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Wednesday, 25 November 1914

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Not materially. 0

Senator WATSON - I bow to your ruling. The use of alcohol by the soldier increases the risk which he takes consequent upon exposure and disease. If a man is in the habit of taking alcohol, and disease overtakes him, lie has less chance of recovery than he would have if he were a total abstainer. I do not think that we should interfere with a system which makes for the sobriety of our young men, and which tends to ennoble their lives. After all, the consumption of liquor, is merely a social habit, and if our youths form that habit at our military camps, they may develop an appetite for alcohol which will induce them to curse their days in camp in years to come. I hope, for the sake of the Commonwealth itself, that the regulation framed by the Minister will not be interfered with. I need scarcely remind the Committee that other nations are taking precautionary measures to insure sobriety among their troops, who have to endure great hard ships, and to incur great risks and responsibilities. The action recently taken by the Russian Government is an object lesson to the world. That Government is prepared to sacrifice a revenue of £93,000,000 annually rather than risk the nation being submerged and utterly undone by the forces of alcohol. That action will redound to the credit of Russia for all time. Under the existing system, the little sacrifice which will have to be endured by those who have formed the drinking habit will be compensated for by the fact that our young men will be freed from temptation. I sincerely trust that the proposed new clause will not be carried, and that the regulation framed by the Minister will not be departed from.

Senator Lt.-ColonelO'LOGHLIN (South Australia) [5.22]. - The discussion which has taken place upon this matter has, in many respects, been very wide of the mark. I do not think that anybody was more irrelevant in the arguments which he brought to bear upon it than was the mover of the proposed new clause.

Senator TURLEY - Is that a reflection on the Chair 1

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN .- I do not suggest that the honorable senator's remarks were out of order; but I do not think that his arguments had any cogent bearing on the subject. We are not now discussing whether total abstinence is a good thing for the community generally, but whether it is desirable to allow the use of intoxicants in our training camps at the present time. Upon that subject I wish to speak from a considerable experience of camp life. I have had some twenty-five years' experience in our Military Forces, and for twenty years I never missed a training camp in my own State. Whilst I am very far from saying that the presence of wet canteens in camps has led to any grave evils, I have been impelled to the conclusion that it is much better for the welfare of our soldiers that intoxicating liquor should be entirely precluded from such camps. In making that statement, I have in view military camps in which the age of the trainees was much higher than it is at the present time. I am speaking of the period prior to the introduction of the cadet system. If the evils which then obtained as the result of the wet canteen system were such as to render it desirable that intoxicants should be excluded from military camps, how much more desirable is it now, when we have such a large number of youths - practically boys - in camp ?

Senator Turley - Do not ignore Senator Story's amendment.

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN .- I consider that a very insidious amendment. If an exception is to be made in the case of trainees under twenty-one years of age, we shall be imposing a very invidious task upon the persons in charge of the "wet canteens in asking them to discriminate between those who are eighteen years of age and under twenty-one years of age, and those, who are over that age. Senator Turley has stated that in Queensland publicans are prohibited from supplying liquor to any person under twentyone years of age.

Senator Turley - There is an age fixed in every State.

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN - That is so; but the age is usually much lower than twenty-one years.

Senator Shannon - The age is fourteen in South Australia.

Senator Lt.-ColonelO'LOGHLIN.In most States the age is about sixteen, and publicans can have no excuse for serving liquor to persons under that age. However, when we are dealing with men from eighteen years of age to twenty-one years, it is much more difficult to say whether they are under twenty-one years of age or not. I believe that it would be almost impossible for those in charge of wet canteens to discriminate between trainees under and over twenty-one years of age. I am not one of those who object to a man taking a glass of beer or a nobbier of whisky in moderation. I have myself enjoyed a long beer after a long and dusty march, .and have found that it did me no harm. I am bound, however, to say that many who did the same march and drank nothing stronger than tea or coffee were just as well able to bear its hardships as were those who indulged in something stronger. I remember that on the occasion of one camp in South Australia rain began to fall on Easter Sunday afternoon, and it rained very hard for several hours. The camp was situated in a field that had been cultivated the year before. About 11 or 12 o'clock at night a wind blew up, and before long there was not a tent left standing in the camp. The rain continued until we had about 6 inches of water all over the camp area, and everyone was thoroughly wet through. As one of the officers in charge of the camp, I permitted a ration of grog to be served out early in the morning to those who wished to take it.

Senator Pearce - That would still be possible under the dry canteen system.

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN - That was appreciated by those who were accustomed to stimulants; but I have to say again that those who did not take anything stronger than tea or coffee were as well off in the subsequent march of 8 or 9 miles in our wet clothes into Adelaide as were those who took the grog.

Senator Shannon - Would not that be permitted under the dry canteen system to-day ?

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN - I presume that it would be permitted under medical advice; but I speak of action taken by officers in charge of the camp. I presume that the Minister of Defence would permit the officers in charge of a camp to allow a ration of grog to be served in such circumstances.

Senator Pearce - It has frequently been done, and I have approved of it.

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN - Then, in such a case, even under the dry canteen system, it would be possible to have liquor served out to those who cared for it in circumstances of special hardship during their time iri camp.

Senator Turley - Even to boys of eighteen? That is dreadful.

Senator O'LOGHLIN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -Colonel O'LOGHLIN. - I am sure that Senator Turley will not suggest that even the staunchest teetotaller would object to a boy of eighteen being given a glass of port wine or a little brandy if it were prescribed by a doctor. I wish to say a word in reply to the argument that the supply of liquor in a wet canteen would be under strict control, and could, therefore, be regulated, whereas if a dry canteen only were established men would go outside and become intoxicated because there would be no supervision by their officers over their drinking. My experience is that, whether the canteen established is a dry canteen or a wet canteen, it will not prevent certain members of our Forces going outside to get liquor. They do not do so because they are thirsty, but from a spirit of conviviality, comradeship, and love of excitement, which seems to be aroused by the congregation of a large number of men in a camp, and especially at a time like the present, when there is war in the air. This spirit induces a certain class of men to take liquor who in such circumstances will take it whether they could get it inside or must go outside the camp to secure it. We have all received a sheaf of correspondence from temperance organizations and members of Churches on this question. I do not think that any one can take exception to those who feel strongly on the matter bringing their views before honorable senators. I am always prepared to welcome communications from any class in the community who desire to enlighten me upon any question before the Senate. I remind honorable senators that there is a very energetic section of the community who are opposed to our system of training, or " conscription," as they prefer to call it. They are using every possible endeavour to secure an alteration of the system, and it is a strong argument with them, in their appeal to the mothers and fathers of our young men who are called upon to go into camp for training, to point to the temptations to which they will be exposed because of the facilities given to obtain intoxicating liquor in camps in which a wet canteen is permitted. It might be a great consolation and comfort to many parents who are not absolute teetotallers, and have no prejudice against the use of liquor in moderation, to know that, under the amendment which Senator Turley has agreed to accept, their sons, if under a certain age, would be prevented from obtaining liquor at a canteen. But it must be a greater consolation if they are assured that, so far as regulations can prevent it, there shall be no intoxicating liquor supplied in these camps at all.

Senator Turley - Only in the tents, when it is smuggled in.

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN - Does the honorable senator really believe that, if we permit the establishment of wet canteens in camp, we shall prevent the illicit traffic to which he referred during the hours when the canteen is not open as well as we should be able to do if a dry canteen were established ?

Senator Turley - I believe there would not be so much drinking in the tents with the wet canteen.

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN .- I do not think it would make the slightest difference in that respect whether the canteen was wet or dry. In submitting his proposed new clause, Senator Turley was very strong in protesting against repression and restriction.

Senator Turley - I did not protest against restriction.

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN .- I do not suppose that the honorable senator believes that the liquor traffic should be freed from control altogether, but that was the effect of his remark. If the honorable senator is right in saying, " Why should we have this restriction; why should we be slaves and' under control in this way?" his argument must apply with equal force to any control of the liquor traffic. I believe that all parties in the community are agreed that there are dangers connected with the liquor traffic which justify the strictest supervision and control of that traffic. It does not require that a man shall be a total abstainer or a temperance man to concede so much. In the camps of which I have had experience, the only restriction was that the wet canteen was open only during certain hours. What Senator 'Turley now proposes is that, if a trainee in a military camp wants a glass of beer, a " long.sleever," or a nobbier of whisky, he must drink it in the canteen under the supervision and in the presence of an officer. I think that would be a degrading restriction.

Senator Bakhap - I would sooner see the privilege withdrawn altogether than have it exercised under such a restriction.

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN - I should prefer that drink should be permitted during stated hours in a wet canteen than that there should be such degrading conditions imposed upon its consumption - that, if a man wants a pint of beer, he must drink it while his officer is standing over him. That would be a far more galling restriction than any of the ordinary restrictions imposed upon the drink traffic. We are reminded that we have a canteen ru this building, and we indulge in hard or soft tack as we please, and should not, therefore, deny the privilege to others. I do not wish to exaggerate in any way or to induce honorable senators to believe that even with the establishment of a wet canteen there may be extravagant indulgence in drink, or any serious degree of drunkenness in the camps; but I do say that, if my experience, of the refreshment room in Parliament Hou3e were the same as my experience of a wet canteen in camp, I should be prepared to vote to-morrow for the abolition of our refreshment bar. My experience of dry canteens is that they have worked well, and have given rise to very little complaints. The example of Russia has been mentioned in this connexion. We know that Russia has sacrificed no less than £93,000,000 of revenue derived from the drink traffic. I remind honorable senators that Russia prohibited the use of vodka during the excitement of mobilization, and found that this prohibition .was so beneficial in its effects all over the country that it was decided to make it general during the war. Last week we heard from the Minister that in the United Kingdom the supply of drink by a publican to a soldier in uniform had been prohibited. We have heard a lot about 150,000 gallons of overproof rum being sent to the front for the soldiers, but I would like to hear a little more about the matter before I accept the statement. I know that in Australia some thousand gallons of port wine have been tendered, and, I think, accepted, by the Imperial authorities for the troops at the front; but the wine is for use in the hospitals and under medical control, and I have no doubt that it will be very useful in such cases. We have the example of the United States of America, where the supply of liquor throughout the whole of the Navy has been abolished, and I was under the impression that in the British Navy the allowance of grog which used to obtain in former years had been abolished, too. I believe it has not been abolished wholly, but the supply is under very strict control, and those who do not wish to indulge in grog can have a supply of another commodity of equal value. The privilege is very largely used.

Senator Turley - They always could.

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN - Not always.

Senator Turley - They could when I was a boy, anyhow, and that was a day or two ago.

Senator Lt.-ColonelO'LOGHLIN.Not so long as that. I cannot say how many years the privilege has been in vogue; but I remember the time when, after a considerable agitation amongst temperance organizations throughout the

United Kingdom, the men in the. Navy were allowed to substitute another article for the grog ration. I oppose the amendment as proposed to be amended, and I trust that the dry canteens, which we have Ifad established for some years with the best results, will be continued.

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