The 1917 Australian plebiscite was held on 20 December 1917. It contained just the one question.
The 1917 plebiscite was held a year after the highly contentious 1916 plebiscite on conscription. The 1916 plebiscite had resulted in a surprise "no" vote, with voters in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia, as well as a majority of electors nationwide, rejecting the proposal. The political fallout was swift, and by November 1916 had led to the collapse of the First Hughes Ministry. This resulted in a split of the ruling Australian Labor Party into two factions, with Prime Minister Billy Hughes and some Labor MPs forming the breakaway National Labor Party, which by February 1917 had merged with the conservative Commonwealth Liberal Party to form the Nationalist Party of Australia. While the Nationalist Party was dominated by former Commonwealth Liberals, it retained Hughes as leader. After Hughes and the Nationalists scored a convincing victory at the 1917 election, Hughes announced a second plebiscite on the question of conscription to be held on 20 December 1917.
During the course of World War 1 38.7% of eligible Australian men enlisted for service, around 420,000 out of an eligible population of a little over 1 million. During the war the range of men eligible to volunteer was expanded, with the initial age range of 19–38 expanded to 18–45 in June 1915. Similarly medical standards were lowered, for example the minimum height dropped from 5 ft 6in (167 cm) in August 1914 down to 5 ft (152 cm) by April 1917. There was however a significant decrease in the number of enlistments after 1915, with the average in 1917 of less than 4,000 enlistments per month:
The proposal for the 1917 plebiscite was less far reaching than that of the 1916 poll, eschewing full conscription of able-bodied men and instead proposing to conscript men between the ages of 18 and 44 through a ballot system, and only in months where voluntary enlistments fell below 7,000 men.
This plebiscite was held due to the Australian Government's desire to introduce conscription to increase the recruitment of forces for overseas service during the ongoing World War I, to a total of 7,000 men per month. It was conducted under the War Precautions (Military Service Referendum) Regulations 1917.It formed part of the larger debate on conscription in Australia throughout the war.
All of the historical documentation refer to the ballot as a referendum,even though it did not involve a proposal to amend the Australian Constitution. Because it was not an amendment to the constitution, (1) it had no legal force, (2) it did not require approval in a majority of states and (3) residents of federal territories were able to vote. Such a ballot is now usually referred to as a plebiscite to distinguish it from a referendum to alter the Constitution.
The campaign was notable for the Egg Throwing Incident where a protester threw an egg at Prime Minister Hughes in Warwick, Queensland,and for the Raid on the Queensland Government Printing Office, where the Australian Army stormed a Queensland government building to confiscate copies of the Queensland Government Gazette deemed to contain subversive anti-conscription materials.
|State||Electoral roll||Ballots issued||For||Against||Informal|
|New South Wales||1,055,883||853,894||341,256||41.16||487,774||58.84||24,864|
|Northern Territory and Federal Capital Territory||4,037||3,002||1,700||58.22||1,220||41.78||82|
|†Including 199,677 votes by members of the Australian Imperial Force, of which 103,789 were for 93,910 against, and 1,978 informal.|
|Results||Obtained majority in two States and the Territories and an overall minority of 166,588 votes.||Not carried|
The Nationalist Party was an Australian political party. It was formed on 17 February 1917 from a merger between the Commonwealth Liberal Party and the National Labor Party, the latter formed by Prime Minister Billy Hughes and his supporters after the 1916 Labor Party split over World War I conscription. The Nationalist Party was in government until electoral defeat in 1929. From that time it was the main opposition to the Labor Party until it merged with pro-Joseph Lyons Labor defectors to form the United Australia Party (UAP) in 1931. The party was a direct ancestor of the Liberal Party of Australia, the main centre-right party in Australia.
William Morris Hughes, was an Australian politician who served as the 7th Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1915 to 1923. He is best known for leading the country during World War I, but his influence on national politics spanned several decades. Hughes was a member of federal parliament from Federation in 1901 until his death, the only person to have served for more than 50 years. He represented six political parties during his career, leading five, outlasting four, and being expelled from three.
Conscription in Australia, or mandatory military service also known as national service, has a controversial history dating back to the first years of nationhood. Australia currently only has provision for conscription during times of war.
The National Labor Party was formed by Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes in 1916 following the 1916 Labor split on the issue of World War I conscription in Australia. Hughes had taken over as leader of the Australian Labor Party and Prime Minister of Australia when anti-conscriptionist Andrew Fisher resigned in 1915. He formed the new party for himself and his followers after he was expelled from the ALP a month after the 1916 plebiscite on conscription in Australia. Hughes held a pro-conscription stance in relation to World War I.
Referendums in Australia are polls held in Australia to approve parliament-proposed changes to the Constitution of Australia or to the constitutions of states and territories. Polls conducted on non-constitutional issues are usually referred to as plebiscites.
The 1916 Australian plebiscite was held on 28 October 1916. It was the first non-binding Australian plebiscite, and contained one question concerning military service. This plebiscite was held due to Prime Minister Billy Hughes' desire to conscript young Australian men for overseas service during World War I. It was conducted under the Military Service Referendum Act 1916.
William Arthur Holman was an Australian politician who served as Premier of New South Wales from 1913 to 1920. He came to office as the leader of the Labor Party, but was expelled from the party in the split of 1916. He subsequently became the inaugural leader of the NSW branch of the Nationalist Party.
The 1919 Australian federal election was held on 13 December 1919 to elect members to the Parliament of Australia. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives and 19 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Nationalist Party government won re-election, with Prime Minister Billy Hughes continuing in office.
The 1917 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 5 May 1917. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives and 18 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Nationalist Party, led by Prime Minister Billy Hughes, defeated the opposition Labor Party led by Frank Tudor in a landslide.
This is a list of the members of the Australian House of Representatives in the Sixth Australian Parliament, which was elected at the 1914 election on 5 September 1914.
Richard Armstrong Crouch was an Australian politician. His two periods as a member of the House of Representatives were separated by the First World War, during which he became an anti-conscription activist and changed his political affiliation. Crouch was a Protectionist and Liberal during his first period as an MP, but later became involved in the labour movement and represented the Australian Labor Party (ALP) during his second term. He is one of the few MPs to move to the ALP after previously belonging to an anti-Labor party.
This is a list of members of the Australian Senate from 1914 to 1917. The 5 September 1914 election was a double dissolution called by Prime Minister of Australia Joseph Cook in an attempt to gain control of the Senate. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives, and all 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Commonwealth Liberal Party was defeated by the opposition Australian Labor Party led by Andrew Fisher, who announced with the outbreak of World War I during the campaign that under a Labor Government, Australia would "stand beside the mother country to help and defend her to the last man and the last shilling."
During the second half of World War One, the First Australian Imperial Force experienced a shortage of men as the number of men volunteering to fight overseas declined and the casualty rate increased. At the time, military service within the Commonwealth of Australia and its territories was compulsory for Australian men, but that requirement did not extend to conflict outside of Australia. In 1916, Prime Minister Billy Hughes called a plebiscite to determine public support for extending conscription to include military service outside the Commonwealth for the duration of the war. The referendum, held on 28 October 1916, narrowly rejected the proposal. A second plebiscite, held a year later on 20 December 1917, also failed to gain a majority.
The history of the Australian Labor Party has its origins in the Labour parties founded in the 1890s in the Australian colonies prior to federation. Labor tradition ascribes the founding of Queensland Labour to a meeting of striking pastoral workers under a ghost gum tree in Barcaldine, Queensland in 1891. The Balmain, New South Wales branch of the party claims to be the oldest in Australia. Labour as a parliamentary party dates from 1891 in New South Wales and South Australia, 1893 in Queensland, and later in the other colonies.
On 29 November 1917 an egg was thrown at the Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes at the Warwick railway station, Queensland, during his campaign for the 1917 plebiscite on conscription. The egg was thrown by Patrick Michael Brosnan, possibly assisted by his brother Bartie Brosnan.
The Australian Labor Party split of 1916 occurred following severe disagreement within the Australian Labor Party over the issue of proposed World War I conscription in Australia. Labor Prime Minister of Australia Billy Hughes had, by 1916, become an enthusiastic supporter of conscription as a means to boost Australia's contribution to the war effort. On 30 August 1916, he announced plans for a referendum on the issue, and introduced enabling legislation into parliament on 14 September, which passed only with the support of the opposition. Six of Hughes' ministers resigned in protest at the move, and the New South Wales state branch of the Labor Party expelled Hughes. The referendum saw an intense campaign in which Labor figures vehemently advocated on each side of the argument, although the "no" campaign narrowly won on 14 November. In the wake of the referendum defeat, the caucus moved to expel Hughes on 14 November; instead, he and 23 supporters resigned and formed the National Labor Party. Frank Tudor was elected leader of the rump party. Hughes was recommissioned as Prime Minister, heading a minority government supported by the opposition Commonwealth Liberal Party; the two parties then merged as the Nationalist Party of Australia and won the 1917 federal election. The Nationalist Party served as the main conservative party of Australia until 1931, and the split resulted in many early Labor figures ending their careers on the political right.
World War I impacted on many aspects of everyday life in Queensland, Australia. Over 58,000 Queenslanders fought in World War I and over 10,000 of them died.
During World War I, extensive military recruitment took place in Queensland. Although many enlisted voluntarily, there was considerable pressure for the unwilling to enlist, including two unsuccessful attempts to introduce conscription in 1916 and 1917. Overall, more than 57,700 Queenslanders fought in World War I and over 10,000 of them died.
The Queensland Recruiting Committee was a volunteer organisation in Queensland, Australia, which urged Queensland men to enlist for military service during World War I. It operated from May 1915 to December 1916, when it was replaced by an Australian Government recruitment organisation, the Queensland State Recruiting Committee.
In November 1917 during World War I, the Australian Government conducted a raid on the Queensland Government Printing Office in Brisbane, with the aim of confiscating copies of Hansard that covered debates in the Queensland Parliament where anti-conscription sentiments had been aired.