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Friday, 20 November 1914


Senator TURLEY (Queensland) . - 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 : -

(a)   by inserting between the letters (a) and (b) the word "and;" and

(b)   by omitting the word and letter " and (c)."


Senator de Largie - Has it been put into print?


Senator TURLEY - 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."


Senator de Largie - I suppose the honorable senator thought that it was the only bright spot?


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Senior - Did they adduce any clear evidence in support of their statement ?


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Senior - On the other hand, the honorable senator says that only drinkers should apply.


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Bakhap - Perquisites are not drink, are they?


Senator TURLEY - I do not know of what the perquisites may consist.


Senator Story - Perhaps the drink may be perquisites.


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Ready - It came from Tasmania, I suppose?


Senator TURLEY - No. It was good cider, and I do not know that I could have got as good an article from Tasmania.


Senator Ready - I am satisfied that the honorable senator is not an authority on the drink question.


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator O'LOGHLIN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -Colonel O'loghlin. - Where do the perquisites come in?


Senator TURLEY - 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 Shannon - Senator Pearce was light.


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Shannon - The wet canteen will not prevent men going outside to get drink.


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Shannon - What happens to those who break camp ?


Senator TURLEY - I suppose they are prepared to take the consequences.


Senator Pearce - 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.


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - What did the other parsons say about it?


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Shannon - 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.


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Guy - What has Admiral Jellicoe had to say with respect to drink in the Navy ?


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - That was abolished long ago.


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Senior - How does the honorable -senator propose to deal with theexperience of Lord Roberts and hisadvice?


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Guy - The Belgian Army?


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Bakhap - The climate of a country has a great influence on the drinking habits of its people.


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator de Largie - And some who drink considerably less, in Asiatic countries.


Senator TURLEY - I admit that some of the people of Asia do not drink as much as do Europeans of any nation.


Senator Story - Many of them have not the money to do so.


Senator TURLEY - 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.


Senator Pearce - I have heard drinks ers say that the beer the Belgians drink is about equivalent to the hop beer that teetotallers drink in Australia.


Senator TURLEY - '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.







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