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Thursday, 12 November 1914
Page: 560

Senator TURLEY (Queensland) .- I move-

That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, " Expeditionary Force, £925,000," by £1.

I do not wish to deal with this matter from a personal point of view. I submit this request, because I believe that the action taken by the Minister of Defence is not warranted, and is not calculated to give satisfaction to the men who are called upon to come forward and do the work which is necessary in connexion with the Expeditionary Forces we are sending from Australia. Yesterday I asked several questions of the Minister. The first question was -

Is it a fact that no wet canteens are allowed in any camp in connexion with the Expeditionary Forces?

The reply I received was -

Wet canteens have been abolished inall camps.

The second question was as follows -

Are members of the Expeditionary Forces prohibited from taking alcoholic drinks into camp?

The answer of the Minister was -

The men are prohibited from taking alcoholic liquor into camp.

The third question read -

Does this prohibition apply to officers of the Forces?

The Minister replied in these terms -

The same prohibition does apply to officers.

The fourth question was -

Have the wet canteens been prohibited on all the troopships in the employ of the Commonwealth ?

The Minister gave this reply -

Wet canteens were allowed on the first troopships, but are not to be allowed on any future troopships.

I do not believe that in a matter of this description the power should be placed in the hands of one man to adopt a regulation that affects the welfare of a large number of men who are volunteering to do work which is necessary. These men are to be called upon to take great risks, and every provision should be made for their comfort, and every inducement held out to them to volunteer their services. It is not fair that we should treat them like a lot of children, but that is what the regulation issued by the Minister does. This matter came up for consideration in this Parliament some years ago, when Mr. Mauger, then member of the House of Representatives for Maribyrnong, introduced a Bill to abolish canteens in connexion with camps. The Bill was passed in another place practically without discussion, and when it came to this Chamber Senator Pulsford moved the second reading. I did not believe in the principles of the measure, and started an opposition to it. The late Senator Neild secured the adjournment of the debate, and then set himself to make inquiries from all the officers of the Commonwealth Forces with whom he was acquainted. In nearly every instance the replies he received from those officers were to the effect that they advocated the establishment of wet canteens in camps where men were carrying out their training. The men who have volunteered their services for the Expeditionary Forces are drawn from every walk of life. They are, presumably, reasonably honest and respectable citizens. They are not potential drunkards, though they appear to be regarded as such by the Defence Department. They are being treated as though they could not be trusted to expend a few coppers in the purchase of a glass of ale at a canteen. No spirits are sold to the men in these canteens. When I was in Brisbane I made inquiries on the subject from a number of officers, who were agreed that it was a decidedly good thing to supply the men, under certain restrictions, with the refreshment they required, so long as they were not supplied with spirits and were not able to obtain large quantities of liquor If we take the case of a man engaged in an ordinary occupation outside, we shall find that if he requires a glass of beer at the lunch hour he is able to get it. If he prefers to wait until he has knocked off work for the day, he is able to obtain what he requires by paying for it. No one will say that because a man, after a hard day's work, purchases a glass of ale, he is a drunkard in the making. He is not regarded with suspicion by the people with whom he associates. He is not considered an outcast because he goes into a hotel to have a glass of liquor. There is a great deal of pandering to a sentiment here in favour of absolute prohibition.

Senator Bakhap - They give rum and water to the soldiers in the trenches.

Senator TURLEY - That is all right; they are not Australian soldiers. They are British soldiers, and in Great Britain the authorities do not attempt to interfere with men in this way. They supply wet canteens for the convenience of their soldiers. But here, when a man volunteers to do a necessary work for the defence of the country, restrictions are imposed upon him which he would not submit to in connexion with his ordinary occupation. I could quite understand the owner of a factory adopting as his policy a refusal to employ any but total abstainers, though I have not yet come across any firm that did adopt such a policy. But when we are calling upon men to come forward in the service of the country, we do not confine our invitation to total abstainers. I have visited the various camps, and I should like to say that if we had confined our invitation to total abstainers, there would have been comparatively few men offering themselves for our Expeditionary Forces. The bulk of the men who have volunteered are temperate men, but not total abstainers. They are men who are sufficiently strong-willed to take a glass qf beer when they want it, and to leave it alone when they do not. I have always contended that such men are our best citizens. They live a reasonable, temperate life, and are not obsessed with the idea of total abstinence from the good things of life. Mr. Mauger got his Bill through the House of Representatives without difficulty, but when it reached the Senate it was debated on five or six different occasions, and when a division was taken it was passed out by a majority of ten. The division was taken on the 30th August, 1906, and it will be found that six voted for the Bill, and sixteen against it.

Senator Pearce - What is the value of that ancient history, when Parliament, since then, has registered another opinion ?

Senator TURLEY - I was rather surprised when I informed the Minister of Defence to-day that I intended to take this action, to learn that the prohibition of wet canteens in camps of ordinary trainees has been provided for in the

Defence Act of 1912. But I remind honorable senators that I am not here dealing Avith camps of trainees, but with numbers of men, most of whom have never been in a military camp before, and who have voluntarily offered their services from every part of Australia. I do not believe that liquor should be served out to junior cadets, but in the case of our ordinary trainees I should not be prepared, under the Defence Act, to prevent them obtaining the refreshment they require in camp, when they have arrived at manhood, and have been accustomed to leading a reasonably free life outside. I am dealing, in this case, with men who have been brought into camp from every part of Australia, and I say that it is wrong that any one man should have the power to enforce a regulation providing that men volunteering to do patriotic work for Australia should be penalized for their willingness to share in the defence of Australia and the Empire. I regard it as a punishment upon men who have been accustomed to obtain the refreshment they desire. I should regard it as a punishment if, at the close of my day's work, I were not permitted to obtain what I required in the way of refreshment.

Senator Senior - The honorable senator might regard it as a punishment if he was not allowed to go outside after his day's work.

Senator TURLEY - In this case it is not a question of men going to work in the morning, and being- able to knock off when they please, as these volunteers may be kept in camp at the instance of their officers. The wet canteen was instituted at first, because it was thought better that refreshment should be provided for the men in camp than that they should be allowed to go outside to obtain it, when they would probably drink a great deal more than they would be able to obtain in camp. I am sure that the Minister of Defence would not for a moment say that he would only accept total abstainers as members of the Expeditionary Forces; but his regulation offers no inducement to volunteer to men who have been in the habit of obtaining what they require in the way of refreshment, and have not been accustomed to make fools of themselves. Suppose Ave tried to adopt the same regulation iu this Par liament. It has been tried here, and in another place a resolution was carried that the bar upstairs should be done away with. Why should it? I do not see any members of this Parliament under the influence of liquor. I know of none who is not able to take care of himself, or is unable, because- of his indulgence in liquor, to look after the business he was sent here to do. Yet there are people who, if they had their way, would tomorrow do away with the accommodation provided for members of this Parliament. The majority of the members of the Senate declined to give way in this matter. They were agreed that, as they had their work to do here, the accommodation required should be provided for them, and they are prepared to pay for what they obtain at the refreshment bar. I think that is fair. If members of this Parliament were not able to control their appetite for alcoholic drink; if they were found lying drunk about the chamber, or rolling about the Queen's Hall, that would be an excuse for saying that it was not right that there should be any refreshment bar in this building. But I think that something like that should be proved before the bar is done away with. And the same rule should apply in the consideration of the matter in connexion with our military camps. If we demand a refreshment bar for our convenience, it is fair that we should do to the men iu the camps what we should wish them to do to us. They have as much right to have this accommodation provided for them as Ave have to have it provided for us. "Many of them have given up good positions to volunteer for service in defence of the country, and Ave should treat them fairly. I do not wish to say too much about the misnamed temperance party. I do not regard them as advocates of temperance. I consider that the temperate man is the man who is able to control his appetite.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator does not recognise them as the total abstinence part,7

Senator TURLEY - They are the total abstinence party, and they want to force their opinions down the throats of every one else, many of whom are not able to control their own appetites and judge other people by themselves. I have heard the most intemperate state- ments from those who call themselves temperance men. About three Christmases ago, in Brisbane, a man who had come out from the Old Country as a sort cf temperance missionary, made to me the astounding statement that he had never seen so much drunkenness in his life as he had seen in the streets of Brisbane. I asked him if he had ever been in the East End of London on an ordinary Saturday night. He said, "Yes, but I have never seen such excesses as I have seen in Brisbane." My wife and myself had happened to go through the Brisbane streets on that Christmas Eve, from the bridge on the top of Queen-street, through Fortitude Valley, and back again, and T remarked that I had only seen two or three men under the influence of liquor, although it was late.

Senator Lynch - Was this gentleman sober ?

Senator TURLEY - Does the honorable senator mean to insinuate that the advocate of total abstinence was nor sober? Of course he was sober, but that was the sort of intemperance that characterized his statements. I do not know why we have to pay such great deference to these total abstinence organizations. The policy of the State Labour party, which I have signed, advocates the State monopoly of the importation and sale of liquor. I believe in that policy to-day. I have signed it, and would sign it again to-morrow, and I know total abstainers belonging to Rechabite associations who have signed it, and got into Parliament on it. The only way to deal with the question is to have it under proper control. In a camp the men are under control, and the sale of liquor can be regulated. On board a troopship there is no possibility of a man being able to obtain more than a certain quantity. In those cases the proper regulation of the supply of liquor seems to me to cany out the policy enunciated by the Labour party in every State for the State control of liquor. The Labour party have done more for temperance in this country than all the temperance organizations from Cape York to the Leeuwin. When we started the Labour party in Queensland we did not trust to the total abstinence societies for support. We went out to the men who had never dreamt of total abstinence, the men who knocked down their cheques when they earned them, and* we preached temperance to them. Wo showed them that the wisest policy was for a man always to have control of himself, and not throw his money away as they had been doing. There are thousands of those men living to-day just as temperate a life as myself or the honorable senator. We have been able to do a great deal of work by example and propaganda efforts in that direction, On the other hand, we have got from the total abstinence people all the opposition and misrepresentation that they could devise to keep the Labour party out of politics altogether.

Senator Pearce - You have had that from the publicans, too.

Senator TURLEY - I do not claim that we have had a great deal of support from the hotelkeepers either, but when they have been against us they have come out honestly and opposed us in the open; whereas I have known temperance advocates prepared to support a man engaged in the wholesale liquor line as against a Labour man who was a total abstainer by choice, but did not belong to their organizations. We are not indebted to those men for the position which the Labour party has attained in the State and Commonwealth Parliaments. We have had to contest everything against them. The action of the Minister may be satisfactory to Brother Worrall or Brother Mauger, or others who have been advocating this policy for years. They may say, "We have a good, kind Labour Government in power, who will put our policy into effect." If we have nothing to do but to carry out the policy of those who have been opposed to us all the time, they would be better here themselves to cany it out.

Senator Pearce - I am carrying out the policy of Parliament.

Senator TURLEY - It is not the policy of Parliament. This is not a training camp as constituted by the Defence Act ; it is a camp at which there is a body of volunteers who have been asked to come forward in the Empire's hour of need, and we have no right to victimize or penalize them. To test the feeling of the Committee on the. question, I submit my motion.

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