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Wednesday, 25 November 1914


Senator TURLEY (Queensland) . - I do not intend to quote Kipling in connexion with this matter.


Senator McDougall - Quote Bobby Burns.


Senator TURLEY - I do not intend to quote 'Bobby Burns either, though his poetry will live after that which Kipling has written is forgotten. Senator Shannon referred to a statement of mine to the effect that if no drinking were allowed, and we had confined our invitations to join the Expeditionary Forces to total abstainers, we would not have as many volunteers as we have had. I say now that, if we had made a regulation that before a man could join an Expeditionary Force he must sign a pledge as a total abstainer, a number of the men who have volunteered would never have come forward.


Senator Senior - That is a poor tribute to their loyalty.


Senator TURLEY - They are as loyal as is Senator Senior, but they do not believe in being treated as children or to be asked to comply with little regulations that are galling to them, and which, I think, are a reflection on their manhood. Amongst the illustrations which Senator Shannon has used, he told us that Deeming would never have been Deeming if he h ad not been a total abstainer. What does that mean? Does it not mean that, in the opinion of the honorable senator, if Deeming had been accustomed to take a glass of beer occasionally, he would not have been a murderer ? If that be so, it was a bad thing for Deeming that he did not take a glass of beer, and a bad thing, also, for those whom he murdered and buried under the hearth-stones in different houses. The honorable senator has suggested that, if a man does not take a glass of beer, he may be tempted to the committal of such atrocious crimes as Deeming was convicted of. If that is the sort of thing to which total abstinence would probably lead me, I shall not be a total abstainer. I never have been a total abstainer up to the present, and if I thought I should develop on those lines, it would be bad for me to become one. Senator Shannon has told us that if a young man is induced to take his first drink in a camp canteen it will prove to be his undoing.


Senator Shannon - It may.


Senator TURLEY - The honorable senator assumes that the young man will be a sort of moral incompetent, who, when he is asked to take a drink in a canteen, will say, " I shall do so just because it will please you." Is it not much better that these young men should be asked to go openly to the canteen to take a drink than that we should, by refusing to establish a wet canteen, induce men to smuggle drink into their tents? The young men about whom Senator Shannon is so anxious would be much more likely to fall when they were asked to join their fellows in the tent in having a drink all round. Every person of intelligence is aware that efforts to repress drink by these methods invariably tend to drive the people who desire to drink to carry more spirits into camp than would otherwise be taken there. It is to avoid that danger that I think wet canteens should be established, so that the men may be able to obtain a glass of beer in camp if they have been used to it outside and consider it necessary. What has been the result of the abolition of the wet canteens at Broadmeadows? Where did the men come from who went to Brighton last Sunday? A great many of them came from Broadmeadows, and went to Brighton because it was outside the limit of Sunday trading in this district of Victoria. How "did those men return to the camp? Did Senator Senior go down to Brighton to see them there ? If the honorable senator had done so, he would have realized that it would have been much better if the men had been able to obtain a pint or two pints of beer within the day in the wet canteen at the camp than it was for them to get filled up with liquor at Brighton. It is because I believe that the wet canteen tends to sobriety that I advocate its establishment.


Senator Shannon - Will the honorable senator guarantee that the establishment of the wet canteen will prevent the kind of thing he has been alluding to?


Senator TURLEY - I have the word of officers of the First Expeditionary Force that that is their experience. They told me that they were in favour of wet canteens because they believed that they led to temperance and sobriety.


Senator Watson - A most illogical argument.


Senator TURLEY - Everything is illogical from the view-point of the total abstainer, except the arguments of men like himself. They wish to force every one else to accept their view. I do not believe in that kind of thing. When they find that they have men under control, they say, " Now that we have you here, you shall not be permitted to obtain drink, as you were accustomed to do as a private citizen." I hold the opinion that there is more excessive drinking outside the camps with a dry canteen than there would be if a wet canteen were established. Some years ago, a camp was held at a place not far from Brisbane, and there was no wet canteen there. It was thought that that would be a good thing. It was a lovely thing for the publican. He never had such a time in his life, and there never was so much drunkenness in connexion with that camp as there was while they had a dry canteen there. I have moved my amendment because of the experience of men who have been in camps, and of men who have had charge of camps. I do not propose to traverse the whole of the statements made by Senator Shannon, but I desire to refer briefly to several statements made by the Minister of Defence. Judging from the sheaf of papers which the former shook at the Senate, I should think that I have earned the undying gratitude, of several honorable senators, because I feel perfectly satisfied that my amendment has been the means of increasing their mails considerably and bringing them in contact with a large number of persons who previously did not know them, and who probably will not want to know them after this question has been settled. My amendment has provided work for a number of honorable senators, for they have. had to sit down and reply to the circulars and letters they have received. I received one or two .myself.


Senator Shannon - Did you get only one or two?


Senator TURLEY - Yes. I am regarded as one who is beyond the pale, and therefore I suppose they did not think it worth while to inundate me with correspondence. The Minister of Defence has said to the Committee, " Whatever you do; do not agree to Senator Story's amendment." I am prepared to accept the amendment. In submitting my proposal on Friday I recognised that there was a difference ' of opinion amongst honorable senators on the question, and said that I preferred to have a wet canteen, even with the restriction proposed by Senator Story, than not to have a wet canteen at all. The Minister has said, "This proposal is going to introduce something terrible. How are we to administer it?" In connexion with the Expeditionary Forces all persons over eighteen years of age are regarded as men. As I said the other day, I consider that at eighteen years of age I was a long way better man than I am now.


Senator Senior - You are above the fifty years mark.


Senator TURLEY - Yes. But at that time I was not likely to allow any person to. induce me to go into a hotel and drink if I did not wish to drink. I believe that the Australian youths are just as good men as I was in my youth.


Senator Senior - But they have not the strong mind that you had at eighteen.


Senator TURLEY - Is that the sort of men upon whom we pride ourselves ? " I like to see young men who know their own minds, and will not allow persons to persuade them one way or the other. One can lead a horse to water, but cannot make the horse drink If our young soldiers do not want to drink at a camp, or they were brought up in a home where drink was not used, they should have sufficient backbone to say " No " when they are asked by a man to take a drink.

Senior Senior. - You would speak of a man who turned it down as a hypocrite.


Senator TURLEY - I would do nothing of the sort. I always respect a man who says to another map, "No; I do not want a drink, thank yon." But I do not respect the man. who will say to another man, " Yes, I will go in just to oblige you, Tom," because the latter is not worth considering. We want men who have a will of their own and who, when asked to take a drink, will turn the liquor down if they do not require it. We have been told, too, by the Minister of Defence, that the amendment of Senator Story would create a distinction amongst the soldiers at a camp. Why? Does a restriction create a distinction anywhere else?


Senator Senior - Yes.


Senator TURLEY - That is a most peculiar thing. In Queensland we have a law which says to the hotelkeeper, "You shall not supply intoxicating drink to any person who apparently is under twentyone years of age, and if you do, we will prosecute you and punish you." In a community of 200,000 persons and with thousands of persons passing his door every day, a publican is expected by the law to be able to judge the age of a person who wants a drink. In a military camp a large number of men are gathered together. The proposal is to establish, under a regulation, a wet canteen, at which no person under twenty-one years of age shall be served with liquor. An officer is to be in charge of the canteen, and the age of every man in the camp will be known to that officer. Apparently a total abstainer is willing to throw all sorts of responsibility upon a licensed publican. I do not think it is fair to say that the officials at the military camp will not be able to administer the proposed regulation, seeing that a similar provision is administered in every large city in Australia.


Senator Senior - Will you guarantee that there are no violations ?


Senator TURLEY - Will the honorable senator guarantee that there are no violations of the seventh commandment? I, for one, would not undertake to give such a guarantee. That commandment has been the law for thousands of years, and to-day the honorable senator will not guarantee that there are no violations of it. I think that he is wise. No one will undertake to guarantee that there are no violations of any of the commandments. Yet they have been in existence for many years, and people have been brought up under them. Can the honorable senator say whether there are any violations of the eighth commandment to-day? In spite of all the legislation against stealing on the statute-book, he will not say that there are no violations, either of the law or of the commandment.


Senator Senior - That is sidetracking ; that is no argument.


Senator TURLEY - I do not allow the honorable senator to side-track me, because I reply to his interjections.


Senator Senior -i say still, " Do you assert that there are no violations of it?"


Senator TURLEY - Certainly not; but I do assert that there are violations of all the laws on the statute-book regarding stealing, and I believe that there are violations of the eighth and the other commandments. Yet the honorable senator asks whether I will stand up and say that there are no violations of the law which has been passed. Will he stand up and tell us that there are no violations of the doctrines which he and others have been preaching for years? Not at all, because he knows that there are violations of such laws. The Minister has said, too, " You will throw temptation, not in the way of young men of eighteen years of age - no, he is dropped out now - but in the way of young men of twenty-one years of age." What a terrible thing it is to throw temptation in his way when it assails him in every street. No matter where he goes there are temptations to be resisted. How are we to prevent the young man of twenty-one from being tempted ? Are we to say to him, " It will be a good thing to tie you up somewhere where you will not be tempted by any evil, where there will be nothing to take you off the straight path of rectitude " ? The best men are those who have been sent out into the world and have learned to hold up their end of the log in spite of the temptations which confront them.


Senator Senior - Is it any argument that you should multiply temptations?


Senator TURLEY - I cannot continue an argument on the commandments with the honorable senator. Now, what are the statements that we get from correspondents. I have received one or two circulars, and have read statements in them which, to my mind, are unthinkable. For instance, I saw a statement that it bad been proved that at the Liverpool camp in New South Wales the men who were supposed to be under strict regulations were able to obtain all the drink they could pay for, and as much as they could get credit for. I do not believe the statement. If, however, the statement is true, it is a disgrace to the Defence Department.


Senator Watson - Why should they not get two or three drinks if they want them; why limit the men?


Senator TURLEY - That is a question which the honorable senator must settle for himself. Is he prepared to substantiate the statement in the circular ?


Senator Watson - I am not prepared to make it.


Senator Senior - Can you disprove it?


Senator TURLEY - No, because I was not there. But I say that it would be a disgrace to the Defence Department if such a thing could be honestly said about the men of the Liverpool camp, where things were under control. Senator Senior wants everything disproved. His interjections remind me of the question put to a man in court, " Have you ceased to beat your mother-in-law yet ? ' ' There is practically no reply. I believe that it will be possible to control a wet canteen properly. In a letter I was asked if I knew that all drink had been prohibited to the soldiers at the front, and also if I knew that no drink was allowed to leave England at the present time to be served out to the soldiers at the front, and Senator Shannon has practically indorsed that statement.


Senator Shannon - I said that I did not know that.


Senator TURLEY - The honorable senator said that drink is not allowed to be sent to the front. I hold in my hand a press cutting to the effect that at the West India Docks at London the first consignment was being put up for the use of the troops at the front, namely, 150,000 gallons of overproof rum. -In Queensland a 1,000 gallons tank is in many cases all the storage which persons have for conserving water. Yet we were told in the press of last week that the authorities at Home were sending 150 of these tanks over to the front as a first consignment of overproof rum to be served out to the troops.


Senator Guy - Is that official information?


Senator TURLEY - Yes. The honorable senator will find the news in a letter in the Age of last Saturday, from their correspondent in London, who gives all the information regarding this matter. He states that a first consignment of 150,000 gallons of overproof rum is being sent to the front. That is a fair quantity - about a quarter of a gallon per man for those at present at the front - and apparently there are similar consignments to follow. Yet I am asked in a letter from South Australia whether I know that it is a fact that no drink is allowed to be sent from England to the front. I do not know it, but I know perfectly well that it has not been the usual thing to deny drink to the men at the front. All they are told is that they should keep temperate; not that they should not touch liquor at all, because liquor is served out to them if they require it. That seems to be a fair thing, because the men are working under conditions which necessitate the supply of a stimulant, and those who ask them to go there and stand the brunt of the fighting should supply them with whatever they require. Senator Story told the Committee of the incident of the young lieutenant in charge of four maxim guns being sent out with the men to work them, and fainting when there was an onslaught upon them. One of his mates poured brandy down his neck, presumably not medicinally, because we are not told that he ran back to a doctor to find out if brandy was required. The officer revived, and when the enemy put three of the guns out of action he took another drink of brandy and was able to work the remaining gun, discharging four belts of ammunition containing 300 charges apiece. He decimated the enemy and they fled. He was picked up and taken back, and was afterwards awarded the Victoria Cross - the highest military honour that can be conferred. On reading that story I came to the conclusion that had it not been for the little drop of brandy that he took when in a fainting condition he would not have come round in time to do anything.


Senator Watson - Ammonia might have produced the same results.


Senator TURLEY - Why does not the honorable senator say that if he had been given strychnine it might have produced the same result? A lot of things might have produced the same result, but the fact remains that brandy produced the result. If there is anything in the honorable senator's argument, why are not the military authorities in the Old Country sending 150,000 gallons of ammonia to the front to keep the men in good form? I believe my proposed new clause, with Senator Story's amendment, will lead to temperance and sobriety, and therefore I propose to press it to a division. I shall not withdraw it, although I have been asked to do so in a number of letters. I do not stand up for fun and move an amendment in this chamber, and I am not prepared to " crawfish " from it. If I did not believe it was right I should not have moved it, but I have not asked any member of the Senate to support it. I simply mentioned that I intended to move it, and I did not ask any one if he would support it or vote against it. I should decline to do anything of the sort. I shall record my vote for it, if any one will join me in calling for a division.

Senator WATSON(New South Wales) {4.U]. - I congratulate the Minister of Defence upon framing a regulation insuring that dry canteens shall be the order of the -day at our military encampments, because I am sure that nothing makes for the physical welfare and moral well-being of our soldiers more than the prohibition of the wet canteen within the camp. Those who oppose the dry canteen say that the drinking habits of those in the camps are greater now than when the wet canteen was in vogue. That seems to be quite a contradiction. It is practically saying that the absence of alcohol produces drunkenness, whereas it is alcohol alone that produces that effect. The argument used is that the men were denied the opportunity of getting liquor in the camp, and took the opportunity of going outside and imbibing more freely than they otherwise would. Whether that is so or not cannot be established here definitely. It is merely a matter of conjecture as to whether that is the cause of the men imbibing to excess, but it certainly proves that the wet canteen should not be allowed in the camp, because every man has some influence on his fellows. It is all very well to say that a man who does not drink, and is induced to drink by the influence of another, is weak, and not of a type best suited for the defence of the nation. We cannot ignore the fact that a man may be as strong as a lion in many respects, and as weak as water in other things. Alexander the Great, one of the greatest conquerors the world has ever seen, found a drunkard's grave. Many other noble men who have graced the pages of history have fallen through addiction to alcohol. It is, therefore, no argument to say that a man who is induced to take drink is necessarily a weak man, lacking in force, of will and character. Quite the opposite is often the case. The taking of alcohol is a social habit, and the more sociable a man is the more liable he is to temptation, and the more likelihood is there of his becoming a victim to the vice. It is not the phlegmatic individual that becomes addicted to liquor. If he does drink occasionally, he does not drink in the social way that makes for drunkenness. It is the jovial man who loves a pal, and is prepared to share his glass with him, that is likely to go down under liquor. We are not discussing, on this motion, the questionof whether prohibition shall be applied to the nation as a whole, or whether the present system shall continue. We are simply asked to determine whether we, as a Commonwealth Parliament, shall subject to temptation the men who have been called to arms to defend our country. It is not a question of whether they can get alcohol. It is a question of whether weshall put the opportunity in their way. If liquor is a good thing, no limitation should be put upon its use; if it is a bad' thing, no encouragement should be given to ite use. I do not believe that the most ardent advocate of liquor will seek tojustify its unlimited use. Liquor, therefore, stands self-condemned as an enemy of the race, and this Parliament should' not make itself responsible in any way for putting within the reach of our young men anything that will lead them astray. Our Defence Forces are composed chiefly of young men from the ages of eighteen to twenty-six. They are compelled to undergo a system of training, and many of them are now in camp to fit themselves to defend their country, and, if need be, to fight across the seas in defence of the Empire. The duty, therefore, devolves upon us to see that they form no bad habits through the presence of alcohol inthe camp. It has been stated here that the testimony of officers in camp is that, since the dry canteen was established, drunkenness has been more prevalent than under the old system. That report came from the Melbourne camp. I have made inquiries regarding the New South Wales camp, and find that the opposite is the case. The officers themselves say it is a good tiling to have a dry canteen, and that there is no desire on the part of those in camp to revert to the old system. The correspondence which honorable senators have received during the last few days is conclusive proof that there is no desire on the p.art of those who believe in the use of liquor to have the wet canteen established at the camp. I have not received one letter from anybody in the Commonwealth asking for the establishment of the wet canteen. Every letter I have received - and I suppose my correspondence is just as bulky as that of any other honorable senator - has been in favour of prohibition. Our own judgment must tell us that there is no argument for the establishment of a wet canteen. None has been advanced by the honorable senators who have supported the proposed new clause. They have talked about repression and smuggling. But they have shown no legitimate reason why alcohol should be used as a beverage in camp. What is the action of alcohol upon the human system ? Does it make for greater physical force? Does it brace the individual ? Alcohol in itself is an irritant poison. Of course, I expect the cheap rejoinder that certain persons have been drinking it for fifty years and have not been poisoned yet. Senator Turley told us that he had been drinking beer for fifty years.


Senator Turley - No, I did not.







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