This Day in History: 1916-10-28

The 1916 Australian referendum on compulsory military service was held.

“It was the first non-binding Australian referendum and contained one question. This referendum was held due to Prime Minister Billy Hughes’ desire to conscript young Australian men for overseas service during World War 1. It was conducted under the Military Service Referendum Act 1916. The Australian government already had powers sufficient to introduce overseas conscription. However, due to the controversial nature of the measure and a lack of clear parliamentary support, Hughes took the issue to a public vote to obtain symbolic, rather than legal, sanction for the move. The referendum sparked a divisive debate that split the public and the Labor Party in the process, and resulted in a close but clear rejection of the measure.” (quoting Wikipedia)

The polling places in the Bolgart and Toodyay districts of the Dampier were:  Bolgart (Agricultural Hall), Coondle (State School), Culham (Agricultural Hall), Deepdale (Church Hall), Newnyle (Agricultural Hall), Toodyay (Road Board Chambers), Wongamine (Agricultural Hall).

The result was a national No vote, but a Yes vote in Western Australia. Results: National: Yes: 1,087,557 (48.38%); No: 1,160,044 (51.61%); Informal: 61,013. WA: Yes: 94,069 (69.71%); No: 40,884 (30.29%); Informal: 5,695.

Sources:
Toodyay herald TH, 21 Oct. 1916, p.2; 28 Oct. 1916, p.2; 4 Nov. 1916, p.4.
Wikipedia: ‘1916 Australian conscription referendum’ (viewed 8 June 2022): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1916_Australian_conscription_referendum