Conscription No issue divided Australia such as conscription did. Both sides debated bitterly about the topic. It was twice defeated at referendum and passed through parliament during the Vietnam War because Australia could not keep up with demand.
William Morris Hughes became Prime Minister in October 1915. After a trip to Britain in early 1916 the British high command asked Hughes to step up his country's involvement in world war two as it was facing heavy casualties. One hundred and fifteen thousand men were needed and then a further sixteen thousand five hundred men per month. Thousands of volunteers had come forward at the start but attitudes had changed after the carnage and bloodshed of the Gollipoli campaign.
A dramatic drop in volunteer numbers had occurred. Hughes saw the only way to keep up with demand was to introduce conscription. Hughes came up against heavy opposition in the conscription debate, with his own labour party against him.
The leader of the anti-conscriptionists was the Roman Catholic Archbishop Dr Danniel Mannix. Mannix and Hughes became the leaders of divided Australia.
The anti conscriptionists believed: Australia was in no danger of invasion.
The capitalists were making money out of the war while the workers were providing the innocent soldiers for the slaughter.
The ruthless suppression by the British and Irish during the rebellion in Ireland in 1916 was reason enough not to support the British war effort.
Australia had already provided as many soldiers per head of population as other allied nations.
The conscriptionist believed: That their courageous and patriotic friends were bearing the brunt of the sacrifice And they felt it was every mans duty to do their most for the empire, the king and for Australia.
Both sides had valid arguments and used strong propaganda to back their points up.