Testimony on Conscription, April 14, 1917

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Miss ADDAMS. I simply want to say, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, that I am sure there is a good deal of feeling in this whole country against conscription. I have been in the South lately. I was sent South for my health about six weeks ago; but I have had a great many letters saying that conscription is a form of [coercion] which is absolutely averse and absolutely contradictory to everything America has ever stood for, and that even in Australia and in Canada, where the people are in this war with England, they have not had conscription. The Canadians have not even dared propose it, because they think it is so un-American, and they call themselves Americans in the sense of living on this side of the Atlantic. In Australia it was submitted to a referendum vote. Hughes, the prime minister, had been in England and told everybody he could turn out ever so many men, and when he went back they made a sort of combined political appeal and took a referendum vote on it, and the Australian voters turned it down. They had splendid regiments in Egypt and also at the Dardanelles, which sustained heavy losses, and nobody could doubt their bravery, but they said they would not accept conscription because it was against the whole idea of democratic government; that they were willing to send the men as volunteers, but they would not send them under conscription.

Now I know that that is exactly the kind of reaction we are going to get in America; at least, I should be awfully disappointed if men and women do not feel that way. I know thousands of them that will feel that way. They are willing to volunteer if it appeals to their conscience, and if they believe that the war is something in which [page 2] the United States should take part, then let it take part as it has done other things, as a volunteer body, and not begin with coercion, which is something that democratic countries like Canada and Australia have not had, and Australia is the only Province that has had a referendum vote on the question. New Zealand has conscription without ever having had a referendum vote. Australia insisted on a referendum and turned it down. I have here some things from the London Nation and other English papers -- and they are right in the midst of the war -- commenting on the Australian referendum, saying that there are many things more precious even than victory and one of them is democratic principles and democratic institutions.

I think I know the West pretty well. I was born in Illinois and I have lived there for a good many years; more than 50 years, and I know a great many kinds of people. I meet hundreds of people all the time and I shall be enormously surprised if in the end you do not get such a reaction. I think just now, in the curious war contagion which is going on all over the country and this queer imitation we are making of being like Europe and doing everything they do and avoiding their mistakes and all that sort of thing, I think it may go for the moment, but eventually I am sure it will not go, and you are going to have drafts riots and all sorts of things like that. That really is the burden of my song, but I will be glad to answer any questions, if you like.

I was in England when they were discussing conscription, and it was not only the labor people and the radicals, by any means, who were opposed to it. I remember Lord Courtney, who is a Lord of Penwick, whose wife is one of our peace people and whom I saw quite often, was bitterly opposed to it. He said England could not afford to go in for that kind of thing. Of course, we all know that the first compulsory military service in the world was undertaken by Prussia after the wars of Napoleon. After the wars of Napoleon Prussia was limited in her army and told she could not have over so many soldiers in her army because she was recognized as a danger to the other German States, and what she did was to get every man in the army under a short term of service, and when the war came every man was trained. Now, if we are going to fight Prussianism, if that is what we are fighting, and I do not think we are awfully clear about what we are fighting, do not let us begin by taking the most offensive system of Prussianism and adopting it in this country. I think three years ago it would have been inconceivable to have had conscription preached in this country.

Mr. KAHN. Do you not know, Miss Addams, that the Australians have universal military training?

Miss ADDAMS. For home defense.

Mr. KAHN. And every man who volunteers there, of course, has been trained. 

Miss ADDAMS. The Australians have a very short term of military service for home defense only, and I think it is like the Swiss system, three months in the year. One bill here proposes a year and the other six months. We are going just a little further than anybody else has gone before, even under the stress of war, and the Australians do it only for home defense and they do that because they have this Asiatic fear. They are fearful of Asiatic invasion.[page 3]

Mr. KAHN. Of course, we hope that we will never have an offensive war and that all our wars will be defensive. 

Miss ADDAMS. Every war is a war of defense, Mr. Kahn. No Government would dare go to war otherwise. Germany was protecting herself against the Russian mobilization, and every war in the world has been a war of defense. 

Mr. KAHN. And so when the Australians say, "We are going to train our boys simply for home defense," they use the usual subterfuge?

Miss ADDAMS. But they had a referendum vote on it. 

Mr. GORDON. And they can not send them out of the country unless they volunteer. 

Miss ADDAMS. And they can not send them out of the country in Germany unless they volunteer. Germany can not send a man for over-sea service unless he volunteers, and when they sent men during the Boxer trouble they could only send volunteers. What we are proposing to do now is to conscript men, and we do not know whether they will land in France or where they will land. 

Mr. KAHN. Of course that is a question the War Department has not determined and nobody else in this country has determined. 

Miss ADDAMS. And that is what makes it so dangerous to give them a blank check.

Mr. GREENE. You spoke of home defense as if it were confined to military operations on our own soil. 

Miss ADDAMS. That is what the Australians call "home defense."

Mr. GREENE. That is what was in your mind?

Miss ADDAMS. Not leaving the soil of Australia.

Mr. GREENE. Then if there was a [conflagration] going on down the street and it was approaching your home, are you justified in going off of your premises to blow up a building next to you in order that the fire may not reach you, and still call it protecting your home?

Miss ADDAMS. I think that has nothing to do with conscription. If I was to conscript somebody to blow up a building --

Mr. GREENE (interposing). I am asking you about the term "home defense" and not the means by which you do it.

Miss ADDAMS. We are talking about conscription. 

Mr. GREENE. I understand, and it is for home defense.

Miss ADDAMS. And I quarrel with your figure. Of course I would save my home in any way I could, but your figure is that our house is going to burn if we do not blow up somebody else's house, and I do not believe that. 

Mr. SHALLENBERGER. If the ocean was between your home and the other place, you would not have to blow it up. 

Miss ADDAMS. Certainly not. We have only one border that could be defended and that would be the Mexican border.

Mr. GREENE. You are mixing my metaphor with water. 

Miss ADDAMS. I quarrel with your metaphor as not being [analogous] to the situation.

The CHAIRMAN. Miss Addams has submitted an article on the subject of the conscription referendum in Australia and I would like to have it go into the record.

(The matter referred to is as follows:) [page 4]


{From the Canadian Liberal Monthly, Jan. 1917, p. 83-87.}

Details of the conscription campaign in Australia Launched by Premier Hughes on his return from England and of the defeat of the proposal by popular referendum are now coming to Canada through the medium of the newspapers of the Commonwealth. They point an interesting moral and teach a valuable lesson. An effort, little short of actual compulsion, was made to insure a vote favorable to conscription. The strongest possible outside influences were brought to bear apparently through the instigation of Premier Hughes. But the free and democratic people of Australia, who, under voluntary enlistment had shown the strongest loyalty to the cause of the allies and the Empire, refused to sanction conscription, in spite of all these influences. 

When Premier Hughes returned to Australia from England August 7 last it was generally anticipated, from his utterances while in England, that he would at once put conscription into effect in the Commonwealth. Instead he decided upon a conscription referendum, and in the following terms in a speech delivered in the House of Representatives on august 30 outlined the policy of his government:

"In view of certain urgent and grave communications from the war council of Great Britain and of the present state of the war and the duty of Australia in regard thereto, and as a result of long and earnest deliberation, the Government has arrived at the conclusion that the voluntary system of recruiting can not be relied upon to supply that steady stream of reinforcements necessary to maintain the Australian expeditionary forces at their full strength. As the Government is very strongly of the opinion that it is the plain duty of Australia to do this, and as it believes that their opinion is one which is held by the country generally, it has formulated a policy which it believes to be at once adequate to meet the gravity of our circumstances and compatible with the principles of democratic government under which it is our privilege to live * * *"


"But this is a country where the people rule; and in this crisis -- in which their future is concerned -- their voice must be heard. The will of the nation must be ascertained. Autocracy forces its decrees upon the people -- democracy ascertains and then carries out the wishes of the people. In these circumstances the Government considers that there is but one course to pursue, namely, to ask the electors for their authority to make up the deficiency by compulsion. Set out briefly, the policy of the Government is to take a referendum of the people at the earliest possible moment upon the question whether they approve of compulsory overseas service to the extent necessary to keep our expeditionary forces at their full strength. If the majority of the people approve, compulsion will be applied to the extent that voluntaryism fails. Otherwise it will not."


Later, on September 18, when the details for the referendum on conscription had been completed. Premier Hughes issued a manifesto to the citizens of Australia appealing for support and requesting the electors of Australia to vote in favor of conscription, thus backing up the Government in its efforts to secure additional recruits for the prosecution of the war. Extracts from the manifesto are herewith quoted. 

"SEPTEMBER 18, 1916.

"FELLOW CITIZENS: After more than two years of the most dreadful war the world has known, Australia is called upon to face the test of manhood. We, boasting our freedom, are called upon to prove ourselves worthy to be free.

"Though Europe has been drenched with blood, innocent noncombatants foully murdered or subjected to unspeakable outrages, millions of helpless men, women, and little children driven from their homes, their beloved country ravaged by fire and sword, not the faintest breath of such horrors has touched these favored shores. Though many of our brave soldiers have died on the battlefield, this nation in its own home was pursued its peaceful way as though war did not exist, secure and prosperous. But we, too, must now face the dread realities of war. We have made many sacrifices, but we know nothing of the agonies which France, Belgium, Russia, and Serbia have endured. * * *

"Now is the hour Australia is called upon to gird up her loins and make her great effort. Now is the hour in which, if we but obey the call of duty, the enemy can be crushed, the war shortened, and triumphant victory and lasting peace insured. [page 5]

"Our duty and our interests alike point the way we must go. I appeal to every individual citizen of Australia to sweep aside the mists of indifference, error, and misunderstanding, and face the great realities of the hour.


"This is a war of death, a fight to the finish. The future of Australia and the hopes of Australian democracy hang upon victory. We are called upon to do our share in the great offensive against our victory. We are not called upon to do more than our share, but our share we must do. As the strain becomes greater, so we must endure more and endeavor more. 

"The Empire and its allies are making a supreme effort to crush the enemy. Britain is calling up more men. New Zealand is calling up more men. Canada is calling up more men. Upon us rests the same burden; we, too, must make the same sacrifice.


"What we are expected to do in this great hour has been state in precise terms. We are to keep out five divisions up to their full strength. * * * For September of this year 32,500 men are required, and for each subsequent month 16,500 men, to maintain our five divisions in the field. * * * Up to date we have sent over 220,000 men overseas, and have 44,000 in camp. * * * If Australia had done as well as Britain she would have an army of over 500,000, instead of one under 300,000.


"We must supply the men asked for. It is the price we are asked to pay for our national existence and our liberties. We must get the men; so much is certain. The question then is, How shall we get them? It is unfortunately only too apparent that the voluntary system of recruiting our armies does not insure them. For many months, indeed, the numbers of volunteers have been steadily diminishing. In June, July, and August less than one-third of the number required have enrolled. If voluntaryism fails, is the nation to fail, where to fail is to perish? No patriot can deny the necessity of reinforcements; no democrat can impugn the right of the nation to demand this duty from its citizens. 

"Abraham Lincoln, defending the conscription act passed by Congress to reinforce by compulsion the Northern Army during the American Civil War, when voluntaryism had failed, said: 'Men can be had only voluntarily or involuntarily. We have ceased to obtain them involuntarily, and to obtain them involuntarily is the draft -- the conscription."


"The compulsory draft was the turning point in the great Civil War. It proved to the South and to the world that the Northern States were determined to conquer. Lincoln's belief in his fellow-countrymen was justified.

"As it was in the Northern States in Lincoln's time, so it is with us [today]. Like them, we fight in the cause of liberty. Voluntaryism has failed us as it failed them. And we, like them -- unless we confess ourselves degenerate -- must tread the path they trod, along which they strode resistlessly to victory.


"The proposals of the Government do not destroy voluntaryism -- rather do they stimulate it to nobler effort. If it prove itself worthy, then the need for compulsion ceases. But we must get the men. Australia must play her part in this great struggle. The proposals of the Government insure this.


"Fellow citizens, your kinsmen and your allies across the sea look to you to do your duty. Your comrades in the Australian armies whose glorious valor has covered the name of Australia with undying luster, call to you to come and stand by their side. Were Australia to fail on October 28, democracy and labor would have failed. But Australia must not fail. In the name of the Australian democracy, I adjure every man and woman in the Commonwealth to vote 'yes.'" [page 6]


Considerable surprise was expressed by the leaders of the opposition party both in the House of Representatives and Senate and by leading newspapers at Premier Hughes's referendum on conscription instead of direct conscription, but all stated publicly that they would give his policy of a referendum their hearty support.

The referendum campaign was launched and Premier Hughes and his conscriptionist followers held meetings in every city, town, and village in Australia. The anticonscriptionists were also busy holding meetings and were enthusiastically received.

The referendum was to be taken on the following question:


"Are you in favor of the Government having, in this grave emergency, the same compulsory powers over citizens in regard to requiring their military service, for the term of the war, outside the Commonwealth as it now has in regard to military service within the Commonwealth?"


The slogans of the conscriptionist party were many and striking.

"Vote: 'Yes' for Australia, 'No' for the Kaiser," was one.

Another was: "Australia wants 'Yes,' the Kaiser wants 'No.'"

Still another was: "Vote 'Yes' and succor the Anzacs, 'No' and abandon them."

The posters of the anticonscriptionists were quite as effective. One in particular depicted a woman with woe on her face, condemning her son and the sons of others to die by placing her vote in favor of conscription in the ballot box. In the background, in the shadow, was a caricature of Premier Hughes, with a strong resemblance to His Satanic Majesty. This poster which was widely circulated is said to have had a tremendous effect upon the voting, especially among the women.


As the campaign proceeded Premier Hughes's appeals were supplemented by the receipt on the part of the premier of many telegraphic communications from British statesmen and high officers in the European armies, including Mr. Bonar Law, Arthur Henderson, M.P., John Hodge, M.P., Gen. Sir Douglas Haig, Gen. Joffre, and others, urging the Australian electorate to vote for conscription. These messages were all pretty well in the same tones. The following are quotations from samples received:


To the premier of Australia from Mr. Arthur Henderson, M.P., ex-chairman of the Parliamentary Labor Party, and then a minister and labor advisor to the Government, dated October 20, as follows:

"We are watching with interest the efforts you are making to assist in supplying the army with more men, which at the present moment is the supreme need of the Empire. * * *

"More men are needed to defend our liberty and to assert national rights -- in fact, all that is best in civilization, democracy, and freedom break down. In these circumstances I say to the workers of Australia, as I said to the trades-unionists of the mother country: Between the issue of compulsion and defeat there can be no room for doubt; we applied compulsion to extend trade-unionism, to secure more drastic social reorganization, to improve the health of the people, to secure greater equality in the distribution of wealth; we must not object to use the same means to have not only our nation or empire but small nations everywhere, from the brutal domination of the most highly organized military power. * * *

"The men of Australia, having from the commencement of the war realized its menacing possibilities, will, I feel confident, support their Government, and continue to display that 'imperial unity' which hitherto has proved so beneficial to us and our allies and by which alone final, complete victory can be made secure."

From Mr. John Hodge, British M.P., ex-chairman of the Parliamentary Party, as follows:

"I have been reading with great interest of the campaign in Australia. I have no desire to interfere in Australian politics, but it seems to me great misapprehension prevails in respect to the application of conscription in this country. Speaking as [page 7] secretary of an organization of 40,000 men, we have had none of the troubles which have been suggested, and the great volume of opinion has been that it is the only fair method to adopt, as there was no sense in the willing going to make sacrifices for those who were unwilling to do anything for the maintenance of freedom and liberty. There can be no doubt that more men are needed, not only to keep up the strength of the Australian divisions but throughout the army, and the chances are that we shall have to extend the age to 45."

From Mr. George N. Barnes, of Blackfriars, general secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers as follows:

"There need be no misunderstanding as to the working of compulsion in this country. There has been practically no effort to foist industrial conscription on us, and as long as trades-unionism does its duty as protector of labor there can be none.

"Do not believe for one moment that conscription will be continued after the war, and its enforcement during the war for the saving of the nation has not contributed to make it permanent. Unionism has had no reason to regret it."

On October 23 the premier, Mr. Hughes, received them from Mr. Bonar Law, secretary of state for the colonies, the following cable:

"I gather that statements have been made in Australia to the effect that arrangements are in contemplation here for the introduction of colored or cheap labor into Australia to take the place of men sent to the front. If so I request that your Government will issue an immediate and categorical denial. It is absolutely untrue that any such intention or desire exists on the part of His Majesty's Government, the Government of India, or the governments of any British possessions."


On October 22 the prime minister, Mr. Hughes, received a cable from M. Aristide Briand, Prime Minister of France, the following message:

"The whole French nation is watching with intense sympathy your efforts to maintain the strength of the Australian forces in the fighting on our front. We here not only feel deeply grateful to those gallant comrades in arms who have come from such distant parts to fight side by side with us in [defense] of our invaded territory; but we also feel the liveliest admiration for such magnificent soldiers, who are fully equal to the greatest of the present and all time. I have seen them at the front, and I shall never forget the impression they made on me. The warm popular feeling toward them in France is enough to show that my impression is shared by the whole nation. * * *

"We French people attribute so much importance to the invaluable help of the Commonwealth of Australia, we admire so much what she has done for our great common cause that we can not do otherwise than wish to see her fully prepared to go with us to the end."

Publicity was also given to a declaration made by M. Thomas, French Minister for Munitions. The declaration was as follows:

"There must be no confusion about the serious question of compulsory service. Its opponents in Australia can not invoke any opposition to compulsory military service on the part of French socialists. What French socialists discussed with other parties was especially the duration of the period of service in barracks; they discussed the number and the length of periods of training which citizens should undergo, but as regards to the question itself there can be no doubt whatever that so long as nations are relied upon to defend themselves, so long as they need an army, there can be no other conception than that of compulsory service. In France the idea of compulsory service is closely bound up with the democratic movement; it is a consequence of the idea of quality between all citizens."


On Saturday, October 21, the prime minister, Mr. Hughes, received the following message from Gen. Sir Douglas Haig, commander in chief of the British forces on the western front:

"Australian divisions in France are far below strength, and drafts are not arriving in sufficient numbers. The divisions have fought splendidly, and their heroic efforts will live in history, but they can not continue to achieve results unless their strength is kept up. Successes of past few months justify absolute confidence in power to win final victory. But it is not yet won. To complete our work and insure a future enduring peace utmost efforts of Empire and allies are [required] for long time yet. I hope strong drafts for your divisions will be dispatched and their strength maintained." [page 8]


Gen. Joffre (generalissimo of the French Armies) made the following reply to an Australian press representative visiting the west front when asked for a statement on October 24:

"Say that we are in the decisive phase of the war. This phase will continue for some time, and its duration can be shortened only by bringing into full motion the whole of the resources of the allied nations.

"We have fought for more than two years. May I then say that these magnificent soldiers of Anzac can become an important factor in the final victory, and in hastening its arrival, if Australia, whence they spring, works without delay to insure the keeping up of their effectives and the increase of their units. France has borne from the outset a great part of the weight of the common war. She has willing endured great sacrifices, but she has resolved to consecrate to the very end her living and material forces to the great task. I am convinced, for my part, that your fellow-countrymen will follow her example without hesitation, that they will not like to leave to others the task and the glory of avenging their dead, and that they will be eager to take every part that belongs to them in the final triumph."

On Saturday, October 21, the mayor of Kalgoorlie, in response to a request, received a message from Gen. Birdwood, commander of the Australian army in France, as follows:

"The Anzacs feel sure that Australia will see that the sacrifices already made are not in vain, which may be the case unless we are well assured that men will be forthcoming to keep effective and maintain at full strength the magnificent battalions, batteries, and companies which have made history, and have established tradition."


All the various denominational churches of Australia made an appeal to the electors. The Anglican General Synod of the Church of England, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, Archbishop Clune of the Roman Catholic Church, the Annual Session of the Conference of the Congregational Union of the Congregational Church, the Baptist Union of the Baptist Church, all passed resolutions strongly supporting conscription. The Methodist Church read from their pulpits a circular letter indorsing conscription.


On the last day of the campaign, October 27, the following special appeals were made by Mr. Hughes, the premier, and by Mr. Joseph Cook, leader of the opposition. Mr. Hughes's message was:

"I want to warn the electors of Australia against the methods of the anticonscriptionist party. They will resort to every device to delude and confuse the electors who are going to vote 'Yes.' The most outrageous statements and the grossest misrepresentations will be made to influence the electors. I appeal to the electors to treat those statements with the contempt they deserve. Let them do their duty to the country. Vote 'Yes,' and fear not."

Mr. Cook's message was:

"After a very hard month's campaigning I am leaving for home. My firm opinion is that Australia will vote 'Yes.' She will swing into line with Great Britain on this matter. We shall feel once more the thrill of those lines of Burns:

"'Be Briton still to Britain true,
Among ourselves united.
For never but by British hands
Must British wrongs be righted.'"

Another final message was handed out by Mr. Hughes late Friday night, October 27, as follows:

"Australia expects that every man and woman this day will do their duty and vote 'Yes.'"


One of the sensations of the campaign was the resignation of three of Mr. Hughes's ministers on the day before the polling was to take place. Those who resigned were: Mr. W. G. Higgs, treasurer; Mr. Albert Gardiner, vice president of the executive council and assistant minister for defense; and Senator E. J. Russell, assistant minister. [page 9]

The prime minister, Mr. Hughes, was the leader of a ministry which included five anticonscriptionists and three besides himself who supported his policy for a referendum on conscription.

The reason for the resignation of these ministers was an action of the prime minister's in issuing just before polling day regulations under the war precautions act providing that military questions should be put to voters in the polling booth.


The vote was taken and the final recording was as follows:

The number of votes cast "Yes," or in favor of conscription was ..... 1,084,918

The number of votes cast "No," or against conscription was ..... 1,146,198

Thus it will be seen that a majority was recorded against conscription of ..... 61,280

Probably in no country and on no issue was ever such tremendous influence brought to bear upon the electorate as was exerted in this Australian referendum on conscription. The leaders of both political parties were in favor of the principle. The churches irrespective of creed united in their appeals for it. And yet the measure was defeated decisively. Comment or reflection upon the people's decision unnecessary.

Considering what Australia has done to assist in this great war, in supplying ships, equipping and sending forward her soldiers, the sacrifices at Gallipoli and in France, contributing her money for all necessary purposes, nobody can think for a moment that her decision in this matter of conscription is due to indifference to the cause for which she, the Empire, and the allies are fighting.

In view of the efforts that were made, of the pressure that was exerted by the political leaders of the Commonwealth, and from outside by outstanding personalities, it is evident that the instinctive feeling of democracy against compulsion must have a tremendous hold upon the people there.

There is no more democratic country in the world than Australia. The people cherish free British institutions under which their constitution is formed. They are a thinking people who reason and decide for themselves. When they rejected conscription they did so because they felt it was the proper action to take in a free democratic country. They may also have resented what might well be considered as outside interference.

The whole Empire can well take a lesson from their decision.

{From Information Quarterly, vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 505-506, January, 1917.}



Pursuant to the decision of the Federal Labor caucus, early in September, the question whether compulsory military service should obtain in the Commonwealth for the needs of the war was submitted by the Government to the voters of Australia in the form of a referendum on October 28.

The enlistment situation showed that 103,000 [reinforcements] had been voluntarily enrolled, additional [reinforcements] needed up to July 1, 1917, were 100,000, and 125,000 men were available, who were "fit, single, and without dependents."

The Government's plan was that voluntary recruitment was to be continued; the deficiency to be made up by conscription; men to be called up month by month as required; no compulsory calling up of men under 21 years of age; absolute exemptions otherwise: (1) Only sons; (2) single men who are the sole support of dependents; (3) in families which have already furnished volunteers no calling up of the remaining members up to one-half; the constitution of nonmilitary tribunals to hear appeals for exemption.

The Labor Party, of which Mr. Hughes was a founder, split into two factions over the issue. He, with most of the Federal Labor Party (that is, those members in the Commonwealth Parliament), and some members of the State Labor Governments of New South Wales and South Australia, advocated conscription, and were bitterly opposed by several members of the Federal Party, powerful trade-unionists' bodies in Melbourne and Sydney, and laborite politicians in several state governments.

Mr. Hughes had been expelled from the Political Labor League of New South Wales, but he refused to recognize the action. Other leading laborites were under almost as severe a ban. But Mr. Hughes had the backing of his ordinarily determined political antagonists, the Liberals. [page 10]

On October 4, in view of the approaching referendum and the important part that women voters would play in it, Mr. Hughes issued a manifesto entitled "To the women of Australia." In this he [criticized] the laborite element, which was against conscription, and appealed to the women to vote "yes" on the day of the referendum.

Mr. Higgs, minister of the treasury of the commonwealth; A. Gardiner, vice president of the executive council; and [E.] J. Russell, assistant minister of marine, resigned October 27, because the remainder of the cabinet approved regulations empowering the presiding officers at polling places, during the referendum on conscription, to ask voters who were apparently between 21 and 35 years of age whether they were single and, if so, whether they had reported in accordance with the defense-act proclamation.

Australia voted against conscription, October 28, by a majority of 89,000. Incomplete returns were as follows: For conscription, 798,000; against conscription, 887,000. It was expected that complete returns would show a total of 2,000,000 votes polled. Affirmative majorities were counted in Victoria, West [Australia], and Tasmania; negative majorities in New South Wales and Queensland. The attitude of South Australia had not then been determined.

The large vote against conscription surprised the Government. So certain were the officials that the referendum would result favorably for the policy that, three weeks before, the department of defense had begun calling up single men without dependents and widowers without children with the ultimate purpose of drafting them into the over-sea ranks.

The bitter feeling aroused by Premier Hughes's advocacy of conscription among the labor unions of the country resulted in an attempt on his life, recently, it became known October 30. A man, supposed to have been a member of the labor party, forced his way into the premier's residence in Kew, Victoria, and fired a revolver at Mr. Hughes. The shot missed and the man fled.

The heavy vote against conscription was said to have been mainly due to three causes: First, to the ingrained opposition in the most advanced democracy in the world to anything resembling coercion; second, to a struggle within the labor party for control of the movement; and, third, to the popular feeling in Australia that the war was nearly fought out to victory and that, consequently conscription in Australia was unnecessary.

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