The original inhabitants of
Australia, the aborigines, date back as far as the Ice Age.
The aborigines have the longest cultural history in the world.
However, around the 16th century, other countries began to
ascend upon Australia. In 1770, Captain James Cook sailed
the eastern coast, making his way upon the continent. He declared
it for the British and named it New South Wales.
Soon thereafter, to stop the overcrowding of prisons in Britain,
inmates were transported to New South Wales. The first fleet set
sail with Captain Arthur Philip, the colony’s first governor.
In the beginning, New South Wales did not offer the chance for British
citizens to have a better life, rather just the opposite. The country
left its inhabitants hungry without good land to grow food.
However, decades later, the discovery of gold led many settlers
to inhabit New South Wales. With the growing number of immigrants
and the pursuit of gold, the economy grew and changed the social
structure. Aborigines were pushed farther west and the migrants
took to farming and producing raw materials for the Industrial Revolution.
On January 1,1901 Australia became a nation with the separation
of the two colonies.
During the Depression, Australia suffered. Wool and wheat prices
plummeted, which were staples of the economy at that time. Almost
a third of the citizens was unemployed and went to the countryside
in search of work. The economy did not start to revive until 1933.
In WWII, Australian troops fought with the British in Europe, but
had difficulties of their own on their own land. Darwin and Broome
were bombed and the Japanese kept advancing south. The Australians
were able to defeat the Japanese at Milne Bay, and pushed the Japanese
farther north again. The US did interfere and helped protect Australia.
The US defeated the Japanese in the Battle of the Coral Sea; a significant
event because the Australia began to feel ties toward the US and
less with Britain.
After the war, migrants raced to Australia, which helped the economy
significantly, as well as created a diverse culture within the country.
Raw materials were also in demand, creating jobs and a flow of money.
Australia became more and more Americanized and followed America
into the Korean War and Vietnam War.
In 1972, Gough Whitlam led the Australian Labor Party into power.
This party withdrew Vietnam troops, abolished education fees, and
established free health care and land rights for the Aborigines.
This government was quite chaotic, leading the governor general
to dismiss it and create a government led by Malcolm Fraser and
the opposing Liberal Party. In the next election, a Liberal and
National Country party won. The Labor party was not returned until
1983 under the leadership of Bob Hawke.
Under the Labor party, citizens experienced unemployment and recession.
Therefore, in the 1996 election, the Labor party was defeated and
conservatives took office.
Australia still looked to break its British ties, even debating
replacing Britain’s queen with an Australian president. Many
feel that Australia needs its own identity and the only way to move
forward is to abandon the constitutional ties to Britain.