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Wednesday, 25 November 1914

Senator GUY (Tasmania) .- I regard the question involved in the new clause proposed by Senator Turley as of such importance that I wish to make my position upon it clear, and shall not give a silent vote. Most honorable senators are aware of the attitude I adopt in connexion with the liquor question generally, but this is not a question of whether we should be total abstainers or not. The question we have now to consider is whether our young men going into training camps shall have temptation placed in their way which may be injurious to them. Senator Pearce put the matter very nicely last week when he told us that if athletes desire to be efficient they are obliged to abstain from alcohol.

Senator Bakhap - The Minister was not quite correct, because many trainers give athletes alcohol.

Senator GUY - Those who do are the exceptions which prove the rule. The Minister of Defence reminded us that war is the grimmest game in human experience, and for that reason wo should put beyond the reach of these young men anything which would impair their efficiency to meet the trained troops of our enemy. I could quote from a hundred authorities in support of the view I take of this question, but I shall not unduly occupy the time of the Committee. I may be permitted to remind honorable senators of the views which have been expressed by five of the foremost surgeons of the British Empire. I refer to Sir Thomas Barlow, the King's physician; Sir Frederick Treves, surgeon to King Edward and also to the present King; Sir Victor Horsley, Surgeon-General G. H. J. Evatt, and Lt.-Colonel Dr. G. Sims-Woodhead. These authorities say -

It has been proved by the most careful scientific experiments, and completely confirmed by actual experience in athletics and war, as attested by Field Marshal Lord Roberts, Field Marshal Lord Wolseley, and many other army leaders, that alcohol or drink -

1.   Slows the power to see signals.

2.   Confuses prompt judgment.

3.   Spoils accurate shooting.

4.   Hastens fatigue.

5.   Lessens resistance to diseases and exposure.

6.   Increases shock from wounds.

Wo therefore most strongly urge you for your own health and efficiency that at least as long as the war lasts you should become total abstainers.

Sir FrederickTreves made, also, the following statement: -

I was, as you know, with the relief column that moved on Ladysmith, and of course it was an extremely trying time, by reason of the hot weather. In that enormous column of 30,000 mcn the first who dropped out were not the tall mcn or the short men, or the big men or the little men - they were the drinkers, and they dropped out as clearly as if they had been labelled with a big letter on their backs.

Numerous similar quotations might be made.

Senator Bakhap - The Turks should be victorious in every instance, because they are total abstainers.

Senator GUY - The honorable senator may join himself with the Turks, but we are not proposing to do so.

Senator Bakhap - They are abstainers as a matter of religion.

Senator GUY - I am giving honorable senators the opinions of those who have had experience, and know what they are talking about. Senator Turley has been content to give us his own experience. I could quote from fifty more authorities, including Lord Wolseley, Lord Kitchener, General Sir Robert Baden-Powell, and most of the generals of the British Army, to show that it is considered unwise to have men in the field who are addicted to drink. The German Kaiser some time ago, when speaking to the students of the Naval College in Germany, stated that his Army and Navy would possess a great advantage over the British, because a greater number of them were abstainers. He said, in effect, that the next great naval battle would be determined in favour of the Navy whose members took least alcohol. Senator Newland put his finger on the difficulty this afternoon when he said that the mothers and fathers of the young men who have joined our Expeditionary Forces are afraid to have them subjected to the temptations of drink. If that be so, it is not right that we should put this temptation in their way. All the greatest soldiers and the greatest athletes are against indulgence in alcohol. Our men will bo engaged in a life and death struggle, and they should be prepared in the most efficient way to resist our enemies. Only last week one member of the Senate after another supported an amendment of the Defence Act calculated to allay the fears of the parents of our citizen soldiers lest they should be called upon to take up arms in settlement of an industrial dispute. Such a contingency might not arise once in twenty-five years, but under the wet-canteen system the young men of our Forces would be subjected every day to the temptation to use intoxicating liquors. To-day some honorable senators who supported Senator Stewart's proposal to allay the fears of parents lest their sons should be called upon to take up arms in connexion with industrial disputes are not so anxious to allay fears that are fifty times more intense in connexion with the temptation to drink. I notice that a former InspectorGeneral of the Commonwealth ForcesMajorGeneral Kirkpatrick - made the statement -

My observation this year loads me to believe that, on the whole, the absence of liquor was an advantage, and that, as the men accustomed to alcoholic beverages at the canteens complete their service, its absence will not lie noticed during the short training period of the militia.

Admiral King-Hall gives the result of experiments in which naval men were called upon to engage in gun practice after participating in what is termed the " grog ration," in contrast with men who engaged in the same practice without the grog ration. The experiments showed that 30 per cent, fewer hits were made in the case of gun practice following the grog ration. A number of continental authorities to the same effect could be quoted. Admiral Jellicoe has recently made some statements concerning what is commonly called the " grog curve," which go to show that less efficiency must be expected from those who indulge in the ordinary grog ration. In view of all these statements, it would be more than unwise for us to place within the reach of the young men to whom Ave are intrusting the destinies of the Empire the temptation to become habitual drunkards, or to lessen their efficiency by indulgence in drink. It has been said during the debate that we cannot make men sober by Act of Parliament. The inference from that is that men should be allowed absolute freedom in this matter. We cannot make men honest by Act of Parliament, but we do not for that reason throw all our repressive laws into the waste-paper basket. We continue to enforce them, and, to a great extent, minimize dishonesty by the operation of laws which penalize dishonesty. In the same way, we can hope, by such a regulation as the Minister of Defence has adopted, to minimize the evil effects of intoxicating drink in our military camps. Senator Turley has expressed his aversion to anything in the form of repression; but repressive laws are found to be necessary in every community. Why did we prevent the importation of opium into Australia? Its prohibition was a form of repression ; but we have not found that it has done us any injury. No one will contend that it has.

Senator SENIOR - It took away the freedom of some people.

Senator GUY - Of course it did. It was an act of repression much more extreme than the abolition of the wet canteen, because the importation of opium was absolutely prohibited. We are justified in the repression of any practice injurious to the interests of the community. The sale of liquor in military canteens is, in my opinion, likely to be injurious. I do not indulge in intoxicants, and nothing would induce me to do so except the strict order of a medical man. But I am not urging the temperance cause to-day ; I am urging merely that we should not destroy the efficiency of our present Defence Act by adopting such an amendment of it as Senator Turley has proposed. I hope sincerely that the amendment will be rejected.

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