Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 20 November 1914

Senator SENIOR - According to your reasoning we want twice as many Australians to meet the Germans.

Senator TURLEY - According to the total abstainers, we do not want half the number. They tell us that if a man drinks a glass of beer it enervates him and saps his powers of endurance. I do not believe anything of the sort.

Senator Shannon - I believe one Australian is equal to four, or perhaps, five, Germans, lager beer and all thrown in.

Senator TURLEY - The men who have gone from here will, I am sure, do the work they are sent to do, and I hope they are able to make as good a showing as the Belgians, who are the biggest "beer-eaters" in Europe. If they do, we shall have nothing to be ashamed of.

Senator Shannon - Do you think that the beer made the Belgians fight like they did?

Senator TURLEY - I do not, but I do not think the beer enervated them to such an extent that they were not able to hold up their end of the log. I am moving the amendment because repression never does any good, and frequently drives people to the other extreme. The figures for other countries are also given, including the following : - United States of America, beer, 16 gallons; Switzerland, 15 gallons; Sweden, 12 gallons; and Austria, 15.18 gallons.

Senator Guy - Is the consumption increasing or decreasing in those countries?

Senator TURLEY - I believe it has been greatly on the increase, because the last figures I saw for Belgium gave a consumption of 46 gallons of beer per head, whereas the figures I have just quoted show a consumption of 48.58 gallons. The consumption is also, I think, increasing in Australia, in spite of the efforts of the prohibitionists, because the average Australian does not believe in repression. The Statist adds the following note: -

By comparing the figures for Australia in the foregoing table with those of several other countries, it will be seen that the consumption of intoxicants was proportionately less in Australia. As regards spirits, whilst the consumption in Australia was three-fourths of a gallon per head per year, in Denmark it amounted to 2 J gallons: in Hungary to nearly 2 gallons; in Germany and Austria to about U gallons; in Holland, Sweden, France, Belgium, the Russian Empire, and the United

States, to more than a gallon; and in the United Kingdom to nearly three-fourths of a gallon. The greatest beer-producing countries of the world are the German Empire, the United States, and the United Kingdom in that order; but in .consumption per head of the population, Belgium, with 48J gallons; the United Kingdom with 27 gallons; Germany with 23J gallons; and Denmark, with 20$ gallons, are the foremost. The particulars inthis table would indicate that Belgium consumes more beer than any other country in> the world, but the statistics of the States comprising the German Empire show that Bavaria; is entitled to that distinction, with a consumption of 50J gallons per head. The consumption in Wurtemburg and in Baden wasalso high, reaching 32 gallons per head. The Australian consumption of 12 2-5ths gallons does not appear to be large by comparison with those figures. The chief wine-producing countries of the world - Franco and Italy - are also the greatest consumers, the former averaging 34J gallons, and the latter 26 gallons per head. Portugal, with 20J gallons; Spain, with 17-Jrd gallons, and Switzerland, with 15J gallons, are also large consumers. The inhabitants of the British Empire are small wine-drinkers. At the Cape of Good Hope the consumption is highest, with nearly 2 gallons per head; Australia consumes less than halfagallon per head; the United Kingdom about one-quarter of a gallon; and Canada nearly one-eighth of a gallon.

That is the experience of the people of the world. I do not know if the total abstainers are making any great efforts on the Continent, but if they are, their work is not having much effect. Germany, Belgium, and France are consuming just as much as ever, and yet I believe the people in those countries are getting more temperate, and so are the people of Australia.

Senator Shannon - Is not that rather queer logic?

Senator TURLEY - No. Larger numbers of people are realizing that they can control their appetites and drink in moderation.

Senator Shannon - What accounts for the greater consumption ?

Senator TURLEY - The increase in the number of moderate drinkers.

Senator SENIOR - I believe there is a good deal less heavy drinking.

Senator TURLEY - That is so. As an example, let those who travel round the country take stock of what happens at the railway stations. I remember that a good many years ago the bulk of the travellers who went into a railway refreshment room were to be found where there was a glass of beer or whisky to be obtained. The liquor is provided in these places to-day, but when one alights from a train now he sees that the bulk of the passengers are at the end of the refreshment room where tea is served. I believe, sir, that your experience coincides with my own.

Senator Shannon - It leads to sobriety.

Senator TURLEY - The very fact that you do not try to repress leads to sobriety; that is what the officers at the camp in Brisbane told me, and I accepted their word. It has been my experience all through life that the more you try to force people in one direction the more they will be inclined to go in the other direction.

Senator Watson - That is an argument for free licence.

Senator TURLEY - Not at all. If there was all the licence possible in the world, would it make me drink more than I do now ? Not one drop more would it make me take.

Senator Shannon - But see who you are.

Senator TURLEY - I am no more than any one else. I like to believe that the men who are going away to do the work of this country abroad are at least as good a man as I am; that they can control their appetites and passions. I believe that it will be a good thing for Australia if we find eventually that they can do so.

Senator Shannon - They are not all of so mature an age as you are.

Senator TURLEY - That is quite likely, and that brings us to another question. Is every man who drinks a glass of beer to-day supposed to have been a drunkard when he was at the age of from eighteen to twenty-five years ? It is to be hoped not, sir. Are we all reformed boozers because we happen to take a glass of beer? I do not think so. I know any number of men who have been taking a glass of beer occasionally ever since they were very young, and I have done so myself. I have never been a total abstainer.

Senator O'Keefe - I am a reformed abstainer; I never drank until I was twenty.

Senator Shannon - You never knew a man take the first glass of beer with the intention of becoming a drunkard.

Senator TURLEY - Certainly not. I took a glass of beer when I was a boy, if the honorable senator wants to know, but that did not make me a drunkard.

I did not take a glass then because I was inclined to become a drunkard, and I am' sure that those who gave me the beer had no idea that I would develop in that way. If our young men are to be looked upon as children for all time, 1 do not believe in our having a nation of that sort. I believe in people who are taught when young to control their appetites, and who do grow up. I wish to heaven that I was only as good a mar physically to-day as I was at eighteen years of age. I did not know then what it was to be tired. I could do a great deal more work then than I could possibly do now.

Senator Story - Did you drink beer? Senator TURLEY. - Yes, I did, andI would have liked to drop across a man at that time who would have said to me, " You are not to have a glass of beer, even though you have the money to pay for it." There would have been a little trouble if any man had made such a remark to me.

Senator Watson - You are rathera hard customer to meet now.

Senator TURLEY - No, because I am not nearly as good a man to-day as I was at eighteen years of age. I did not believe for a moment then in the policy of repression. I believed in temperance then just the same as I do now. I was earning a man's wages and doing a man's work in the world, and I was able to go along and buy a glass of beer if I wanted it. I was able to say " No " if any person wanted to buy a glass of beer for me and I did not want it. That is practically the attitude which I have taken up all through life. I will not have a thing if I do not require it, and if I do require a thing, and am able to get it, I am going to get it.

Senator Senior - That is why I am a total abstainer.

Senator TURLEY - I am glad to say that it has not had that effect upon me.

Senator Shannon - You have never tried it; have you ever been a total abstainer ?

Senator TURLEY - In my life there have been periods when I have gone for a few months without touching anything.

Senator Shannon - Were you any the worse for that?

Senator TURLEY - I must say thatI was not a little bit better for it.

Senator Shannon - Were you any worse ?

Senator TURLEY - I think I was. At any rate, I am perfectly satisfied that I was not any better.

Senator Shannon - I am sorry for you.

Senator TURLEY - When I was knocking about a ship at sea I was not able to get a glass of liquor. I have seen nien who, through not being able to obtain a glass of liquor for a little while, got a bit over the edge when they found themselves in touch with the liquor again, and bought drinks one for the other. That was only because they had been leading that sort of life at sea. I do not propose to go over the arguments which I used the other day. I am inclined to treat our Citizen Forces as men. I believe they should be men, with all the strength which manhood indicates, with the ability to control their appetites and passions, and to partake of the good things of life in moderation, and with temperance, without allowing anything to run away with them. I do not think that I smoked till I was about eighteen years of age, because I had been told that tobacco was a horrible thing.

Senator Watson - You were all the better for that.

Senator TURLEY - I do not think that I was. I had mates who were always smoking, and some of them were as good, some better, and some perhaps not quite as good as I was. I do not think that smoking made the slightest difference to me. I have known total abstainers who could smoke me black in the face without an effort. If tobacco smoking is as disastrous as is alleged, it is a wonder to me that it does not have more effect on the constitutions of these men. In all good faith I submit this proposal to the Committee! I have always held that a policy of this sort will lead more to sobriety and to temperance than will anything else. I belong to a movement which has done more for temperance and sobriety in Australia than all the other temperance organizations put together, and that is the Labour movement. I believe that is the only way in which we can do this thing.

Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - Will you explain the effect of your amendment - how it is to apply?

Senator TURLEY - The amendment means that in a camp of the Citizen Forces - it will not apply to cadets at all - there can be established a wet canteen, at which, during certain hours of the day, men may obtain a certain quantity of liquor. At a canteen, a pint of beer, I think, is the limit, which they, the men, have to drink there and then. They are not allowed to take any liquor round the camp, but have to go to the canteen during certain hours, aud, as I said, drink the liquor there and then.

Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - Why impose this restriction; I thought you were against repression ?

Senator TURLEY - Yes, I am.

Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - Is not this repression ?

Senator TURLEY - The honorable senator asks why do we not go to the other extreme?

Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - On your principle you should.

Senator TURLEY - Why do we not allow everybody in a town to sell beer, wines, and spirits?

Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - Why not?

Senator TURLEY - If this is what we are to get from temperance people, I do not know what temperance is. It has been provided that certain places of business must be licensed, because we get the largest revenue from the articles in which they deal, and the traffic has to be controlled in that way. We get licence fees from hotelkeepers and a number of other persons. For instance, a hawker is not allowed to go through a State and sell goods unless he takes out a licence. Why not allow all persons to have a free hand?

Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - No repression.

Senator TURLEY - Why' have a licence i'h. connexion with the sale of any article ?

Senator de Largie - Why not abolish the Customs?

Senator TURLEY - Abolish these things altogether, according to Senator O'Loghlin and his friends. Do they want this policy to be established1? I do not think so, because I believe that they are all in favour of the licensing principle, at any rate.

Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - That is repression.

Senator TURLEY - I do not think it is. I believe that a man has to go to certain places if he wants to buy drugs, and the man who sells drugs has to be licensed. Again, the man who lays on water or gas at one's house has to be licensed. Why? Simply because it is necessary to see not only that these persons have the ability to do the work, but that they are capable of doing it.

Senator Watson - It shows that they have the power to do you a wrong if they so desire.

Senator TURLEY - Is every publican out simply to do wrong to people who go to his house? No, sir. I know quite a number of publicans who are good Labour men. I know publicans who do not touch drink at all, but are carrying on the liquor business in order to make a living. Our experience of total abstainers has been that they will condemn a man who stands in the Labour interest if he has ever had anything to do with the liquor traffic, as they call it. If he sells beer by the pint he is a curse, but if he sells beer by the cask he is one of the greatest blessings we can have in Australia. My opinion is that there should be the power given to establish a canteen in connexion with a camp. There is a number of honorable senators who think that an age limit should be fixed, say, twenty-one years. In some States - in Queensland, certainly - a hotelkeeper is not allowed to serve a person under the age of twenty-one years. I would rather have canteens established, even with that limitation in the Act, than I would have them not established at all, because I decline to interfere in that way with the manhood of this country. When men of nineteen and twenty-one years of age are prepared to shoulder the burden just in the same way as older men, are we to say that the former shall be debarred from getting a glass of liquor in camp, and that the latter, who are going out to assume the same responsibility, shall have no such disability placed upon them ? I do not assent to that proposition. When I was eighteen years of age I was a far better man, physically, than I am to-day. I was able to judge whether a thing was good for me or not, and, I believe, that the Australian youth is as good a man as I was then - at least, I hope he is. I am confident that when he takes his part in the war he will prove that he is at least as good a man as any of his fellowsoldiers.

Suggest corrections