World War 2 made a significant impact on Australia and its people. It opened the eyes of society and made Australian people realise where they fit into the global view of the world. Although much of the history of WW2 revolved around politics, diplomats, military and naval battles, it touched all Australian lives. Some of the important issues in World war Two were the woman’s contribution in the war, government changes to the economy and the foreign policy in the war. These are the topics this essay will be discussing.
When war was declared in 1939, Australia realised she was at war too since Great Britain had declared war on Germany. Four months later the first convoy set off with 20 000 army volunteers. As the war progressed it was evident that more and more men were needed for combat overseas and the male jobs back home needed to be taken over. There was a serious need to bring women into the labour force, the government encouraged women to take over the male jobs. Some people could not come to terms with this. Women from all over Australia took over agriculture/farming jobs, became mechanics and entered factories by the thousands. In July 1942 the women’s land army was created. Over 3000 women joined the land army and worked on farms grazing cattle, harvesting crops and doing the normal farming jobs. Before WW2 society thought that a woman could never be capable of doing a man’s job, but world war2 started to change the views of society.
Although women were engaged in exactly the same jobs as men, they were still paid almost half of what men got and it was not until the 1970’s that women’s contribution in WW2 was even recognised. When WW2 ended women were expected to return to their daily duties of being mothers and good wives. Some women were happy to go back to living the way they did before but on the other hand some women realised that they ere capable of performing these jobs and wanted to stay, of course that was not allowed. Women played a significant role in the war effort and it was a big change from WW1 when they were told by the government the only way they could help was by knitting socks and cooking Anzac biscuits.
During World War 2, Australia had been a commonwealth for less than 40years and the states still had many responsibilities for law including taxation. Since Australia was directly under threat the federal government gained greater power and began to have a greater say in what would be produced by industry. In august 1940 the federal government announced rationing and restrictions on petrol, clothes and some food products. Around this time the National security act was amended to give the federal government to require all citizens to contribute their labour and property to assist the defence of Australia.
This war was becoming a great expense for the government, it expenditure had risen 10 times the level of 1939-1940. To help the war effort an income tax rate was introduced equal to that of the old federal tax plus the state tax. The federal government promised to return some of the revenue to the states if they agreed to drop their own income tax system. In this time period the federal government also controlled the banking system, wages and prices. People were paid in rationing cards so they could buy clothes, petrol and a number of food products such as sugar, beef etc. If you did not obtain these cards you would not be able to purchase some of the goods that you needed.
All these changes in the government structure increased the Federal Government’s power during and after the war.
Since the beginning of the century Australia had identified America as a great white ally and as the war progressed and it was evident that Great Britain would not be able to protect Australia from Japanese invasion, so Australia turned to America for protection. Before American troops were sent off into Australia, the two nations knew little about each other and the arrival of the Americans brought unquestioning relief and gratitude. There was some conflict between the Australian and American soldiers. The main differences between them were the uniforms they wore and the amount of pay they received. Americans received a considerable amount more and the Australian soldiers were embarrassed to march with the Americans due to the way the Australian uniform looked like. But even through the differences, Australia and America developed a long lasting friendship that exists to this day.
World War 2 effected the lives of everyone. As a nation the whole country was expected to contribute to the war effort and through the dropping of the atom bomb and the ending of the war Australian people widened their knowledge of the world. World War 2 was the beginning of society in Australia changing their view towards women and helped unite Australia with the rest of the world.
Courtney from Study Moose
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