William Hughes: Australia
On Thursday 1 September, the Museum of Australian Democracy will host the Australian launch of ‘William Hughes: Australia’ by Professor Carl Bridge. Professor Bridge is Head of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at King’s College, London and a former Fellow of the museum’s Australian Prime Ministers Centre. Professor Bridge spent several weeks at the Centre in Canberra in 2008-2009 researching original archival records on former prime minister William (Billy) Hughes. The biography will be launched by Professor Bill Gammage, Adjunct Professor in the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University, and a recognised authority on the First World War.
Billy Hughes became Australia’s 7th prime minister on 27 October 1915 and held the position until his resignation on 9 February 1923. As Australia’s prime minister throughout the First World War, he represented Australia at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. This was the first time that Australia had a voice on the world stage. When US President Woodrow Wilson questioned Hughes’ authority to intervene in world affairs because he was ‘speaking for only five million people’, Hughes replied ‘I speak for sixty thousand dead. For how many do you speak?’.
‘William Hughes: Australia’ is the most recent biography in the 32-volume ‘Makers of the Modern World’ series of studies on world leaders who negotiated the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.