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What is the history of conscription in Australia?

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September 26, 2008 10:04AM

Conscription in Australia was in place in varying degrees from

1911. Prior to World War I, the ALP began a system of compulsory

military training for all males aged between 12 and 26 from January

1 1911. ALP Prime Minister Billy Hughes attempted to introduce full

conscription during WWI by means of a referendum in October 1916,

which was followed by another, but both were unsuccessful. With the

start of WWII in 1939, all unmarried men aged 21 were to be called

up for three months' compulsory combat training, but they were not

to fight anywhere other than in Australia or its territories. In

1942, all men aged 18-35, and single men aged 35-45, were required

to join the Citizens Military Forces (CMF), but were still not

required to fight neyond Australian territories. these were the men

who fought so bravely to defend the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea.

After the bombings of Darwin and Western Australia, the

Commonwealth Government enacted laws to enable conscripted

servicemen to be sent to any areas south of the Equator in South

East Asia. 1945 saw the end of conscription in Australia for a

short time. However, as a result of escalating tensions between the

Soviet bloc and the West, Sir Robert Menzies introduced

conscription as National Service for men 18 and over. In the 1960s,

under this system, 20 year old men were conscripted by being

selected through a ballot of birthdays, to serve for two years in

regular army units. This was amended to allow these conscripts to

serve overseas. Between 1965 and 1972, when conscription ended with

the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, 63,000 men were conscripted

by ballot.

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