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Wednesday, 25 November 1914


Senator TURLEY (Queensland) . - During the course of this debate a number of statements have been made to which I should like to reply. Senator Senior inquired why we should talk from our own experience and straightway began to relate his own experience upon the drink question. What is that experience ? It seems that at the age of nine years he joined a Band of Hope, and that he has never known the taste of liquor. What a wonderful experience ! It enables us to realize exactly where the honorable senator stands. The only stimulant of which he has any knowledge is a cup of tea or coffee. I am of opinion that there are other men in this Chamber who have had a far wider experience. I do not put forward my own experience in this connexion at all. I have always been able to take a glass of liquor when I required it, and to abstain from doing so when I did not require it. Like Senator Ferricks, I fail to see why we should brand all the men who are leaving our shores to defend the Empire as moral weaklings, who cannot say "yes" or "no" when they are asked to have a drink.


Senator Grant - Then why not give them an unlimited supply ?


Senator TURLEY - I know that the honorable senator does not support the establishment of the wet canteen because it does not supply men with rum arid whisky. If it stocked all sorts of liquor he would not complain. He declared that he has visited different camps, and though he did not see anybody intoxicated there he saw sufficient to show that the regulations were being broken. He affirmed that at these camps a soldier can get as much beer as he chooses to pay for. I understood him to say that he would be prepared to vote for the wet canteen so long as it stocked brandy and whisky.


Senator Watson - He did not say that.


Senator Grant - The honorable senator is the only person who understood me to say it.


Senator TURLEY - Then the honorable senator should have put his remarks in such a way that they could not be misunderstood.


Senator Grant - The honorable senator is the only person who misunderstood them.


Senator TURLEY - It has been urged that the establishment of wet canteens in camps would not accord with the Labour platform. I believe that it would. I understand that in five out of the six States there is a plank in the Labour platform which provides for the nationalization of the liquor traffic. That plank, I know, obtains in the platforms of the party in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. I arn not going back upon that plank be cause I happen to be in the National Parliament. If it has not been adopted in South Australia, I am not responsible. I intend to adhere to the policy of the Labour party, which is State control of the liquor traffic, and to vote for that policy whenever opportunity presents itself.


Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - All the honorable senator's colleagues do not take that view.


Senator TURLEY - I do not know that all my colleagues from Queensland do not take a similar view. I have observed that a resolution was adopted at Wonthaggi in opposition to my amendment, and that it has been sent forward by a parson. I do not wonder at this gentleman endeavouring to extract a crumb of comfort from the statement of the Minister of Defence, especially when I recall the history of Wonthaggi. That place was started with the idea that it was to be a dry country. Yet there is no place in Victoria where there has been so much sly -grog selling . Only a little while ago a local option poll there resulted in a four to one vote in favour of establishing the sale of liquor under Government control. Wonthaggi to-day is entitled to seventeen hotels under the licensing laws of this State. In these circumstances I do not wonder that the gentleman to whom I have referred has attempted to gain a crumb of comfort from the statement of the Minister of Defence, that it is desirable that only dry canteens should exist in our military camps. During the course of his remarks Senator Long mentioned that the citizens of Australia are being called upon ,to provide a fund for the purchase of cigarettes for our troops at the front. I have never experienced very much trouble with my boy so far as drinking is concerned. But I admit that I have had some little trouble with him in regard to the cigarette habit. As a matter of fact, when he grew up and I chanced to hear that he had been seen smoking a cigarette, I had an earnest talk with him. I said, " Don't you bother about cigarettes; here is money with which to purchase a pipe and tobacco. You are at liberty to smoke as much as you choose, but do not develop the cigarette habit, which I believe is detrimental to your health." In the present instance, however, everybody is being asked to subscribe to a fund for the purchase of cigarettes for our troops.


Senator Shannon - By whom?


Senator TURLEY - Senator Long read out the names of those concerned, and of the committee who will receive subscriptions.


Senator Pearce - A private individual.


Senator TURLEY - I believe in our troops attaining efficiency as much as does any honorable senator. But apparently the liquor which they get outside of a camp does not render them inefficient. According to my honorable friends it is only the liquor which they secure at a military canteen.


Senator Shannon - Will the wet canteen prevent them getting liquor outside?


Senator TURLEY - No; but I believe that they will have less reason for obtaining it outside. Because I keep a bottle of whisky in my room, does Senator Shannon believe that after I have had a drink there I immediately visit a hotel in order to obtain two or three more drinks ?


Senator Shannon - If the bottle contained only one nobbier, probably the honorable senator would do that.


Senator TURLEY - The fact is that I wish to be able to get a drink when I require it, and so long as I am a free agent I intend to get it.


Senator Shannon - The honorable senator always gets away from the point.


Senator TURLEY - The honorable senator so seldom makes a point that we are unable to see it. Not very long ago I read an account of an institution which has been established in the Old Country. At its head are some very prominent members of the Church, and some very distinguished members of society. They do not believe in prohibition. They pin their faith to people being allowed liberty to get the refreshments they require, irrespective of whether those refreshments take the form of beer or whisky, so long as lighter refreshments are obtainable alongside. That is the system in which I believe. I cannot support any attempt to surround men over twenty-one years of age with arbitrary restrictions which would have the effect practically of tying them to their mother's apron strings. Many of them have had to go out and face the world, and they have come through apparently very safely. I do not see many of them who have given way to all of those temptations that have been spoken of, and are now wrecks, because of the fact that they have had to look after themselves.


Senator Shannon - Do not forget that the thirty-six senators here are the pick of four and a half million people.


Senator TURLEY - I decline to agree with the suggestion that there are no other thirty-six people in Australia as. good as we are. There are thousands of people as good as I am, and I would not think of putting myself on such a pedestal as to say that I am the thirty-sixth part of the best thirty-six people in Australia. In my opinion a big majority of young people in Australia are able to go out and battle with the difficulties of life and the conditions with which they have to meet, and come through them just as successfully as Senator Shannon and I have. I believe that the time will come later on when these young men will realize what we are doing here to-day, and exercise their influence at the ballot-box: in the direction of saying that they shall get that fair deal from the Defence Department to which they are entitled.

Question - That the words proposed tobe added be added (Senator Story'samendment) put. The Committeedivided.

Ayes . . . .8

Noes . . . . 9

Majority . . . . 1

 

 

 

Question so resolved in the negative.

Amendment negatived.







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