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Thursday, 14 September 1911

Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) . - I have listened with interest to the debate, and am glad that it has been shown that members of this Parliament do not exhibit any desire to kill themselves off by taking too much liquor. It seems to me that the important point to consider is whether we should propose to close the refreshment bar because a majority of the members of the Senate may think it desirable to do so. Honorable senators are no doubt aware that it could not be done without the consent of another place, where a similar motion would have to be carried. I wish to remind the Senate that there is in attendance in this building every day a great many people who are not members of the Federal Parliament. The refreshment bar is a convenience to many of them. Pressmen, officials, messengers, and other people have to attend here, and on a fairly busy day I have known as many as 300 sit down to a meal in the refreshment rooms, though there has been no special function on. It is probable that amongst so many there may be a few who would like a " long sleever," or something else that might come under the description of intoxicating liquor, to take with their meals. I think that we should be making a mistake in dealing with a matter which affects the convenience of so many people by taking it upon ourselves to decide whether the refreshment room shall continue- to remain open or not. We ought to consider not only our own convenience. I honestly admit that, so far as I am personally concerned, I should save money by not being called upon to "shout" for my constituents when they come down here and visit this building.

Senator Pearce - Is the honorable senator forgetting the provisions of the Electoral Act?

Senator CHATAWAY - No, they would not apply, except within three months before an election, and I never " shout " for any one three months before an election. It might suit our convenience to shut up the refreshment bar, but there are people in attendance on Parliament who cannot leave the building as we can, and their convenience should be consulted. We have provided for local option in Papua, and, apart from formal resolutions of Parliament, I think it is pretty well decided that we shall provide for local option in the Federal Territory and in the Northern Territory. Why should we not apply the same rule here? If there is to be a vote -on the matter we ought to study the interests of officials, messengers, and other people connected with the Parliament who cannot leave the building, as well as our own. I am prepared to vote with Senator Rae if he will agree with me as to the manner in which the vote should be taken. I move -

That the following words be added to the motion - " and with that object in view, and to affirm the principle of local option, a secret ballot, at which all members of the Commonwealth Parliament, and all adult employees, male and female, shall be entitled to vote, be taken under the joint supervision, of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives."

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