Hughes was the Prime Minister in seat at the time of World War I 1916. In 1917 he visited the war front. Hughes was a strong supporter of establishing Australia as a strong and significant country and thought that Australia's participation in World War I was in that case mandatory. In between the dates of July and August 1916, there was a loss of 28,000 men and Generals Birdwood and White of the Australian Imperial Forces impressed upon Hughes that conscription was needed for Australia to continue impacting the war sufficiently. At this time, Hughes was the leader of the Labor Party. When he proposed the idea for conscription two thirds of his party disagreed with his views. Hughes, however, knew that he did not need to create a new law but could just amend the old one to include conscription. As a result, on 28 October 1916, an advisory referendum was held to decide whether the community of Australia supported conscription. The vote was rejected and Hughes was sacked from the Labor Party. Hughes acted quickly to take his supporters in parliament and form the National Labor Party at the end of 1916. This enabled him to briefly form a government with the support of the Deakinite Liberal opposition. Early in 1917, the two then merged into the Nationalist Party of Australia and won the May election, with Hughes pledging to resign if again defeated at the plebiscite in December that year. The question was defeated by a yet greater margin this time and Hughes did resign, only to be reinstated as Prime Minister by the Governor General.