A message from David Cragg, Victorian Trades Hall Council

Trades Hall Fence 1

On 11-12 May 1916, the THC convened an All-Australia Trade Union Anti-Conscription Conference at the Melbourne Trades Hall.  (Please note that this was some 11 years before the ACTU was established.) The successful conference resolved unanimously to oppose the introduction of conscription for military service in Europe and resolved unanimously to support solicitor and state MP Maurice Blackburn’s proposal that the issue of conscription be put to a plebiscite of Australian men and women voters, rather than be introduced by parliamentary vote. The conference appointed John Curtin, secretary of the Timber Workers Union, as secretary of the Anti-conscription Campaign Committee.

This firm initiative by unions resulted in the Victorian and NSW executives of the ALP locking in behind opposition to conscription and support for a popular vote on the issue. Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes, then in England and promising to the British Government that conscription would be introduced, returned to Australia to find majority support in the labor movement united against him.

A meeting will be held to mark the centenary of this landmark event in Australia’s history:

5.00pm (to finish no later than 7.00pm),  Wednesday 11 May 2016, New Council Chambers, Trades Hall

A documentary will be shown, and a brief outline given of upcoming events in 2016 to mark centenaries of the defeat of the First Conscription Plebiscite (Friday 28 October) and the ratting of Hughes and others on the Federal Labor Party (Monday 14 November).

For further information, contact David Cragg.

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