Conscription in Australia During Ww1

Topics: World War II, Working class, Conscription Pages: 2 (789 words) Published: October 19, 2010
Many historians would say that Australia was a very united country in the effort to win World War I. But this has been debated many times, due to the fact that many Australian people were against war in itself and didn’t believe they should fight in a war that wasn’t even theirs. The onset of war had many negative effects on Australia and therefore it wasn’t as united as it should have been. The conscription debate also didn’t help unite the country. Both sides were substantially serious in establishing their point of why they should/shouldn’t conscript troops in other countries.

Australia in World War I is known to be a divided society, with its people and its government constantly fighting. Many Australians believed that the war wasn’t theirs to fight in; others believed that they should all support its mother country Britain. Half of the government believed conscription was the way, the other half not so much. The onset of war brought in many negative effects on Australian economy. Mostly because the international trade was down so many people in the export trade were jobless and therefore unemployment rose. Wages declined and prices rose. This made an even bigger gap between the working class and the upper class. Drought and inflationary pressures also didn’t help. Many were against the war, but still believed they should enroll to protect their country. When a man decided to not enroll in the AIF he was seen as a coward and was called a “Shirker”. Men who did not enlist were the object of profound disdain and moral outrage. They were portrayed as selfish and unmanly, and were subjected to immense public pressure, including being given white feathers, the infamous symbol of cowardice. As much as anyone would like to think a country would be united in winning a war Australia wasn’t one of them.

In 1916 Prime Minister Hughes proposed rising the numbers needed to maintain Australian troops at full strength at the Western Front by conscripting those...
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