Article - 'Failure to Enrol'
'Failure to Enrol', Argus, 23 November 11916, p. 8Contributors
John Curtin was imprisoned for refusing to enrol for conscription.
Prime Minister Hughes was so confident of success in the 1916 conscription referendum that on 29 September 1916 he issued a proclamation under the War Precautions Act that directed all men aged between 21 and 35 to enrol for conscription. Hughes believed that this would allow conscription to begin immediately after the referendum. However, this "October surprise" proved to be a mistake, as it looked like an act of hubris to many undecided voters.
Many anti-conscriptionist men refused to enrol, and John Curtin was one of them. Curtin refused to attend the compulsory medical examination, even though he knew it was almost certain that his poor eyesight would have seen him fail this examination. On 24 November Curtin was sentenced to three months gaol. He was, at this time and was not arrested until 12 December.
However, Hughes had come under strong political pressure regarding these prosecutions, since conscription had been defeated at the October referendum. Even before Curtin's prosecution, on 22 November, Hughes announced that he intended to revoke all of the prosecutions made under the proclamation. He was somewhat tardy in doing so in this case, and Curtin's sentence was not remitted until 14 December. He was released from Melbourne jail the following day, having spent three days inside.
While there were many prosecutions under this regulation around Australia, only prominent anti-conscription leaders like Curtin and Norman Grant, President of the No-Conscription Fellowship were gaoled as late as December.
Failure to Enrol
Mr. John Curtin Sentenced.
Mr. Cohen, P.M., dealt at Brunswick on Wednesday with cases of persons charged with failing to enrol as required by the proclamation under the Defence Act.
John Curtin, secretary of Brunswick road, Brunswick, a prominent anti-conscription speaker, was charged with failure to enrol. Mr. M. Blackburn, for the defence, asked for an adjournment. The accused was in Sydney on business for the national executive of the Trades Union Congress.
Captain Dean said that he had evidence to show that the accused was in Melbourne on Sunday.
Mr. Blackburn—That is so, but I believe he was not at home.
Mr. Cohen—You must produce some evidence of that. The summons was served on Saturday, and he was admittedly in Melbourne on the Sunday, and therefore presumably at home.
The case was adjourned for an hour, but Mr. Blackburn said that he had no further instructions in the case, and he could not produce further evidence.
Sergeant Dunn deposed to having seen the accused on Sunday last opposite the G.P.O., in Melbourne.
Mr. Cohen said he was quite satisfied that the accused knew of the summons, and he should have been present, or have instructed counsel. He would be sentenced to three months' imprisonment.
Australia and World War One
Photograph - Send-off to the Brunswick Soldiers
Photograph - Brunswick Town Hall Honour Board
Memorial Plaque - Leonard William Telford
Poster - 'Australia has Promised Britain 50,000 More Men'
Labour Activists of Brunswick and Coburg
Photograph - Frank Anstey
Photograph - John Curtin
Photograph - Frank Hyett
Photograph - Maurice Blackburn
The Trade Unions' Anti-conscription Campaign
Handbill - 'The Blood Vote'
Cartoon - 'The Charge of the Would to God Brigade'
Handbill - Slave Conspiracy
The Women's Movement During the War
Photograph - Vida Goldstein
Photograph - Adela Pankhurst
Handbill - Conscription and Woman's Loyalty
Photograph - 'Women's No Conscription Demonstration'
Bella Lavender - Brunswick Campaigner
Photograph - Bella Lavender
Cartoon - Bella Lavender
Letter - Bella Lavender to Education Department
Photograph - Labor Women's Anti-conscription Committee
Religious Perspectives on Conscription
Handbill - Conscription and Christianity
Handbill - Conscription Questions for Voters
Handbill - How Would Christ Vote?
The Catholic Church and Conscription
Photograph - Daniel Mannix
Article - Cause of the War
Article - Revolt Victims
Cartoon - Australian Workman's Burden
Brunswick and Coburg During the Campaigns
Article - No Anti-conscription Meetings in Brunswick
Handbill - Public Meeting Against Conscription
Advertisement - Recruitment Meeting
Article - Remarkably Quiet Day
The Two Referendums
Handbill - Vote Thus Against Conscription
Article - Military Service Referendum Poll
Article - Conscription. Mr Hughes in Queensland
Article - 'Bourke'
The Soldiers' Votes
Diary - Claude Ewart
Photograph - Jack and Bert Grinton
Handbill - Returned Soldiers' No Conscription League Manifesto
Photograph - Soldiers Voting
Consequences for the Campaigners
Inscription - Police Just Raided
Article - 'Failure to Enrol'
Letter - Adela Pankhurst to Sallie Walsh
Article - 'Serenading Miss Pankhurst'
Story education resources
Education Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Education Resource
The Against The Odds Education Resource provides a stimulating range of activities for students undertaking the compulsory Victorian History Curriculum Level 9/10 unit Australia at war (1914 – 1945). It helps students reflect on the complexities of the conscription debate through a range of analytical, creative and research tasks.
Education Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Walking Map
The Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Walking Map is a map of some of the sites described in the digital story or related to individuals therein. Download the map to use it for a self-guided tour in the area.