Seeking Security

Security was an important motive for Federation. The colonies' defence forces were amalgamated, and the Defence Act was enacted in 1903.

From 1905 the emergence of Japan as a Pacific power made Australians uneasy about their dependence on the Royal Navy. In 1908 the United States Navy visit to Australia further convinced those seeking an Australian navy that the need was vital.

In 1909 Field Marshal Kitchener, a hero of the Empire, visited Australia and recommended expanding the army through conscription. In 1911 conscription of teenage boys and young men for part-time service was introduced, the Royal Military College for the training of regular officers was opened, and the Royal Australian Navy was created. Factories producing clothing, harness, weapons and munitions were established, a naval college was opened and a flying school set up. The small arms factory at Lithgow NSW began the mass production of rifles in 1913.

PROP 01895.006 Souvenir of the Great White Fleet visit to Australia, 1908. AWM PROP 01895.006