Many of the labour activists central to the anti-conscription campaigns were located in Brunswick and Coburg. These included parliamentarians Frank Anstey and Maurice Blackburn, and trade unionists John Curtin and Frank Hyett.

Frank Anstey was Member of the House of Representatives for Bourke, the electorate that covered Brunswick and Coburg. He was also mentor for Curtin and Hyett, and it was in the Anstey circle that opposition to conscription within the ALP and union movements was first developed. Anstey sat on the executive of the national Trade Union Anti-conscription Committee, and produced several pamphlets and newspapers outlining his opposition to the war and conscription.

John Curtin was Anstey’s special protege and became the Secretary for the national anti-conscription committee. In this role he was vital for running the campaign. He was particularly noted for his journalistic skills in writing, while he also authorised some of the most important items of the campaign, such as the ‘Blood Vote’ handbill.

Frank Hyett was the Secretary of the Victoria Railway Union. In this role, and on the Victorian Trades Hall Council, Hyett was an important anti-conscriptionist. This was especially so after John Curtin departed for Western Australia at the beginning of 1917.

Maurice Blackburn, who during the war represented part of Coburg in the state parliament, and later succeeded Anstey in federal parliament, had a particularly important role in organising opposition to conscription within the ALP itself. Without this work it is likely that conscription would have been introduced without a referendum.