Covert propaganda and the cold war: Britain and Australia 1948-1955

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Deery, Phillip (2001) Covert propaganda and the cold war: Britain and Australia 1948-1955. The Round Table, 90 (361). pp. 607-621. ISSN 0035-8533


The accepted historical view of British-Australian relations during the early Cold War emphasizes compliance, cooperation and dependency. Australia's acquiescence to British pressure to establish an effective security service and her readiness to permit British testing of atomic weapons on Australian soil are assumed to typify this close if subordinate relationship. The two countries, after all, shared a mutual interest in combating communism, globally and locally. However, an examination of one key aspect of the non-military response to the Cold War—anti-subversive and anti-communist propaganda—reveals a more complex picture. Using recently-released files from British and Australian archives, this article argues that attempts by a counter-propaganda unit of the British Foreign Office, the highly-secret Information Research Department, to forge a close working relationship with the Menzies government were met with indifference or resistance. Such unresponsiveness in such a crucial area challenges the accepted assumption that Australia in the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, was a lackey of Great Britain.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/00358530120082869
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Historical > RFCD Classification > 430000 History and Archaeology
Keywords historical view, British-Australian, Australia, British, cold war, propaganda, Menzies, 1950s
Citations in Scopus 3 - View on Scopus
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