Photograph - Frank Anstey
Photograph - Frank Anstey,
National Library of Australia,
Frank Anstey, Papers, 1880-1920,
Frank Anstey was one of the most significant opponents to conscription, both through his own efforts and through his role in mentoring others.
Frank Anstey was born in London in 1865 and arrived in Melbourne aged 11 as a stowaway. He was attracted to labour politics early and became President of the Tramways Employees Union in Victoria.
Anstey entered state parliament in 1902 and then Federal Parliament in 1910 as the Member for Bourke, the electorate that covered Brunswick and parts of Coburg. This photograph was taken in 1912, shortly before the beginning of World War One in 1914. Anstey was organising for Labor in the countryside, and became the most prominent spokesperson for rural interests within the party.
Anstey’s views were heavily influenced by socialism and he was opposed to World War One from its beginning. He regarded the War as being a conflict that only served the rich and powerful. This flowed through to his opposition to conscription. One argument that he made frequently was that he would only support conscription of men after the wealth of the capitalists had been conscripted. Not all of Anstey’s arguments were egalitarian - much of his work contained strong elements of racism, and in particular anti-semitism. He was strongly criticised at the time by other socialists for these depictions.
Frank Anstey was a significant mentor for both John Curtin and Frank Hyett, and to a lesser extent Maurice Blackburn. It was at the study circles held at Anstey’s house in Brunswick that opposition to conscription within the labour party was organised.
Frank Anstey remained in federal parliament until 1934. In that time he served as assistant leader for the Labor Party for five years, and was a minister in the Scullin Government. After the defeat of the Scullin Government, Anstey grew increasingly embittered and withdrawn, spending the rest of his life as a private individual. He died in 1940.
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.