WHAT has happened since Japan's surrender amply vindicates those who declared, so far back as 1942, that there could be no return to the colonial status quo in the Pacific area. World War II has injected powerful new factors into colonial history all over the world. Through its Minister for External Affairs, Dr. H. V. Evatt, the Government of Australia has gone on record, at home and abroad, with definite and constructive proposals for the future of dependent territories. The purpose of this article is to discuss these Australian proposals, and to sketch their background and development.
The Australian Government's views are applicable to dependent territories generally. They have been formed, however, with an eye specifically to the situation in the Pacific. As a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Australia is indirectly concerned with the future of the colonial areas of the west too. Her political outlook has been compared to the Australian penny -- with the King's head on one side, the Kangaroo on the other. The King's head symbolizes Australia's loyalty to the British connection, and all that that implies. The Kangaroo symbolizes her distinct national interest and consciousness, as she looks out north and east, toward Asia and the Pacific. Indeed, she may truly be regarded as a quasi-peninsula, terminating the long island chain that juts out from the southeastern corner of Asia. Giving the term Southeast Asia a rather extended meaning, to embrace not only Indonesia and Australia but the South Sea Islands and New Zealand, one may say that Australia's whole future is bound up with the security, the stability and the prosperity of Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia, as thus conceived, has certain characteristics that are common to its many and multifarious communities. With the exception of China, the two British Dominions in the southwest Pacific (Australia and New Zealand), and Thailand, it has hitherto been an area of political dependence upon one or other of the western nations. It is an area of almost
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