Comments for en-gb 30 Wed 17 Sep 2014 15:00:33 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at Treaclebeak Peter D,You're point of view is UK-centric(naturally) and arrogant as well, an attitude that I'm, regrettably, all too familiar with.A thought experiment for you,say the Americans had decided on a "Japan First" policy. It's easy to accept the grand strategic plans if you're at(or near) the centre,not so easy if you're at the periphery.Some Ausralians also seem to to have a relaxed view of the "Germany First" policy, they might not be so 'understanding' if it had led to years of Japanese occupation of Australia.Remember this is just a thought experiment to view history and diplomacy from another perspective.We've been out on this tangent far too long. Sat 22 Jan 2011 22:24:38 GMT+1 FormerlyOldHermit Peter,Seriously give up on the argument. You're not framing it any constructive terms whatsoever. Your argument is based on sound principles, no doubt about that. The Great Betrayal Myth is precisely described as that by historians both British AND Australian. The great Curtin speech symbolising Australia's turning away has been politicised beyond what it was originally intended, even at the time. The truth remains, and can be denied till the world ends, that without Britain during 1939-1942 to the Fall of Singapore, Australia would have be dead and buried (hence the Europe first strategy).I have quite a lot of knowledge WWII and particularly Australian and British relations during and after that period but to simply slag off Australian sacrifices in the name of "evidence" isn't helping anyone, least of all yourself. Sat 22 Jan 2011 20:29:08 GMT+1 Pazza Not so remarkable Nick, from colonial times and for the first 50 years of federation Australia was happy to ride the coat tails of “Mother England”. Most “Australians” of that era thought of themselves as British more than anything else and therefore didn’t rankle in the slightest at being viewed as such by the rest of the world. Remember, the Australian colonies were founded just after the shock of losing the American colonies and in the heyday of imperial expansion.In the last 60 years though, things have changed dramatically between Australia and Britain. Everything from the reliance on the US to defeat Japan in WWII, the UK’s slashing of Commonwealth trade ties in favour of the EU, Australian post-war immigration / the removal the old odious white Australia policy (leading to a truly multi-cultural population) and the relatively recent upsurge in the economic power of Japan/ASEAN/China, have gradually and inexorably moved our two countries in diverging directions.As for closer Australian integration with Asia, it’s not a new idea; it’s been around since Keating’s foray in the 1980’s. However, if you’ll forgive the simple analogy, Australia’s relationship is to ASEAN, as Turkey’s is to the EU. Relations remain cordial, a little rocky, and enthusiastic when it comes to trade, but because of those pesky cultural/ethnic differences we’re never going to be part of the club.It has been by and large the British (especially the English) which still imagine Oz as “Yorkshire with sunshine”. Admittedly not without some reason, as even today that part of the Australian population that consider themselves British by far outnumber any other ‘ethnic’ group (including those that only consider themselves Australian). Why else do we warrant our own blog on the BBC? (Canada – you don’t realize how lucky you are…) Sat 22 Jan 2011 15:58:56 GMT+1 PeterD 42 Treaclebeak“What do details matter” What a disgusting statement. You call it details but I call it evidence which you seem to be very short of. Those details represent a lot of British blood and treasure expended in SE Asia and they mattered a great deal to the British nation as a whole quite apart from the thousands of families whose relatives where involved. How many more of those “details” in terms of lives, ships, planes, equipment and funds would you like to have seen expended to convince you that Australia was not betrayed?Wasn’t Australia part of the Empire in 1942? If so, are you suggesting that Britain’s attempts to defend the Empire in South and SE Asia didn’t assist Australia. Even if you want to believe that, the British engagement of Japanese forces anywhere meant there were fewer Japanese to fight elsewhere. Likewise, the British fought in France, Belgium, Greece, Crete, Malta, the Middle East, and North Africa, and in doing so were defending Britain as well as those countries.Congratulations on your choice of such a credible source: “The Pacific War” website. What a grand sounding title. The problem is that, despite its extravagant claims, it turns out to be a virtual one-man effort of a James Kenneth Bowen who happens to be….wait for it……… Australian! Surprise. Surprise. Just because Barrister Bowen claims that Australia was betrayed doesn’t make it so. Nobody questions that Churchill and Roosevelt gave priority to the European War and most informed opinion agrees that this was the appropriate strategy. However, that does not mean that both the USA and Britain ignored the war against Japan to which they allocated as many resources as was possible. Even you must surely be able to comprehend that Britain was a small country: with a modest population; a scarcity of natural resources; and an industrial base which had not fully recovered from the Great Depression and was severely damaged by aerial bombardment.In sum, giving priority to the war in Europe does not equate to a betrayal of Australia and no amount of verbal gymnastics by the likes of yourself or Bowen will make it so. The scale and nature of concrete actions which I have already offered as evidence, or “details” as you like to call them, proves that Britain did not betray Australia.“QED”. Really! Your skills in logic and theorem proof appear as abysmal as your knowledge of WWII history.Now to Britain’s membership in the EU.“ - Facts to support this opinion- are you serious? Britain joined the Common Market trading bloc and the access of Australian products(and Australians) to Britain was continually reduced. I didn't think, at the time, that the UK's entry into the Common Market mattered one way or the other to Oz's economic future and it hasn't.”Yes, I’m deadly serious. Both Australia and New Zealand reaped huge economic benefits from WWII and in the 10 -15 year post-war reconstruction period. A good example of this is that New Zealand was able to pay-down its national debt DURING WWII while the UK was incurring huge debts. The number of personnel in uniform in both countries peaked in 1943 from where it declined to provide civilians to help meet the huge demands in both the agricultural and industrial sectors. After the war, both countries progressively re-orientated their foreign and trading policies towards the Asia Pacific region and away from the UK. The British Government’s attempts to join the EU spanned a period of 12 years and part of that delay was over the issue of phasing out of Commonwealth preferences which gave New Zealand and Australia ample time to make their own adjustments. As you yourself suggest, the economic impact was minimal.So where’s the problem and where’s the betrayal? Sat 22 Jan 2011 15:24:01 GMT+1 PeterD 43 RSH“I think you're trying to have it both ways...upholding the dignity of your own people that failed at the Maginot line while rubbishing the service Australians that failed in the Pacific.”The British did not fail at the Maginot Line, the French did. The heavy fortifications of the Maginot line only covered France’s border with Germany not Belgium, which the Germans just went around through the Ardennes. The BEF was positioned on the very far left of the allied line up to the coast. It was as far away from the Maginot line as it could be.Your knowledge of WWII history is as abysmal at Treaclebeak’s which may explain some of the rubbish he was purveying that set this whole debate off. Sat 22 Jan 2011 10:34:25 GMT+1 RSH @PeterDI think you're trying to have it both ways...upholding the dignity of your own people that failed at the Maginot line while rubbishing the service Australians that failed in the Pacific. Not very nice.Every country mythologizes and spins its own military history and gloriously omits where convenient...if you think Britain is any exception you're only exacerbating the hypocrisy.At the end of the day, all I can say about both the European and Pacific theaters is "Thanks to the Yanks"... Sat 22 Jan 2011 09:54:31 GMT+1 Treaclebeak Peter D,What do the details matter? The Germans won the Battle of France and they probably would have won the war had the US remained neutral.Germany had and has overwhelming demographic,industrial and technological advantages over the UK. You're conflating Britain's defence of its empire (particularly India) with the defence of Australia. In fact,Churchill's wartime strategy was 'Germany First',what other evidence do you need? The quote is from the great man himself,QED as far as I'm concerned. Details are below in the link. resentment is not actually Churchill's betrayal of Australia,after all, they were desperate times,but the general ignorance of the betrayal.'Facts to support this opinion'-are you serious? Britain joined the Common Market trading bloc and the access of Australian products(and Australians) to Britain was continually reduced. I didn't think, at the time, that the UK's entry into the Common Market mattered one way or the other to Oz's economic future and it hasn't. As to evidence for the subsequent British diplomatic neglect of Australia, isn't that the subject of Nick's article?I don't know at the moment whether or not there's any advantage for Australia in a closer diplomatic relationship with Britain.I suspect this visit might be more a result of the UK's frustrations and disappointments with the EU rather than of any future prospects.The whole affair seems something of a farce.What is 'Perfidious Albion' really up to? Sat 22 Jan 2011 08:20:25 GMT+1 PeterD 38 TreaclebeakTo repeat what I stated to Greg Warner, the point of my post, which you conveniently ignore, was to refute the your erroneous and OFFENSIVE assertion that the British government told Australia “to more or less get lost in 1942.” I believe my 34 achieves this. The EVIDENCE presented clearly shows that Britain paid a very high price in both blood and treasure in the SE Asian theatre between December 1941 and March 1942.“The fact remains that Australia was strategically expendable to the British government, our sacrifices in WW1 counted for nothing.”To quote Bernard Baruch, a prominent American financier and advisor to Franklin Roosevelt: “People are entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts.” So where is your EVIDENCE to support your “fact” which is not a fact but an opinion.“And speaking of military debacles, could I mention the collapse that led to Dunkirk? The performance of most Allied armies early in the War was generally poor.”If you want to publically demonstrate you poor knowledge of history, so be it. Yes the 1940 Battle of France was a series of many debacles which led, among other things, to the successful evacuation of hundreds of thousands of well-disciplined British and French troops. To even consider comparing this to the conduct of Australian troops in Singapore and Darwin is nothing short of ludicrous.May I suggest you read the following which gives a very well-referenced account of the Battle of France? sum, the best units of the French army and most of the BEF advanced into Belgium when the Germans invaded that country and Holland. The Germans then totally surprised the French High Command by breaking through the French lines on the Meuse river in the hilly Ardennes region of Belgium. Their fast armoured divisions then raced virtually unopposed to the coast and threatened the rear of the allied forces that had advanced into Belgium whose left flank had in turn been exposed by the sudden surrender of the Belgian forces. The UK government faced two options: try to fight overwhelmingly superior German forces to the north, east and south, and risk the total loss of their entire army in Europe and their early exit from the war under terms dictated by Germany; or evacuate their troops to the UK and continue the war from there. Thank goodness for all opponents of Nazism and Fascism, they chose the latter option.“And Australia was economically and diplomatically expendable to the UK in the 1970s, or it seemed at the time.”So what facts do have to support this opinion? Sat 22 Jan 2011 04:57:57 GMT+1 PeterD 36 Greg WarnerThe point of my post, which you conveniently ignore, was to refute the erroneous and OFFENSIVE assertion of Treaclebeak that the British government told Australia “to more or less get lost in 1942.”I believe my 34 achieves this. The EVIDENCE presented clearly shows that Britain paid a very high price in both blood and treasure in the SE Asian theatre between December 1941 and March 1942. During this same period, Atlantic convoys were being decimated, the aerial bombardment of the UK (which I personally experienced) continued, the most powerful military machine in the world was only 22 miles off its coast, the Malta convoys were experiencing horrendous losses in sustaining the defence of that brave little island, its forces were heavily engaged in North Africa and it was significantly ramping up its own efforts in the aerial bombardment of Germany. On top of all that it was engaged in a brutal fighting retreat in Burma, unfortunately without its 18th Division which had been wasted by being sent to Singapore at the insistence of Curtin, who then refused to assign to Burma even some of the Australian troops from the two divisions being withdrawn from North Africa. “but I do wish you were not so one-eyed about the past.”A personal slur and a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. I invite anyone to click “Greg Warner” and “PeterD” on the website to get our respective user profiles, spend some time scrolling through past posts and then decide which of us is the most “one-eyed about the past”...."During the Malaya-Singapore campaign as a whole, the 8th Division suffered 73% of Allied deaths in battle, even though they comprised only 14% of the Allied forces".I’m disappointed you would make such a clearly erroneous statistical claim; the same as used by Wollemi some months ago. As I’ve stated before on this site, Wikipedia can be a useful source of research but care should be taken to ensure that key statements are backed up by valid references. Try the following reference from your own government’s Australian War Memorial site: cites 1798 Australian deaths out of about 8700 total deaths (the cited casualty level minus those who were obviously alive went they went into captivity). This makes about 21%, a big shift from your claimed 73%!“On Rabaul, the 716 men of the 8th Division were attacked by 20,000 Japanese figure it out.”The Australian forces on Rabaul totalled 1400 men which included 716 from the 8th Division. The Japanese invading force comprised 5000 men ……you figure it out! by the Australian War Memorial reference: Sat 22 Jan 2011 04:03:21 GMT+1 south pacific I don't want to be rude but AUS future lies with Asia.That the UK foreign minister hasn't been here for ages does IMO mean nothing to me as a citizen.How much are we flogging to the UK. Not anywhere near as much as to China and Japan.The politicians and the media are fawning on the UK and the US. I find that irritating.About China you only hear of natural disasters or if a an AUS citizen gets caught up in their legal system. Not good enough.To me Britain is like a great great grandmother. Something from the distant past occasionally referred to at some family gathering when one runs out of topics to talk about.That does not mean that I don't appreciate something British. I like David Attenborough's programs and I prefer British comedies over US ones.Apart from that the UK is a distant country for me.The wife's ancestors came from Scotland over 160 years ago but that's no reason to get misty eyed.My lot came from the continent. This is also only of distant interest to me.People in AUS come from many countries around the world. Some cling to their past and thus struggle to connect with the present where they now live. I pity them.@ Prestwick".... Asia never liked Australia..." You don't have to liked to develop common interests and other advantages such as trade.I work with many people. Some I like and some I don't but I have to work with all of them.It is not much different with countries. What drives their relationships is self interest.That is what our relationship with the UK should be about. For AUS what is in for us and for the UK what is in for them.Everything else is emotional clap trap. Left to Anglophiles and old women who get weak in their knees when they read something about royals.The royal stuff is something that AUS should jettison sooner than later. No self respecting country has a foreigner as a head of state. Trouble is that some of the oldies have to die out so that this can be changed.The thought of Charlie being our head of state makes you want to cry into your beer. Since no one wants to drink watered down beer something will have to be done about it. Sat 22 Jan 2011 01:20:38 GMT+1 Treaclebeak It appears that the EU has been something of a disappointment to the British.I'm baffled as to why the British think they can recover a relationship they trashed 40 years ago.PeterD, I'll leave the discussion as to the relative performances of British and Australian forces to you and other experts as it's really not relevant to my comment. Your attitude seems very typical of the English people whom I mentioned in my first post,contempt for the efforts of Australians and an inflated idea of Britain's real resources. The fact remains that Australia was strategically expendable to the British government,our sacrifices in WW1 counted for nothing. And speaking of military debacles,could I mention the collapse that led to Dunkirk? The performance of most Allied armies early in the War was generally poor.And Australia was economically and diplomatically expendable to the UK in the 1970s, or it seemed at the time. Fri 21 Jan 2011 21:35:33 GMT+1 andyallblack About time the UK treated Australia with the respect it deserves, at the sametime, how about dropping visa restrictions for our Australian, NZ and Canadian allies as well, makes me sick when I re-enter UK, after being abroad, countries from Europe, can walk in here, while countries, which still use the Queen as their head of state, require visas, disgracefull. Fri 21 Jan 2011 20:27:09 GMT+1 Greg Warner #34Yes Peter, this blog of Nick's details a new and more mature realtionship in this new century, but I do wish you were not so one-eyed about the past.The following may interest you..."During the Malaya-Singapore campaign as a whole, the 8th Division suffered 73% of Allied deaths in battle, even though they comprised only 14% of the Allied forces".Please do not dismiss their sacrifice so quickly.On Rabaul, the 716 men of the 8th Division were attacked by 20,000 Japanese figure it out.HMS Hermes was sunk off Ceylon, but so was HMAS sell us short my old sparring partner.And well said FormerlyOldHermit. Fri 21 Jan 2011 16:05:03 GMT+1 FormerlyOldHermit Peter, that was helpful how? You're a brave and bold man (someone once said the difference between bravery and stupidity is the fact that the brave succeed) to challenge the fighting ability of the Australian forces during the Second World War. You understandably get pent up regarding what you take as slurs on Britain's record so why the desire to slur Australia's? It was an invaluable ally to Britain throughout the war and though like very ally there is the odd quarrel I'm happy we had them with us and deeply respect the sacrifices Australians made alongside Britons. You should be too. Fri 21 Jan 2011 15:39:16 GMT+1 PeterD Treaclebeak 30“My point was that I'm rather sceptical as to the significance of this latest diplomatic offensive after Australia was told to more or less get lost, by the British government, in the 1970s(and in 1942).”Good grief, here we go again – the “poor Aussies as victims of the Poms” routine!Told to more or less get lost in 1942? Really! The British 18th Division originally sailed for the Middle East in November 1941. Churchill wanted to reassign them to Burma after the the war with Japan started but at the insistence of a panicked Curtin sent them to Singapore instead. After being at sea for 11 weeks, most arrived less than 10 days prior to the invasion only to witness the Australian 8th Division disintegrate as a cohesive fighting unit in less than 24 hours. Three British battalions fought with the Indian Corps throughout the whole 70 Day Malaya/Singapore campaign and remained cohesive fighting units although decimated by high casualties. As to the Royal Navy: Battleship Prince of Wales, Battlecruiser Repulse; Heavy Cruisers Exeter, Cornwall and Dorsetshire; Aircraft Carrier Hermes; plus numerous smaller ships - all sunk with heavy loss of life. Before Singapore, a combined British, Indian and Canadian force without air or naval support vigorously fought a Japanese force four times its size for 17 days. Two months later in Rabaul, an Australian force facing similar odds fought for less than one day before their commander instructed them to disperse with the order “every man for himself”. Then there was the Kokoda Track campaign; and here I refer to the reality not the mythology. After the air raids on Darwin, there was the rapid mass exodus southwards of supposedly disciplined military units known thereafter as the “Adelaide River Stakes”. So my question is simple: if the actions of British forces in SE Asia from December 1941 to March 1942 is manifested as “telling Australia to get lost”, how should the actions of Australian forces over the same period be characterized? Fri 21 Jan 2011 13:51:39 GMT+1 FormerlyOldHermit Between the end of the Second World War and accession to the EU, Britain's policy to Australia (and to a lesser extent New Zealand) was to make them the bastions of Empire in the Far East, the keeper's of Britain's legacy. . As Britain retreated from the region, and after failing to make Nehru's India take an active role in Commonwealth affairs in the region, Australia was slowly asked to take on the responsibilities of Empire at Britain's pace. The problem was that Australia (not so much New Zealand) was rather too keen on this idea, especially under Menzies. That reference Nick makes to 1944's defence treaty with New Zealand did not go down well in London (or surprisingly Washington). It proclaimed Australia and New Zealand as world powers, something which neither of the Big 2 Western Allies was comfortable with. Yet both, during the 1950s through to the 60s, came to agree with it. Britain knew it couldnt respect its obligations to defence in the area and roped in Australia and NZ to cover whilst America needed those defence obligations covered also and accepted it.I think that historical background to today's event is necessary. This is just the re-formulation of such ideas as Australia being the bastion of Westernism and Western values (as imperial values and legacy is more politically correctly called now) in the Far East. Both Britain and America are now attempting with Australia to have them as the springboard into Asia. India is also being slowly persuaded to come round to this idea, but to it will be much harder and will be treated far more as equals in the mind of Washington civil servants than Australia will. In Whitehall I do think that the the reformulation is much more successful and that the mindsets have changed. I dont beleive that Whitehall sees Australia as something to be managed as it did in the 1950s but as a partner on roughly equal footing. Just as we are America's springboard in Western Europe, Australia is/has been turned into America's springboard into Asia. This is, to use a clunky phrase, an alliance of two springboards. And I think its good for both of us with our shared heritage and culture. If it leads to a strengthening of the Commonwealth (which relies on India, the skeleton in the closet of Commonwealth affairs since the 50s) then I am all for it.@Matt Jackman regarding the EUThe EU may indeed have been good to us in a round about way but it does seriously affect our ability to make friends outside of the bloc. It has created an internal market but in many ways it is a closed internal market. Agricultural subsidies force us to favour european farmers over other nations and other imports from outside the EU are seriously constrained. Considering the expansion of India, our former crown jewel, it may have been wiser to continue with Commonwealth trade first rather than the EU trade Ted Heath plumped for.@Julie HarpumThat's not the policy objective of Australia and Canada after the Queen's demise. They will re-examine the issue of having a monarch (much less likely to succeed in Canada where the monarchy is more popular than in Australia) but Commonwealth membership is not dependent on recognising the Queen as your Head of State. There are Presidents within the Commonwealth also. The Commonwealth only asks that it recognises Queen Elizabeth II as Head of the Commonwealth; legally there is no actual claim that the UK monarch is Head of the Commonwealth. The title is vested in the person, not the office.@sickofpoliticiansThat's a very very rosy picture you paint and not entirely accurate but I agree with the sentiment expressed. The EU was envisaged as a long term fix to short term economic problems but as anyone knows, the future is rather more fluid than what people think at the present. Britain should have been prepared to pay the long game and simply attempt what Norway did and participate as part of the European Free Trade Agreement after it failed to convince its people of the then EEC's prospects. Britain is culturally not of Europe in its politics, its laws or its economics. Fri 21 Jan 2011 13:09:51 GMT+1 Euloroo For its many faults, the british coalition government has rightly put a lot more foreign dipolmacy into trade. and its absolutely right for the uk to stop spending higher proportions of taxpayer money and young lives than most other nations trying to try keep the peace in the world. on the subject of the economy, i find aussie attitude to austerity britain rather amusing (from the aussie press and among the general populace). there seems to be little understanding in australia that the uk is slicing huge amounts of public funding from a very fat budget. in comparison, australians spend proporationatly far less tax dollars on healthcare, public services, social services and infrastructure (although they do spend a lot on sports facilities). austerity australia is already a reality and the flooding bill is only going to it worse. Fri 21 Jan 2011 11:50:06 GMT+1 Cassandra Ealing @ 25 - Blair only visited as opposition leader because Labour was then in power in Aus. It was the Aussies who took him fishing on the GBR with Rupert. Fri 21 Jan 2011 09:36:17 GMT+1 Treaclebeak ProudPeacock,Fair comment. No negative generalizations in regard to the British people were intended. I'm very grateful for British institutions(we've improved them of course) My point was that I'm rather sceptical as to the significance of this latest diplomatic offensive after Australia was told to more or less get lost, by the British government, in the 1970s(and in 1942). Fri 21 Jan 2011 04:28:59 GMT+1 BoyHadEnough Nick,Your comments got me thinking about what I thought was a close diplomatic relationship between Britain and Australia.Since Douglas Hurd's visit, I understand that Australia has received more visits by Chinese Minister's for Foreign Affairs and Chinese Presidents as well a five US Secretary of State visits and three US Presidential visits. But then again, I understand that Michael Parkinson is a regular visitor to Australia, and he would make a wonderful diplomat. So in that respect, the relationship between Britain and Australia is being well looked after. Fri 21 Jan 2011 04:23:39 GMT+1 Camo Wow. You guys are fast when you dont like something... *Submit* - BONED. Posts never go up that quickly...Anyway I was making some comparisons between the state of cricket after the ICC left Lords, and the potential future state of the commonwealth should its administrative offices do the same.I'll have to let you paint your own mental picture cos I'm not sure which part/s of my original attempt are the ones that angried up the bosses.. Fri 21 Jan 2011 02:49:20 GMT+1 Camo This post has been Removed Fri 21 Jan 2011 02:36:24 GMT+1 ProudPeacock Dear Treaclebeak please do not tar all British people with the brush wielded by English politicians. I and many other Scots have extensive blood ties with Australia. We can share comedians, cricket, rugby and many other pleasures with Australians in a way that is impossible with countries from mainland Europe. Ending the diplomatic neglect is highly desirable although it smacks of altruism from politicians but please take on board that the same neglect has been extended to many inhabitants of Britain. Politicians have not listened to British people for many years now unless they were part of the financial giants in the City of London or part of a global business. Thankfully their efforts to destroy ties between us and Australia (and NZ) have failed with ordinary people or Earls Court would now be an uninhabited island in the middle of London. Thu 20 Jan 2011 23:36:10 GMT+1 Valleywonder Gramsci and sick of politicians you know nothing of economics. p.s. I distinvtly remember Tony Blar visiting Australia at least twice whilst in office... Thu 20 Jan 2011 22:35:15 GMT+1 Treaclebeak I can remember being informed,many years ago, by some English people of my acquaintance, that Australia would be doomed to Third World status when the UK joined the Common Market.As long as our 'renewed' relationship with Britain is on a cash basis and we avoid delusions of 'punching above our weight', there should be few problems.The British are just here for a practice run,before they tackle Asia. Thu 20 Jan 2011 22:09:34 GMT+1 Cassandra Bottom @22 - moving it would be symbolic. It is the change the Commonwealth needs to be reinvigorated. Thu 20 Jan 2011 21:43:33 GMT+1 BottomOfThePyramid "This has the feel of a pivotal moment."Does it really? I feel too much is being read into both Hague's visit and Australia's "enhanced standing in the region and the world". Greater economic success? Yes. Links with East Asia? Yes. But economic success =/= enhanced standing on the international scene, as mentioned by someone using the Canada comparison. There seem to be contradictory signals emerging from your blogs, Nick. On the one hand, several of your posts in the past have noted how despite Kevin Rudd's attempts and his relationship with Obama, not many people outside the region knew of Rudd. Certainly even less so in the case of Gillard. And yet you speak of an "enhanced standing... [in] the world"? How so?As for the Commonwealth, while I am all for it, I see nothing exciting happening there. Interestingly enough, in the last decade or so, countries with no direct historical link to the British Empire have applied and been accepted into the Commonwealth (Mozambique, Rwanda).I concur with HenryW-S at #7. Cassandra at #12, I reckon the Commonwealth Secretariat's location in London is of symbolic importance and a move to Mumbai might force some who resist it, to come to terms with seismic shifts in international politics since 1945. Not unlike moving the HQ of the International Cricket Council to Mumbai (mind you, no shame in moving it to a politically-repressive tax haven, apparently!). Thu 20 Jan 2011 20:12:47 GMT+1 Jason I take it as a positive that the UK is trying to (re)build relations with Australia, I was surprised to read that in Labour's 13years in office there wasn't a visit.At least the UK seem to have a overseas strategy which hopefully will pay dividends both political and economic in time. Thu 20 Jan 2011 17:08:04 GMT+1 Cassandra Jonathan - it is not right to suggest the UK and Australia do not have significant economic interests.- Britain is the second largest investor in Australia (worth AU$24.3 billion)- Britain is Australia¹s fifth largest trading partner (worth AU$498.6 billion). Mind you I still support the world domination plan.- Australia is the third largest export market for British services. Thu 20 Jan 2011 16:47:46 GMT+1 Cassandra Jonathan - I thought we had agreed to keep the world domination plan a secret!! You didn't happen to go to Cambridge did you? Thu 20 Jan 2011 16:20:28 GMT+1 Jonathan Rudge Why would two insignificant countries on opposite sides of the planet, whose only significant economic link appears to be exchanging tourists for waiters, need to meet more often? To plot world domination? Thu 20 Jan 2011 15:32:01 GMT+1 gio81 History aside I have no issue with the Brits wanting to forge closer ties with us, after all we're both key American allies, so we're both on the same page here. This will be good for us, good for Britain, and good for the American alliance. Thu 20 Jan 2011 14:00:30 GMT+1 Sickofpoliticians 8. At 09:19am on 20 Jan 2011, Gramsci wrote:"Ending the diplomatic neglect"? That to me sounds more than a little patronising, as if Australia actually needs something from the UK.The UK can "focus on the Commonwealth" all it likes, it makes little difference. The UK showed very clearly what the Commonwealth meant when they join the EU and dropped their trade links to Australia and New Zealand overnight, in New Zealand's case nearly bankrupting the country.---------------------------------------------------------------------I agree, the Kiwi's and Oz need nothing from us, they were abandoned in favour of Europe, which in my opinion has been a disaster for the British. This country had negligent unemployment thirty years ago, trade with Australasia was booming, we had the largest merchant fleet on the planet, we built ships, we mined, we made money, now, we sit apart from Europe, separated by a thin strip of water which is just wide enough for the EU to divest itself of its own unwanted/unneeded citizens, basically we became the European lavatory. We can offer absolutely nothing to these two great countries. Send all our politicians there, with their high n mighty attitudes they'll get what they should receive over here, a good kick up the backside from straight talking people. Thu 20 Jan 2011 11:10:20 GMT+1 NorseRaider Brilliant news: Australia is a great nation and a reliable friend. We are grateful for that friendship, and we need to let them know. Thu 20 Jan 2011 11:08:20 GMT+1 Cassandra Julie @ 11 - I could be wrong and no doubt the Aussies will correct me if needed. But my understanding is that PM Gillard has simply said the time to have a debate about whether Australia should become a Republic is after the present Queen dies.And even if Australia became a Republic it would not leave the Commonwealth. As I understand it there are more republics that are members of the Commonwealth than there are countries who retain the Queen as head of state. Thu 20 Jan 2011 11:00:05 GMT+1 cfcreserves It is interesting to see how far they had to send poor William to keep him from the attention of the British Press. Let us hope that, with his own reported intake of pints when younger, he has been able to keep up with hosts in the imbibing stakes."Hague noted: "We are consciously shifting Britain's diplomatic weight to the east and to the south.""A strange quote coming from a representative of a Government increasingly reliant on former Australian who is more focused on the west. Or perhaps he thinks News international has that area sewn up already? Thu 20 Jan 2011 10:44:51 GMT+1 Cassandra A number of the comments above seem to have missed the point.1. Australia's economic and political influence will come from the fact that it is an environmental super power. Including the exclusive economic zone under the Law of the Sea Convention it is the third biggest nation on earth (and this does not include its significant claims over the Antartic and its waters). 2. Australia is increasigly integrated with East Asia in terms of both trade and investment. Australia has what a newly emerging East Asia needs - minerals and primary produce. They will continue to develop other sectors - tourism, education, health and business services. 3. Despite all of this Australia has still not fully embraced its place in East Asia. Why for example do Australian students not learn Mandarin, Indonesian, Japanese or Korean from primary school? While the mining sector relies heavily on UK and US investment I suspect Australia would be far less comfortable with similar levels of investments from China.4. The UK has the ability to be a major power in Europe. Unfortunately the UK remains deeply ambivalent about Europe. It is sufficiently "in" Europe to have its own freedom of action restricted. But it is not sufficently "in" Europe to take on a leadership role which is left to the Germans and the French. The UK's foreign policy will be hamstrung until that fundamental dilemna is addresssed.5. Since the seventies the UK has neglected its historical connections with the Commonwealth. I agree with Greg Warner above that this grouping should be reinvigorated. But to do this we Brits need to update our thinking:- Some of the comments above reveal a bitterness about success achieved by Australia. If Australia was one day a bigger population or a bigger economy or a bigger player in world affairs or a bigger contributor to overseas aid then surely we Brits should feel proud of that rather than bitteer or jealous.- Brits are remarkably ignorant about what is going on in many other Commonwealth members. It shocks me that some posters above cannot even name Australian PMs correctly and yet presume they can make useful comments about the country. It is that arrogance for which the Australians, the New Zealanders, the Indians, the Chinese etc. rightly criticise us. If it were up to me I would start by moving the Commonwealth Secretariat and associated infrastructure out of London to Mumbai. Thu 20 Jan 2011 10:40:08 GMT+1 julie harpum both the blog and the reactions are deeply disappointing .. australia's clear and publicly stated policy is to leave the commonwealth when the old queen dies ( as is canada's ), britain cannot ignore its legal commitments to the european union even if some citizens feel that they are not getting enough out of them, and australia is actually on the other side of the world and its policies and practises have nothing whatsoever do with the united kingdom ....the visit to down under is so little regarded that it is not making even the inside pages of national (and international) newspapers .. in other words, the man is taking a little holiday, that is all .... as indeed might be the correspondent down under in sydney .. aussie news is not very interesting to people up here , is it ... Thu 20 Jan 2011 10:23:28 GMT+1 Smudge Nowt matter wid Parkie - he's probably Barnsley's most famous export."A Yorkshire man with a suntan...not bad...however you probably should add that "united" nations multiculturalism of Australia to the mix."Greg, I would have thought Yorkshire has - and has had for many years - a multicultural society. Thu 20 Jan 2011 10:10:42 GMT+1 KBF I will tell you why Charles will never be on the money .....he is not going to get to be King LOL @ Gramsci.Good blog Nick. Thu 20 Jan 2011 09:44:30 GMT+1 Gramsci "Ending the diplomatic neglect"? That to me sounds more than a little patronising, as if Australia actually needs something from the UK. Australians in general have rather low opinion of the UK. New Zealanders they're happy to pop over to London (which is not the UK) for a few years, earn some money to travel, prop up your under-skilled work force and then go home. This just looks like Hague on a cap-in-hand "trade" mission, much like when he went begging to India and Brazil.The UK can "focus on the Commonwealth" all it likes, it makes little difference. The UK showed very clearly what the Commonwealth meant when they join the EU and dropped their trade links to Australia and New Zealand overnight, in New Zealand's case nearly bankrupting the country.I can tell you one thing, you will never see Charles on the money in Australia or New Zealand. Thu 20 Jan 2011 09:19:28 GMT+1 HenryW-S Apparently the reaction of one sceptical British diplomat (according to Korski at the Spectator) to Hague's visit was: "What can Australia achieve"? A fairly good question when it can't even seem to sort out Fiji. As for all this "Asian century" hype, of course there are advantages to living in close proximity to a fast-growing region, but the idea that Australia will carry extra heft diplomatically because of some perceived "fellow Asianness" with the Chinese and Indians is laughable. It's like arguing that the Canadians "punch above their weight" because they are North Americans. But they don't. If anything, it makes them seem even more irrelevant. No, Australia's diplomatic weight will be determined by a) Its demographic size and b) Its economic success. (B) is going rather well (albeit ultimately driven by the success of others and thus somewhat vulnerable as rentier economies are always vulnerable) and (A) is an extremely contentious issue in Australia. But assuming all goes well, by 2050 Australia ought to be about the same demographic and economic size as Canada is now. So not exactly the reincarnation of Rome, it must be said... but who knows, perhaps by then the Canadians might have qualified for their own navel-gazing BBC blog. Thu 20 Jan 2011 09:05:18 GMT+1 Matt Jackman Why are we all so obsessed with being so influential in the world? We (as Brits) should not be worried about playing a role that is comfortable, effective, and diplomatic suitable to our size. I am all up for having greater relations with Australia, and I am shocked that our Foreign Secretary has not been to visit for close on 15 years, but I don't see why some Australians don't see this for what it is. Two countries with a shared history (some good, some bad) that can work effectively together.If you really want to attempt to be an influential power breaker in the world then go for it. Being involved in conflict after conflict has done us no favours. Clearly you can see that, as is the case for us, any 'special' relationship with the US is only special as long as you are doing exactly as they demand.The European Union has been hugely important to us over the last 30 years, and will continue to be so into the future(it is still the largest trading block, and a beautiful part of the world). That doesn't mean that we can't have friends across the globe, with relationships that are mutually beneficial. As for being multicultural, I think it is great that Australia has started to become more of a melting pot of the world, its diversity can only add to it as a nation. As any Aussie living in London (and there are many) will tell you, living in a society where influences from around the world come together, is an exciting and enriching experience. Thu 20 Jan 2011 08:47:33 GMT+1 Countertalk I'll go along with 'Prestwick' except to say that there is of course a very large and historical Asian community endemic in Australia since 'inception' and in New Zealand for that matter. It is time I think to re-knit the UK relationship with this subcontinent but without a hint of patronisation. Rather a relationship based on interdependence both economically and culturally - not sidelining Asian aspects.In a sense we are all emerging nations in a troubled world at this point in time. It is becoming more and more evident that Europe will never be a comfortable club for Britain where eurosceptism gathers apace. And probably does throughout the Continent. Its Eastern Euro members are rueing the day as any benefits have been shortlived. There are real prospects of the Euro becoming yesterdays coinage to be dug up as ancient 'treasure' in years to come - not from British soil though!. As for America we appear to be out of the friendship race as they look East having elbowed us down the line in favour of a new found palliness with France. No one really wants us as we struggle to afford a basic way of life. We do have our culture though.We are badly in need of a comfort zone and who better than our long lost brothers. The latter half of the last century saw many changes, many distasteful to us, and it is time to enjoin again with an historic community whose culture runs more or less along the same channels. I would like that. Why did not one of our top royals go out there, hot foot, to offer comfort to the desperate residents of Queensland as they struggle with a geographical phenomenum of ruinness proportions. We cannot let these things go by thinking its all a world away when they used to at any rate mean so much in ensuring the Sovereign is theirs as well as ours. All in all I do believe that we in the Isles are in real danger of being sidelined and left to wallow friendless in a harsh world. So we had better wake up. Thu 20 Jan 2011 07:13:01 GMT+1 RSH @Prestwick"Britain meanwhile..well, heh, lets just ignore what Britain did."People in the eastern hemisphere have done exactly that...Foreign Minister who? From which bankrupt EU province again?And it's Keating, not Keaton.Separatley, interesting Nick brings up Parkie as I note...drumroll...he's doing the Australia Day address this year(!) Assuming you're correct, just what business a man who thinks Australians are just Yorkshiremen with tans has telling Australians about their country is beyond me. It's not like he's a household name in Australia other than among expats and Anglophiles (the readers of this blog I suppose!) There are many other British celebs who would have been better suited if that's the path the Aust Day Committee wanted to take.If this is part of a broader push to re-connect politically with Australia, I could think of worse things for the British government than to try and engage more meaningfully with the indigenous people whose communities they devastated in the 18th and 19th centuries. Not at all trying to shift responsibility from the Australian government and people on this matter, but if Britain does want to re-engage with its former empire then it needs to come face-to-face with the pain it caused and problems it left. That would mean a lot more than the token "here here" British MPs gave when the Australia govt apologized in 2007. Thu 20 Jan 2011 07:04:38 GMT+1 Greg Warner Very good blog Nick and great to see more potential cooperation between the UK and Australia as equal partners.I particularly appreciate the way Minister Hague has begun to give more focus to the readers of my posts on your blog may know I am a strong supporter of the Commonwealth and see this union as having the potential to bring more influence in global fora on issues that impact the entire planet.The 54 nations of the Commonwealth represent more than 25% of the member nations of the two thirds in favour will get your motion passed in the UN General Assembly, that 25% is a most relevant fraction.Not sure if a diplomatic version of the Ashes is the right way to go, but a lovely tongue-in-cheek concept.Rather, let us all hope that the UK and Australia can act as the true partners they CAN be in areas where security and the quality of life of our planet are concerned.A Yorkshire man with a suntan...not bad...however you probably should add that "united" nations multiculturalism of Australia to the mix.Of course the UK is going the same the New York Times recently Roger Cohen pointed out that the most popular boy's name in the UK now is Muhammad.Interestingly, previously the most popular boy's name was I detect Republican sentiments : ) Thu 20 Jan 2011 06:19:05 GMT+1 Prestwick I'd say it were about even. Asia never has and never will like Australia. They don't trust a little corner of the Western world on their doorstep and never will. Thats why Rudd's plans for an Asian Community to rival the EU never really took off, why Keaton was treated like some kind of dancing monkey for the amusement of the then Tiger economies and why Gillard isn't very interested in Asia these days apart from worrying about what China might do. Britain meanwhile..well, heh, lets just ignore what Britain did. Thu 20 Jan 2011 05:52:08 GMT+1 Andy T This post has been Removed Thu 20 Jan 2011 05:49:59 GMT+1