'To The Moon and Back' - Parliamentary perceptions of ANZUS since 1950

Timothea Turnbull

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    Since 1951, Australian parliamentarians have viewed the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America (ANZUS) as the unquestioned cornerstone of Australia’s defence and security. Debate about the treaty has centred on strengthening it rather than scrapping it or replacing it. Over seven decades, substantial changes in the balance of power between states have taken place, new security threats have emerged and non-state actors have risen in prominence. Leaders have changed, with 14 Australian Prime Ministers, 16 New Zealand Prime Ministers and 13 Presidents of the United States over this period. Yet, throughout these changes, support for ANZUS has remained constant in the major political parties in Canberra, even as Wellington and Washington clashed over nuclear policy in the 1980s. The first section of this paper zooms in to look in detail at the record of debate contained in Hansard and explore how parliamentarians have interpreted ANZUS to fit Australia’s changing security policy needs. The second section zooms out to take a broader perspective that identifies three enduring themes over seven decades. The first theme is the Australia- US alliance and the terms of its reciprocal obligations. The second theme is the repurposing of ANZUS to address nascent security threats, from communism to terrorism. The third theme is greater access to defence capabilities, intelligence and support.
    Original languageEnglish
    Commissioning bodyParliament of Australia
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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