Page 87 - Cormorant 2019
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   As opposed to the economic sphere, newly won Australian freedom of action was seen to rest in the political outcomes of the war.
Despite the long list of Anglo-Australian tensions and antagonisms over failed military operations planned by British officers and officials and paid for with Australian blood, it would be a mistake to think that the Australian war experience had created an anti-Empire attitude by 1919. Australians were still loyal Empire citizens and proud of that fact. There was no doubt, however, that there was an expectation that the sacrifice and loyalty shown to the Empire would be recognized through
a changed strategic relationship between Great Britain and Australia. A heightened Australian sense of nationalism would have to be acknowledged. The proof of that changed strategic relationship would be found soon after the end of the war.
During the critical discussions which would set
up the post-war Far Eastern security system, the Washington Treaty System, Australian demands that Britain forego renewing the Anglo-Japanese Treaty in favour of a naval arms limitation agreement signalled the nature of this new Anglo-Australian strategic relationship. A long-standing point of
tension between Great Britain and Australia, the 1902 Anglo-Japanese Treaty was seen in Australia as a symbol of Great Britain’s unwillingness to defend Australian interests and instead leave their security to the Japanese. Australian demands that this condition be ended, as well as concerns over making better and longer lasting strategic ties to the United States, underpinned Australian demands that Great Britain end the treaty with Japan. The fact that this was indeed the action taken by the British delegation during the Washington Conference was perhaps the most important signal of the shift in the nature of the Anglo-Australian strategic relationship, with Australia being considered a much more “relevant” partner in the Empire’s strategic considerations.
Women in Australia saw little change in their place in society compared to the dramatic shifts experienced by their British Empire sisters in places such as Great Britain and Canada. Some limited success was visible by 1919. Medical staff, nurses and doctors, returned from service in Europe and the Middle East to establish a new female presence
in a previously male dominated arena. However,
the battle to maintain their professional status and opportunity to work was not yet over for these female
medical veterans. As was the case in industry and other service areas which were previously excluded to women before the war, the return waves of soldiers created a sharp reaction to the inclusion
of women in the general work force. While women had performed these various jobs well during the war, pressure to find work for the returning male population that had been overseas saw the female workforce once again pressured to return to their pre-war condition of being a minority in the nation’s workplaces. Resistance to women in the workplace, and as part of the war effort, had been vigorously resisted throughout the conflict. By 1919 there were only 55,000 women engaged in paid work, while volunteer organisations such as the Red Cross could boast over 80,000 women volunteers. Any significant changes to women’s roles in Australian society would have to wait until the Second World War dictated the need for such adaptations to occur.
Overall, Australia’s position in 1919 was that of a relatively diminished nation, or at least a relatively unchanged nation, apart from its strategic relationship within the British Empire. Social, economic and fiscal conditions had changed little,
or if there was change, it was not for the better. An increased sense of nationalism was present, but was still a relatively unknown political force. Recognition of the war effort of the relatively new nation exited, but its relative impact on the state of the nation’s overall condition was limited. The interwar period would be one of recovery and reconstruction to some degree as harsh economic conditions plagued Australia’s development. The First World War had no doubt changed Australia and its people, but the degree of change, or at least the immediacy of that change, was not fully apparent in 1919.
 An increased
sense of nationalism was
present, but was still a relatively unknown political force. ◆◆◆

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