Australian plebiscite, 1917
The 1917 Australian plebiscite was held on 20 December 1917. It contained one question.
  • Are you in favour of the proposal of the Commonwealth Government for reinforcing the Australian Imperial Force
    Australian Imperial Force
    The Australian Imperial Force was the name given to all-volunteer Australian Army forces dispatched to fight overseas during World War I and World War II.* First Australian Imperial Force * Second Australian Imperial Force...


The Plebiscite

This plebiscite was held due to the Government's desire to increase the available forces for overseas service during the ongoing World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, to a total of 7000 men per month. It was conducted under the War Precautions (Military Service Referendum) Regulations 1917. It formed part of the larger debate on conscription in Australia throughout the war.


State On
For Against Informal Result
% %
New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

1,055,883 853,894 341,256 41.16% 487,774 58.84% 24,864 No
Victoria  807,331 678,806 329,772 49.79% 332,490 50.21% 16,544 No
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

378,378 310,164 132,771 44.02% 168,875 55.98% 8,518 No
South Australia
South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

261,661 197,970 86,663 44.90% 106,364 55.10% 4,943 No
Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

162,347 135,593 84,116 64.39% 46,522 35.61% 4,955 Yes
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

106,803 78,792 38,881 50.24% 38,502 49.76% 1,409 Yes
Federal Territories 4,037 3,002 1,700 58.22% 1,220 41.78% 82 Yes
Total for Commonwealth 2,776,440 2,258,221* 1,015,159 46.21% 1,181,747 53.79% 61,315 No
Obtained majority in two States and an overall minority of 166,588 votes.
Not carried

* Including 199 677 votes by members of the Australian Imperial Force, of which 103 789 were for, 93 910 against, and 1978 informal.
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