Why Did Australia Become Involved in World War I?


Quick Answer

With the outbreak of war in 1914, the Australian government offered full support to the United Kingdom and its allies largely as a consequence of its common culture and political ties with Britain. Most Australians were of British extraction, spoke English and welcomed the chance to fight against Germany and its allies just as much as the British public did.

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Full Answer

In 1914, Australian Prime Minister Andrew Fisher responded to the declaration of war with a pledge of full support for the allied war effort. In this, he was joined by the majority of Australia's parliament as well as the bulk of popular opinion in Australia. Internal political factors were thus driving Australia to war just as strongly as the internal factors in Germany or Russia.

International factors that encouraged Australia's commitment to aid the British war effort revolved around Australia's place in the British Empire. Unlike subject countries, such as India or Burma, Australia's population felt a cultural kinship with the people of Britain, and many Australian families had close relations living in the United Kingdom. Britain was Australia's chief trading partner, and the Royal Navy defended Australia's coasts. It was in Australia's interest to see Britain victorious in its war against the Central Powers.

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