Writing in 1940, the leading American political commentator on Australia, Hartley Grattan, had suggested that, if Australia was to seek America protection, this must be for the long-term and not just a temporary measure:
Australians must make it clear that in seeking shelter under the American wing they are acting in accordance with a fixed national policy, rather than merely trying to engage American help in a moment of extreme panic, only to ‘dump’ it to return to the old allegiance to imperial Pacific policy when it seems expedient.
However, Australia’s turn from Britain to America was indeed just a temporary expedient in the crisis of late 1941 and 1942 when it was believed that only American military aid stood between Australia and a Japanese invasion. The Australian-American closeness also relied upon America’s equally transitory appreciation of Australia’s value as a military base. Indeed, the most novel aspect of Curtin’s “look to America” was not the Australian call but the US response. At least four of Curtin’s predecessors had expressed interest in gaining American protection in some form without any real success: Deakin at the time of the Great White Fleet in 1908, Hughes in the aftermath of the First World War, Lyons in 1935 and Menzies in 1940 had…show more content… The pre-war antagonism between Australia and the US re-emerged and the imperial relationships reasserted themselves. Although Australia sought a more assertive role than before 1941, this was generally expressed within the context of the British Empire. Australia’s aspiration was, in Menzies, 1939 phrase, as “a principal” in the Pacific whilst acting as “an integral member of the British Empire,” rather than genuine independence. Curtin and Evatt came to believe too that, in the longer term, only the British Empire could provide for Australian security. As James Curtin