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Australia in the 1910s

Postwar international politics

After the Allies' victory in 1918, the Paris Peace Conference was held in 1919 with prime minister Billy Hughes representing Australia. This was the first time Australia had represented itself at an international conference and Hughes was determined to be heard. Australia had suffered considerable losses in the First World War that were proportionately higher than the majority of nations taking part in the conference. Hughes returned to a hero's welcome, hailed as the 'little digger' who had stood up to the other world powers.

In 1919, the League of Nations was part of the Treaty of Versailles, the peace treaty to conclude First World War. The aims of the League of Nations were to promote international cooperation, peace, security and the 'rights of man'. It was the first international political treaty signed by Australia and the first in which Australia was directly involved in negotiations. Australia was among 32 signatories to the treaty and a founding member. The Australian representative at the League of Nations Assembly was FL McDougall.

The English version of the Treaty of Versailles published in 1919, London

A snapshot of 1918

  • January
    • The Australia Corps formed out of five separate Australian divisions fighting in France during the First World War.

  • April
    • A factory opened in Caulfield, Victoria, to manufacture artificial limbs for returned soldiers.

  • September
    • The first direct wireless message was transmitted from Britain to Australia.

  • November
    • On the '11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour', the Armistice between the Allies and Germany flagged the cessation of fighting on the Western Front.
    • Preferential voting was introduced for the first time in elections for the House of Representatives.
    • Two significant children's books were published: The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay and Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie: Their Wonderful Adventures by May Gibbs.


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