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Friday, 6 March 1942

Senator FOLL (QUEENSLAND) - It is not necessary to close bars altogether, but it would be wise to change the hours of trading. Hotel bars could he closed during some hours each morning and afternoon, as is done in Great Britain. I do not believe that six o'clock is a suitable closing hour, or that it reduces the consumption of alcohol. In fact, the early closing hour is responsible for a certain amount of drunkenness that occurs each evening. Large numbers of soldiers often arrive in a town, after a hard day's work, just before closing time. A soldier has just as much right to his glass of beer as anybody else; probably he has mors right than others, because he is doing a wonderful job for his country. However, when these men arrive from their camps they have to join in a mad rush to get their drinks, because the bars have to close at 6 p.m. Consequently, instead of having an opportunity to drink in comfort, they have to swallow their beer hurriedly to the sound of the cry, " Time, gentlemen, please ". But that is not the worst feature of early closing. Crooks who run sly grog dives wait outside the hotels to meet the soldiers at closing time and direct them to sly grog shops. I should like to see hotel bars closed for some hours during the day and kept open later than 6 p.m. so that soldiers on leave who want to have a drink can do so under decent conditions. I should like the hotels to be kept open until 8 p.m. if necessary; that would be a much better time than 6 p.m. I am glad that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) referred some days ago to the increase of drunkenness in the capital cities. All sorts of low class dives have sprung up where undesirable people congregate for the purpose of taking in our own soldiers, and perhaps the fighting men of Allied nations, who may be visiting this country. These men are liable to he taken in, given "crook grog", and robbed. This evil is partly due to the fact that there are no other places of entertainment for our soldiers to attend. Many of them are strangers to the cities and when they are on leave they want to have a look around town. As the result, they are taken in tow by undesirable people. No matter what a man's views may be in relation to temperance, he must be deeply concerned, if he is a good citizen, at some of the things that are happening in the cities. I hope that the Government will give early consideration to this problem, because many good young lives are being mined by this evil. I do not believe that the men want to over-indulge in drinking. The circumstances which force them down into these hovels, which in :owe cities the police are apparently unable to control, are responsible for the trouble.

Senator BROWN(Queensland) [2.56 J. - J. am greatly troubled by many problems in relation to our war effort, but I rise to speak of them with considerable diffidence because I fear that I cannot speak frankly without risk of acting detrimentally to the national interest, lt would be wise for Ministers- and honorable senators to meet in secret from time to time so that honorable senators, who have many questions to nsk in relation- to the war. could do so without giving away vital information. The general public has a tendency to condemn the Parliament wrongly because members of Parliament are prevented from speaking openly by the fear that they may damage our military, naval or air situation. The people should know the reason for our reticence. Many of us would speak frankly to the representatives of the Government if they were to meet us in secret. I have said before that the war effort would benefit if the people were told the truth, and I still contend that the Government should tell more of the facts- of our situation to the public. Senators and members of thu House of Representatives have met in secret and have heard certain things that have not been told to the public. I believe that the complacency that has been evident in Australia since the beginning of the war has been largely due to the fact that we have not trusted the people to the extent that they should be trusted. Had they been told more of the truth wc should now be in a better position tha it we are to meet the onslaughts of the enemy.

Senator Herbert Hays - Does tin.* honorable member suggest that the pres.1should not be censored at all?

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