Like all communities in Australia, Brunswick and Coburg included a diversity of opinion about Conscription. Many significant anti-conscription activists were based in Brunswick, but there were local organisations and individuals who were pro-conscription.

The most notable conscriptionist organisation in the area was the Brunswick City Council. The council had originally tried to suppress any anti-conscriptionist meetings in the area.

Late in 1916, however, the Council was forced to back down and allow anti-conscriptionist meetings in the Town Hall.

From 1915 onwards the Council also controlled the local Mechanics’ Insititute, which was then used as the local recruiting headquarters. Other local pro-conscription organisations included the Brunswick Progress Association and the local branch of the Australian Natives’ Association.

The Brunswick branch of the Political Labor Association was fiercely anti-conscriptionist; so too was the local Catholic congregation. Father O’Connell caused something of a controversy when he refused the Brunswick Mayor permission to attend St Ambrose’s School on Empire Day in 1917, based on the disparaging remarks Cr Phillips had made about Archbishop Mannix. Despite such incidents, however, reports were that the elections themselves were conducted peacefully.

Even sporting teams in Brunswick and Coburg could be sites for political activism. John Curtin and Frank Hyett had first met while playing for Brunswick Football Club. Frank Anstey at the time was club Vice-President – he would serve for many years as its President – and this association helped draw Curtin and Hyett into Anstey’s circle.