IMPACTS OF WW1 ON AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY
Almost a century has passed but Australia still identifies strongly with the Anzac legend' that emerged during the First World War. Entering the war as a small outpost of the British Empire, no one would have anticipated the courage and tenacity displayed by the Australian troops or the extent to which their war efforts would become the foundation of our national identity.
While it lacked large numbers of troops to contribute to the British war effort, Australia gave everything it had and this included primary produce and other vital supplies. In fact, during the war years Government passed the War Precautions Act, which gave it the freedom to make new laws more easily and thus focus the entire strength of the nation on the war. Some of the new powers exerted by the Government were censorship of media and personal correspondence, internment of persons living in Australia who came from "enemy countries" and the requisitioning of farmers' crops. So wheat farmers and wool growers benefited from government politics as it set up a national shipping line and improved transport within the country. Industries also developed as a result of the war, especially in areas such as chemicals, metals and textiles.
A divisive issue in Australia during the war years was conscription. Australia already had national service (a form of conscription that meant that men could be called up for home defence) but they could not be sent overseas. Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes believed in absolute and total support for the war and he became convinced that in order to provide this Australia needed more troops, which meant conscription. In an effort to persuade Parliament by showing that the Australian public supported the introduction of conscription, Hughes decided to hold a national referendum. When Hughes announced the referendum, he assumed a strong "yes" for the majority. He had no way of knowing that instead he had asked a question...
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