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Friday, 3 November 1905

Senator CROFT (Western Australia) - I agree with the principle of the amendment, but I think that we should provide that the liquor traffic may become a Government monopoly if the Commonwealth Parliament so determines.

Senator Dobson - I have drafted an amendment which, if adopted, would have that effect.

Senator CROFT - If we provide that that may be done, we may reasonably expect that, at the forthcoming elections, the people of Australia will so alter the constitution of this Parliament as to create a majority in favour of it being done.

Senator Trenwith - If the Constitution says that it cannot be done, it will be useless for us to provide in this Bill that it may be done.

Senator CROFT - I am not an authority on constitutional points, but I think that the Commonwealth Parliament has power to provide that it shall be done, and I hope that if we say in the Bill that it may be done, Parliament will, when the proper times arrives, use that power to make the traffic a Government monopoly. Is it not well known that, even in Melbourne, most of the hotels are controlled by the brewers and spirit merchants? In Papua, when it is seen that those interested in the liquor trade must make as much as they can in a given time, the number of the hotels will be .closed to reduce the expensed of management, and inferior liquor will be sold, to. increase profits. This is a danger which we should attempt to minimize, and the best way of doing so is to nationalize the drink traffic.

Senator DOBSON(Tasmania). - I voted, on a former occasion, to prohibit the importation of liquor into New Guinea, and I think I should do so again, although many persons entitled to speak with authority are opposed to that course. I cannot conceive, however, that there would be the same objection to State control of the liquor traffic. An objection, to the amendment of Senator Givens -is that the House of Representatives may not accept it. I do not think that we should assume that they will not, because we shall offer them a compromise, even if we agree to it.

Senator Pearce - We are going right back to our original position.

Senator DOBSON - I have drafted an amendment providing that the LieutenantGovernor of Papua may, wilh the consent of the Legislative Council, take over the exclusive control and management of the liquor traffic, so as to eliminate personal gai'n, and, further, that no compensation shall be paid to any licensee whose licence is abolished or not renewed.

Senator Givens - I am prepared1 to withdraw my amendment in order to allow that amendment to be moved.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment (by Senator Dobson) proposed -

That the House of Representatives' amendment be amended by the insertion of the following new sub-clause : - " 6a. The Lieutenant-Governor, with the consent of the Legislative Council, may take over the exclusive control and management of the liquor traffic, so as to eliminate personal gain from the sale of liquor; but no compensation shall be paid to any licensee whose licence is abolished, or not renewed, as the result of carrying out this section."

Senator CROFT(Western Australia).I think that four years, or some other stated period, should be provided for, because, as fair and reasonable men, we should let those in the liquor trade in Papua know when action, is likely to be taken, and, if we provide for the taking over of the business after four years, it will be an indication to the Government of the day to consider the advisability of putting the provision into effect.

Senator Pearce - Under the local option clause we can shut up all the hotels in New Guinea without) notice.

Senator CROFT - It will be difficult to close all of them, because of the interests involved, though some may be closed in the interests of the brewers and spirit merchants.

Senator Dobson - Senator Givens might carry the honorable senator's suggestion into effect by moving an. amendment on my amendment.

Senator CROFT - That will suit me.

Amendment of the amendment (by Senator Givens) agreed to -

That after the word " may " the words, " after the expiration of four years from the proclamation of this Act," be inserted.

Senator HENDERSON"(Western Australia). - I cannot support the amendment. When the Bill was last before us we made a fait attempt to frame its provisions in accordance with the opinions of a majority of honorable senators. When the Bill came back from the other House it contained provisions which, in my opinion, are as nearly as possible in "keeping with the principles that we endeavoured to lay down here. I voted for prohibition, and being defeated, I supported Government control. From a careful perusal of the debate in the other House, I am satisfied that the best possible compromise between the two parties has been suggested. By the amendment of the other House the question of prohibition is practically left in the hands of the people in the Possession. I should support the proposal of Senator Dobson if I thought that it would be accepted in another place. For nearly four years this Parliament has been endeavouring to frame a Constitution for Papua. I believe that if the amendment of Senator Dobson were sent down to the other House the Bill would be Jost. In that case, another year, perhaps two years, might elapse before a Constitution was framed for the Possession, and during that period the Ordinances which have been characterized as so loose as to permit almost any kind of trade to be carried on would continue to be in operation. I shall support the Government on this occasion.

Senator PULSFORD(New South Wales). - Since I was fourteen years of age I have been a total abstainer, and therefore all my sympathies go in the direction of temperance and the eradication of the liquor traffic. But I have to ask myself whether I am to allow my judgment to be ruled to-day by my sympathies in the matter of temperance. This Bill deals not merely with the liquor question, but also with the government of this important Dependency, containing a native population of 400,000. I know that all those persons who are interested in the Possession are exceedingly anxious for this Parliament to grant such powers as are necessary for its proper government. It is not many days since the Secretary of External Affairs, who has just completed a report on the state of the Possession, expressed to me his earnest hope that this measure would soon be completed, so that arrangements might be made for its proper government. The session is drawing to a close. There is plenty of work still to be done, especially in the other House. If we to-day introduce amendments of a highly controversial character, which may rouse a great deal of angry feeling in the other House, and possibly lead to the loss of the Bill, we shall have done the natives and also the white residents the greatest injustice. I, therefore, ask honorable senators to look at the matter in its full, broad aspect, and to be guided by what is best for the Possessionas a whole, and not simply by temperance principles.

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