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July 1, 2008 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Billy Hughes at War ― As Australia’s prime minister for most of the First World War, he steered the nation through the horrors of the war and the debates of the peace settlement. You can enter the conscription debate and examine political cartoons from the era. Billy Hughes provided Australia an independent voice on the world stage.

When reading Leon Uris' novel Redemption years ago, I was appalled to learn what the ANZAC forces endured at Gallipoli during WWI. Not being Australian, I was not familiar with the Billy Hughes chapter of history until I happened upon this site. I was particularly taken by the nice design. Learning more about World War I in the process was a bonus.
posted by netbros (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
In 1916 and 1917 Australia put the question of conscription to a referendum and it failed both times. Which says a lot of good about the Australians.

But the argument for conscription was pure racism: Don’t go robbing Australia of its white blood and leaving it open to the coloured workers of the world.

So go kill Germans. Right.
posted by three blind mice at 11:48 AM on July 1, 2008


But the argument for conscription was pure racism: Don’t go robbing Australia of its white blood and leaving it open to the coloured workers of the world.

I've totally borked that. THAT was the anti-conscription argument.

Not to be outdone in their racism, the pro-conscription argument:

Who made Australia white?
Who keeps Australia white?
Support Britain.


Room for eveyone under the white tent apparently.
posted by three blind mice at 11:52 AM on July 1, 2008


Nice one netbros, cheers.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:00 PM on July 1, 2008


What is of particular interest in that it still has echoes today is the role of Keith Murdoch, the father of media mogul Rupert, as a political player.

TBM, it was actually a plebiscite, a small but important difference.
posted by wilful at 5:45 PM on July 1, 2008


TBM, it was actually a plebiscite, a small but important difference.

Kindly elaborate.
posted by three blind mice at 11:15 PM on July 1, 2008


plebiscites are non-binding, and are basically a vote of confidence. There's no requirement for a majority of voters in a majority of states either.

Referenda are restricted to changing the Constitution. Plebiscites are basically where something is put to the people for their feedback.

The two stage model for a republic is to have a plebiscite to ask whether in principle we want to ditch the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas, followed by a referendum that will offer a variety of models, not including no change, that will be a binding change to the Constitution.
posted by wilful at 11:37 PM on July 1, 2008


Thanks wilful. What influence did this have on the question of conscription? Could the Hughes' government have simply ignored the plebiscite and institute a draft?
posted by three blind mice at 1:42 AM on July 2, 2008


Yes, Hughes could have ignored the plebiscites, except that he lost the second plebiscite even after a massive, official campaign of violence against and arrests of anticonscription campaigners. It wasn't practical.
posted by robcorr at 5:09 PM on July 4, 2008


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