'A' reserve ticket for a pro conscription demonstration held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Monday 10 December 1917 at 8 pm. Authorised by James Hume Cook, Federation and General Secretary, the ticket was printed by G.A. Green.

In 1916 the Australian Government, under Prime Minister Hughes, called for conscription of Australian men as voluntary recruiting did not seem to be producing sufficient numbers to supply the front line. Popular votes were held in 1916 and 1917 on the issue of conscription, which caused great divisions in Australian society and the Australian government. Both votes were defeated and conscription did not occur.

Physical Description

Cream coloured card printed with black text on the obverse and a map of the MCG on the reverse.


Conscription was in fact legislated under the Australian Defence Act, but for service in Australia only. Changing the act to include overseas service did not require a public vote, however the government didn't have the numbers in the Senate, so Prime Minister Billy Hughes decided to put the issue to the Australian public. The vote was held on 28 October 1916, and narrowly defeated (51% to 49%).

A second vote was held on 20 December 1917. This time the Prime Minister had a majority in both houses, but wanted to give the people a chance to voice their opinion on the issue again. Conscription for overseas service was again defeated by a slightly greater margin.

The closeness of the first vote indicates how torn the country was over the issue. Both sides campaigned vigorously, producing badges for their respective supporters, running advertising campaigns in local and national presses, and holding public rallies.

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