Government powers <ul><li>The war saw governments take on new and wide powers over aspects of people’s lives. One of its major actions was to pass the War Precautions Act. The Act gave the Commonwealth great jurisdiction - powers that were far greater than it would have under peace conditions. </li></ul><ul><li>The War Precautions Act and the Defence Act gave the Commonwealth authority to make laws about anything that affected the war effort. </li></ul><ul><li>The other great change was that many of these new powers available to the Commonwealth were able to be exercisable under Regulation, meaning that parliament did not have to pass the law, all it required was a document prepared by the relevant Minister, and signed by the Governor-General. So in effect parliament lost much of its control during the war, and laws were made by a few Ministers. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Some of the major activities carried out under the authority of the War Precautions Act by the Commonwealth were: </li></ul><ul><li>Passing Trading With the Enemy Acts that cancelled existing commercial contracts with firms in enemy countries. </li></ul><ul><li>Creating loans to raise money for the war. </li></ul><ul><li>Taking on power to tax incomes - they shared this with the States, who previously had this power for themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Fixing the price of many goods - something that the Constitution did not give the Commonwealth the prerogative to do normally. </li></ul><ul><li>Interning (locking up) without trial people who were born in or had an association with enemy countries. </li></ul><ul><li>Compulsorily buying farmers’ wheat and wool crops. </li></ul><ul><li>Censoring publications and letters. </li></ul>
Conscription <ul><li>In 1916 Prime Minister Hughes proposed raising the numbers needed to maintain Australian troops at full strength at the Front by conscripting those who to date were unwilling or opposed to enlisting to fight. </li></ul>The government already had the power under the existing provisions of the Defence Act to conscript men - but only for service in Australia. They could not be sent overseas to fight. All the government needed to do was to change the Defence Act to extend the existing power of conscription for home service, to overseas service.
Some members of the Labor Government were against conscription. To overcome this problem Hughes decided to hold a national vote on the issue, a referendum. The supporters and opponents of conscription started campaigning vigorously on the issue. The campaign literature of each side was often bitter and divisive. Each side presented its side as the moral and loyal thing to do, while the other’s approach would be disastrous. The vote was very close - with conscription being rejected 51 to 49 per cent.
Women’s role and place <ul><li>At the outbreak of war far fewer women than men participated in work, and these tended to be in lower-paid occupations. Women’s main role was seen to be in the home. </li></ul><ul><li>The withdrawal of about half a million men most of whom had been in the workforce did not, however, result in their direct replacement by women. Women’s contribution to the workforce rose from 24 per cent of the total in 1914 to 37 per cent in 1918, but the increase tended to be in what were already traditional areas of women’s work - in the clothing and footwear, food and printing sectors. There was some increase also in the clerical, shop assistant and teaching areas. Unions were unwilling to let women join the workforce in greater numbers in traditional male areas as they feared that this would lower wages. </li></ul>
A number of women’s organisations became very active during the war - including the Australian Women’s National League, the Australian Red Cross, the Country Women’s Association, the Voluntary Aid Detachment, the Australian Women’s Service Corps, and the Women’s Peace Army.One of the most active groups was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which succeeded in having hotel hours restricted in several States. Many women were also actively involved in encouraging men to enlist, and were often used in recruiting and pro- and anti-conscription propaganda leaflets. Cartoon from 'The Worker' 10 February 1916. The cartoon depicts a situation in which a returned soldier is being rejected for employment because the business is able to pay lower wages for females.
Oral history We began hearing a lot about 'the war effort' and people stopped saying the war would be over in six months, or even a year. Whenever I came home from school, the house was full of women clicking knitting needles and manipulating dark wool, and making huge quantities of socks, vests, mittens and mufflers, as well as sewing pyjamas and shirts. Mum ran Red Cross classes with first aid and bandage rolling... Mum, who was a leading light in the CWA (Country Women's Association) as well as the Red Cross, spent more and more of her time on the war effort... Nora Pennington, the good little girl who had written the composition about Gallipoli, was the school's champion sock knitter. At lunchtime and recess she sat with her ankles neatly crossed and her boots buttoned, turning the heels of the socks very prettily. She eventually won the district record for the number of socks, mufflers, mittens and balaclava helmets knitted by anybody under the age of thirteen; her father made sure that the news reached the front page of his paper, with the heading 'LITTLE NORA DOES HER BIT'. The rest of us longed to grab her knitting, rip the stitches out and snarl the wool for her. David Gleason in Jacqueline Kent, 'In The Half LIght', Doubleday Sydney 1988 pp56-58
‘ The enemy within’ <ul><li>This was the phrase often used to describe ‘enemy aliens’ - non-naturalised residents of Australia who had been born in countries that were now the enemy. </li></ul><ul><li>The 1911 census showed that there were 33,381 German-born residents in Australia, most of whom lived in South Australia and Queensland. These German citizens had to register at local police stations. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the war caused many Australians to turn against their German neighbours, even though they may even have been naturalised and had sons fighting in the AIF. This hostile attitude was sometimes the result of jealousy, but was also encouraged by the crude official anti-German propaganda. Local authorities also often trampled on the human rights of these people with unjustified searches, surveillance and arrest. 4500 ‘Germans’ were interned during the war, 700 of whom were naturalised and 70 Australian born. At the end of the war, 6150 Germans and other enemy alien nationals were deported. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the majority of German nationals living in Australia managed mostly to escape public notice and persecution. </li></ul>
Sport <ul><li>During the war there were many calls for normal entertainments such as competitive sport to be abandoned. This was mainly because it was felt that the continuation of sport distracted people’s attention from the serious business of the war - and also because competitive sport seemed to be a flaunting by eligible young men of the fact that they had not volunteered to fight. It was a sign of less than total commitment to the war. Amateur sports did tend to stop for the duration, but the semi-professional football competitions continued. </li></ul>
Recruiting <ul><li>Continued casualties led to great recruiting campaigns. The strongest believers in the war could not understand how others in society might not share their attitude that the war demanded every person’s full and total commitment. Nothing else was of any importance until the war was won. </li></ul><ul><li>Others, however, believed that there were other priorities that still should be pursued - particularly when the economic costs of the war pushed wages down and prices up. These people believed that the war was being fought for a particular way of life - and it was patriotic to maintain that way of life during the war. </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘patriots’ tried to gain recruits for the war. There were two ways in which this could be done: by ‘persuasion’, or by ‘force’. ‘Persuasion’ involved appealing to the individual’s sense of what was right and wrong to do in the circumstances; ‘force’ involved accusation, confrontation and guilt. </li></ul>
These four posters show the difference between the approaches:
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