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Wednesday, 25 November 1914

Senator WATSON - When the honorable senator reads his speech in Hansard he will find that he did.

Senator Turley - I did not say how long I have been drinking beer. It was Senator Story who made that statement.

Senator WATSON - I am content to allow Hansard to speak authoritatively as to what took place. I make the statement that Senator Turley did say that he had been drinking beer for fifty years.

Senator Turley - I rise to a point of order. I did not make the statement which the honorable senator is attributing to me. Senator Story made that statement, and I decline to have it credited to me.

Senator WATSON - I am very pleased that Senator Turley wishes to repudiate the idea, because it is an admission that the consumption of alcohol does not enhance any man's value. The world today is looking for sober men, and I regard Senator Turley as being one of them. I fear that any man who drank beer for fifty years would scarcely live to drink it for another fifty years.

Senator Turley - The chances are that he would not live another fifty years even if he never saw beer.

Senator WATSON - I am sure that my joke will be appreciated by the honorable senator. Whilst I recognise Senator Turley's physical proportions,I do not think that they would have been less if he had never touched alcohol. Some of the greatest feats of physical endurance have been performed without the aid of alcohol. Alcohol paralyzes one's energies and. destroys his powers of perception. I haveno hesitation in saying that if our soldiers leave alcohol alone they are more likely to become expert marksmen than if they take even one glass of strong drink. Just in proportion to the quantity of alcohol consumed, so is the nervous system lowered. Consequently if a marksman takes no liquor at all he will secure to himself the utmost advantage. We know from medical testimony that the consumption of alcohol impairs a soldier's sight, and thus diminishes his power to accurately see signals. It also confuses prompt judgment. A man cannot think clearly whilst alcohol is passing through his brain cells, and its force must pass away before ha is restored - so far as his perceptive faculties are concerned - to his normal condition. Thus I contend that the consumption of alcohol by a soldier is detrimental to accurate shooting. That has been demonstrated again and again in actual practice. If a man who can hit the bull's-eye when he is perfectly sober be given a single glass of liquor he cannot hit it.

Senator Bakhap - What about a pipe of tobacco ?

Senator WATSON - Tobacco also is an irritant, and acts upon the nervous system.

Senator Bakhap - Would the honorable senator prohibit its use?

Senator WATSON - If it led to the same moral deterioration, I would. I have not acquired the habit of smoking, and I do not know the influence of tobacco upon the subject. But I am a tea-drinker, and I know that tea is also an irritant poison, and one which acts upon the nervous system. Consequently, if I wish to vivify the nerves, the less tea that I drink the better. So with regard to smoking. If a man has to perform some difficult feat, he had better leave the pipe alone. The fact is that, in our present-day civilization, we are living at a terrific pace, and, whilst alcohol undoubtedly stimulates for a time, it has a weakening effect upon the nervous system. It cannot be denied that the direct action of alcohol on the soldier is to injuriously affect the accuracy of his aim and the force of his mental power. It also hastens fatigue. We all know that in a soldier's life feats of endurance are required much more than they are in the life of the ordinary individual. Whilst the use of alcohol may stimulate him for a time, it weakens him iii the end, as its action tends to drive the blood from the heart to the circumference of the body. "Unless, therefore, alcohol can impart sustaining food to the heart, it must necessarily leave the subject weaker than he was previously. The action of food itself has that effect. There is greater force in a man's blood-vessels when he is fed than there is when he is impoverished.

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