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Australia in the 1930s


Independence


The British parliament passed the Statute of Westminster 1931 allowing self-government for all dominions and colonies of the British Empire. Australia refused to ratify the statute, worried about Australian security and the previous promise of a military British presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The Australian Government was concerned with the increasing expansion and military aggression of Japan.

Australia eventually signed the Statute of Westminster in 1942 in the midst of the Pacific War with Japan. It became increasingly clear that it was the USA, not Britain, that would be Australia's greatest ally in defending the country from invasion.

Colonialism_1945


A snapshot of 1938

  • January
    • The first national conference of Indigenous Australians was held at the Australian Hall, Sydney, to mark a 'Day of Mourning' and protest during the 150th Australia Day anniversary of colonial settlement. The conference was initiated by William Cooper, founder of the Australian Aborigines League (AAL), and The Aborigines Progressive Association (APA), led by William Ferguson, and Jack Patten. Participants called for Aboriginal land and citizenship rights.

  • March
    • Xavier Herbert won the Commonwealth sesquicentennial (150 years) literary prize for his novel Capricornia.
    • Daisy Bates (1863-1951), a social worker in Aboriginal communities and an anthropologist, published her book The Passing of the Aborigines.
    • Many of Bates's views and stories were sensationalist and incorrect, and many Aboriginal people indicated ambivalence about her and her work.

  • July
    • All exports of iron ore from Australia to Japan were suspended as Japan was seen as militaristic.

  • December
    • The federal government announced that refugees from (Nazi) Germany were to be relocated in Australia.
    • A direct radio–telephone link was set up between Canberra and Washington as a sign of closer US–Australian government cooperation.
    • Albert Namatjira, an Indigenous artist, held his first exhibition of paintings in Melbourne. All 41 pieces sold within three days of the opening.

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