Consequences for the Campaigners
The government used its wartime powers to interfere with the anti-conscriptionist campaign, including censoring and confiscating their campaign materials and even jailing some anti-conscriptionists. The government also turned a blind eye to physical intimidation shown to anti-conscriptionists by pro-conscriptionists.
The main law that the government used to harass anti-conscriptionists was the War Precautions Act. This Act, passed in October 1914 gave the government sweeping powers to declare many kinds of behaviour unlawful. The government argued that any damage to morale or the economy would make it harder to ‘defend Australia’. By the end of the war there had been over 3000 prosecutions under the Act.
In particular, the government and the military argued that anti-conscriptionist campaign materials had the effect of discouraging voluntary enlistment, and so should be banned. The military censors conducted several raids on union offices to seize materials, or on the printers’ factories to stop them from being produced.
Several prominent anti-conscriptionists were prosecuted by the government and jailed. John Curtin was imprisoned for three days for failing to register for conscription, while Adela Pankhurst served nearly three months in Pentridge Prison for provoking damage to property.
As well as official persecution, the government and police tolerated harassment of anti-conscriptionists by pro-conscriptionists. Disruption of meetings were common, but there were also incidents of violence. Secretary of the Australian Peace Alliance, Frederick Riley, was thrown into the river on several occasions while speaking at protest meetings at the Yarra Bank. On one occasion, pro-conscriptionists even set fire to the stage that Adela Pankhurst was speaking from.
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.