Evaluate the impact of key policies and legislation enacted by the Australian Federal Government during the Vietnam Era.

Essay by [w]ilson.[s]High School, 10th gradeA, September 2007

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The Vietnam Era (1954-1972) was a very tense period for the entire Western world as the threat of Communist expansion in South East Asia had arisen again, the second time since the Korean War. Australia was no exception. It was one of the countries that had an exceedingly high threat of falling to the domino theory due to its proximity to the hot spot called Vietnam. So it was no surprise that the Federal Government imposed various policies and legislation in order to try and keep this threat to a minimum. It was also no surprise that these actions would have various impacts, both expected and unexpected.

The most important foreign policy that the Federal Government enacted during the Vietnam Era was Forward Defence. In its strictest sense it means the deployment of forces across the approaches to Australia to prevent a potential enemy reaching Australia (Barry, 1997). Forward Defence was enacted as a response to the increasing Communist threat in South East Asia after WWII.

The policy was maintained throughout the Vietnam Era because now with the French defeated at Dien Bien Phu and Communist North Vietnam being established, the prospect of Australia falling to Communism control under the domino theory was becoming more realistic. The Federal Government wanted to keep this threat as far away from Australia as possible.

With a fledgling diplomatic service and a numerically small defence force, Australia had only a limited capacity to deal with this challenging strategic situation and collective defence was the most affordable way of providing security (Barry, 1997). But although the ANZUS treaty (with the USA and New Zealand) had already been drawn up in 1951, Menzies did not feel it was specific enough on the matter of providing collective military support to fight communism. When he raised this issue...