Story: Cold War

No conscription!

No conscription!

By 1949 such was the mistrust between the Soviet Union and the West that many people thought a third world war might break out. New Zealand had told Britain it would help defend the Middle East if this happened. However, New Zealand did not have enough troops to meet this commitment, leading Peter Fraser's government to initiate a referendum proposing compulsory military training (conscription). This poster from the Victoria University College Socialist Club protests the measure, quoting the United Nations Charter and repeating government minister Robert Semple's words from 1916 – that 'conscription is the negation of human liberty'. The referendum was won but Fraser lost the next election.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: Eph-B-SOCIALIST-1948-01

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Gerald Hensley, 'Cold War - Beyond Europe, 1949 to 1955', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 July 2024)

Story by Gerald Hensley, published 20 Jun 2012