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78. Although the 1937 Imperial Conference had confirmed that the Navy was to have the cantral role in defending Australia and that Darwin was to be the 'Southeastern base of the Malay Barrier balancing that of Singapore', little action was taken to give effect or substance to this policy. 79. 61. TheThrutfromlapn 33 in February 7912, and by March the country was bracing itself for a mapr Japanese assault. However, there was a considerable range of opinion as to the form and strength a fapanese attack would taka.

The subsequent fall of Singapore to a brilliantly planned and executed campaign by the fapanese Army conclusively demonstrated the conceptual and operational weaknesses of Britain's Singapore strategy and for the first dme exposed Australia to the very real threat of attack by a foreign power. Ironically, despite almost fifty years of often exaggerated and misplaced fears of a fapanese attack, when |apanese military forces posed a genuine threat to Australia's trade routes and lines of communications in laE 1941, Aushalia's political and military leaders had taken few concrete steps to defend the approaches to the 7r P.

Cited in A. Watt, Australian Defence Policy, 795L-63: Major the Pacific. 53. 150. Speech by P. C. Spender, Minister for External Affairs, 9 March 1950. 565. 97 e6 e7 ibid. 564. the fighest importance to CHAPTER 3 REGIONAL CONFLICTS: THE MENACE OF COMMUNISM By the end of the decadg a new threat had emerged which was to relegate Australia's traditional fear of |apan to the background and provide a mapr stimulus to Australia's search for a regional security arrangement anchored by the military, economic and political power of the United States.

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