In 1917, Ryan and the Labor party attempted to have the Council abolished by popular referendum. The campaign was ill-fated from its inception. Cabinet decided to hold the referendum on the same day as the Federal election, 5 May 1917. This apparently distracted many voters and government members from the Council abolition question as they became focused on the Federal election. There were other complications, with the legality of the referendum questioned and the wording of the question causing confusion as the public had to vote against the Council by voting for the Bill to abolish it.