Place Oceania: Australia
Accession Number ART94467
Collection type Art
Measurement sheet: 48.3 x 35.4 cm; image: 43.6 x 32.2 cm
Object type Work on paper
Physical description pen and ink with pencil on paper
Maker Lindsay, Norman
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date made 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


First World War cartoon depicting the Prime Minister Billy Hughes standing outside a goal cell door. The door is inscribed "conscription gaoled here 28th Oct 1916".

Published on the front page of the Bulletin magazine on 28 June 1917, this cartoon relates to the First World War conscription debate, a very divisive issue in the Australian community. Above the caption 'Um-m-m' it depicts the then Prime Minister Billy Hughes, stroking his chin, standing outside a goal cell door inscribed "Conscription Gaoled Here 28th OCT 1916". Despite the defeat of the first referendum on that date, the debate about whether conscription was required to compel military service still raged in the community as volunteer numbers were not sufficient to maintain force strength. Following the split of his own political party and with his leadership at stake, it was a difficult decision whether to hold another referundum on the matter. Ultimately, a second referendum was held on 20 December 1917 and was again defeated. The campaign was again bitter and divisive, and defeated by a slightly larger margin.

Norman Lindsay was a highly accomplished artist, author and cartoonist. Joining the Sydney Bulletin in 1901 he worked as a political cartoonist for over fifty years. By 1916 the Bulletin was politically conservative and supported conscription, and Lindsay's artwork propagated the publication's viewpoint. The Bulletin cover can be viewed online via the National Library of Australia: