6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following paper was presented: -
Public Service Act 1902-1913. - Postmaster-
General’s Department. - Promotion of J. P.
King as Postmaster, Grade IV., 3rd Class,
Ballina, New South Wales.
What is covered by the allowance to Admiral Patey of £4 10s. a day, designated “ table money,” and which is larger than his ordinary salary?
– The answer is -
Table money covers the cost of -
Messing an Admiral’s personal staff consisting of Flag Captain, Flag Lieutenant and Secretary, together with his retinue, apart from their pay.
Entertaining expenses ashore and afloat entailed in the maintenance of his official position.
It is the only standing allowance drawn by a Flag Officer, in addition to his pay, when actually serving.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice-
– The answers are -
Motion (by Senator Story) agreed to-
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing -
The number and names of mining companies operating in the Northern Territory whichhave been subsidized by the Government.
The amount of the subsidy already paid, and the amount still available in each case.
The conditions under which the subsidy has been granted, and the subscribed capital of the company in each case.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 19th November, vide page 812) :
Clauses 8 to 10 agreed to.
– It will be remembered that on my motion an instruction was given to the Committee that I should have leave to move the insertion of a new clause in the Bill. I find that it will come in appropriately after clause 10. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: - 10a. Section 123a of the Principal Act is amended : -
by inserting between the letters (a) and (b) the word “and;” and
by omitting the word and letter “ and (c).”
– Has it been put into print?
– No. I simply propose the removal of a word and a letter which I am informed will, if carried, have the desired effect. On the Supply Bill the other day I raised this question, and I withdrew a request I had moved, at the wish of the Minister, so that that Bill could be dealt with, because I would have an opportunity to deal with the matter when this measure was brought forward. I thank the Minister for his courtesy in reminding me the other day of the method I would have to adopt in order to get an opportunity to move this proposal, especially as I know that, personally, he is opposed to its enactment. On the last occasion when the question was under consideration he said he believed that in abolishingwet canteens in camps he was carrying out the will of Parliament. He may be under that impression, but my idea is that the will of Parliament is altogether opposed to putting on men restrictions which we are not prepared to put on ourselves. It is a very good axiom, I think, that we should- try to do to other persons what we would like them to do to us. I am not taking this step because I am a man who is very much addicted to drink. As honorable senators know, I am one of those who believe that men should be temperate in the use of all things which we are told there may be a liability to use to excess. I was taught that I should not reject any of the good things of this life, as they were sent here for our consumption. I was informed that it did not matter whether it was meat or drink of any description, , so long as men could control their appetites!; that so long as they could take these articles in moderation it was the best thing that could happen to a nation. I hold that belief now, and as I pointed out the other day, I was only pursuing what I considered to be the policy of the platform of the Labour party in five States out of the six. Members of the Labour party in those States have signed a platform which points towards the nationalization of the liquor traffic - that is, to bring the traffic under control, believing that where there are people who are likely to go to excess those who are in control of the traffic should be able to say : “No; we do not consider that this article is good for you, and consequently we are not going to supply you with an article which you are not fit to use. ‘ ‘ lt may be thought, again, that I am bringing forward this proposal because it is very popular. I am actuated by no motive of the sort. It has been dinned into our ears time after time in the press, in the pulpit, and even from the platform, that a man who drinks a glass of ale or whisky is practically a greater danger to the community than a drunkard. I do not subscribe to that doctrine. I might just as well take notice of those who tell me that I should not eat flesh. There are some persons who say that if we were to abolish the eating of flesh we should not have the increase in cancer which is taking place throughout civilized communities. Still we continue to eat flesh. Those people who advocate that particular method of living are just as much entitled, if they have the same influence in the community as the other section who are always kicking up a noise about the drink traffic, to prohibit the use of flesh, or any articles of that sort in our camps, provided that they can get a sufficient number of representatives into the Parliament to say that it shall be done. I do not sympathize with any of these fads. I believe that all the members of the Senate believe in temperance as strongly as I do. Statements have been made in another place in regard to this matter to which I would like to reply, because they impress me as being utterly out of place, and altogether intemperate. They are- of such a character that I would shudder at the thought of making them. The honorable member for Brisbane stated that his experience of the camp established at Enoggera was of a very sad character, that he believed it was the best camp which existed in the Commonwealth, but that there was a regrettable and disgraceful amount of drunkenness in connexion with it. I wish to point out that this charge is not laid at the door of the canteen. Mr. Finlayson does not say whether the men procured the intoxicating liquor at the camp canteen, or outside of it. Now, I visited that camp on three occasions - the first time in company with the Prime Minister, Senator Mullan and Mr. Sharpe. I never remember hearing officers speak in higher terms of the men under their command than I did on that occasion. They affirmed that the men would be a credit to Australia, that they were mostly sober individuals, who would faithfully carry out the work with which they were intrusted. Passing through the camp We happened to notice a shed in which some casks of beer were standing, and Mr. Finlayson, pointing to them, said : “ That is the only black spot in the camp.”
– I suppose the honorable senator thought that it was the only bright spot?
– The canteen ‘is an institution which I believe should exist in every camp in which men are brought together for military training. Mr. Finlayson ‘s remarks induced me to prosecute inquiries which otherwise I might not have made. I asked the officers their opinion regarding the matter, and, without exception, they assured me that it was a good thing to have a canteen established in a camp, and that, so far as they were personally concerned, they did not desire it to be abolished. I believe that they spoke the truth. They were men who had had experience of camps in which prohibition had been attempted, with the result that more intemperance obtained there than in camps in which there were wet canteens.
– Did they adduce any clear evidence in support of their statement ?
– When the honorable senator tells us of his experience does he bring along evidence to support his statements? The officers declared that the establishment of a wet canteen in a camp leads to sobriety and temperance. On the other hand, the total abstainer is an individual who always believes in a policy of repression which is foreign to our race. As soon as we attempt to repress this sort of thing men will kick against it for all they are worth. As a matter of fact, if we are going to lay down a hard and fast prohibition against the establishment of wet canteens in camp when we require men to fight for the Empire they should be notified that only total abstainers need apply.
– On the other hand, the honorable senator says that only drinkers should apply.
– I say nothing of the kind. I say that there should be a wet canteen established in connexion with all camps, so that a man who has been used to a glass of beer should be at liberty to obtain it. I do not say that the total abstainer should be obliged to visit the canteen. Some years ago I recollect that a gentleman was returned to the Queensland Parliament as the representative of a small country district. In his first speech his great complaint was that he could not reach Parliament House from the railway station without being obliged to pass a lot of drinking shops which he considered were a disgrace to the community. I daresay that Senator Senior would regard him as a temperate individual. To my mind his language was most intemperate. Nothing could be more extreme than statements such as he made. That is the reason why I inquired of officers with experience .whether the establishment of wet canteens in camp did not lead to sobriety rather than to intemperance. During my visit to the Enoggera camp I saw no signs of intemperance. I spoke to friends of mine who were there, and who have since departed with our First Expeditionary Force, and they all declaimed that the canteen was an excellent institution, notwithstanding that they were very temperate men. I want the Minister to inform us whether there is any truth in the statements of the honorable member for Brisbane, who affirmed that the anxiety of the officers to have wet canteens established was wholly due to their desire to secure perquisites for themselves. The Minister has assured m& that no such condition of affairs could exist.
– Perquisites are not drink, are they?
– I do not know of what the perquisites may consist.
– Perhaps the drink may be perquisites.
– Mr. Finlayson, further stated that the reason why officers supported wet canteens was to be found in the amount of pocket money which they lost by their abolition. I cannot believethat there is any truth in that affirmation.. Let me tell honorable senators my experience in that camp. Whilst we were passing through it we entered the tents of a number of the officers, who invited us to have a drink. I was asked if I would have a whisky and soda, but I declined,, because I preferred’ to take a cider, which , as everybody knows, is an intoxicant.
– It came from Tasmania, I suppose?
– No. It was good cider, and I do not know that I could have got as good an article from Tasmania.
– I am satisfied that the honorable senator is not an authority on the drink question.
– At any rate, I ought to know something about cider, seeing that I was reared in the best ciderproducing county in England. The othermembers of our party ‘were total abstainers, and therefore had soft drinks. We drank the health of the officers, and wished them a safe return. Now, if the statements made by Mr. Finlayson in another place are true, these officers should never have been granted a commission in connexion with the Australian Forces. If they are prepared to advocate the establishment of wet canteens because of the small perquisites that they might thereby receive they are not fit to lead Australians into battle. I would refuse to associate myself with such wretched hypocrites.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - Where do the perquisites come in?
– I do not know. The statement of Mr. Finlayson is that they were losing pocket-money in connexion with the abolition of the wet canteen. I do not believe that. According to Senator -Senior, I ought to bring forward a lot of printed evidence in connexion with this matter. I could do so if I chose, but I do not think that it is required. We are getting sufficient experience at home to induce us to appreciate the true position. Upon looking at the official records- I learn that the abolition of the wet canteens was moved in the House of Representatives by Mr. Coon, who, in 1909, represented Batman, and was carried on the voices almost without discussion. When the measure came before us in this Chamber Senator Pearce said that the amendment would not have the effect which he and others desired, and accordingly a further amendment was moved. Very little debate took place upon it, only two or three honorable senators spoke, and it t then went to a division. My name does not appear in the division lists, and I am very glad of it, because I have never been a supporter of legislation of that character. Of course, I can easily understand how it came to be enacted. I thoroughly appreciate the fact that honorable senators were in favour of the abolition of wet canteens at cadet encampments, and quite forgot that when camps of our Citizen Forces were held the position would be entirely different. I am satisfied that there were honorable senators who on that -occasion voted under a misapprehension. “If it had occurred to them that by their votes they would be interfering with the right of men to have a drink in camp, and that those men, at the discretion of the officer in command, might be pre- vented from leaving the camp, they would not have voted in the way they did. We have now a fair opportunity to decide the question. We can say whether we believe that Senator Millen, who permitted the wet canteen, or Senator Pearce, who, when he took charge of the Department, -abolished it, was right.
– Senator Pearce was light.
– I have no doubt the honorable senator believes so, but I think that Senator Millen was right. I believe that Senator Millen was influenced by the view that to provide a wet canteen would induce temperance and sobriety. He knew that if men were refused the op- portunity to obtain a glass of beer in -camp they would be encouraged to seek r.for leave, and when they got outside might be induced by their companions to take more drink than they otherwise would. I do not believe in this system of repression.
– The wet canteen will not prevent men going outside to get drink.
– That is so; but the honorable senator forgets that the officer in charge of a camp can prevent men leaving the camp. I believe that where that is done it will be found that men will break out of the camp if they cannot get what they require there. Personally, I would not blame them, because, in the circumstances, I would do the same myself.
– What happens to those who break camp ?
– I suppose they are prepared to take the consequences.
– The men are given the same leave whether there is a dry or a wet canteen established in camp. The question of leave has no bearing on the matter.
– I know that they may be given the same leave in either case. ‘ We are told that the soldiers will not be able to do the same amount of work if they are permitted to obtain drink in a wet canteen, but statistics on the subject do not prove anything of the sort. As evidence of the effect of the establishment of wet canteens, I should like to read to honorable senators the views expressed by a ChaplainCaptain here in Melbourne, who saw the effects of the wet canteen at Broadmeadows. I quote from the Age of the 13th November, from a report of the proceedings at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria. Mr. Mauger brought up the question there, and I find that Chaplain-Captain the Reverend Frank Milne said -
He was sorry to think that the Church’s only reference to the soldier lads was that so many of them got drunk, for they were going away to give their lives for us, and only half of them would come back. He had been in the camp day and night, and of the 11,000 men that were there he had not seen a single one in uniform drunk. There was no drunkenness in the camp, even when the “ wet “ canteen was in existence. A soldier was no more liable to get drunk than-
A Voice. - We are!
The Rev. P. Milne. - Yes. The trouble was that the soldiers went into the city, where they were enticed to drink by civilian friends.
That was the danger. He hoped that the remarks about soldiers going down the street and getting drunk would not be the only reference to them.
– What did the other parsons say about it?
– The honorable senator refers me to those who had no experience. We are always asked in these cases to listen to what was said by those who have had no experience of the matter in question. The total abstainer who has had no experience of drink is always, according to himself, the man best able to tell us the effect of drink. Old maids’ children are always the best in the world, but there are never any of them.
– That is not the history of the matter, as the greatest teetotal reformers in the world were at one time of their lives great drunkards.
– I am aware that that may be said of some, but more often the man who advocates total abstinence will tell us candidly that he knows nothing about drinking. I am not afraid of the opinion of the other parsons referred to by Senator Newland. I find that Professor Rentoul said -
He did not know of anything in the’ report which should have drawn such a fiery philippic from Chaplain-Captain Milne.
Mr. Milne. ; I was referring to the words of the speech.
Professor Rentoul. - The assembly was not responsible for the speeches of its members, but only for its decisions. It must have been borne in upon all that it was a perilous thing for !the military authorities to allow troops to go unattended through a great city. Lord Kitchener himself had voiced the danger of troops being allowed to roam, especially at late hours, through towns. Mr. Milne was talking nonsense-
Mr. Milne. ; It is not nonsense!
Professor Rentoul. - You do not know what I am going to say!
Mr. Milne.; But I do!
Professor Rentoul. - Mr. Milne had not the chair. He claimed the right to speak. Mr. Milne had said that the soldiers were in no more danger of being tempted to drink than the members of the commission were. That was nonsense. (Hear, hear !)
That may be so. I do- not know whether the members of the Commission were likely to drink or. not. I should not like to express an opinion on them, but if they were they would not,* by a long way, be the first ministers I have known who did take drink. They were certainly temperate men, but they were not total abstainers or prohibitionists. We are told by the total abstainers that if our men are permitted to obtain drink in the canteen it will undermine their constitution, and they will not be able to shoot straight or endure the hardships which they may be called upon to bear.
– What has Admiral Jellicoe had to say with respect to drink in the Navy ?
– I do not know what system is now adopted in the Navy,, but when I did know something about it every man in the Navy was entitled toa portion of rum every day, and if he did not require it, was able to get something he considered of equal value instead.
– That was abolished long ago.
– I do not think so. We are always given the view inthis matter of men who are themselvestotal abstainers, and think that every one else should be like them. It is just like the man who does not eat meat, and will tell you that you will certainly die of cancer if you follow the ungodly practice of living on flesh meat. I have no use for these faddists, nor have I any use for the man who will tell me that I am going to the devil if I take a glass of beer when I want one.
– How does the honorable -senator propose to deal with theexperience of Lord Roberts and hisadvice?
– I shall not deal with the experience of Lord Roberts, except to say that I have always understood’ that while Lord Roberts was himself .a total abstainer,. he made.it his business togo round to all the canteens in .order to see that they were properly conducted, and that the men were supplied with theliquor for which they paid. That is the system which I think should be established, and I think it should be a national system. When we are told that the opportunity to obtain drink will result in sapping the endurance of our soldiers, I have a right to refer honorable senators to the experience of the world in this .matter. During the last two or three months, from press, platform, and pulpit in every part of the world, we have heard nothing but praise- for the Belgian Army as the men who have stood the brunt of the wa:r in its first stages. It is peculiar in the circumstances that the Belgians should be- the heaviest drinkers of beer in the world.
– The Belgian Army?
– No, the Belgian people are the heaviest drinkers of beer per head of population in the world to-day. Senator Guy would suggest that the statistics do not apply to the Belgian Army. Surely he will not ask us to believe that it is not the men in the Belgian Army who drink beer, but the men, women, and children who are not in the Army, and have not had to do any of the fighting?
Senior Senior. - On the honorable senator’s method of reasoning it might be contended that I am a drinker of beer because Australians drink so much beer per head of the population.
– I do not say that. It is only by such statistics that we are able to estimate the consumption of beer in a community. It is quite possible that many of the Belgian people do not drink beer at all, but that does not lessen the consumption of beer per head of the population. The total abstainer is very fond of informing us that so much per head - £6 or £7, as the case may be - is spent by the people of the country on drink. My experience of Australians is that they are about the most temperate people on the face of the earth. I need not quote any figures to prove this, because I can speak from my own experience. I have mixed a good deal with young fellows in Australia, and have had many drinks with them. I knocked round the world a few years before I came here, and my experience certainly is that Australians are about the most” temperate people I have come across. I am glad that it should be so. I think that we should teach people to be temperate, but we should not attempt repression.
– The climate of a country has a great influence on the drinking habits of its people.
– There may be something in that, but we find people living in climates somewhat similar to that of Australia who drink considerably more than Australians do.
– And some who drink considerably less, in Asiatic countries.
– I admit that some of the people of Asia do not drink as much as do Europeans of any nation.
– Many of them have not the money to do so.
– There is a good deal in that, since a man cannot pay much for drink when he gets only an anna or two a day. The Victorian Year-Booh for 1913-14 gives the following figures of the annual consumption of liquor per head of population : -
In spite of their heavy consumption of beer, the Belgians do not seem to be at all enervated or to have lost their endurance, but have put up a fight that has astonished the world.
– I have heard drinks ers say that the beer the Belgians drink is about equivalent to the hop beer that teetotallers drink in Australia.
– ‘There is perhaps a good deal in that. They drink a light beer. A friend of mine in Brisbane who used to sell soft drinks on one occasion stocked a “ temperance “ beverage called “Weak Tonic,” and there was a tremendous run on it, especially by total abstainers, until the police took samples, and found that it was stronger than the beer which the man was selling in the hotel on the opposite corner. Light lagers are now being manufactured in Australia, and being drunk in increasing quantities. Neither soldiers nor civilians should be prevented from getting them. . I have quoted the figures in regard to the United Kingdom, and the men who have gone from there to the war are not altogether a lot of wasters. They can hold their own, although they are not total abstainers. In fact I believe the great bulk of them would have nothing to do with the prohibition movement at all. So far as regards the consumption of wine, it would be a good thing for the people of Australia to consume more of the product of their own States. South Australian and Victorian growers in particular are trying to foster the consumption of wine in their own country instead of having to export it. I have quoted the German figures, and we all admit that the Germans, although they are opposed to us, have not altogether lost their nerve, hut are able to endure a good deal.
– According to your reasoning we want twice as many Australians to meet the Germans.
– According to the total abstainers, we do not want half the number. They tell us that if a man drinks a glass of beer it enervates him and saps his powers of endurance. I do not believe anything of the sort.
– I believe one Australian is equal to four, or perhaps, five, Germans, lager beer and all thrown in.
– The men who have gone from here will, I am sure, do the work they are sent to do, and I hope they are able to make as good a showing as the Belgians, who are the biggest “beer-eaters” in Europe. If they do, we shall have nothing to be ashamed of.
– Do you think that the beer made the Belgians fight like they did?
– I do not, but I do not think the beer enervated them to such an extent that they were not able to hold up their end of the log. I am moving the amendment because repression never does any good, and frequently drives people to the other extreme. The figures for other countries are also given, including the following : - United States of America, beer, 16 gallons; Switzerland, 15 gallons; Sweden, 12 gallons; and Austria, 15.18 gallons.
– Is the consumption increasing or decreasing in those countries?
– I believe it has been greatly on the increase, because the last figures I saw for Belgium gave a consumption of 46 gallons of beer per head, whereas the figures I have just quoted show a consumption of 48.58 gallons. The consumption is also, I think, increasing in Australia, in spite of the efforts of the prohibitionists, because the average Australian does not believe in repression. The Statist adds the following note: -
By comparing the figures for Australia in the foregoing table with those of several other countries, it will be seen that the consumption of intoxicants was proportionately less in Australia. As regards spirits, whilst the consumption in Australia was three-fourths of a gallon per head per year, in Denmark it amounted to 2 J gallons: in Hungary to nearly 2 gallons; in Germany and Austria to about U gallons; in Holland, Sweden, France, Belgium, the Russian Empire, and the United
States, to more than a gallon; and in the United Kingdom to nearly three-fourths of a gallon. The greatest beer-producing countries of the world are the German Empire, the United States, and the United Kingdom in that order; but in .consumption per head of the population, Belgium, with 48J gallons; the United Kingdom with 27 gallons; Germany with 23J gallons; and Denmark, with 20$ gallons, are the foremost. The particulars inthis table would indicate that Belgium consumes more beer than any other country in> the world, but the statistics of the States comprising the German Empire show that Bavaria; is entitled to that distinction, with a consumption of 50J gallons per head. The consumption in Wurtemburg and in Baden wasalso high, reaching 32 gallons per head. The Australian consumption of 12 2-5ths gallons does not appear to be large by comparison with those figures. The chief wine-producing countries of the world - Franco and Italy - are also the greatest consumers, the former averaging 34J gallons, and the latter 26 gallons per head. Portugal, with 20J gallons; Spain, with 17-Jrd gallons, and Switzerland, with 15J gallons, are also large consumers. The inhabitants of the British Empire are small wine-drinkers. At the Cape of Good Hope the consumption is highest, with nearly 2 gallons per head; Australia consumes less than halfagallon per head; the United Kingdom about one-quarter of a gallon; and Canada nearly one-eighth of a gallon.
That is the experience of the people of the world. I do not know if the total abstainers are making any great efforts on the Continent, but if they are, their work is not having much effect. Germany, Belgium, and France are consuming just as much as ever, and yet I believe the people in those countries are getting more temperate, and so are the people of Australia.
– Is not that rather queer logic?
– No. Larger numbers of people are realizing that they can control their appetites and drink in moderation.
– What accounts for the greater consumption ?
– The increase in the number of moderate drinkers.
– I believe there is a good deal less heavy drinking.
– That is so. As an example, let those who travel round the country take stock of what happens at the railway stations. I remember that a good many years ago the bulk of the travellers who went into a railway refreshment room were to be found where there was a glass of beer or whisky to be obtained. The liquor is provided in these places to-day, but when one alights from a train now he sees that the bulk of the passengers are at the end of the refreshment room where tea is served. I believe, sir, that your experience coincides with my own.
– It leads to sobriety.
– The very fact that you do not try to repress leads to sobriety; that is what the officers at the camp in Brisbane told me, and I accepted their word. It has been my experience all through life that the more you try to force people in one direction the more they will be inclined to go in the other direction.
– That is an argument for free licence.
– Not at all. If there was all the licence possible in the world, would it make me drink more than I do now ? Not one drop more would it make me take.
– But see who you are.
– I am no more than any one else. I like to believe that the men who are going away to do the work of this country abroad are at least as good a man as I am; that they can control their appetites and passions. I believe that it will be a good thing for Australia if we find eventually that they can do so.
– They are not all of so mature an age as you are.
– That is quite likely, and that brings us to another question. Is every man who drinks a glass of beer to-day supposed to have been a drunkard when he was at the age of from eighteen to twenty-five years ? It is to be hoped not, sir. Are we all reformed boozers because we happen to take a glass of beer? I do not think so. I know any number of men who have been taking a glass of beer occasionally ever since they were very young, and I have done so myself. I have never been a total abstainer.
– I am a reformed abstainer; I never drank until I was twenty.
– You never knew a man take the first glass of beer with the intention of becoming a drunkard.
– Certainly not. I took a glass of beer when I was a boy, if the honorable senator wants to know, but that did not make me a drunkard.
I did not take a glass then because I was inclined to become a drunkard, and I am’ sure that those who gave me the beer had no idea that I would develop in that way. If our young men are to be looked upon as children for all time, 1 do not believe in our having a nation of that sort. I believe in people who are taught when young to control their appetites, and who do grow up. I wish to heaven that I was only as good a mar physically to-day as I was at eighteen years of age. I did not know then what it was to be tired. I could do a great deal more work then than I could possibly do now.
– Did you drink beer? Senator TURLEY. - Yes, I did, andI would have liked to drop across a man at that time who would have said to me, “ You are not to have a glass of beer, even though you have the money to pay for it.” There would have been a little trouble if any man had made such a remark to me.
– You are rathera hard customer to meet now.
– No, because I am not nearly as good a man to-day as I was at eighteen years of age. I did not believe for a moment then in the policy of repression. I believed in temperance then just the same as I do now. I was earning a man’s wages and doing a man’s work in the world, and I was able to go along and buy a glass of beer if I wanted it. I was able to say “ No “ if any person wanted to buy a glass of beer for me and I did not want it. That is practically the attitude which I have taken up all through life. I will not have a thing if I do not require it, and if I do require a thing, and am able to get it, I am going to get it.
– That is why I am a total abstainer.
– I am glad to say that it has not had that effect upon me.
– You have never tried it; have you ever been a total abstainer ?
– In my life there have been periods when I have gone for a few months without touching anything.
– Were you any the worse for that?
– I must say thatI was not a little bit better for it.
– Were you any worse ?
– I think I was. At any rate, I am perfectly satisfied that I was not any better.
– I am sorry for you.
– When I was knocking about a ship at sea I was not able to get a glass of liquor. I have seen nien who, through not being able to obtain a glass of liquor for a little while, got a bit over the edge when they found themselves in touch with the liquor again, and bought drinks one for the other. That was only because they had been leading that sort of life at sea. I do not propose to go over the arguments which I used the other day. I am inclined to treat our Citizen Forces as men. I believe they should be men, with all the strength which manhood indicates, with the ability to control their appetites and passions, and to partake of the good things of life in moderation, and with temperance, without allowing anything to run away with them. I do not think that I smoked till I was about eighteen years of age, because I had been told that tobacco was a horrible thing.
– You were all the better for that.
– I do not think that I was. I had mates who were always smoking, and some of them were as good, some better, and some perhaps not quite as good as I was. I do not think that smoking made the slightest difference to me. I have known total abstainers who could smoke me black in the face without an effort. If tobacco smoking is as disastrous as is alleged, it is a wonder to me that it does not have more effect on the constitutions of these men. In all good faith I submit this proposal to the Committee! I have always held that a policy of this sort will lead more to sobriety and to temperance than will anything else. I belong to a movement which has done more for temperance and sobriety in Australia than all the other temperance organizations put together, and that is the Labour movement. I believe that is the only way in which we can do this thing.
– Will you explain the effect of your amendment - how it is to apply?
– The amendment means that in a camp of the Citizen Forces - it will not apply to cadets at all - there can be established a wet canteen, at which, during certain hours of the day, men may obtain a certain quantity of liquor. At a canteen, a pint of beer, I think, is the limit, which they, the men, have to drink there and then. They are not allowed to take any liquor round the camp, but have to go to the canteen during certain hours, aud, as I said, drink the liquor there and then.
– Why impose this restriction; I thought you were against repression ?
– Yes, I am.
– Is not this repression ?
– The honorable senator asks why do we not go to the other extreme?
– On your principle you should.
– Why do we not allow everybody in a town to sell beer, wines, and spirits?
– Why not?
– If this is what we are to get from temperance people, I do not know what temperance is. It has been provided that certain places of business must be licensed, because we get the largest revenue from the articles in which they deal, and the traffic has to be controlled in that way. We get licence fees from hotelkeepers and a number of other persons. For instance, a hawker is not allowed to go through a State and sell goods unless he takes out a licence. Why not allow all persons to have a free hand?
– No repression.
– Why’ have a licence i’h. connexion with the sale of any article ?
– Why not abolish the Customs?
– Abolish these things altogether, according to Senator O’Loghlin and his friends. Do they want this policy to be established1? I do not think so, because I believe that they are all in favour of the licensing principle, at any rate.
– That is repression.
– I do not think it is. I believe that a man has to go to certain places if he wants to buy drugs, and the man who sells drugs has to be licensed. Again, the man who lays on water or gas at one’s house has to be licensed. Why? Simply because it is necessary to see not only that these persons have the ability to do the work, but that they are capable of doing it.
– It shows that they have the power to do you a wrong if they so desire.
– Is every publican out simply to do wrong to people who go to his house? No, sir. I know quite a number of publicans who are good Labour men. I know publicans who do not touch drink at all, but are carrying on the liquor business in order to make a living. Our experience of total abstainers has been that they will condemn a man who stands in the Labour interest if he has ever had anything to do with the liquor traffic, as they call it. If he sells beer by the pint he is a curse, but if he sells beer by the cask he is one of the greatest blessings we can have in Australia. My opinion is that there should be the power given to establish a canteen in connexion with a camp. There is a number of honorable senators who think that an age limit should be fixed, say, twenty-one years. In some States - in Queensland, certainly - a hotelkeeper is not allowed to serve a person under the age of twenty-one years. I would rather have canteens established, even with that limitation in the Act, than I would have them not established at all, because I decline to interfere in that way with the manhood of this country. When men of nineteen and twenty-one years of age are prepared to shoulder the burden just in the same way as older men, are we to say that the former shall be debarred from getting a glass of liquor in camp, and that the latter, who are going out to assume the same responsibility, shall have no such disability placed upon them ? I do not assent to that proposition. When I was eighteen years of age I was a far better man, physically, than I am to-day. I was able to judge whether a thing was good for me or not, and, I believe, that the Australian youth is as good a man as I was then - at least, I hope he is. I am confident that when he takes his part in the war he will prove that he is at least as good a man as any of his fellowsoldiers.
– I cannot accept the amendment, and I trust that the Committee will not do so. The prohibition in the Defence Act appliesto a large number of places. It isgenerally referred to merely as a prohibition in camps, but as a matter of fact it is something more than that. At the present time we have camps of Naval and Military Forces which are composed of our Citizen Forces. The prohibition in regard to wet canteens applies to youths who have not quite reached 18 years of age, and in time it will apply to men of the age of 25 years, At present in camps where there are youths who are just over 11 years and men up to 25 years of age, wet canteens are prohibited. Then there are the camps of our Expeditionary Forces in which there are youths of 18 years of age and upwards. There are the troop-ships on which these Expeditionary Forces will embark, and there is also the overseas Tropical Force, which is distinct from the European Expeditionary Forces. Finally, we have the ships upon which our Naval Citizen Forces are trained as distinct from the Naval Citizen Forces camp. Under the Act and the Regulations, in all these cases no wet canteens are allowed. But wet canteens are not prohibited in forts or ships where none but the Permanent Forces are at work. I make this explanation because honorable senators may not be familiar with the extent to which, the amendment of Senator Turley goes. That honorable senator has referred to a number of intemperate speeches which have been delivered elsewhere on this question, and has asked me to take upon myself the responsibility for them. I must respectfully decline to do so. I am not responsible for these wild and whirling statements, and I am not going to defend them. They do not express my sentiments and they have nothing to do with this Committee.
– The statements were made in this Parliament, and I asked the Minister whether they were correct.
– I am not going to explain, defend, or attack those statements. I am prepared to put up my own defence of the section that is embodied in the Act and to leave it to stand on iia merits. In my opinion, the proposal of Senator Turley, even if carried, will prove most unsatisfactory in its operation. The honorable senator proposes that paragraph c of section 123a should be omitted, and that paragraphs a and b ‘ should be retained. Let me point out that if we omit paragraph c ‘ we shall be declaring that no canteen shall be established in any naval or military camp, fort, or post, except as prescribed for purely medical purposes while cadets’ are being trained there. But as they arc never trained there, such a provision would be a farce. It would be far better for the honorable senator to move to strike out the section altogether.
– There is no objection to canteens in those places.
– If the honorable senator’s amendment is to be carried we ought not to leave in the Bill a provision which will be a farce, but ought rather to strike out the section in its entirety.
– Is liquor allowed on our ships for medicinal purposes?
– Yes ; on all of them. In the stores of the Army Medical Corps, liquor is allowed for medicinal purposes..
– The amendment would extend beyond the camps of our Expeditionary Forces.
– Yes. I made au explanation of that before the honorable senator entered the chamber.
– Is not the present position that no wet canteens are allowed in any of the camps which have been enumerated by the Minister?
– Yes. But in the forts, when no Citizen Forces are present, wet canteens are allowed. Senator Turley has told us what is the experience of military officers in regard to these canteens. I am not a military officer, and I do not profess to have had experience from that stand-point. But honorable senators will admit that I have had a fair amount of experience of the Defence Department. Each year that I have occupied the position of Minister I have regarded it as my duty to visit the camps. In addition I have entered and remained in camps for three of four days at a time during the period of training. After all, it is the onlooker who sees most of the game, and it must be recollected that I was actuated only by a keen desire to obtain a practical knowledge of this matter.
A few years ago - although I was a strict teetotaller - I was in favour of wet canteens, because I recognised that there was a danger that if the sale of liquor in camp were prohibited the men would obtain inferior liquor outside of camp. Consequently I believed that the evil would be checked under a properly regulated canteen system. But as the result of ny experience in the Defence Department, I have entirely changed my views. I have arrived at the conclusion - more especially since the old militia force passed away, because in that force the men were generally of greater age than are those to be found in our Citizen Forces - that the wet canteens are a danger and an evil, and that they lead to drinking amongst men who, prior to entering camps, did not drink at all.
– That is no reason why the wet canteen under proper supervision should be abolished.
– I am not assigning that as the only reason for its abolition. I can tell the honorable senator that during a portion of the time I have filled .the position of Minister of Defence in the present Government the Broadmeadows camp had a wet canteen. During the remaining portion of its existence the wet canteen has been abolished. I can truthfully say that I received far more complaints of drunkenness amongst soldiers in the streets of Melbourne during the period that the wet canteen was in operation than I have received since.
– How many men were in the camp?
– There was a greater number in camp after the wet canteen had been abolished than there was previously, and there has practically been a cessation of these complaints since its abolition.
– Has the Minister seen four soldiers carrying another soldier to the railway station on their way to the camp at Broadmeadows?
– No. I have not seen a great deal of drunkenness amongst the soldiers about our streets. But during the period that the wet canteen was in existence at Broadmeadows scarcely a day passed on which I did not receive letters complaining of drunkenness among soldiers who were on leave, and who were to be scon about the streets of Melbourne.
Senator Turley spoke as if some different system of leave had been in operation during the continuance in camp of the wet canteen. As a matter of fact, the question of leave does not enter into this matter at all. The same facilities exist for getting men drink outside camp, if a wet canteen be established there, as exist if only a dry canteen is established. I say this in order to remove any misapprehension which the honorable senator’s remarks may have caused.
– But the leave is in the discretion of the officials.
– The honorable senator implied that if a wet canteen were established in camp the same amount of leave would not be granted.
– Would not fewer men desire to get leave ?
– The experience is that every man who obtains leave gets out of camp as soon as possible. I would direct honorable senators’ attention to the ° fact that a decided change is coming over public opinion in regard to this matter. Only a few months ago a general order was published in the United States Navy, under which no intoxicants are allowed - not even wines for the officers’ table. Right down to the gun-room no liquor is obtainable except for medicinal purposes.
– Then abolish your table money for Admiral Patey
– In the last camp for her Expeditionary Forces, at- a place called Valcartier, Canada prohibited the sale of liquor absolutely. The New Zealand Government, whose troopships are alongside of our own to-day, have also prohibited the sale of liquor on board those vessels, except for medicinal purposes. Those ships, I repeat, are steaming alongside of our own, and whilst their troops cannot obtain liquor on board except for medicinal purposes, our own have the right to secure it under Naval regulation. It is assumed that each man shall have but one pint of beer each day, and that it shall be supplied and drunk in the presence of an officer.
– Hear; hear ! That is control.
– Does the honorable senator think that it is effective?
– It should be.
– I have here a file of papers, which’ some honorable senators have read.
– I read them, and they refer to one isolated case.
– I cannot refer to that case for the reason that to do so would harrow the feelings of the relatives of a particular individual. <.
– It would not strengthen the honorable senator’s argument if he did refer to it.
– I ask honorable senators to read that file of papers.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - They show that the control is not effective.
– Quite so. If on board a troop-ship, where the men are living under the eyes of their officers, we cannot get effective control in this matter, how can we expect to secure it in a military camp, where the space is one hundred times greater for the same number of men?
– What is the use of a pint of beer to a man who wants drink ?
– I remind honorable senators that Russia, one of our Allies, has absolutely struck away alcoholic drink, not only in the Russian Army, but for the whole of her people. The Government of Russia, by one stroke of the pen, have, in this time of war, when every penny of revenue is needed, sacrificed £90,000,000 of revenue from drink. Why was this done ? It was not done wildly or blindly, but because it was felt that to prevent drinking would increase the efficiency of the Naval and Military Forces.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - How long is it since that was determined upon ?
– That was done during the first or second week of the war.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Does it apply to the whole of the people of Russia, or only to the troops?
– To the whole of the people. That was the effect of the rescript of the Czar, because it should be remembered that the Government in Russia, to a great extent, control the consumption of liquor.
– That was under Czardom, and not under government by the people.
– I am not dealing now with varying methods of government, but I am showing what various Governments have done in this matter from the
Democratic Government of New Zealand to Czardom in Russia. It must be assumed that they have taken this action with a definite purpose, and there can be no question but that the purpose is to secure the efficiency of the troops.
– Has the Imperial Government stopped the issue of grog in the British Navy?
– I do not know whether they have or not, but I- can tell Senator Needham that the British Government have closed the hotels at an earlier hour than was the practice before the war.
– That is not the point.
– I think that it is to the point, because the Imperial Government knew that the British soldiers had opportunities to secure liquor in the hotels. The question of the supply of drink to those who are in the habit of taking it is not the only question at issue. Honorable senators should remember that many of the men who volunteered for our Expeditionary Forces were teetotallers when they first went into the camps, and the associations formed there and the presence of the canteen have tempted them to become drinkers. We know that there is a feeling amongst misguided young fellows that, if they refuse to take a glass of beer when their mates are drinking it, they may be looked upon as milksops. That feeling is not so strong to-day as it used to be. It is gradually dying out, but the fact remains that many men in the camps who previously did not touch liquor took it there for the first time, and because they were not used to it, took more than they could carry, and got drunk. Senator Turley referred us to statistics to show that the Belgians are a hard-drinking people. I wonder he did not also refer us to the cables received describing the brutalities committed by the German soldiers when they were drunk, and particularly to the fact that their brutalities and excesses increased, and they butchered women and children, when they took possession of the champagne producing districts of France.
– Did they get the champagne at a canteen?
– No. These are the men Senator Turley holds up to us as examples because they are big drinkers.
– I did not hold them up as examples.
– The honorable senator invited us to believe that the endurance and fine fighting qualities of the Belgians were due to the fact that they are big drinkers. I have reminded him of other results from drinking by soldiers. We are sending our men into those scenes of temptation, and it would be far better for them if we could inculcate habits of sobriety and the habit of total abstinence amongst them. It is better that they should go to the front as total abstainers than that they should be left open to the temptation to indulge in drink when, if bereft of their senses by drinking, they might commit excesses which would bring shame and disgrace upon the Commonwealth.
– On the honorable senator’s argument, we should only enroll total abstainers.
– On the question of efficiency, I would ask honorable senators what are the orders given to men training for athletic sports or for a football premier- « ship. The order issued by their trainer to the team that is to battle for the football premiership is that they shall take no beer and no alcohol. The men we are training in these Expeditionary Forces are being trained for the grimmest game in human experience, a game in which the stakes are not the premiership of a football season, but the lives or deaths of individuals, and even of nations. If, in connexion with our athletic sports, we recognise that, to secure efficiency, our athletes must swear off liquor, the men we are training for the grimmest game on earth may well be called upon to refrain from any indulgence calculated to impair their efficiency. The members of a football team in training for a premiership are directed to cut out alcohol. We do not go in this matter as far as does the trainer of a football team, since footballers are obliged to abstain from alcohol, not only while they are in the training sheds, but for the whole twenty-four hours. We do not ask that of our soldiers, but that they should not take liquor whilst they are in camp preparing for the grim game of war.
– Surely the honorable senator does not think that his statements are correct?
– I do.
– Why, they train on beer.
– Senator McDougall cannot get that down my neck.
– I have been in the game.
– The pugilist who expects to succeed must cut out alcohol. I know that men who are being trained are directed to cut out intoxicating liquor. I am hopeful that the amendment will be defeated. I regard this as a very serious matter. It would be a calamity in my opinion if, when this system is going on so well without the wet canteens, we should now decide to establish those canteens. There has been practically no demand for them by the soldiers at the camp. They are contented.
– Are they?
– Yes. No complaints have been made, and there is no dissatisfaction amongst the men. Many of the officers, I have no doubt, like their liquor, and would like to have canteens established, but I can inform honorable senators that one of our InspectorsGeneral, who at the outset of his career in Australia was in favour of the wet canteen, told me before he left the country that he had become converted to the establishment of the dry canteen.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - Was that Sir Ian Hamilton?
– No, I refer to Inspector-General Kirkpatrick. He was at first afraid that if wet canteens were not permitted liquor would be brought into the camps, but he told me that he had kept a strict watch, and that, so far as he could see, the rule was well enforced, and that officers and men, with a few isolated exceptions, were loyal to it. I do not propose to labour the matter further, but I appeal to the Committee not to make the drastic change proposed, especially at this time when the war is in progress, and we are training men to take part in one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. We know that they will need to be at the highest Ditch of physical perfection. Everything which might have the effect of hindering their preparation or impairing their efficiency should be thrown aside. Our men must be trained to the limit, and medical testimony is against the use of alcohol, and condemns it as a means for securing physical efficiency. I refer honorable senators to the records of our hospitals. Ten years ago the drink bill of the Melbourne Hos pital ran into thousands of pounds. Today, when the hospital serves five times as many patients, the liquor bill is not one-tenth of what is was ten years ago. It is recognised that even for medical purposes alcohol is not useful. On the other hand, the milk bill has taken the place of the alcohol bill, and you will scarcely find a medical man anywhere in Australia to-day who will not assert that alcohol impairs physical and mental efficiency. I put it to the Committee that this is not a question to be decided by the personal likes or dislikes of honorable senators. They are not themselves taking part in this grim game of war, but they are dealing with the men who will have to do so. I ask honorable senators not to decide this question on the ground that, because some of them take a drink occasionally, they would like to give it to others. I invite every member of the Committee to ask himself the question, “ Do I believe in my heart of hearts that liquor will be of any assistance to the men who are being sent on this grim mission ? “ I ask honorable senators to consider whether it would not be wise to remove all danger of temptation to drink, either in moderation or excess, from the men whom we are sending out on so terrible and dangerous a mission. I appeal to the Committee to reject the amendment.
– I hope that we shall consider this question in a calm and judicial manner. I agree with Senator Pearce’s sentiments, and indorse his magnificent idea of trying to have an absolutely sober and. temperate body of men fighting for Australia and the Empire at this critical juncture of the nation’s history; but, with all sincerity, I think he is on the wrong track. On Tuesday night I made a special visit to Broadmeadows to obtain information at first hand. I told the military policeman on the Broadmeadows station who I was, and what I wanted to find out; but for a while he would give me no information, because he said he was an Imperial officer, and did not want to express opinions in another country. I told him that my intentions were sincere and earnest, and that I wanted to give a right and proper vote on the question, my desire being that the health of the troops should be safeguarded, and that they should be a sober and sane body of men when they left Australia’s shores. He then said, “ I can give you my personal assurance that since the wet canteen was abolished in the second contingent, I, as one of the officers in charge, and a practical teetotaller, have had more trouble with men coming home drunk from Melbourne than when the wet canteen was in existence.” I should like the Women’s Christian Temperance Unions and various other temperance bodies, whose work I appreciate and admire, to look at the matter in this way, that until we stop the importation and manufacture of liquor in every shape and form we are not going to make men sober by Act of Parliament or by regulations applied to a military camp. If we had wet canteens at Broadmeadows, or Blackboy, in Western Australia, under proper regulation and supervision by officers whom we could trust, open for one hour in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one at night, and the men were allowed a certain quantity of ale or good wine, it would undoubtedly tend towards a better state of sobriety than exists at present. I do not want to act as a spy by telling the Minister what goes on at Broadmeadows at the present time, but it is my duty to inform him of the facts as they really exist. Most of the soldiers who come into town would probably not come in if they had the opportunity to have a glass of ale at a wet canteen at Broadmeadows. They meet many friends in town who want to say farewell to them, and the first salutation is the good old Australian one of “ Come and have a drink.” In this way they have more drinks than they should have, and about half -past 11 leave the city for the camp, most of them calling first at a little hotel in Russell-street and buying an inferior quality of whisky in a flask to take home to square the sentry so as to get through the lines. I am informed that that is an absolute fact. Surely the Minister will admit that it would be far better if the men were prevented from coming into the city, because human nature is human nature, and once in they will have a drink. It is of no use for Senator Senior, whose temperance principles I admire, to say that we can make all the soldiers at Broadmeadows teetotallers by Act of Parliament. I wish we could do so, but the men come into town, and get perhaps a little more alcohol than is good for them, and then, to make matters worse, take home these flasks of whisky. They are not searched on going through the lines, and they take the risks. If there was a wet canteen in existence providing only beer and wine - for I understand that no brandy or whisky is on sale at these canteens - the men would not be so much inclined’ to fall under the influence of alcohol.
– That is rather subtle reasoning.
– But Senator Pearce ‘s reasoning is that because he has established a dry canteen at Broadmeadows, there will not be a single drunken soldier in Victoria. That is absolutely ridiculous and illogical reasoning. I will vote with any man or Government who will absolutely prohibit the manufacture and importation of alcohol. I admire the Russian Government for abolishing the sale of vodka, and the French Government for preventing the sale of absinthe; but if Senator Pearce wants to make the soldiers of the SecondExpeditionary Force a teetotal body, he must either bring in a law to abolish the sale of drink altogether or prevent every man from leaving the lines, and also stop outsiders from bringing in liquor surreptitiously. As one who wants to see the Force in every way a credit, and Australian soldiers to make a name for themselves on the battle-fields of Europe, I say in all sincerity that Senator Pearce’s action is really making the men take more drink than they would if they had a wet canteen. The honorable senator said that the wet canteen system had been abolished in Canada.
– I said the last military camp at Valcartier - the camp of the Expeditionary Force - was a dry camp.
– Is the honorable senator aware that in Great Britain today seven soldiers at a camp can demand a canteen, and have it under proper supervision ? I am giving the Minister every credit for his action, but he is on wrong lines in the interests of the soldiers themselves. If he can tell me that simultaneously with the abolition of the wet canteen he is going to prevent any soldier from coming to Melbourne and going into hotels, and to prevent liquor being taken into the camp, I shall support him up tothe hilt. I am convinced that there is more drunkenness going on at the camp now than there was in the first Expeditionary camp when the wet canteen was in existence.
– How do you account for that?
– Easily. The men have human desires, and cannot be made teetotallers by regulation. If they have an opportunity to get out of camp, with or without leave, they will do it. They sometimes break leave, come into Melbourne, and have drinks, whether the Minister says they are allowed to or not.
– Why should they get more outside than inside?
– Because if there was a proper canteen in camp under regulation and supervision the men would be allowed only two or three glasses a day, just as is done on board a troopship. The men have more opportunities and more temptations in Bourke, Collins, or Swanston streets.
– Would not the same temptation be open to them even if they had a wet canteen?
– Let me give an instance. Last Sunday I met at Brighton a friend whom I have known since childhood. The hotels at Brighton are open on Sunday to bona fide travellers. This friend told me that he had come from the Broadmeadows camp all that distance to have a glass of beer because he wanted one. He said, “As a rule I never have more than two or three glasses of beer in a week, but to-day I squared the sergeant to give me leave, and came to Brighton, and have had three or four glasses of beer, whereas if there was a proper canteen in the camp I should have had only one.”
– I question his bona fides.
– I do not. I would take his word as readily as I would take that of the honorable senator. Senator Pearce said that the awful atrocities taking place in Belgium and the champagne districts of France were due to the fact that the German soldiers had raided the champagne cellars ; but will the abolition of the wet canteen at Broadmeadows stop those outrages or prevent any European soldier from raiding the champagne cellars if he feels so inclined.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I do not propose to detain the Committee at any length. Some of the letters which honorable senators - at any rate, representatives of Victoria - have received to-day contain statements with which I heartily agree. A lady wrote to me from a Melbourne suburb in these terms: -
I view with grave concern the challenge made to Senator Pearce’s decision to have a dry canteen at the camp. One who has any knowledge of medical science at all knows that in allowing our soldiers alcohol we are helping them to become easy victims to the foe, and also rendering them more susceptible to deadly diseases on the battle-field. I trust you will do all in your power to help our soldiers.
I am endeavouring, honestly and sincerely, to do all in my power to help the soldiers by trying to defeat the system established by the Minister of Defence. I may be wrong, but I believe that while human nature is constituted as it is, while men have their desires and passions, it is better to have these desires and passions under governmental control than to allow them to run riot as at present. Apparently, there is an unholy alliance between the Minister of Defence and the hotelkeepers of Melbourne, just the same as there is an unholy alliance between the bookmakers and the clergymen in connexion with the proposal to legalize the use of the totalizator. Some of these people, may I say the “ wowser “ section of the community-
– Who are they?
– Generally, they are intolerant, intemperate individuals.
– That is not a description of a “wowser” at all.
– That is what they generally are. They do not understand human nature, and think that by regulation or law they can reform the whole of the world. Right down from the days of the Pounder of Christianity, some people have held that opinion. It has never been done yet by the church or the Parliament, and, “ although I am a Socialist, I am inclined to think that even Socialism will not make men all that one would like them to be. Therefore, I appeal to the Minister, in the interests of the sobriety of the troops, and in the interests of the nation, to see if he cannot relax the inane regulation which is doing more harm than good. I recognise that we all want to do the best we can for the soldiers who are going abroad to fight for the nation. We desire to reach the same goal, and I hope that the Committee will find the best possible means of insuring that our soldiers shall be, if not total abstainers, temperate to a certain extent. I think that if the men are allowed to have a glass of grog once or twice a day at the camp, the temptation to drink will be removed from them as well as the desire to go into the city, where they would have practically a free hand.
– You do not imply that they will come here in order to get drunk ?
– I can say that many men come in from Broadmeadows camp for the sake of having a drink of beer because they cannot get any liquor at the camp, and instead of taking one drink they take one glass too many.
– How many is that?
– I do not know, as it is all a matter of temperament and degree. I may be wrong, but I am under the impression that the Minister of Defence once took the same attitude as I am taking now. I believe that he was once under the idea that it was a good thing to have some regulation of the use of alcohol in these camps.
– He told us that this morning.
– Then why has he changed his attitude?
– He is a sadder and wiser man.
– He is a sadder, but not a wiser man. I desire to make my position on this question absolutely clear. I do not want any of my friends who are connected with temperance organizations to think for a moment that I am advocating the use of drink by the soldiers. I have a totally different idea in my mind. As one who takes a drink and knows that others do the same thing, I recognise that we cannot prevent the liquor traffic. I am advocating what I think is the best method to control the traffic. I am acting in the interests of the soldiers themselves: I know that there are some honorable senators who intend to vote for depriving soldiers of an opportunity to get a glass or two of beer, under proper control, who perhaps would be the very first to frequent the bar in this building. I do not blame them for that, but I do not want them to be political hypocrites. If it is right for those who make the laws under which the soldiers have to live, and under which perhaps some of them may have to die, to give themselves an opportunity to obtain one glass of drink a day, a week, or a year, they ought not to deprive fellow men of a similar privilege.
– Are the conditions the same?
– The conditions are not the same, because here an honorable senator can get one or a> hundred glasses of liquor if he likes, but at a wet canteen the soldier would only be allowed to obtain two or three drinks a day. What is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. If it is right for the Minister to close the wet canteen at Broadmeadows camp, it would be only right for us to close the canteen in this building. I have spoken in all sincerity, and I wish my remarks to be taken in that spirit.
– I realize the importance of the amendment of Senator Turley, and also the sincerity of the Minister for Defence in endeavouring to send to the front the very best men, physically, mentally, and morally. I am sure that every honorable senator realizes that the Minister was actuated by the best motives in taking the course which he did. At the same time I think he will give those who take a different view the same credit as we give to him.
– Yes; certainly.
– He will recognise, I am sure, that we desire that only the best men whom Australia can produce at any time shall go to the defence of the Empire whenever its prestige is threatened. I listened very carefully to the speech of the Minister in reply to Senator Turley. I confess that, had I been wavering on this question, his speech would not have convinced me; on tha contrary, it would have driven me into the opposite ranks. The Minister has given an order to abolish wet canteens in all camps of military training. It may be surprising to him to learn that he has not abolished the wet canteen at all, for the camps are just about as wet to-day - perhaps more so - than they were prior to the issue of the regulation.
– That shows the need of a remedy.
– The remedy suggested by the Minister is not an effective one.
– enow us what will be.
– If the honorable senator will be patient I will endeavor to explain what the remedy should be, though it may not be effective. The Minister, I know, is a busy man. He is in office at a most crucial period, and therefore he has not the same opportunity of seeing things as, perhaps, we of the rank and file have. I have seen soldiers in uniform taken out of the Essendon train and given the frogs’ march across the platform to reach the other train to take them to Broadmeadows-
– Was that in connexion with the present camp or the previous one?
– I am referring to members of the First Expeditionary Force whom. I saw in that condition after the abolition of the wet canteen.
– I saw that at Flinders-street station last night.
– What does that prove, anyhow?
– I will show directly what it proves.
– It proves that the men did not get the liquor in camp.
– The point is that the men are human beings.
– That is not disputed for a moment.
– And just as the honorable senator would like a glass of ginger ale, so these men would like a glass of beer. I ask the Minister if he will complete his system. Will he prevent any officer in the camp from having whisky and beer? If a soldier cannot be trusted to have a glass of beer or two in the day. why should an officer be allowed to have a glass of beer or whisky in the camp ?
– He is not allowed.
– The Minister’s reply absolutely destroys his own position. If he is going to carry out this system of preventing a soldier from having a drink he should have a guard at the entrance to the camp to examine every soldier when he comes back from his leave.
– There is.
– Is an officer examined ?
– Then how does an officer get whisky in the camp ?
– If he has whisky there he is liable to punishment for committing a breach of the regulation.
– I am pointing out to the Minister the weakness of his regulation. I tell him that I have seen liquor at both camps - at Broadmeadows and Blackboy Hill.
– They will not let you in any more.
– I do not care whether they let me in or not, and I am not telling tales out of school. I desire to be consistent. This morning the Minister said that in taking drink a soldier impaired his health, and that he wished every soldier to go to the front in the best physical condition. Who should set an example? The officer.
– The Minister. - Senator NEEDHAM.- The Minister is not going to the front, but I believe that if it were necessary he would be just as willing to go as the next man. If an officer in a camp can have a drink without impairing his health, surely the soldier can have a drink, too !
– Did Admiral Patey have his drink - £4 10s. a day ?
– Admiral Patey has been promoted, his salary has been increased, and he is now receiving a “ table “ allowance of £4 10s. per day. I believe that during my absence from the chamber the Minister explained exactly what that £4 10s. per day is intended to cover. But his explanation followed the lines of most Ministerial explanations, in. that it did not give us all the facts. Is Admiral Patey forbidden to have his glass of champagne, or whisky, or rum? Are the sailors on board his vessel prohibited from obtaining these things? No. The Minister has alluded to the traditions which are behind the British Navy and the British Army. In reply to my inquiry, he affirmed that grog is unobtainable by the sailors in the British Navy to-day. Let me tell him that every sailor in that Navy is allowed his glass of grog, once or twice each day. If he does not get it he takes its equivalent in money. We have built up a great Empire by the efforts of our men on land and Bea-
– On beer.
– At any rate, they were not forbidden their beer. It is only within the last year or two that this wowseristic idea has laid hold of some of our public men.
– It was about fifty years ago.
– How old is the British Empire?
– It is a bit older than that.
– The men who built it up and died for it were not prevented from having their glass of beer if they chose to take it. Again, I would point out that the regulation issued by the Minister is, in operation, ineffective. In the streets of Melbourne each night we may see drunken soldiers in uniform. Why? Because they have left camp, where they could not obtain refreshment, and have come into town, where they have been lionized. People give them drink, and the result is the frog’s march to which I have referred- If the Minister wishes to be absolutely consistent he should issue a regulation, that no soldier in uniform shall be served with drink in any hotel in Australia.
– He cannot do that. I saw a blackfellow in uniform yesterday.
– These men should not be served with liquor in any hotel if they are denied it in camp. From every stand-point, the regulation is ineffective.
– Is that any reason why it should not be put into operation?
– I am pointing out that it is ineffective inasmuch as it does not prevent drunkenness amongst the troops.
– Neither does the law against stealing prevent theft.
– Then, does the honorable senator advocate its repeal?
– Certainly not.
– Is it a crime to have a glass of beer?
– The crime is created by the conditions which it induces.
– I like that wowseristic statement again. Am I a criminal because I take a glass of beer? I visited the Blackboy Hill camp in
Western Australia, where the chaplains assured me that they desired to see the wet canteens restored. They pointed out that from the moment those canteens were abolished, sly-grog selling commenced. I passed outside the camp lines with two or three officers, who are now at sea on their May to the front, to a locality which had been nick-named Hay-street. It was a place where a number of persons were permitted to sell packets of pins, needles, &c. The men went outside the camp to this area, ostensibly to purchase these articles, and frequently returned with liquor.
– Is not that a charge against the police ?
– No . I am referring to a military camp. The men went outside the lines, presumably to purchase pins and needles, but returned to camp with very different articles in their pockets. If wet canteens are not to be established, the next best thing to do is to make every officer and soldier sign the pledge before enlisting.
– That would be honest.
– It would be. No officer or soldier should be allowed to touch drink after he has put on his uniform.
– Sobriety is a condition of employment in many trades.
– 1 am not an advocate of insobriety. °
– The honorable senator is an advocate of the canteen, which leads to insobriety.
– The canteen which I have in my mind is one which would be under proper supervision.
– The canteen which the honorable senator has in his mind is not that which is in operation in the British Forces to-day.
– The canteen which I have in my mind is that which is in existence to-day in the Fremantle Barracks. With two other members of Parliament - one a member of the Commonwealth Parliament and the other of the Western Australian Parliament - I recently visited those barracks. We were shown round by the major, and at the conclusion of our inspection were invited into the canteen. I had a glass of beer and my companions had soft drinks. I asked the major what was the rule in regard to the supply of liquor to the troops, and his reply was, “ Each soldier can have only two drinks daily, and he has to consume them within the canteen. The soldier behind the bar is responsible for any misconduct.”
– Can that system be controlled better than can the present system ?
– That is the canteen which I advocate should be established in the camps.
– Can the authorities control it?
– Absolutely. What is to stop them? What are the officers for?
– The honorable senator said that the men got the liquor from a lace shop.
– If Senator Shannon cannot follow my remarks, I cannot help it. I am merely pointing out the kind of canteen which should be established. The Minister has not abolished the wet canteen in the barracks. That being so, will the men there, who may be called upon to-morrow to face the foe, be unable properly to respond to that call because they have taken a glass of beer? Let me remind honorable senators that one of the greatest industrial enterprises in the history of the world from a constructional stand-point is the Panama Canal. The men engaged upon that undertaking had to face very trying climatic conditions. De Lesseps, who originally controlled the work, finished up in gaol, and the whole enterprise was a failure. While he was in charge of the undertaking the mortality was abnormal. But after it had been placed under Government control the death rate was reduced very considerably, notwithstanding that at various points a canteen was established at which «very employe was allowed to have a glass of beer or of wine under the supervision of the canteen officer.
– Is that how they cleared out the mosquitos there ?
– Yet the Minister told us that if a man has a glass of beer, or two glasses, he is not fit to go to the front to fight for the Empire.
– He did not say that.
– He said it absolutely, as Hansard will show. He said that he wanted to send men to the front physically and morally fit, and that if they took a glass of beer or two their moral and physical fitness would be impaired. He also pointed out that German soldiers under the influence of liquor have committed atrocities which have debased their manhood. But I would remind him that these men did not get that drink in a canteen, but as the result of looting the places which they had captured. Whilst the Minister is actuated by the very best motives, it is a reflection on the manhood of Australia to say that unless troops are total abstainers they cannot shoulder arms to defend our Empire. That is the logical sequence of the Minister’s argument.
– The logical sequence of the honorable senator’s argument is that if a man loots drink, it will do him harm, and if he gets it in the way the honorable senator suggests it will do him no harm.
– The man who gets drink by looting is under no control, and satisfies his appetite to the full. Under the canteen system a man cannot do that, because a responsible officer will be in charge of the canteen. I have mentioned some instances of men who have indulged too freely in drink. They knew that if it is “ a long way to Tipperary,” a long time would probably elapse before they could get another drink, and, like the camel, they took in all they could hold to carry them over that time. The wet canteen, under supervision, affords a remedy for that kind of thing. I have confidence in Australian manhood, and I believe that if the wet canteens were reinstated in our camps not a single man in uniform would be found under the influence of liquor in our streets.
– That was disproved by the facts in Adelaide.
– And in Melbourne, and every other city in Australia as well.
– One swallow never made a summer ; though my honorable friends are, perhaps, suggesting that too many swallows make a drunken soldier. Though I advocate the reinstatement of wet canteens, I wish it to be clearly understood that I am not an advocate of intemperance. The more we attempt to keep things away from people the more eager becomes their desire to get them. We have attached to this Parliament, as Senator Blakey has pointed out, a bar, at which we can obtain the refreshment we desire at any time. I do not know that there is a more sober body of men in the world than are the members of this National Parliament. If we can trust ourselves, we should be prepared to trust others. If we refuse our soldiers the right to have a glass of beer, we should close down the bar upstairs, and should determine never to enter a hotel again.
– We shall consider that afterwards.
– We should consider it now. It is entirely relevant to this debate. It has been shown that officers can have the refreshment they require when they want it. Will the Minister contend that this impairs their physical or moral efficiency? I do not think that he will. The example should certainly be set by the officers; and if we who are legislating for these men insist that their canteens should be dry canteens, we should close the refreshment bar and decline to enter a hotel.
– Let me remind the honorable senator that the Minister of Defence has already set the example.
– That may be so; but the officers under him do not follow it. Why does the Minister not insist that his officers shall set the same example? The Minister has issued a regulation that the men are to have no drink, and why should he not issue a similar regulation applying to the officers?
– The regulation applies to the whole camp.
– I say that it does not apply to the officers.
– It may, in some cases, be evaded.
– That is a strange admission. I say that we should reinstate the wet canteen, as, under that system, the men will be able to secure the refreshments they require under supervision.
– Why have any of these regulations at all? Why not give the men an unlimited supply of liquor, if they want it?
– I want the reinstatement of the wet canteen, where the sale of drink will be under proper supervision.
– Why all this supervision? Why not give the men a free hand in the matter just as we have here?
– Personally, I should be .prepared to do so, because I would trust the men as I trust myself, having confidence in Australian manhood. I think that the Minister of Defence will, upon reflection, see that he has taken up a very unwise attitude in this matter. I shall record my vote in favour of the amendment, with the full knowledge of the responsibility I assume, but without any desire whatever to encourage intemperance amongst our troops or the community generally.
– I have received several communications from temperance organizations in New South Wales advising me to vote in a certain way on this amendment. I speak on the subject from the point of view of a man who does not know the taste of beer. I have not tasted it for thirty-seven years, and if I live for thirty-seven years more I do not think I will taste it. I was a total abstainer for twenty-five years, and my first public appearance was made in connexion with a temperance organization. Speaking from this point of view, I am going to give my vote for wet canteens, on the ground that I have not the right to deprive any man of the privilege of drinking beer if he wants it. I have read that an army chaplain attending the Presbyterian Assembly claimed that he had not seen a great deal of drunkenness in the Broadmeadows Camp when there was a wet canteen there. When we have such evidence, we ought not to fear to trust the men in this matter. When I was a strict temperance advocate I worked with men who did just as good work as I did, but who had a glass of beer at 11 o’clock if they could get it, and another when they knocked off at 5 o’clock. They were just as good men as I could claim to be, I say we have no right to deprive such men of what they regard as a luxury if they want it, and think it is good for them. I visited the camp of the Garrison Artillery in my own State several times. I saw men there who had given their lives to military ‘work, and they were very much aggrieved because they were not permitted, as they previously had been for many years, to obtain beer at their canteen and at the sergeants’ mess. I say that it is not right to deprive those men of a privilege because a few would abuse it. Senator Pearce has used the argument that men training for football premierships and athletes generally are always prohibited from taking intoxicating drink. That is a fallacious argument. I happen to know that men in training for athletic sports, football matches, and so on, are permitted to drink beer under certain conditions, but, of course, those who indulge freely and become sodden with drink are turned out. I say that any man who, in the camp, abuses the privilege to obtain beer should be dealt with. I have seen some disgraceful things in connexion with the Expeditionary Forces. On “Wednesday afternoon I saw a blackfellow in uniform making an exhibition of himself in Flindersstreet. Men who are clearly so disposed should not be allowed to go with our Forces. The men who do these things should be punished, but we should not punish all the men because of the indiscretions of a few. That is what the Minister is doing in depriving men who would not abuse the privilege of what they consider a luxury and a right. I should not care if all the hotels in Australia were closed, and if there were not a brewery in the country. It would mean nothing to me.
– It would mean a lot to the community.
– That is so, and those who advocate the principle of total prohibition will always have my support. I will not tell honorable senators why I left the temperance organization, but it was not because I did something to which they objected, but because I considered that the organizations were not making for the goal for which they should make. The Minister of Defence based an argument against the wet canteen’ on the atrocities committed by the Germans. If they were due to drink, I am sorry to say that we have some in our own community who would behave in exactly . the same way if they had the opportunity. I say that that was an unfair argument to use. There is no proof that the atrocities committed by the Germans were due to drink. They might very well be at tributed to some other causes. I know what a maddened soldier is. We have read of the awful atrocities that occurred during the war between the Balkan States, and I suppose we shall get many more particulars later on of evil things done during the present war. The horrors of war are such that it is the last thing we should desire to see, but we shall not get our best men to go to the war if we say that we will not send any who take a glass of beer. I can see what is occurring in the streets of our cities, and what many of these men are doing. I say that there are greater sources of danger to the men in the streets than the taking of a glass of beer. There is great danger that they may introduce into their camps evils which have been the cause of the downfall of many an army. To mention these things is not considered Christian, and they have to be covered up; but I say that if the Minister and the Defence Department would see that the men are not inflicted with some of these awful diseases before they leave our big cities they would do more for them than they will do by preventing them having a drink in a canteen. I did not think it right to vote for the amendment without giving my reasons. I support it because I do not consider that by any vote of mine I have a right to deprive any man of what he considers a right and a luxury. I speak from a temperance point of view. I can recognise quite as well as Senators Watson and Pearce tha awful crimes that are committed as the result of over indulgence in drink. I am prepared to admit that it is the curse of civilization, and those who will advocate the prohibition of its manufacture altogether will have my assistance. Those who wish to uproot a rotten tree will not accomplish the end they have in view by lopping off a few leaves at the end of the branches. I shall give my vote for the amendment, because I am not willing to deprive a fellow citizen of what he regards as a right.
– The subject of wet versus dry canteens has at least not furnished a dry discussion, but though it may have its humorous side, it has also its very serious side. While I do not want to make a public confession of my habits, as the last speaker has done, I am prepared to say that 1 approach the question from a directly opposite stand-point. The object of the contending parties is to devise some means to make the men going to the front good soldiers, good citizens, and better men when they return. The Minister and his supporters think they will be better soldiers by having some form of restraint imposed on them while in the Expeditionary Force. Those who take the opposite view believe that they would make even better soldiers by having a modified restraint imposed on them. Modified restraint reminds me of the man who said it was as well to practise virtue in moderation, and I cannot see how modified restraint can be applied without landing us in a very illogical and unpractical position. The Minister thinks that these young soldiers who have been lifted into an entirely different position in life from that which they have occupied in the past will be morally, mentally, and physically improved by restraint. I think that course is the right one, and my main reason is that these young men in their present circumstances are subject to rigid supervision and leading an entirely different life from that to which they were previously accustomed. It is principally on account of the young men of the expedition that I am taking the stand I propose to take in casting my vote on this question. In the majority of cases the human wrecks that we see in every walk in life have fallen, not of their own volition, but through getting into bad company in their early years. We are not dealing inthis matter with the average type of citizen, but with young men separated from their fellows, regimentalized, and made to observe very rigid rules. They are brought so closely together that they almost form a huge composite family, and must be treated quite differently from the way in which we should treat the average citizen. A young man of eighteen or nineteen years of age, who may never have drunk a glass of liquor in his life, finds himself working and sleeping with a number of comrades, among whom may be some with a strong liking or desire for drink. We know how a weak or impressionable lad would fare in the hands of one of these fellows who would say, “ Come and have a glass of grog; be as good as the next man; don’t be effeminate.” To provide a wet canteen in a camp of that kind makes things only too easy for the man who wants to lead a young fellow astray. I desire to save these helpless victims from the cursed evil of drink. I do not hold with Senator McDougall that the solution of the trouble is the absolute prohibition of the manufacture and sale of drink. That is impossible and impracticable, but in this case the law of environment holds good to a remarkable degree, and these young fellows should be shielded from the risk of yielding to the temptations placed before them. We all admit that Senator Turley’s motives are as pure as our own in this matter, but he has certainly employed the attitude of the temperance party towards the Labour party as a reason why on this occasion we should turn a deaf ear to their arguments.
I presume the honorable senator uses that argument as a means of getting votes for his proposal, but I should like him to recall the attitude of the liquor trade generally throughout the Commonwealth towards the Labour party. What have the brewers and publicans ever done to help forward the Labour movement? The Swan Brewery, in Western Australia, contributed over £100 towards the funds of the Liberal party, and when I interviewed the managing director and asked him to give me a donation towards resisting a reduction of wages to 7s. a day in that State, he would not give me a brass farthing to support the very men who were the main support of his business. I know dozens of men engaged in the manufacture and sale of liquor throughout the Commonwealth who not only withhold support from the Labour party, but use all their influence to bring about its downfall and defeat, so that when Senator Turley, on the one hand, urges that the Good Templars are opposed to us officially, I urge on the other that the breweries have been against us in the past, and that the publicans as a class have never favoured us unless they have seen that some advantage was going to accrue to them or their trade. If any trade should stand behind us by reason of the support it gets from the individual members of our party, it is the liquor trade, because it draws its main support - aye, its life’s sustenance - from the patronage it gets from the ranks of the Labour party.
Although the liquor trade are against us in politics, one of our members is submitting a motion which, if it does not directly favour their cause, will certainly be smiled upon by them.
– Never mind that question. The question is, “ Should a man who wants a glass of beer have it or not?”
– I say he should not under the circumstances, and I say sofor the sake of the young men, many of whom have never touched intoxicating liquor in their lives. I contend that on behalf of the younger, the softer, and the more impressionable members of the Expeditionary Forces we should pause before we bring within their reach liquor of any kind.
– Would you deprive the older man of his glass of beer to save the youth ?
– That goes to the point of restraining other men. The older man cannot be too badly off if he gets plenty of food, and, when necessary, drink. We all know that in various walks of life, in order to set a good example and to strengthen the will power of those with whom we come in contact, we have to restrain ourselves to some extent. What do we do in our own homes? We comport ourselves and talk in a certain way before the youngsters. Why do we restrain ourselves in many ways? It is to strengthen the young and pliant will power in those who come under our influence. So it is with the young men who join the Expeditionary Forces.
– When you were a young man on board a ship did you succumb to all this temptation?
– Do you think that Australian lads will do so?
– When I was on board a ship I was compelled to associate with men, some of whom, were I free to exercise a choice, I would not be seen within leagues of. On a ship” I was obliged to associate with men whom I would not converse or be found with on shore. I was obliged, day after day, to live with them, to sleep with them, to work with them, and in all respects to make myself one of their number. I saw there, not once, but often young fellows who had been brought within the sphere of that malign influence which, un fortunately, was successful. They fell, and fell hopelessly.
– Were there no good men on board ship?
– Still there is the old saying -
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds Makes ill deeds done.
That old saying, which has stood the test of time, represents a modified position where the sight of not doing exactly ill deeds, but having a mild indulgence, would lead, later, to the practice of greate’r indulgence until, little by little, a man would fall until he would be irreparably lost. Soldiers are to be considered apart from citizens. Their position as soldiers is totally different from the position to which they have been accustomed, and, therefore, we need to look upon soldiers in a different light. Senator Blakey, I believe, has used strong language about members of this Parliament. He has described those who, though not total abstainers, would prohibit soldiers from having a glass of beer, as being hypocritical. I ask the honorable senator to consider this one fact alone, that the soldiers have had to surrender very much of their individuality. They have to conform to-day to rules which are not sought to be imposed upon Senator Blakey or any other member of the ‘Chamber. The honorable senator ought to know that when men have joined a military force, in some cases they are not allowed even to talk. They must not walk as they please, nor eat as they please, nor act in various ways as they think fit. The first and foremost maxim of a soldier’s life is to obey. ,Men are brought into a regiment from a totally different position. They have to obey rules which,’ if it were left to their bent of mind, they would not think of adopting or following. When Senator Blakey says that we ought to allow the freedom which is desired for the soldiers in camp, I ask him if he is prepared to allow them to follow the bent of their mind in every particular as well as in the case of a glass of beer.
– The interjection shows the inconsistency of my honorable friend’s argument.
– On one hand the honorable senator says that it is right for the members of the Senate to place themselves on the same level as the members of an Expeditionary Force and to give them a glass of beer whenever it is wanted ; but, on the other hand, he says, “Let the members of an Expeditionary Force be persons apart altogether from members of Parliament and made to obey a rigid discipline and system of rules which members of Parliament would never dream of obeying.”
– And made to obey strict rules in public.
– The honorable senator ought to be consistent all round. He would draw the line at a glass of beer, but in all other respects he wants the man to be a soldier and obedient to the law. He wants a soldier, perhaps, to be more obedient than he is. Therefore, he has no ground for criticizing honorable senators who think that the Expeditionary Forces should be obliged to observe restraint, complete and absolute, and not diluted or modified.
– Would you allow an officer to have his beer ?
– Then make the prohibition absolute.
– In the case of an officer, “No.” Officers never get their rank as youths, but as seasoned men whose character is formed.
– A dry canteen applies to all ranks alike.
– Of course it does. While I say I would not give a special privilege to officers, I would point out that in their case, seeing that their character has been formed and hardened and toughened so much, danger would not be in evidence as there would be in the case of the men with whom youths are brought into contact.
– Would you give the same privilege to the older private? Is he a seasoned man ?
– I would make the same rule apply to all members of an Expeditionary Force, irrespective of rank or station.
– Well, vote them all £4 10s. for a table allowance.
– Of course, that opens up another question. I ask the honorable senator if he is prepared to reduce Admiral Patey to the rank and the pay of the youngest private in the Navy.
– What is the allowance of £4 10s. a day for?
– He is getting a salary apart from the allowance of £4 10s. a day.
– It is not for liquor, anyhow.
– I bet that it is partly for liquor.
– It is all important for honorable senators to remember that once a person of weak mind gets a taste of anything which is not beneficial to him, we cannot foresee what desires it may kindle.
– Are only weakminded men going away with the Contingent ?
– No. The honorable senator is a practical man who has been over many tracks, and he must have come across numerous cases of persons who have abstained for months, and sometimes for years, but who at length have happened to get a glass of grog, when instantly the fire of desire has been lighted in their breast, and they have gone forward, not to get one more glass, but to complete the circuit in order to satisfy their limitless thirst. I hope that honorable senators, generally, will agree to try a wholesome experiment in the case of our Expeditionary Forces. It is a form of restraint which will not hurt the men. It has been tried elsewhere with much success. Of course some honorable senators may point to the case of the British Army or Navy if they like, and perhaps that may tell against us, but I would remind them that in other matters the members of the Labour party do not stop to look abroad for particularly strong reasons, when they want to make an innovation or to support a case. Why should we not adopt a new line of action, especially when we know that the soldiers can be maintained in bodily health and spirit without placing in their way what we know is altogether against their well-being?
– Since I spoke to-day I have seen an Army order issued by the British War Office in which it is made a penal offence to supply soldiers in uniform with liquor.
– What I wish to emphasize is that a wet canteen brings within the reach of young men the chance of falling by the wayside, and falling more quickly and easily than they would do in private life. That is the only reason why I am against placing grog of any description within the reach’ of youths in the Forces. The presence there of one man of drinking habit would have tenfold more force in contaminating youths than he would have in any other walk of life, because in an Expeditionary Force the youths are brought face to face with such persons every day.
– There must be a lot of bad characters in the Expeditionary Force.
– The honorable senator need not wish to appear unsophisticated, because he knows well that one thing which is not asked of an applicant to enlist is a character. As soon as a person goes up to -a camp and shows that he is possessed of strong bodily powers and has the appearance of a soldier, it does not matter what kind of character he has, or if he has no character at all, he is accepted.
– We ought to keep such characters in Australia.
– An argument of that kind does not affect the issue.
– Would you make it illegal for hotelkeepers in Melbourne or elsewhere to supply grog to the men ?
– That is apart from the question. On board a troopship there will be some men of vile minds, or unthinking individuals, who would have a more perfect theatre for contaminating youths than ever they could have in private employment. They would exercise, to the burt of the youths, a power which they could not wield in private life, because they would all be living together. For those members of an Expeditionary Force who have yet to form their opinions and whose characters are still in the making, it is a most unfair position to be placed in. I have every confidence in voting to keep liquor from the reach of young men, and particularly to destroy the power of men with an evil bent of mind from contaminating youngsters. I intend to vote for dry canteens.
– It is quite evident, from the speeches which have been delivered here to-day, that we are not getting any “ forrader “ in the settlement of this question, because I recollect that, in the very first Commonwealth Parliament, a similar discussion took place. I was surprised to hear the views which have been expressed by Senator Lynch and the Minister of Defence. We all know that the Minister is a total abstainer of many years’ standing, and we know, too, that Senator Lynch, though by no means addicted to drink, is not a total abstainer. These two gentlemen hail from the same State, and their experience of the liquor trade in that State ought to be identical. There is no State in the Commonwealth which has experimented more with a view to .’discovering ‘remedies for the drink traffic than has Western Australia, and yet these two honorable senators appear to have entirely ignored the result of that experimenting. What has been the experience in Western Australia? Has it proved that it is wise to attempt to suppress the liquor traffic? If there is one man in this Chamber who does know better it is Senator Lynch. He knows that nothing in the nature of suppression of that traffic in Western Australia would be tolerated for a moment. It has been tried, and it has failed miserably. I recollect when Western Australia received its first lesson in connexion with the control of the liquor traffic. The occasion was one on which it suited the business men of a certain township to agitate for the establishment of a State hotel there. Since that hotel was established at Gwalia - a gold-fields town - a number of similar institutions have been established in other places. Before its inception at Gwalia, the township was full of sly-grog shops. But as soon as the State hotel had become established, these sly-grog shops disappeared. The hotel was conducted upon commonsense lines, and Boon became known as the best hotel in Western Australia. Men could get better liquor there than- they could obtain in the sly-grog shops, in addition to which they received more civility, and were not surrounded with the same degree of temptation. The individual who was in charge received his instructions from the Government, and if he supplied liquor to a person who was under the influence of liquor he was liable to be fined. Consequently drunkenness soon disappeared from this mining field. The result has been the same in other districts. I can assure the Minister that the same question will have to be settled in connexion with the building of the transcontinental railway. The employes on that undertaking are already agitating for the establishment of a State hotel to supply their needs. In Western Australia there is no more popular Government institution. State hotels have also been established at Bruce Rock, Wongan Hills, Rottnest, Margaret River, and Dwellingup. As the result of their establishment, a great all-round improvement has been witnessed. My experience in every part of the world that I have visited is that if we attempt to prevent the working man from obtaining his glass of beer, that attempt will be promptly and properly resented. The grown-up Australian must not be treated as a child. To treat our troops who are going to the front to fight for the Empire as so many children is an insult to them. I am satisfied that to insist upon the abolition of wet canteens in our camps is extremely foolish. Even if effect be given to that course of action it will not prevent the matter from being brought up again and again.
Senate adjourned at 3.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 November 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19141120_senate_6_75/>.