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Thursday, 14 September 1911

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - Several honorable senators, after expressing their super-sensitive feelings, as though the submission of my motion - cast 'some reproach upon .them, have seen; fit - to try to turn the proposal into ridicule:I certainly had no such object; in view as was indicated by Senator Needham, Senator O'Keefe, and Senator Lynch. I had no wish to cast any reflection upon members of the Senate, or this Parliament generally. Nor do I think that there was either logic or common sense in their arguments. Persons who- are so sensitive about a proposal of this kind rather suggest .that they feel themselves deserving of some kind of censure, or they would not be so ready to appropriate to themselves what was certainly not implied. Senator Blakey's figures as to the intoxicating liquors consumed at the refreshment bar, rather go to show that the quantity is so small that there can . be little purpose in selling any. If .it be true, as Senator O'Keefe argued, that liquor is sometimes required for medicinal purposes, I reply that we might as well have a chemist's shop established on the premises, so that if any member of Parliament wandering around the gardens should be bitten by a spider or a snake,, the necessary remedies may be close at: hand. Pursuing that argument, it mightbe contended that we should have a general emporium established here. I did not take up this subject on teetotal grounds. I am not a member of any temperance organization, nor am I catering for the votes of members pf such societies. Senator Lynch has argued that I am helping private en- terprise by endeavouring to " sit upon " a Socialistic experiment. But it would be a mighty poor kind of Socialism that wasestablished on the lines of the Parliamentary Refreshment-Room. It involves a dead loss, which means that the few are satisfying themselves at the expense of the many. If Senator Lynch calls that Socialism, I can only say that it is not my ideal.

Senator McGregor - The loss is not occasioned by the bar.

Senator RAE - But it exists. I was met with the argument that if the sale of liquor were abolished altogether, the loss upon the refreshment-room would be increased. But if the consumption of liquor is so small as 4d. per head per week, that argument falls to the ground. So small a sum would not render any material assistance towards making the refreshment-room pay. Speaking for myself, I say that I should be prepared to pay a higher price for meals in order to make ends meet. If the refreshment-room does not pay, let us go over the road for our tucker as well as for our drinks. I do not see why the country should supply us with cheap meals.

Senator Millen - The meals are not cheap to us.

Senator RAE - That may be so. We know very well that a small turnover for a limited period of the year cannot result in a profit.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator's remark would give rise to the impression that we are getting cheap meals.

Senator RAE - I have no desire to create that impression, though I fancy that we do get a better meal for our money here than we could do at some places in town.

Senator de Largie - Some people think we get free meals.

Senator RAE - We are not responsible for the lively imaginations of our constituents. The argument that the closing of the refreshment bar might induce members of Parliament to take more liquor than they do now is fallacious and illogical, however we look at it. If, with such temptation close at hand, members of Parliament drink so little that the average returns are only 4d. per head per week, it is quite certain that, if that temptation were removed, they would drink less. However, as honorable senators have seen fit to carry an amendment in favour of a secret ballot, I content myself with commending their courage, and shall let the matter go at that.

Question - That the motion as amended be agreed to - put.









Question so resolved in the negative.

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