ARREST HIM: Southern Down Steam Railway vice president Bob Keogh channels former Prime Minister Billy Hughes in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the infamous Warwick egg-throwing incident.
ARREST HIM: Southern Down Steam Railway vice president Bob Keogh channels former Prime Minister Billy Hughes in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the infamous Warwick egg-throwing incident. Jonno Colfs

Warwick Egg incident celebrations next weekend

A MAJOR event in the formative history of Warwick will be brought to life and celebrated around the town on Saturday, November 18.

What became known as the Warwick Egg Incident, was a major turning point in the beginnings of Federation in Australia and led to the formation of the first national police force.

The Warwick egg incident of November 29, 1917 occurred during the second conscription referendum campaign.

Locals Pat and Bart Brosnan threw eggs at then prime minister, Billy Hughes, whose train had stopped at Warwick for him to speak in favour of conscription at a meeting on the railway platform.

Historian Jeff Kildea will visit the region to speak about the events with fellow historian Rodney Sullivan, in a special presentation to be held at St Mary's Hall in Wood St, Warwick, from 10am to 12.30pm on the day.

Mr Kildea said there were many incidents of political violence during the conscription campaign.

"These involved meetings being disrupted or broken up by proponents of one side or the other,” he said.

"But this event stands out for two reasons. Firstly, it involved the prime minister and secondly, it was symptomatic of the deep divisions then within Australian society, which had been exacerbated by the emotions of the hard-fought political campaign over conscription.

"It was Irish Australians v British Australian, Catholics v Protestants, labour v capital, empire loyalists v Australia first nationalists and Queensland v the federal government.”

Following the Warwick incident, Hughes established the Commonwealth police.

This was because Senior Sergeant Henry Kenny, a Queensland police officer of Irish descent, refused to arrest the egg throwers.

Believing the issue to be a jurisdictional one, a local police officer, Sergeant Kenny, said he answered to the Queensland government only.

This enraged the Prime Minister further and he promptly re-boarded his train and left Warwick vowing to address the situation

The Queensland premier at the time was TJ Ryan, an Australian of Irish descent, who was strongly opposed to conscription.

The day of celebration will include many events and presentations including:

History Seminar: (St Mary's Hall, Wood Street)

Historians from University NSW and Queensland Rail make sense of the Warwick Egg incident. From 10am to 12.30pm. To book go to http://www.trybooking.com/RHKS.

The Re-enactment: (Entry by gold coin)

The event starts on the Warwick Railway Station platform at 1pm and will include official welcomes, and entertainment, with the full re-enactment of events beginning at 2pm.

Guests are invited to head along in period costume and be part of the action.

Barbecue hosted by Warwick Sunrise Rotary.

Held at the goods shed at the railway station the barbecue will run from 11am to 4pm.

Goods Shed Display: Railway memorabilia and photographs.

Includes display by Queensland Rail Historian, Greg Hallam. Open from 10am to 4pm

Dinner: ($30 per person, with entry by pre-paid ticket, Bookings 46619788)

In the evening, Southern Downs Steam Railway will hold a dinner in the historic sandstone Goods Shed from 7pm.

AFP Display at Warwick Art Gallery

Historical display featuring 100 years of federal policing in Australia.



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