Australian politics drive Anglosphere values

Strategic decisions and debates about Australian values are shaped in the Anglosphere, a new research paper reveals.

A Monash University paper published in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations identifies how major strategic decisions and debates about national values have been shaped by Australia’s role in the ’Anglosphere’.

The report examines how the Anglosphere is important to national debates about identity and public policy in Australia, and provides context for decisions about how Australia positions itself in the world at a time of significant transnational challenges and threats.

Monash researchers in politics and co-authors of the paper, Drs Ben Wellings and Zareh Ghazarian, said the findings highlighted Australia’s political leaders have played an under-researched role in the creation of what is known as the Anglosphere.

"When Keating lost the 1996 election to the John Howard-led Coalition, the contestation over which institutions and values should define being Australian helped create the contemporary Anglosphere," Dr Ghazarian said.

"Howard was strongly opposed to Australia becoming a republic and was blamed for breaking the hearts of Australians by maintaining his position in the leadup to the unsuccessful republic referendum in 1999. As an elder statesman he spoke in favour of the Anglosphere idea at think tanks in the US."

More recently, the Anglosphere was evidenced during the Brexit referendum in 2016, when the UK Secretary of State for Environment drew on the Anglosphere to advance the successful leave campaign.

Australia’s decision to scrap the contract with France to build new submarines, and instead go with the UK and USA for nuclear submarine technologies, reflects the strength of trust between these English-speaking countries in the Anglosphere.

"The contestation over Australian nationhood in the 1990s and 2000s played an under-researched part in the genesis of this idea. The impact of Prime Ministers Howard and Abbott in particular have strengthened Australia’s links with Anglosphere nations, especially the UK," Dr Wellings said.

"The Albanese Government’s recent decision to proceed with the AUKUS submarine deal consolidates an otherwise amorphous yet powerful Anglosphere idea in international relations."

The Anglosphere refers to English-speaking countries who share common liberal democratic values, namely, the USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

The Anglosphere idea in Australia is heavily inflected towards a great respect for the British legacy, more than a promotion of all other four Anglosphere states equally.

The labelling of the Anglosphere emerged in the late 1990s, and reflects a project of right-wing politics in English-speaking democracies which impact international relations.

The Open Access paper provides a framework to discuss the impact and significance of the Anglosphere and its implications on Australia’s domestic policy settings and institutionalised sense of self.

Read more about the Anglosphere at Monash Lens here.

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