At the outbreak of the Second World War a new volunteer army was raised and sent for service overseas, while members of the Citizen Military Forces (CMF) remained in Australia to ensure home defence. At that time the defence of Australia included the defence of Australian territories in Papua and New Guinea, and when the Japanese entered the war, members of the CMF fought together with the AIF in New Guinea. The Labor Party was again in power, and in November 1942 Prime Minister John Curtin argued at a special Federal Conference of the Labor Party that it was necessary for the war effort to extend government powers to compel service in the South-West Pacific Area, which comprised Australia, New Guinea, the Philippines and The Netherlands East Indies. Despite opposition, a bill was passed on 19 February 1943 that obliged soldiers in the CMF to serve in Australia, all of the island of New Guinea and the adjacent islands. This was called the South-West Pacific Zone.

Sources

  • Peter Dennis et al., The Oxford companion to Australian military history (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1995)
  • T.B. Millar, Committee of Inquiry into the Citizen Military Forces Report, March 1974 (Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service, 1974)

Men of the 29th/46th Battalion have a short spell after plodding up a steep, muddy road north of Gusika, AWM 016294
New Guinea , November 1943. Men of the 29th/46th Battalion have a short spell after plodding up a steep, muddy road north of Gusika, where they inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese.
AWM 016294