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The Australian Labor Party (ALP) split over conscription has usually been interpreted as arising from the actions of William Morris (Billy) Hughes on the one side, in conflict with various forces within the labour movement on the other. However, this bipolar view ignores the role of the Governor-General Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson who had been proactive in Australian domestic politics from 1914 in order to maximise the war effort on Britain's behalf and to enhance his own office. His firm belief that conscription was necessary and Hughes was the only man capable of being Prime Minister led him to work behind the scenes to secure those objectives. He was also suspicious of the ALP and its ties with the Catholic community that he saw as linked to Irish disloyalty and so supported counter-intelligence measures against them. This article examines how this largely overlooked vice-regal involvement contributed to the political upheaval in this period.


School of Arts

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Journal Article

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