Australian-German Relations

Australian-German Relations
   The German annexation of part of New Guinea in 1884 led to a minor rift between the Australian colonies and the British Government. Since the 1870s, Australians had perceived all nearby Pacific Islands as their sphere of influence and wanted the region under the British flag. In 1874, the Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australian governments asked Britain to annex Fiji, and the British met this request. The next year, the three colonies made a similar call in relation to the eastern half of New Guinea, the western half being under Dutch control, but the British refused to comply on the grounds that the cost of administering the colony outweighed any economic benefit. In 1879, the Queensland government claimed the islands in the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea. In 1883, in light of rumors of German interest in New Guinea, Queensland annexed the eastern half of the island. The British Government refused to recognize the colonial government’s action. The next year, the Germany annexed the northeast section of New Guinea. Embarrassed, the British Government then hurriedly claimed the remaining southeastern area, with the costs of administering the colony shared between the British, Queensland, New South Wales, and Victorian governments.
   Germany created a colonial empire in the Asia-Pacific and developed a network of radio and coaling stations for the German East Asiatic Squadron based at Tsingtao, now Qingdao, China. German naval war plans called for the East Asiatic Squadron to attack British merchant shipping around Australia and elsewhere in the region. Australian and New Zealand military planning for a war with Germany began during the First Balkan War of 1912. It was decided that, in the event of war, Australia would occupy German New Guinea and New Zealand would take Samoa. This plan was followed on the outbreak of war in 1914.
   See also <>; <>; <>.
    Hiery, Herman J. The Neglected War: The German South Pacific and the Influence of World War I. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1995;
    Overlack, Peter. “Australasia and Germany: Challenge and Response before 1914.” In David Stevens, ed. Maritime Power in the Twentieth Century: The Australian Experience. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1998.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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