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The Menzies Era
In 1949 Robert Menzies became prime minister, ushering in a long era of political stability. During the war, the old United Australian Party had disintegrated. In its stead arose the Liberal Party, which attracted those who opposed Labor's internal policies. Menzies, prime minister until 1966, gave Australia centralized and personal leadership. He stressed the sentimental linkage with the British crown but took more active interest than his predecessors in Pacific and South Asian affairs. Under the Colombo Plan, Asians began studying in Australian institutions in the 1950s. The White Australia policy was gradually discarded, and since the early 1970s the entry of immigrants has been based on criteria other than race. A national referendum in 1967 granted full citizenship to Aboriginal Australians.
Militarily, Australia fulfilled its commitment to the Western alliance by fighting in the Korean War, participating in the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) from 1954 until its dissolution in 1977, and fighting in the Vietnam War as a staunch ally of the United States. Meanwhile, Australia adjusted its domestic and foreign policies, which included recognizing its growing ties with Japan.