Cherry Blossom Festival in Young, New South Wales, 1968

Cherry Blossom Festival in Young, New South Wales, 1968

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Asia & the Pacific

Australia's relationship with its regional neighbours has constantly changed over the last century. The early introduction of restrictive immigration policies put Australia at odds with some of its neighbours, tainting relationships for decades. World War II and later regional conflicts further strained these relationships. However, Australia emerged with a much clearer sense of its place in the region. Mutual economic and cultural interests between Australia and its Asian neighbours have come to define this relationship.


Our unique relationship with Britain is reflected in the records. A shared monarchy, our allied status, and our place in the British Empire defined our international relations for decades after Federation. However, Britain's role as our defender was called into question during World War II, and since that time the exclusive links between us have been severed.

Immigration from Britain has always been favoured, especially when integration and homogeneity were considered important criteria for successful migration. Hence at a personal level, the close ties continue between Britain and Australia.

North America

Our relationship with the United States has been cemented over two world conflicts and several regional ones where the two nations have fought side by side. There is also significant ongoing commercial and cultural exchange and migration between the two countries.


The exclusion of Asian people under the White Australian Policy by default encouraged the immigration of Europeans. But even here there was a hierarchy of desirability. After World War II, refugees from many European countries were accepted as a gesture to ease the plight of displaced people, but also to satisfy a very real need for labour and skills in the postwar economic boom.

Cold War

Meanwhile the 'new world order' after World War II included hard-line communist countries with which Australia did not have formal relations. Political stand-offs, spy rings and defections became part of the political landscape in the 1950s and 1960s.

Global citizen

How do we relate to the rest of the world? How do they see us? Are we good citizens in the new global village?


Australia's relations with Africa date back to Federation when Australian troops were committed to the Boer War. Since then the relationship has shifted to concerns with Commonwealth affairs, trade, aid and immigration.