Article - Conscription. Mr Hughes in Queensland
'Conscription. Mr Hughes in Queensland', Bendigo Independent, 30 November 1917, p. 6.Contributors
One of the most famous incidents of the anti-conscription campaigns occurred shortly before the second referendum. Prime Minister Hughes had two eggs thrown at him while speaking at a railway station in Warwick, Queensland. This incident led to the formation of the Commonwealth Police.
Hughes announced the second referendum in November 1917, just seven weeks before the vote was to be held. This campaign was short and fierce.
Queensland had been one of the strongest ‘No’ votes in the first referendum, and its Premier, Thomas Ryan, was the only state leader to oppose conscription. Hughes made it a priority to visit Queensland in the campaign.
On 29 November 1917, Hughes was returning to Sydney after speaking at a number of meetings in Brisbane. This visit had been particularly fiery; while there Hughes had ordered the Censors to raid the Queensland Government Printers to seize copies of a speech Ryan had made; in return some of Ryan’s associates had suggested that he should arrest the Prime Minister.
Hughes’ train stopped at Warwick, and he stepped off to address the crowd. As he approached the platform his supporters had built for him, he was hit by two eggs thrown by Paddy Brosnan; one of them lodged in his hat. Hughes would later claim that it knocked off his hat. A supporter of the Prime Minister jumped off the platform and struck Brosnan in the face. Police Sergeant Kenny removed Brosnan from the station, although he later returned to heckle the Prime Minister. This time it was an enraged Hughes, who jumped off the platform, yelling “arrest that man!” Kenny refused to do so, arguing that no crime had been committed, and as a Queensland police officer was not required to take commands from the Prime Minister.
Hughes used this incident in his subsequent campaigning, exaggerating many of the details. This article from a pro-conscriptionist newspaper is based on that exaggerated version.
Although it appears amusing, this incident had serious consequences. Irritated that Premier Ryan refused to discipline Kenny, Hughes vowed to establish a Commonwealth Police, under the control of the federal government. Some of the first postings were made in Warwick.
Mr Hughes in Queensland
Assaulted at Warwick
Hat Knocked Off
With Rotten Eggs
Police Protection Withheld
Extraordinary riots occurred at Warwick this afternoon. When Mr. Hughes alighted from the train he was seized by a mob and subjected to much violence, while addled eggs were thrown. One of the eggs knocked his hat off.
A returned soldier threw himself at Mr. Hughes' assailant. A fight ensued and Mr. Hughes was soon in the middle of the mob. One man carried a hammer and another a spanner.
Mr. Hughes, in the midst of the demonstration appealed to the police. But the sympathies of the police were not with him. Mr. Hughes was being assailed by a man much bigger than himself. The man was arrested, but was released immediately when out of Mr. Hughes' sight, and returned to the scene.
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.