance on America, willingly or not, can be in the first picture, “Cartoon 1960s.” This cartoon shows an army man leading a little boy across the road. Its meaning is that the tank resembeling movement, violence and communism, will spread to the little powerless boy, the UN.