By Sue Langford

Appendix from Peter Edwards, A nation at war : Australian politics, society and diplomacy during the Vietnam War 1965–1975. The official history of Australia's involvement in Southeast Asian conflicts 1948-1975, volume VI (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1997)
 

The National Service scheme was introduced by the Menzies Government in November 1964 and operated until December 1972, when the newly elected Whitlam Labor Government suspended it. The scheme was based on a birthday ballot of twenty-year-old men who had registered their names with the Department of Labour and National Service (DLNS). If balloted in, these men were called up to perform two years' continuous full-time service in the Regular Army Supplement, followed by three years' part-time service in the Regular Army Reserve. National servicemen on full-time duty were liable for what was called 'special overseas service', which included combat duties in Vietnam. When the scheme was introduced the Government planned to raise 4200 servicemen during the second half of 1965, then 6900 annually thereafter. This would create the desired Army strength of 37 500 full-time soldiers. In August 1965 Menzies announced that from 1966 the annual intake would be maintained at 8400 (two intakes of 4200), resulting in an Army strength of 40 000. He explained that the Government's decision had been made 'in the light of the successful introduction of the national service scheme and bearing in mind all the various commitments, at home and abroad, which our forces might be required to undertake'.

The role of the DLNS in operating the scheme was to handle all matters dealing with call-up of national servicemen from the time of registration to the time service commenced in the Regular Army Supplement. The department administered all aspects involving registration, selection and examinations and answered questions concerning deferment or exemption from call-up. The day-to-day operation of the scheme was largely handled by the department's regional offices in the capital cities and, in country areas, by offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service.

Registration

The national service scheme required most men who turned twenty years of age and who were 'ordinarily resident' in Australia to register with the DLNS. Men turning twenty who were temporarily absent from the country at the time of their birthday were required to register within fourteen days of returning. From June 1968 men turning twenty who intended to travel overseas could not do so without first obtaining permission from the DLNS, while airline and shipping companies were not to issue tickets to men in the twenty-year age group without first obtaining a departmental certificate. However, the Government could neither prevent men liable to register from travelling to New Zealand, for which a passport was not required, nor prevent them from obtaining and using British passports, after which the Government had no way of tracing the men's movements.

The registration process involved filling in a form at a local national service registration office. There were two registration periods each year, each lasting a fortnight and widely publicized. The first, in January, was for men who turned twenty in the first half of the year. The second, in July, was for men turning twenty in the second half. Failure to register was an offence. Those who did not register without reasonable explanation were automatically balloted in and considered for call-up. They were also liable to be fined. Although men were legally required to register within their registration period, in practice registration was accepted without penalty up to the date of the ballot.

Young men who had reached the age of eighteen years and nine months, and men aged twenty who had been granted indefinite deferment or exemption, could volunteer for national service. Volunteers could also request to serve in limited duties of a non-combatant nature.

The ballot

As the number of twenty-year-old men was greater than the number needed for the annual intakes, a ballot was held about four to six weeks after the close of each registration period to select those to be considered for callup. Selection for military service by ballot had been introduced with the approval of Cabinet in 1957 for an earlier national service scheme, and the selection procedures adopted then were unchanged. Numbered marbles, each representing two birthdates, were placed in a barrel. A predetermined number of marbles were drawn randomly by hand, one at a time. One hundred and eighty-one marbles were placed in the first ballot barrel, and 184 in the others. The number drawn depended on statistical calculations by the DLNS not only of the final number of national servicemen needed for military service, but also of how many registrants were expected to apply for exemption or were already exempt from service, and of how many were entitled to indefinite or temporary deferment. The calculation also made allowances for those classified as medically unfit. Once the ballot was completed, the results were sent to DLNS State offices which held registration records. Within a month, all affected by the ballot knew if they were 'balloted in' or 'balloted out'. The former received a letter informing them of their rights to apply for exemption or deferment; the latter were told they were under no further obligation and were indefinitely deferred.

The Government went to great lengths to ensure that the ballot was conducted in a fair, equal and random manner. The drawing of the ballot was conducted as a ceremony under the supervision of a representative of the Government and the marbles were drawn by a 'distinguished citizen' not associated with the administration of the scheme. The procedure was supervised by senior officers of the army and the DLNS, and the marbles drawn were checked and crosschecked in the DLNS central office. The ceremony, up to the drawing of the first marble, was open to representatives of the press, radio and television, but the drawing of marbles was conducted in secret.

Also secret for the first eleven of the sixteen ballots were the birthdates that the drawn marbles represented, for the Government wished to make it impossible both for the public to deduce the results of the ballots and for men whose national service obligation had been indefinitely deferred to deduce whether deferral had been granted as a result of the ballot or on other grounds discussed below. The Government had three main reasons for such secrecy. First, it believed that publishing the ballot results would encourage men to register only after their ballot, having first waited to see which birthdays were drawn. This could assist those who desired to escape national service and add to the DLNS administrative workload. Second, the Government was concerned that some members of the public might study the mathematical probability of the same numbers falling in successive ballots. The Government was convinced that such study could not lead to successful evasion, but it might prompt some registrants to give false birthdates and, again, increase the administrative workload substantially. Third, as not all those balloted in were called up, the Government did not want to be put in the position of explaining why some men balloted in were not called up. The DLNS believed that this could lead to delicate situations and a breach of confidentiality between the department and registrants, especially those with mental or physical illness or defects, or those considered a security risk. Growing criticism and suspicion of the secrecy of the ballot led to increasing pressure on the Government to publish the birthdates. In 1970 the DLNS examined the ballot arrangements and on 12 June that year the Minister for Labour and National Service, Billy Snedden, announced that the ballot dates would be published from September

Deferments and exemptions

Indefinite deferments were granted to registrants who married before callup; to those with a serious criminal record or who posed a security risk; and to those who had joined the part-time Citizen Military Forces, Citizen Naval Force or Citizen Air Force.

Two provisions enabled youths to enlist in the Citizen Forces rather than undertake national service. They could enlist before their twentieth birthday and give at least one year's effective service, and were required to continue to give a further five years' service. Alternatively, they could join the Citizen Forces before the ballot for their age group and, provided they were accepted for service in the Citizen Forces, were obliged to serve for six years. The Government soon became aware of a loophole in these provisions. If balloted out, youths were able to resign from the Citizen Forces immediately afterwards. The Government soon closed the loophole and from 8 December 1965 registrants who had enlisted in the Citizen Forces had to serve a total of six years irrespective of whether they were balloted in or out. In addition, youths who did not serve efficiently in the Citizen Forces were liable for call-up.

Although genuine service in the Citizen Military Forces was an alternative to national service, part-time military units were not always located at a convenient distance from farming areas, and naval and air force units were generally based in the capital cities. After eighteen months of lobbying from members of the rural community and members of the Country Party, Cabinet decided on 19 May 1966 to create special Citizen Military Forces units in each State in which men could serve in one or two concentrated periods each year rather than at the usual night parades and short camps throughout the year. Farmers, seasonal workers and others who could not join or train with normal units because of the nature of their employment or because there were no units nearby were entitled to join, and were required to serve for six years. Men wishing to enlist in the special units had to do so before the national service ballot was drawn for their age group. As the special units did not exist at the time of the first three registrations for national service, men granted twelve months' deferment from the first three registrations on grounds of exceptional hardship were later given the option to join.

Temporary deferments were available to men on grounds of exceptional hardship or compassion, and to students, apprentices and trainees at universities, teachers' colleges and technical colleges to avoid interrupting training for primary qualifications or for apprenticeship. Part-time students whose study was connected to their career or employment were also eligible. Temporary deferment on grounds of exceptional hardship was mostly claimed by youths working on family farms. If granted, temporary deferment applied for no more than a year at a time, though registrants could apply for further deferments, and liability for call-up continued until the age of 26 or, for those undertaking university courses requiring lengthy training, until 30. Each application was considered on its merits, and granted to students and apprentices subject to satisfactory progress in their course or apprenticeship. Graduate students liable for national service could not proceed to a further degree without reapplying for temporary deferment. Such deferments were determined case by case. In a press release in September 1965 the Minister for Labour and National Service, William McMahon, stated that: 'Students can not expect to have their deferment extended if they fail to be diligent in their studies'.2 In June 1968 the National Service Act was amended so that national servicemen could be granted leave without pay for twelve months if national service would impose exceptional hardship. If such hardship had existed for some time and was expected to continue to exist, national servicemen could be granted indefinite deferment by a magistrate's court.

In October 1965 the DLNS considered whether national service for brothers of national servicemen, for only sons, or for twins and triplets constituted hardship. Although it was recognised that the call-up of an only son or more than one son in a family could result in hardship, no man was exempted from service obligations on the grounds of family circumstances. The justification for this was that liability for service rested on the individual, not the family. In March 1967 the Minister for the Army, Malcolm Fraser, was asked about his department's attitude towards the call-up of a youth whose brother had been killed or seriously injured. Fraser stated that in such cases, his department would see 'that the family would not experience an undue share of the burden in that conflict', but no guarantee was given. In May the following year, the issue was brought before Cabinet, where it was deemed impractical to amend existing arrangements.

Claims for exemption from national service were considered only after the ballot had been drawn. Three grounds were recognised: physical or mental disability, occupation and conscience. Men with physical and mental disabilities were exempt if those disabilities were proscribed by legislation. The only men automatically exempted on occupational grounds were theological students, ministers of religion and members of religious orders. Students at a theological college were exempt from national service as long as their employment on which the exemption was based continued until they reached the age of 26. Several objections to this exemption were voiced. One was that those seeking a religious occupation were granted special privileges given to no one else. Another objection, made by some theological students themselves, was that automatic exemption did not allow them to protest against national service by not cooperating with the system. Various lobby groups, including the National Union of Australian University Students, asked the Government to make practitioners of certain other professions also automatically exempt from national service. The Government rejected the proposal, wishing to give the Army men with a variety of skills and to share the burden of military service as equally as possible. Claims for exemption based on occupation and disability were considered by registrars in the DLNS; rejected claimants could take the matter before a court.

Section 29A of the National Service Act provided that a person whose conscientious beliefs did not allow him to engage in any form of military service could be exempted, provided he sincerely held those beliefs. Those objecting to national service, or merely to combatant duties while performing it, had to prove their beliefs to a court at their own expense. They were also obliged to register for national service and, after receiving a certificate of registration, to then apply for exemption to a DLNS State registrar by submitting a form setting out their objection. If an applicant was balloted out and so granted indefinite deferment, the application expired. If balloted in, he underwent checks by the DLNS to see if he was entitled to exemption, indefinite deferment or temporary deferment on other grounds. He was also given the opportunity to undergo a medical examination so that if found unfit he need not take his application further.

Applications that survived this filtering process were decided in State lower courts, where an applicant had to demonstrate before a magistrate that he had formed his beliefs from religious or moral premises, or that he genuinely adhered to the beliefs of a religious group that opposed military service. However, a man's beliefs did not have to be of a religious nature or part of the doctrines of a religion. In court the Minister for Labour and National Service was represented by a barrister, solicitor or officer of the DLNS. The magistrate was obliged to consider the extent to which the applicant's evidence was true, how long he had held his beliefs, how he had formed them, and to what extent he upheld them. It was up to the magistrate to decide whether the registrant was to undertake any military service and, if so, what form of military service. If a magistrate decided against an applicant, the latter was entitled to appeal to a court of review: a District, County or Supreme Court, depending on the State. If dissatisfied after a decision on appeal, the applicant could take his case to the full bench of the State Supreme Court. The final step was to take the case to the High Court of Australia. National service registrants who had applied and failed in courts on the grounds of conscientious objection and who subsequently failed to report for service were prosecuted.

State courts were independent of the administration of national service, and each had its own arrangements for hearing conscientious objection cases and applications for deferment of national service on grounds of exceptional hardship, and for trying acts of non-compliance with the National Service Act. In metropolitan New South Wales, for example, a Court of Petty Sessions was established to deal with all national service offences, and one magistrate was designated to hear all cases. In rural New South Wales, applications for conscientious objector status were heard in the Court of Petty Sessions by any one of a number of magistrates on rotation. In country Victoria, national service cases were heard in 'normal courts' in the 'normal course of business', while in Melbourne the Chief Stipendiary Magistrate assigned special courts, in which any one of half a dozen magistrates would preside, for hearing conscientious objector and exceptional hardship cases. The fact that one magistrate decided all conscientious objector cases in Sydney while elsewhere a pool of magistrates was used led to a degree of debate. It was argued that it was more difficult to obtain total exemption on the grounds of conscientious objection in Sydney than in Melbourne and that the decisions of magistrates were based upon their personal values rather than the law.

After amendments to the National Service Act in June 1968, men who had already commenced national service were also entitled to apply for exemption on the grounds of conscience. The process was the same for those who registered and applied for total or partial exemption. After filing for conscientious objector status, the serving soldier was granted leave without pay until his application was heard.

On several occasions Cabinet and Parliament discussed whether the national service scheme should allow some form of civilian service for those with conscientious objections to military activity. In December 1967 the Minister for Labour and National Service, Leslie Bury, brought before Cabinet draft amendments to the Act which proposed such service. Bury's amendments were rejected because of the small number of people eligible, the possibility of increased pressure on the Government to extend the civilian alternative to those who opposed military service on non-religious grounds, and doubts whether the Constitution permitted the idea. Another argument was that a civilian alternative would erode the primary object of the scheme and be seen as favourable treatment for those who did not wish to undertake military service. In 1968 the Cabinet acknowledged that the pressure for dealing with conscientious objectors could increase.3 Concerned that enforcement of compliance with national service was proving counterproductive, Cabinet again discussed the introduction of a civilian alternative in February 1970. It estimated that by the end of the year there could be as many as 50 men serving two-year gaol sentences in prison, and even more in following years, and argued that the existence of a civilian alternative would undermine any popular support for the arguments and actions of evaders.4 On 27 May 1970, less than three weeks after the first Moratorium campaign ended, Cabinet decided that men convicted of refusing to undertake military service should have the option of carrying out road-building and development projects in the outback.' Men who failed to accept call-up would continue to be prosecuted, but on conviction would be given the opportunity to undertake civilian work rather than having to undergo two years' imprisonment. On 11 June Cabinet rescinded the decision, noting that although it was both 'equitable and practicable', it was 'unworkable'. On the same day, Cabinet discussed whether conscientious objection to a particular war should be respected, but decided against it.

Medical, fitness, educational and security examinations

The standards of fitness required for national service in the Regular Army Supplement were the same as those for voluntary service in the Regular Army. Prospective national servicemen underwent three examinations. To avoid loss of working time, most were held on weekday evenings or on Saturdays. Men balloted in who failed to report for a medical examination or deceived or obstructed a Medical Board were fined $100.

The first examination was conducted by one of the medical boards, usually consisting of two casually employed civilian doctors, that were convened at various centres around Australia and performed their task according to standards laid down by the DLNS. This examination consisted of a study of the man's medical history, a physical examination, and a urinalysis to check albumen and sugar. A chest x-ray was conducted if the man passed these tests. Doctors were instructed not to risk passing men who might become medical liabilities in action. Prospective national servicemen were then placed in one of four categories: A, or medically fit for all service duties and to be called up in the next intake; B. not at present meeting the required standards and to be called up and examined again; C, unfit for service; and D, unfit for service and advised to seek medical advice or treatment. The number of men classified unfit after this examination increased each year. In 1965, 37.7 per cent of men examined failed to meet Army standards; in 1967 and 1970 the failure rate was 51.2 per cent. Three factors may explain the rise. First, it has been suggested that the increase was due to exploitation of the system. Several doctors in Victoria believed that a growing number of young men sought outside medical advice, such as that given by groups opposed to national service, and took 'various tablets and potions' to become unfit.6 Secondly, it is also possible that a growing number of civilian doctors on medical boards sympathised with men who were unwilling to undertake national service. Thirdly, the examination became more rigorous as a consequence of the rising number of national servicemen killed in Vietnam.

The second examination was an interview, in which men were asked details of their education and employment history so the Army could use what occupational skills they possessed. Men who had not obtained the Intermediate Certificate at school were required to sit an aptitude test conducted by a psychologist. The third examination was a security and character check, carried out with the assistance of the Attorney-General's Department, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and the Commonwealth Police, and was based on documents obtained without the subject's knowledge. Those who had been convicted of minor offences were usually passed. Those considered a security risk or who held a criminal record for a character which would make them unsuitable soldiers' received indefinite deferrals. Probation officers were involved in assessing whether 'borderline' cases such as parolees should be called up.

Those who did not request deferment and who passed the medical, security and criminal checks were then called up for national service. A formal notice instructed them to report for Army service at a specific time and place. The notice was normally sent a month before the date to report. On reporting, men underwent a further medical examination, this time conducted by Army doctors.

Conditions and obligations of service

Men who passed the final medical examination served for two years fulltime in the Regular Army Supplement and a further three years part-time in the Regular Army Reserve. An initial ten weeks' recruit training was followed by three months of corps training, after which national servicemen could then usually apply for posting to any corps. They were not always successful in obtaining the posting of their choice. In October 1971 the length of full-time service was reduced from two years to eighteen months and the length of liability for service in the Reserve increased from three years to three and a half. National servicemen could volunteer for an additional period of service at any time.

All national servicemen were liable for military service in Australia and overseas, or 'special overseas service', while with the Army full-time. Officially, national servicemen could not be posted according to their wishes and therefore could not choose whether or not they served in Vietnam, although a national serviceman could apply to his commanding officer to remain in Australia on compassionate grounds. The general impression given by serving Army officers at the time is that more national servicemen were keen to serve in Vietnam than were needed, and that those unwilling to serve there were transferred to units serving only in Australia. Commanding officers were understandably reluctant to have any soldier who actively opposed participation in the war and who therefore might be a danger to other members of the unit. For most of the war the Government denied that this practice existed. In September 1971, with the level of Australian involvement in Vietnam decreasing markedly, the Minister for the Army, Andrew Peacock, stated that although national servicemen would continue to be sent to Vietnam, they would not be compelled to go.9

National servicemen received the same pay and service benefits as Regular Army volunteers. Naturally, the Army provided free meals, accommodation, uniforms and work clothes, and medical, dental and hospital treatment. Unmarried soldiers of private rank were paid $34.16 a week in 1966, married privates $45.71. Extra pay margins were awarded if soldiers qualified at trade courses conducted at Army schools and were employed in that trade in their units. An additional combat allowance was awarded during service overseas. Other benefits included the following:

  • Three weeks' annual leave, with free travel, except for married soldiers whose families lived in the station area.

  • After two years' service, a gratuity of $80. If discharged on medical grounds before completing two years' service, a gratuity of not less than $40.

  • After two years' continuous service, an additional seven days' leave with pay or one week's extra pay.

  • If holding Intermediate Certificate at time of call-up, permission to study on Army time to gain Matriculation level. If matriculated at time of call-up, entitlement to undertake two years of a three-year university degree course by correspondence at the Army's expense.

  • Free legal advice for those requiring assistance on matters relating to financial commitments and re-entry to civil employment. Those sent to 'special service areas' overseas such as Vietnam, and the dependents of such men, were also entitled to settle their affairs at the Army's expense before leaving Australia.

  • Eligibility for legal protection from finance agreements including mortgages, debts, contracts and hire purchase agreements made before the national serviceman received his call-up notice. What amounted to financial assistance from the Army continued after the end of full-time service. If the full-time service was less than a year, the period was set at equal to the length of time served.

  • Training under the National Service Vocational Training Scheme where the Army believed a national serviceman's skills could be supplemented by a course of study or a refresher course, whether full-time, part-time or by correspondence, or if the serviceman had no job to return to on completing national service. The scheme covered the cost of post-discharge training, including compulsory fees, travel fares, textbooks and equipment, and a living allowance for those studying full-time.

  • Transfer whenever requested or on completion of national service to the Australian Regular Army. The minimum service obligation in the Regular Army was three or six years.

  • Eligibility for promotion to non-commissioned and commissioned ranks and to apply to be sent to the Officer Training Unit after commencement of basic training. National servicemen who in civil life were doctors or dentists or who held a commercial pilot's licence were also considered for officer training.

  • From 1968, membership of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefit scheme, giving national servicemen and their dependents invalidity, death and retirement cover.

  • Cover under the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees' Compensation Act for service-caused death or injury.

  • Pensions, medical treatment and war-service-home rights under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act for those injured or killed in Vietnam on service.

The Army was obliged to make effective use of the trade skills of national servicemen. Subject to vacancies, these men were employed in the Arrny in their civilian occupation, though the Army could not guarantee that every skilled man would be so employed. Early in the administration of the scheme, after a large number of students and apprentices called up in the first two ballots had deferred their national service obligation, the DLNS became concerned about the potentially large number of skilled men liable for national service once the students and apprentices completed their training. There was also a fear of resistance from trade unions (particularly metalworking and electrical industry unions) as the Army would not be able to employ all national servicemen in their professional occupations. DLNS concerns appear to have been dispelled when subsequent intakes proved it had overestimated the numbers of deferments.

Re-establishment benefits and reinstatement protection

Re-establishment and civilian employment benefits were intended 'to protect the interests of national servicemen in relation to their reinstatement in civilian employment', 'to protect obligations they have entered into before becoming liable for national service', and 'to facilitate the re-settlement of national servicemen in civil life on completion of period of continuous national service'. The following benefits were provided:

  • A loan of up to $3000 for a business or up to $6000 for agricultural expenses where a national serviceman needed to be re-established in a business, profession or occupation. Interest was set at 4.5 per cent a year, and the first $100 was interest-free.

  • Housing grants under the Commonwealth Home Savings Grants scheme. Those who served overseas in a 'special service' capacity could qualify for assistance in building or purchasing a home under the War Service Homes Act.

  • As mentioned before, training under the national service vocational training scheme was available if a serviceman had no job to return to on completing national service.

On 30 May 1969 the Government announced additional benefits for national servicemen who volunteered to extend their fulltime service of two years by a further three months. These included post-discharge vocational training, re-establishment loans to assist in a business, profession or occupation including farming, and rehabilitation treatment and training. The last was available to those not eligible for repatriation benefits but who required medical treatment and training for 'effective' resettlement. Those discharged before 30 May 1969 could apply for the new benefits within six months.

Reinstatement protection was offered to national servicemen who completed two years' full-time service. On completion of service, they were entitled to resume work in their previous employment provided they had been with their employer for at least 30 days before being issued with a call-up notice. Employers were not permitted to sack national servicemen, and their long service leave and superannuation credits were to be preserved.

Suffrage and discharge to stand election

In May 1966 the Government introduced an amendment to the Electoral Act which gave the vote to members of the Defence Force under 21 years of age who had served or were serving on 'special duty' in a 'special area' as defined in the Repatriation Act. National servicemen under 21 serving on 'special duty' in South Vietnam, the Borneo States of Malaysia, on the Malayan peninsula and in Singapore were thus given the option to vote in the 1966 and 1969 federal elections. Full-time Regular Army officers and men serving in the armed forces who wished to stand for election or to take a seat in the Commonwealth Parliament had to be discharged before standing for election. Initially, national servicemen could not be discharged for this reason. Before the 1966 election the legislation was altered so that national servicemen who were 'bona fide candidates' could be discharged to contest it at the discretion of the Military Board. Three stood for seats in the 1966 election. One was 21-year-old Brian King, who had made numerous unsuccessful attempts to be granted exemption from national service. With the support of Youth Campaign Against Conscription, King stood as an Independent against the Minister for Labour and National Service, Leslie Bury, for the Sydney seat of Wentworth. King was unsuccessful and performed the rest of his national service.

Men not required to register

Men not required to register for national service were: Aborigines as defined by the National Service Act; members of the Permanent Armed Forces (which included the Regular Army) and former members who had served at least two years; United Nations staff; official personnel from foreign governments living in Australia; and, until January 1967, non-British subjects.

'Full-blooded aboriginal natives, half-caste aboriginal natives and persons who have an admixture of aboriginal blood and live as aboriginal natives or amongst aborigines' were exempted from registration, but even such precise language occasionally permitted problems in determining liability." Throughout the duration of the national service scheme the DLNS was criticised by other government departments for exempting Aboriginals and repeatedly urged to remove the exemption. The department held that it would be impossible to trace and oblige young Aboriginal men to register, as many of them did not know their birthdate. Not all States kept birth records of Aboriginals, and each defined Aboriginality differently. Aboriginal Australians could, however, volunteer for national service. The National Service Act did not refer to Torres Strait Islanders. As their dates of birth were usually recorded, the DLNS considered them liable to register but was lenient towards those who did not, for it considered that the scheme was insufficiently publicised in the Torres Strait Islands." No action was taken against non-registering Torres Strait Islanders before September 1967.

Non-naturalised immigrants living in Australia who were not from the United Kingdom were not required to register when the national service scheme was introduced, in keeping with Regular Army regulations which did not allow non-British immigrants to enlist unless they intended to be naturalised. Thus the only immigrant twenty-year-olds or 21-year-old sons of immigrants required to register were British subjects living in Australia and immigrants who were under sixteen years and living in Australia at the time of their parents naturalisation. The waiving of non-British immigrants' obligation for national service came under criticism from the public, the press and Parliament on the grounds that immigrants living in Australia should have the same responsibilities as Australian nationals. After considerable debate and close examination, particularly over whether the call-up of immigrants was consistent with international law, Cabinet endorsed the proposal that non-British subjects 'ordinarily resident' in Australia were liable for national service. The decision, made on 4 April 1966, was not publicly announced until 10 August that year, giving the Government four months to consult with relevant foreign governments. The decision came into force in January 1967 and was in keeping with the Government's aim to treat all immigrants, whether British subjects or not, along the same lines; yet immigrants were treated differently from naturalised Australians in that they were not called up until they had been in Australia for at least two years. Non-British subjects were not called up for service until they had reached the age of 21, to enable the individual as an adult to make the decision whether to remain in Australia and, if so, to apply for naturalisation and be liable for national service. Non-British subjects were permitted to leave Australia rather than be called up. Immigrants who were found physically fit but rejected on the grounds of deficient English were classed as temporarily unfit and granted a twelve-month deferment. If the immigrant's standard of English remained deficient after twelve months, he could be classified as unfit.

New regulations commencing in January 1967 during the fifth registration period exempted nationals of Denmark, Switzerland, Morocco, Peru, Venezuela and Argentina from national service under treaties providing for mutual exemption from military service. In February that year the Nationality and Citizenship Bill was passed in Parliament, giving non-British immigrants liable for national service the right of citizenship after three months of national service on the condition they were efficient soldiers. Non-British subjects who volunteered to serve in the armed forces were granted the same right of citizenship. The Bill ensured that no national serviceman would serve overseas before having the opportunity of becoming an Australian citizen.

Other conditions applying to immigrants were as follows:

  • Men with dual or plural nationality who were both British nationals and Australian citizens were required to register.

  • Non-British subjects who had completed or undertaken some military training overseas were required to register in the normal way from January 1967. However, men who had completed fifteen months' continuous full-time service in a recognised navy, military or air force of a country other than Australia were granted indefinite deferment of call-up on 'submission of satisfactory documentary evidence of such service'. Those who completed less than fifteen months' service were required to undertake a reduced period of national service of two years less the period of their service overseas. Those with less than fifteen months' overseas service could nominate to serve in the Citizen Military Forces for a period varying in length according to the period served overseas.

  • If a male visitor to Australia were twenty years of age and in Australia for more than eleven months after 1 January 1967, he had to prove that he was not 'ordinarily resident' in Australia and establish temporary visitor status before being exempted from national service.

  • Until legislative amendments in 1967, immigrants whose parents were naturalised Australians could renounce their citizenship and avoid callup.

  • The option of part-time service in the Citizen Military Forces was open to non-British subjects. They were, however, required to meet conditions of entry and one of these conditions was that they had resided in Australia for a year.

  • Non-British subjects were permitted to volunteer for national service if they were twenty years of age or if they had reached the age of eighteen years and nine months and had a good reason for wishing to volunteer for service ahead of the normal call-up for their age group.

Non-compliance

Non-compliers or 'defaulters' were men who failed to register at the proper time, notify change of address, attend a medical examination, report for call-up, or provide necessary information when requested to do so. Men who obstructed or resisted a Medical Board or who made false and misleading statements were also classed as defaulters. The Government employed a number of methods for tracing these men. Checks were made on Commonwealth electoral records, the records of the Commonwealth Employment Service, the Department of Social Services' child endowment records, and the Department of Immigration's records, mainly incoming passenger cards. In addition the DLNS obtained information on defaulters from employers, newspapers, periodicals and anonymous individuals. In some regions DLNS officers had access to motor registration records. The DLNS established a master record of known defaulters from July 1965 which was circulated and periodically revised by its regional offices.

The 1968 amendments to the National Service Act were principally designed to increase penalties for breaches of the Act and to increase the powers of the Government to trace defaulters. The amendments, which led to six weeks of intense debate in both Houses of Parliament, were eventually assented to on 24 June. They also gave the Government the power to require any individual or organisation to disclose information about twenty-year-old men liable for call-up. Parents, solicitors, doctors and ministers of religion were exempted from giving this information. In addition, most penalties for offences under the Act were doubled. These included fines for burning registration cards, filling in false registration cards and making false statements. In its effort to trace student defaulters the Government sought powers for college and university educational records to be viewed and checked by DLNS officers. During the six weeks' debate the Government backed down on sections of the original Bill, yet the power of the DLNS to demand details of a specific student remained. After protests by the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee the Government eventually abandoned all attempts to gain such powers.

Men who failed without 'good reason' to register for national service were considered for prosecution. The fact that a man's birthday was not drawn, or that he was in a class of persons not called up, was disregarded. Once the DLNS decided to prosecute, the case was referred to the Deputy Crown Prosecutor and heard in a Magistrate's Court. If convicted, defaulters could be sentenced to imprisonment for a period equal to the period of national service they were liable to render: up to two years. In total, fourteen men were imprisoned for failing to obey a call-up notice. Before June 1968 men convicted under the National Service Act were taken into military custody. Following legislative amendments made that month and initiated by a diverse range of pressure groups—the Returned Services League, the Australian Council of Churches, the Australian Quaker Peace Committee and the Federal Pacifist Council of Australia—men prosecuted under the Act came under civil powers and were henceforth sent to a civil prison.

Once they had registered, late registrants not defined as defaulters proceeded as though they had registered on time, a policy employed to handle their cases quickly. In September 1970 the law was changed and late registrants were denied the ballot unless the registrant was able to prove that his late registration was due to circumstances beyond his control.

Statistics

Between 1964 and 1972, 804 286 twenty-year-olds registered for national service and 63 735 national servicemen served in the Army.12.

Balloted out: 567, 238

  • Granted indefinite deferment: 566 513

  • Awaiting 'next' ballot: 725

Balloted in, not eligible for ballot, elected to serve in the Citizen Military Forces, and volunteers: 237 048

  • Exemptions: 3563

Theological students, ministers of religion and members of religious orders: 553

Physical or mental disabilities: 1768

Conscientious objection determined by a court: 1242

  • Indefinite deferments: 35 548

Married before the date of call-up: 20 502

Members of the Citizen Forces: 7197

Citizen Forces whose obligations completed: 7849

  • No longer liable to be called up: 102 134

Death subsequent to registration: 916

Served or serving in Permanent Forces: 2194

Rejected as not meeting the medical, psychological and educational standards required by the Army: 99 010

Imprisoned for refusal to obey a call-up notice: 14

  • Unavailable for call-up as at 31 December 1972: 21 876

Granted or being considered for deferment 15 526

Granted or seeking deferment on grounds of exceptional hardship: 470

Under investigation for suspected breaches of National Service Act: 3890

Granted permission to leave Australia: 610

Migrants not included elsewhere, not yet due for call-up: 1380

  • Called up and enlisted in the Army: 63 740
  • Available for call-up subject to meeting the standards required for Army service and the outcome of applications for exemption or deferment: 10 187

Termination Act

During the 1972 election campaign the Australian Labor Party promised that 'all men imprisoned under the National Service Act will be released, pending prosecutions discontinued and existing convictions expunged'.

Within a few days of winning office in early December the new Minister for Labour and National Service, Lance Barnard, suspended the operation of the scheme by administrative action, cancelling the call-up of approximately 2200 men who had been medically examined and deferring the liability of all men who had enlisted for service. National servicemen already in the Army who did not wish to continue their service were released as quickly as possible. Prosecutions and pending prosecutions were dropped. Young men who had taken up the option of part-time military service in the Citizen Military Forces were able to be discharged at their own request. National servicemen who opted to complete their term of service were entitled to the same benefits as before. In June 1973 the Whitlam Government passed the National Service Termination Act, giving legislative effect to Barnard's administrative action. The Government also intended to repeal the National Service Act itself as soon as possible, but felt constrained to wait until national servicemen who continued to serve under the Act had completed their service and received all the benefits to which they were entitled under the Act. This state of affairs did not come about before the dismissal of the Whitlam Government on 11 November 1975.

The National Service Act 1951 and its subsequent amendments were repealed by the Defence Legislation Amendment Act of 1992. Following this legislation, the Government retained the power to introduce conscription under the Defence Act, but only in a time of war and only with prior parliamentary approval. The Act also revised provisions concerning conscientious objection, providing for special tribunals to determine claims and making it possible for an individual to be recognised as a conscientious objector to a particular war. In introducing the legislation the Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General, Peter Duncan, said that the Keating Government's aim was 'to preserve the capacity to introduce conscription for the protection of Australia, but to ensure that those claiming exemption would receive a rapid and fair hearing'. The Government clearly wished to remove many of the anomalies in the operation of compulsory military service that had become evident during the Vietnam War. Duncan expressed the hope that repeal of the National Service Act would 'remove this last vestige of an unhappy and divisive episode in our history'.'3

Birthdates drawn in National Service ballots 1965-72

Birthdates drawn in the first National Service ballot: 10 March 1965

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 January 1945 to 30 June 1945.

January 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 21, 23, 27, 28

February 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9,12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26

March 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29,30

April 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 29

May 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 14, 19, 22, 23, 26, 30

June 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 20, 21, 25, 26, 29

 

Birthdates drawn in the second National Service ballot: 10 September 1965

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 July 1945 to 31 December 1945.

July 3, 6, 7, 8, 16, 22, 25, 26, 31

August 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26

September 2, 4, 5, 6, 14, 17, 21, 25, 26

October 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 23, 25, 29

November 3, 4, 12, 14, 15, 16, 22, 24, 27

December 6, 10, 12, 14, 17, 18, 19, 21, 24, 25, 26, 28, 31

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 July 1945 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

July to December—as above

January 3, 6, 7, 8, 16, 22, 25, 26, 31

February 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26

March 5, 7, 8, 9, 17, 20, 24, 28, 29

April 4, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 15, 18, 19, 25, 27

May 1, 6, 7, 15, 17, 18, 19, 25, 27, 30

June 8, 12, 14, 16, 19, 20, 21, 23, 26, 27, 28, 30

 

Birthdates drawn in the third National Service ballot: 1I March 1966

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 January 1946 to 30 June 1946.

January 2, 3, 5, 12, 13, 21, 22, 30

February 1, 2, 12, 23

March 1, 21, 22, 24, 25, 28, 29

April 5, 10, 15, 18, 19, 24, 26, 29

May 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 13, 14, 20, 22, 23, 26, 29, 30

June 1, 6, 9, 14, 17, 25, 30

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 January 1946 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

January to June—as above

July 2, 3, 5, 12, 13, 21, 22, 30

August 1, 2, 12, 23, 29

September 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 26

October 3, 8, 13, 16, 17, 22, 24, 27, 30, 31

November 1, 7, 8, 10, 11, 17, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27, 29

December 4, 7, 12, 15, 23, 28, 31

 

Birthdates drawn in the fourth National Service ballot: 9 September 1966

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 July 1946 to 31 December 1946.

July 15, 17, 20, 24

August 2, 14, 19, 20, 22, 25, 27

September 12, 16, 18, 23, 24, 25

October 1, 16, 21, 22, 23, 29

November 1, 2, 5, 9, 11, 12, 17, 24, 26, 28, 30

December 1, 6, 18, 25

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 July 1946 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

July to December—as above

January 15, 17, 20, 24

February 2, 14, 19, 20, 22, 25, 27

March 15, 19, 21, 26, 27, 28

April 3, 18, 23, 24, 25

May 1, 4, 5, 8, 12, 14, 15, 20, 27, 29, 31

June 2, 3, 8, 20, 27

 

Birthdates drawn in the fifth National Service ballot: 10 March 1967

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 January 1947 to 30 June 1947.

January 1, 4, 6, 7, 12, 16, 17, 20, 24, 25, 30

February 3, 8, 12, 16, 18, 23

March 3, 11, 16, 21, 22, 23

April 4, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 24, 29

May 1, 13, 14, 22, 25, 29

June 5, 11, 12, 15, 16, 20, 29

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 January 1947 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

January to June as above

July 1, 4, 6, 7, 12, 16, 17, 20, 24, 25, 30

August 3, 8, 12, 16, 18, 23, 31

September 8, 13,18,19, 20

October 2, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 22, 27, 29

November 10, 11, 19, 22, 26

December 3, 9, 10, 13, 14, 18, 27, 30

 

Birthdates drawn in the sixth National Service ballot: 8 September 1967

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 July 1947 to 31 December 1947.

July 2, 12, 15, 19, 21, 23, 25, 29

August 1, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 19, 26, 27

September 10, 13, 15, 16, 19, 23

October 13, 14, 16, 21, 25, 26, 31

November 6, 17, 18

December 4, 10, 15, 22, 24, 25

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 July 1947 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

July to December—as above

January 2, 12, 15, 19, 21, 23, 25, 29

February 1, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 19, 26, 27

March 13, 16, 18, 19, 22, 26

April 15, 16, 18, 23, 27, 28

May 3, 9, 20, 21

June 6, 12, 17, 24, 26, 27

 

Birthdates drawn in the seventh National Service ballot: 15 March 1968

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 January 1948 to 30 June 1948.

January 1, 3, 5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21

February 5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 17, 21

March 2, 7, 8, 9, 15, 22, 25, 26, 29, 31

April 3, 16, 17, 19, 25, 30

May 1, 7, 11, 17, 18, 21, 23, 31

June 10, 17, 24, 28

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 January 1948 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

January to June—as above

July 1, 3, 5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21

August 5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 17, 21, 30

September 4, 5, 6, 12, 19, 22, 23, 26, 28

October 1,14,15,17, 23, 28, 29

November 4, 8, 14, 15, 18, 20, 28

December 8, 15, 22, 26

 

Birthdates drawn in the eighth National Service ballot: 13 September 1968

 Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 July 1948 to 31 December 1948.

July 3, 21, 22, 24, 30

August 1, 3, 16, 18, 24, 26

September 5, 9, 12, 14, 22, 23, 24, 26

October 3, 13, 18

November 5, 18, 24, 28, 29

December 7, 12, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22, 26

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 July 1948 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

July to December—as above

January 3, 21, 22, 24, 30

February 1, 3, 16, 18, 24, 26

March 7, 11, 14, 16, 24, 25, 26, 28

April 4, 14, 19

May 7, 20, 26, 30, 31

June 8, 13, 15, 16, 20, 22, 23, 27

 

Birthdates drawn in the ninth National Service ballot: 14 March 1969

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 January 1949 to 30 June 1949.

January 2, 3, 9, 11, 12, 14, 19, 20, 23, 25, 29, 31

February 3, 8, 12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 23, 28

March 1, 7, 11, 12, 20, 22, 26, 28

April 2, 3, 8, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 21, 25, 26

May 13, 18, 19, 27

June 7, 9, 10, 23, 28, 30

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 January 1949 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

January to June—as above

July 2, 3, 9, 11, 12, 14, 19, 20, 23, 25, 29, 31

August 3, 8, 12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 30

September 5, 9, 10, 18, 20, 24, 26

October 1, 2, 7, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 20, 24, 25

November 11, 16, 17, 25

December 6, 8, 9, 22, 27, 29, 31

 

Birthdates drawn in the tenth National Service ballot: 22 September 1969

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 July 1949 to 31 December 1949.

July 3, 8, 11, 15, 20, 25

August 9, 13, 25, 29

September 18, 19, 21, 28

October 3, 5, 10, 11, 12, 15, 25

November 17, 22, 29

December 2, 5, 7, 15, 17, 25

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 July 1949 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

July to December—as above

January 3, 8, 11, 15, 20, 25

February 9, 13, 25, 29

March 20, 21, 23, 30

April 4, 6, 11, 12, 13, 16, 26

May 19, 24, 31

June 3, 6, 8, 16, 18, 26

 

Birthdates drawn in the eleventh National Service ballot: 13 March 1970

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 January 1950 to 30 June 1950.

January 3, 4, 6, 11, 22, 26, 28, 30

February 4, 11, 15, 21

March 1, 10, 15, 21

April 7, 13, 15, 21, 28

May 10, 20, 22, 25, 31

June 4, 11, 19, 23

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 January 1950 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

January to June—as above

July 3, 4, 6, 11, 22, 26, 28, 30

August 4, 11, 15, 21, 30

September 8, 13, 19

October 6, 12, 14, 20, 27

November 8, 18, 20, 23, 29

December 3,10,18, 22

 

Birthdates drawn in the twelfth National Service ballot: 28 September 1970

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 July 1950 to 31 December 1950.

July 5, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 29, 30

August 1, 17, 20, 21, 22, 28, 29, 31

September 2, 3, 5, 13, 15, 19, 26

October 2, 3, 4, 10, 15, 30

November 18, 20, 29, 30

December 2, 6, 7, 22, 28, 29

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 July 1950 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

July to December—as above

January 5, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 29, 30

February 1, 17, 20, 21, 22, 28, 29

March 2, 4, 5, 7, 15, 17, 21, 28

April 3, 4, 5, 11, 16

May 1, 20, 22, 31

June 1, 3, 7, 8, 23, 29, 30

 

Birthdates drawn in the thirteenth National Service ballot: 26 March 1971

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 January 1951 to30 June 1951.

January 2, 7, 8, 11, 15, 26, 28

February 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, 24, 28, 29

March 5, 7, 13, 15, 17, 20, 26, 27, 28, 30

April 2, 5, 6, 11, 12, 18, 19, 20, 21, 30

May 4, 5, 10, 13, 15, 16, 17, 25, 26, 29

June 2, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 21, 23, 28, 29, 30

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 January 1951 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

January to June—as above

July 2, 7, 8, 11, 15, 26, 28

August 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, 24, 28, 29

September 3, 5, 11, 13, 15, 18, 24, 25, 26, 28

October 1, 4, 5, 10, 11, 17, 18, 19, 20, 29

November 2, 3, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15, 23, 24, 27

December 1, 5, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 20, 22, 27, 28, 29

 

Birthdates drawn in the fourteenth National Service ballot: 17 September 1971

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 July 1951 to 31 December 1951.

July 1, 9, 10, 12, 13, 17, 21, 22, 26, 31

August 1, 6, 7, 10, 21, 24, 27, 30

September 4, 8, 10, 14, 21, 23, 28, 29

October 4, 5, 7, 10, 12, 16, 20, 22, 25

November 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 22, 27, 28, 30

December 7, 8, 9, 16, 21, 28, 29, 31

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 July 1951 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

July to December—as above

January 1, 9, 10, 12, 13, 17, 21, 22, 26, 31

February 1, 6, 7, 10, 21, 24, 27

March 1, 6, 10, 12, 16, 23, 25, 30, 31

April 5, 6, 8, 11, 13, 17, 21, 23, 26

May 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 24, 29, 30

June 1, 8, 9, 10, 17, 22, 29, 30

 

Birthdates drawn in the fifteenth National Service ballot: 24 March 1972

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 January 1952 to 30 June 1952.

January 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 17, 23, 30

Februar 2, 3, 12, 13, 15, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 29

March 9, 12, 13, 17, 26, 27, 30, 31

April 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 22, 24, 29

May 2, 3, 5, 11, 13, 20

June 6, 7, 8, 10, 14, 16, 21, 24, 29, 30

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 January 1952 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

January to June—as above

July 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 17, 23, 30

August 2, 3, 12, 13, 15, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 29

September 7, 10, 11, 15, 24, 25, 28, 29

October 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 21, 23, 28, 31

November 1, 3, 9, 11, 18

December 5, 6, 7, 9, 13, 15, 20, 23, 28, 29

 

Birthdates drawn in the sixteenth National Service ballot: 22 September 1972

Men included in the ballot who were born in the period 1 July 1952 to 31 December 1952.

July 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 15, 17, 29, 30

August 1, 4, 11, 17, 19, 21, 28, 29

September 3, 10, 12, 17, 18, 20, 25

October 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 19, 29, 30

November 3, 15, 29, 30

December 1, 6, 21, 26, 30

Men included in the ballot who were born prior to 1 July 1952 but were absent from Australia when their age group was required to register.

July to December—as above

January 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 15, 17, 29, 30

February 1, 4, 11, 17, 19, 21, 28, 29

March 5, 12, 14, 19, 20, 22, 27

April 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 20, 30

May 1, 5, 17, 31

June 1, 2, 7, 22, 27

 

Sources

The main source used for this appendix is a series of folders in AWM 263 (records of the Official Historian, Peter Edwards), held at the Australian War Memorial. Folders in the series with D/2 item numbers are arranged by subject and contain mainly notes and photocopied material compiled by Ann-Mari Jordens of the Official History Unit from three National Archives of Australia (NAA) series, CRS B142, B146 and MP1375/2 (Department of Labour and National Service files), held at the NAA, Canberra, and some Defence Department files. Cabinet Papers are another source of information. These are located at the NAA, Canberra, and the relevant series are CRS A4940 (Menzies and Holt Cabinet files), CRS A5619 (Gorton Cabinet files), and CRS A5882 (Gorton and McMahon Cabinet files). Other primary sources include Department of Labour and National Service news releases and Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates.

Some unpublished Government documents are worth noting. For a general outline of the scheme, see 'Australian National Service Scheme: Outline of National Service Scheme introduced in November 1964', August 1966, DLNS file SC64/80, CRS B142, NAA, Melbourne. Also useful is 'An Account of the Administrative Processes Involved in the National Service Scheme up to the Stage of Call-Up', a background paper supplied at the request of Cabinet, Cabinet minute 27 April 1966, Cabinet decision 205, Cabinet Secretariat file C162 Part 2, A4940, NAA, Canberra. For a detailed account of the operation of the scheme, see 'A Draft History of the National Service Scheme 1965-72', written by W.M. Meaney, an officer in the DLNS, soon after the scheme was abandoned, and held in the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Training archives in Melbourne. The source of the list of birthdates drawn in National Service ballots 1965-72 is House of Representatives Record 3542, 27 September 1973. Clyde Cameron, the Minister for Labour in the Whitlam Government, presented this list to the House of Representatives on 27 September 1973, but did not seek leave to have the dates recorded in Hansard. As a result, the dates have not previously been published. (See Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. H of R 85, pp. 1615-16.)

M.E. Hamel-Green, 'The Legitimacy of the 1964-1972 Australian Conscription Scheme', MA thesis, University of Melbourne, 1975, is a valuable source, particularly in its appendices on the reintroduction of conscription and the chronology of events. There are a few published sources on the operation of the scheme. Roy Forward and Bob Reece (eds), Conscription in Australia, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Queensland, 1968, is the most comprehensive, but does not include the 1968 amendments to the National Service Act. Other relevant sources include Lt.-Col. M.M. van Gelder, 'Australia's Selective National Service Training Scheme 1965-72', Defence Force Journal, no. 19, November-December 1979, pp. 49-55, and Ann-Mari Jordens, 'Conscription and Dissent, The Genesis of Anti-War Protest', in Gregory Pemberton (ed.), Vietnam Remembered, Weldon, Sydney, 1990, pp. 67-72. On Aboriginal conscription see Ann-Mari Jordens, 'An Administrative Nightmare: Aboriginal Conscription 1965-72', Aboriginal History, vol. 13, nos 1-2, 1989, pp. 124-34.