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Wednesday, 25 November 1914

Senator HENDERSON (Western Australia) . - I have no intention to speak for very many minutes, but I am disinclined to give a silent vote on this matter, which has been considered by some honorable senators of such great importance as almost to assume the proportions of a question politically supreme. I do not hold that view myself, and probably I should not have been found supporting Senator Turley's amendment, as I am going to do, if there had been any evidence to support the position taken up in the present Defence Act. Several appeals have been made to us on behalf of the mothers and fathers of the young men going to the front. I have as great sympathy and respect for them as any other honorable senator, but I have taken the trouble to visit the main streets of Melbourne on several occasions lately, particularly since this matter came before the Senate, to see if I could gather evidence that would justify me in opposing the amendment, and I came to the conclusion that my best plan would be to vote for a wet canteen, on the ground that it would be very beneficial to the fathers and mothers whose sons, although they are not going to the front, are old enough to be trained. In Bourke-street, on any night of the week, one can see men in the King's uniform under the influence of drink. I have never in one night seen so many men under the influence of drink as I can now meet here every night in this city wearing uniforms.

Senator Keating - Is that due to the Expeditionary Force?

Senator HENDERSON - I am not saying anything to the contrary, but we are legislating now with respect also to the annual camps, although they are held only for a few days or weeks. I would not advocate establishing a wet canteen at them, but that position is met under Senator Story's amendment.

Senator Pearce - It is not.

Senator HENDERSON - It is, if the authorities take the responsibility of carrying it into proper effect.

Senator Pearce - After this year, there will be men in the annual camp over twenty-one years of age.

Senator HENDERSON - Men of that age are quite capable of looking after themselves. If they cannot, no Defence Act will save them.

Senator Watson - There is no need to tempt them.

Senator HENDERSON - We may speak of temptation in regard to children, but surely we are not going to treat fullgrown men as children. We have been given the opinions of Lord Roberts, Lord Kitchener, Lord Wolseley, and others; but during the regime of all those men the British Army and Navy have always been served with their grog without impairing their efficiency.

Senator Watson - Is it not a fact that the supply creates the demand?

Senator HENDERSON - The honorable senator is wrong in his logic; the demand creates the supply. Nobody manufactures this kind of thing for the mere fun of doing so. They supply it in whatever quantities are required, as shown by the figures quoted to-day - 150,000 gallons of rum as a first instalment. Probably, the next instalment will be 300,000 gallons; and if it were 600,000 gallons, there would always be plenty to supply the demand. If we could have carried thi9 matter out honestly and effectively, I should not have minded what way the thing went; but we are preventing the men in the camp from getting their glass of ale if they require it, and the probabilities are that scores of them come into the city for that very reason.

Senator Shannon - Another assertion.

Senator HENDERSON - We have just as much right to assert it as the honorable senator has to say that the establishment of a dry canteen will make the men teetotallers. If that is so, why do not its advocates carry their argument to its logical conclusion, and propose to remove the temptation entirely by shutting every hotel in the city and suburbs while the soldiers are here ? Then, as soon as they are 3 miles from the seaboard, they will come under British control, and receive the British allowance of liquor.

Senator Pearce - There will be none sent on the troopships, which are under our control until they get to Great Britain.

Senator HENDERSON - I am astonished to hear it. Even then, when they leave the Minister's control, they come under British regulations. If any one takes a trip on Sunday to Brighton Beach, Hampton, or places further along the railway line, he will find that the great percentage of the men entering the hotels there wear the King's uniform. For these reasons, I support the amendment.

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