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Discover one of Australia’s most extraordinary characters in the Old Parliament House travelling exhibition Billy Hughes at War.

Enter the exhibition

Billy Hughes led Australia as prime minister through some of the hardest years of the First World War. His actions and decisions give a personal insight into some of the key issues of the war.

You can explore the activities and resources on this website to learn about Prime Minister Billy Hughes, the conscription debate and Australia’s involvement in the peace negotiations.

About Billy Hughes

[Photograph of Billy Hughes]

Billy Hughes was a complex and complicated character. As Australia’s prime minister for most of the First World War, he steered the nation through the horrors of the war and the debates of the peace settlement.

Learn about Billy Hughes

Conscription referenda

[Billy Hughes speaking at Martin Place]

The debate over conscription divided Australia. Two referenda were held during the First World War with very close results.

Learn about the referenda

Peace conference

[Billy Hughes’ signature from the peace treaty]

Billy Hughes represented Australia at the Peace conference negotiations in Europe. It was the first time that Australia had an independent voice on the world stage.

Learn about the peace negotiations


Conscription debate

Are you for or against conscription? Hear arguments from both sides of the debate and cast your vote.

Enter the debate

Make-your-own conscription poster

Can you influence people’s vote?

Make your poster now

How-to-read a political cartoon

Examine four political cartoons about Billy Hughes during the First World War.

Check out the cartoons


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