Course Summary

Australian History 2: Post Federation

Unit 1 - The Fledgling Nation. 1901-1925

On the first day of January 1901, the Australian nation came into being with a constitution based on the Westminster system of government. A totally new structure of government had to be developed and a new public service recruited and trained. A new High Court had to be staffed by competent judges with the skills to interpret the meaning of the Federal Constitution, particularly given that each state retained a large measure of self-government.

Unit 2 - Australia in the First World War

As noted in Unit 7 of the Pre-federation History Course, Australia has had a military history from the first day of European occupation. Indeed, on the day of Federation, a large number of Colonial Military Contingents were in action in the Boer War in South Africa. Military conflict has had a profound impact on the development of Australia.

Unit 3 - Hardship and Recovery. 1926-1950

As mentioned in Unit 1, The Bruce-Page Government implemented various schemes under the slogan of "men, money and markets" in order to stimulate the economy and infrastructure. Immigration was increased and there were a number of large development projects such as Victoria's brown coal electricity generation in the Latrobe Valley and the completion of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But the peaceful, prosperous days of the 1920s were shattered in 1929 by the onset of the Great Depression. The hardships of this period, together with the fear of international communism, gave birth to the growth of vigilante organisations extolling the virtues of fascism.

Unit 4 - The Second World War

All three services were deployed to a great number of conflict locations from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, south-east Asia, and the Pacific. This unit briefly concentrates on the historical naval, military and air force campaigns that followed Australia's commitment to the War. Click here to download the Sequence of Events in portable document format (size 146 KB) which you can then print for future reference.

Unit 5 - An era of growth and prosperity. 1951-1975

After the traumas of the Second World War, the "Cold War" began as Russia imposed an "Iron Curtain" across Europe and many South-east Asian countries sought independence from their old colonial masters. A fear of the growth of communism preoccupied the democratic countries of the world and significantly influenced political and foreign affairs thinking in Australia. The quarter century was epitomised by political stability at the Federal level with over 20 years of Liberal-Country Party rule. The Australian Labor Party was split over the issue of communism, but Whitlam's Labor Party achieved power in 1972, only to be dismissed in 1975 by the Governor-General, thereby creating a constitutional crisis which was to percolate for many years. Economically, it was a period of extraordinary growth in resource development, immigration, home ownership, the ubiquity of whitegoods, and a great leap in car ownership. The "long boom" of prosperity was about to begin.

Unit 6 - Modern multicultural Australia. 1976 to 2011

The last quarter of the 20th century and the early decades of the 21st witnessed significant growth in Australia. This may have resulted from relative long-term stability in governments (Fraser Coalition, November 1975 to March 1983; Hawke/Keating Labor, March 1983 to March 1996; and Howard Coalition, March 1996 to 2007), but the major economic factor was the mineral boom which began in the 1960s. Growth was also evident in population; more liberal immigration policies evolved from public and political attitudes as well as being influenced by international events. Any essay on multicultural Australia must of necessity focus on the country's immigration history. Hence, this unit will note some emphasis on the journey from a xenophobic "White Australia" in 1901 to the vibrant, eclectic nation that it is today.

Unit 7 - The History Wars

This topic is concerned with an on-going public debate about history and politics. In particular, it analyses the way historians interpret the past and the political controversies that arise over differing interpretations of Australian history.

Unit 8 - More Military Conflicts

After six years of a disastrous World War, nations looked forward to peace but this was not to be. Revolutions, civil wars and internecine conflicts were widespread, while totalitarianism seemed to have received only a setback, not a defeat, with the downfall of Fascism and Nazism. It became obvious that there would be little respite for international peace with the Cold War immediately following the cessation of hostilities in 1945.

Unit 9 - Towards a Republic?

Although it was never a burning issue, the idea of an Australian republic has been smouldering from early colonial days. Today, a debate exists in Australia over whether the country should adopt a republican form of government and abandon its current constitutional monarchy. The thrust of this proposal is to end the reign of the monarch of Australia (currently the Queen Elizabeth of England,) and her appointed Governor-General in Australia, replacing both with an elected "Head of State".