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image icon Flyer advertising 'The Echo' newspaper, 1916

Flyer advertising 'The Echo' newspaper, 1916
Flyer advertising 'The Echo' newspaper, 1916
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is a flyer, with a note penned by John Curtin (1885-1945) on the reverse, advertising the launch in Melbourne on 16 October 1916 of an anticonscription daily newspaper: 'The Echo'.

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Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset indicates the strong and organised opposition to conscription for military service from the Australian labour movement during the First World War - this flyer was produced by the Trades Union Anti-conscription Committee in Victoria and announced the launch of a daily newspaper in Melbourne to present the 'Anti-Conscription Case and stand for the Industrial and Political Policy of the Workers as formulated by Congress'.
  • This asset reveals, by the emotive language used in the flyer, the bitter class divisions which existed in Australian society at this time and the strong passions aroused by the conscription debate - the flyer accused the 'Capitalist Press' of daily perpetrating 'Lies, Misrepresentations and Suppressions' and promised that 'The Echo' would be 'the PEOPLE'S Newspaper, defending the People's Rights and answering the Conspiracy to Enslave Australia'.
  • This asset indicates, by the appeal for financial assistance and suggestions at the bottom of the flyer, that the anticonscription campaign was at least partially funded by contributions from supporters and that grassroots involvement by members of the community was important to its success - Prime Minister Billy Hughes held two referendums on the issue of military conscription, the first in October 1916 and the second in December 1917, but, on both occasions, the Australian public voted against conscription.
  • This asset reveals John Curtin's involvement in the anticonscription campaign in the First World War - Curtin was secretary of the Trades Union Anti-conscription Committee in Victoria in 1916 and passionately opposed military conscription; however as Australia's Prime Minister (1941-45) during the Second World War, Curtin passed legislation in 1943 to introduce conscription for military service in a limited zone outside Australia.
  • This asset suggests, by John Curtin's handwritten note on the back of the flyer ('Police just raided two printers and are on their way here: we are off'), that the anticonscription movement operated under intense government opposition - the authorities attempted to prevent the printing and distribution of anticonscription literature and, at times, Curtin had to move to a different house each night to keep ahead of the police; Curtin's words capture some of the immediacy and excitement of the campaign.