Australia First Movement – Fact sheet 28
The Australia First Movement grew out of strong anti-British sentiment and vigorous Australian nationalism. Several elements fuelled its creation, including the severity of the Great Depression and the imperialistic attitude of some prominent Britons living in Australia.
If the movement could be assigned forefathers they would include writer Percy Reginald Stephensen and William John Miles, a Sydney businessman. Over a six-year partnership they attracted the wholehearted opposition of the Labor left and the tolerance of the right due only to their strong anti-communism. The movement was attributed with a growing sympathy towards the German, Italian and Japanese governments.
The Australia First Movement existed for five months until its leaders and some of its members were secretly interned in March 1942. Their internment was based on the suspicion that the movement might attempt to provide help to Japanese invaders.  This led to a Commonwealth Commission of Inquiry headed by Mr Justice Clyne which sat between 19 June 1944 and 17 May 1945.
Between 1936 and 1942 the movement published 16 volumes of a newsletter titled The Publicist. This publication stated that its aim was to 'arouse in Australians a positive feeling, a distinctive Australian patriotism of a thoroughly realistic kind'. Although The Publicist was regarded as dully repetitive, argumentative and sometimes childish, it featured prominently in the Commission of Inquiry – mostly due to its seemingly pro-Japanese stance, when Australians were living in fear of Japanese invasion.