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Thursday, 26 July 1906

Senator TURLEY - I quite recognise that the conditions are different in Australia. But at the same time honorable senators cannot ignore the fact that if men take to drinking there is nothing to prevent them going far more to excess out. of barracks than they would do if they drank ire their own- canteens, where they are under -discipline.

Senator Henderson - Where is the inducement to drink to excess in the circumstances to which the honorable senator refers ?

Senator TURLEY - Has the honorable senator never been in a garrison town ?

Senator Henderson - Scores of times, and, so far as my experience goes, the honorable senator is talking nonsense.

Senator TURLEY - I have been in garrison towns, and have seen a good deal of drunkenness there. I know very well that the canteen system has decreased drunkenness. In fact, the officers in charge of the British) Army d'o not say a word in favour of doing away with canteens. Thev know very well that the system has done good. It has kept men from going outside, where the temptations to drink are much greater than they are in barracks. I quote from an officer who evidently knows what Be is talking about. He continues -

Gambling is universal in these " dives," and they are frequented by dissolute women. The soldier whose desire for a drink would ordinarily be satisfied by a few glasses of beer in the canteen of the post exchange, goes to one of these resorts, and does well if he escapes before he has spent or gambled away all his money, overstayed his leave, or engaged in an altercation. As a rule, the local authorities regard the existence of these places with indifference or approval, as it causes the soldier to spend his money in the community. The efficiency of the army or the ruin of a good soldier is nothing to them. There can be no reasonable doubt that most of the trials by general courts-martial and summary courts, at least so far as this department is concerned, are directly traceable to this cause. Since I have had command here, there has taken place the ruin and degradation of several noncommissioned officers of long service and fine record. In short, recent legislation bv Congress -on this question, so far as this department is concerned, has had no effect, except to. lower the discipline of the army, ruin scores of good soldiers, and fill the pockets of a lot of saloon keepers, gamblers, and prostitutes.

Senator Dobson - Under our law, saloon-keepers could not open such bars.

Senator Playford - The cases cited do not apply to us in Australia.

Senator TURLEY - One of the strongest arguments advanced in favour of the Bill is that similar legislation has had good effect in the United States; and I am showing, by means of these quotations, that the experiment there has not been so satisfactory as we might be led to suppose.

Senator Playford - If the effect of the abolition of canteens in the United States has been bad, why is the present law not repealed ?

Senator Millen - That is a curious question for a practical politician to ask !

Senator TURLEY - The repeal of the present law relating to canteens in- the United States has been recommended. The following is an extract from the report of the Secretary of War of the United States for 1902 : -

Referring to the operation of section 38 of the Act o"f 2nd February, 19,01, which prohibits the sale of beer and light wines in post exchanges, I said in my last report that a great body of reports had been received which indicated that the effect of the law was unfortunate, but that I thought a sufficient time had not elapsed to give the law a fair trial, and that the observation and report of its working would be continued during the ensuing year.

A great number of additional reports have now been received, and they confirm the impression produced by the earlier reports. I am convinced that the general effect of prohibiting the use of beer and light wines within the limited area of the army post is to lead the enlisted men to go out of the post, .to frequent vile resorts which cluster in the neighbourhood, to drink bad whisky to excess, and to associate intimately with abandoned mcn and more abandoned women; and that the operation of the law is to increase drunkenness, disease of the most loathsome kind, insubordination, and desertion, and moral and physical degeneration.

These reports are ready to be sent to Congress whenever that body desires to consider the subject.

The Adjutant-General of the United States Army - and this is the gentleman who has been quoted as in favour of legislation of the description now proposed - said in his report for 1902 -

The restoration of the exchange as it existed prior to the passage of the Act of 2nd February, 1901, prohibiting the sale of beer, is desired and urged by the great majority of officers and men, and by none more than those of pronounced temperance views. Numerous reports confirm the views long held bv this office that the old exchange contributed to sobriety, health, and contentment of the men. The increase of desertions and of trials for infractions of discipline is, by those best informed, attributed to the abolition of the former privileges of the exchange.

These are reports from men at the head of affairs, men who, I suppose, are not governed by sentiment in one direction or another, and who are in receipt- of information from other, officials from various parts of the States.

Senator Henderson - Then to make a sober army, the best plan is to fill every, man's skin with beer?

Senator TURLEY - Water is a good thing that we cannot live without, but, at the same time, a very large number of men have lost their lives by water. There is a wide difference between filling every man's kit with whisky and allowing him to have a glass of beer in the barracks when he so requires. I do not think that the Bill would have the effect imagined by those who are strong in its favour.

Senator Dobson - Let us try the Bill.

Senator TURLEY - Is that the policy which Senator Dobson adopts when he thinks' legislation might have a detrimental effect?

Senator Dobson - I do not think this Bill would have a detrimental effect. The precedents which the honorable senator is reading are quite inapplicable to Australia. It is the general licensing law of the United States that is at fault.

Senator TURLEY - This has nothing to do with the general law of the United States. What I have read is not the only evidence on the subject, because Australian testimony may be given. An officer in a prominent position in Queensland told me, when I was last in Brisbane, that his experience was that, since the establishment of the canteen system, there had been a great deal less trouble with the men.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Where is the evidence that canteens have been mischievous and ought to be prohibited? '

Senator TURLEY - I do not think there is any evidence to that effect. I have looked for, but I have not been able to lay my hand on, any testimony by military or naval officers to the effect that there is any abuse in the canteen system. What is stated is that the canteens might be made more attractiveby the establishment of up-to-date restaurants;, readingrooms, and so forth. But that has been advocated for years. As Senator Pulsford told us, the United States Government, during the past two or three years,, have voted about $2,000,000 to provide attractions within barracks to take the place of those formerly presented by the canteen; and yet there are reports of the nature I have quoted. These reports are by men who know what they are talking about, and they unmistakably express the opinion that such legislation as is now proposed has proved harmful to those under their command. Numerous associations in the United States have had this matter under their consideration ; and in this connexion I may read the following: -

American Public Health Association,

Secretary's Office,

Columbus, Ohio,18th October, 1901.

Dr. EdwardL.Munson, Assistant Surgeon, U.S.

Army, War Department Exhibit, PanAmerican Exposition, Buffalo, N.Y.

Dear Doctor, - The following resolution was adopted by the American Public Health Association, at its meeting, held in Buffalo, 16-20 September,1901 : -

Resolved.- That this body deplores the action of Congress in curtailing the operation of the army canteen or post exchange, and in the interests of general and military sanitation, recommends its re-establishment on its former basis at the earliest possible date.

Yours very truly,

C.   O. Probst, Secretary.

A body of medical men would not, I think, pass such a resolution, unless they believed themselves to be absolutely in the right. If we do not accept their testimony we must say thatthey know nothing about the matter, or that they are biased, or that they have been " got at." As for myself, I am prepared to accept the evidence of men of experience as to whether the working of a law of the kind proposed has proved beneficial or otherwise. Senator Dobson has asserted that the cases I have cited do not apply to the conditions which prevail in Australia; but, as I said before, the strongest argument in favour of the Bill is that similar legislation has proved a success in the United States, whereas we find that the persons most competent to speak recommend the repeal of the law.

Senator Best - But it has not been repealed.

Senator TURLEY - That is so; and I can quite understand the position. There are laws in Australia for the repeal of which the people have been asking for some time, on the ground that they are detrimental to the interests of the community, but which remain on the statute-book. The Bill deals with a question which politicians do not care to touch, bearing in view temperance organizations, which may prove adverse at the time of an election. But it is theduty ofevery man, who is elected to a responsible position, to speak his mind. At the last election, a lot of temperance circulars were sent out to candidates, and in one appeared the question, " Are you prepared to abolish canteens ? " To that question I returned a direct negative, and I am not now prepared to abolish canteens, which I believe to be established in the best interests of the menon whom we may some day have to depend for the defence of Australia. The members of our Military Forces occupy a peculiar position in the Public Service. They do not begin their duties and leave off at a regular hour, whenthey may put on their coats and go to their homes ; on the contrary, they live in barracks, and have to receive permission to go outside. There are no persons in the Government service who have less liberty than our soldiers in barracks; and under the circumstances it is better to provide facilities for the men to lead reasonably decent lives than topass a measure of the kind before us. Men are better and not worse for a fair amount of freedom, and desirable effects would not be produced by the restraint imposedby the Bill. The Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. . at its 10th annual meeting held at St. Paul's, Minnesota, on 13th May, 1901, passed the following resolution : -

Whereas, the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, now in session at St. Paul, recognises that the abolition of the army post exchange or canteen has resulted, and must inevitably result, in an increase of intemperance, insubordination, discontent, desertion, and disease in the Army : Therefore be it -

Resolved: That this body deplores the action of Congress in abolishing the said post exchange or canteen, and in the interests of sanitation, morality, and discipline, recommends its reestablishment at the earliest possible date.

Resolved: That it is the sense of this association to resolve its members in each State into a special committee to confer with their CongressionalRepresentatives and Senators, and interest them in the repeal of the so-called "canteen law."

Resolved: That a Committee of seven, representing the United States Army, the Navy, and the Marine-Hospital Service, and the members of this association be appointed to confer with a committee from the House of Representatives and Senate in reference to the matter.

Resolved: That a copy of this resolution be sent to the committee on national legislation of the American Medical Association, and ask them to co-operate with the Association of Military Surgeons ; and

Resolved: That a sufficient number of copies of the paper be printed to furnish a copy to each Representative and Senator, and that a member of the association be designated to see that the copies are properly distributed.

James Evelyn Pilcher, Secretary.

Senator Playford - What is the date of that?-

Senator TURLEY - 30th May, 1901.

Senator Playford - And nothing has yet been done, although this is 1906.

Senator TURLEY - These men may realize that this legislation has done no good, and yet no action may have been takenby Congress in a matter in connexion with which the votes of a very large number of people are involved.

Senator Playford - If the evils were so great, surely Congress would be moved toremedy them.

Senator TURLEY - That is to say, the Minister questions the accuracy of these statements ?

Senator Playford - I suppose they are exaggerated.

Senator TURLEY - I am satisfied that when the Minister of Defence makes inquiries from the men of the Defence Force he will get exactly the same opinions from them. He will find that views similar to those which I have quoted will be expressed by men in his own Department, who are far more competent to discuss this , question than is even the honorable senator himself. There has been no evidence placed before another place, or before the Senate, to account for the introduction of this measure, unless it be that secured by the Committee appointed to inquire into the conduct of a certain officer in charge of a canteen:. Because there has been some inefficient regulation of a canteen, and some officers have apparently taken advantage of their position to live to some extent at the expense of the mew, this measure is introduced in a panic, and an attempt is made to rush it through Parliament without consideration, and without any evidence from the men directly interested, as to how they are likely to be affected by it. I believe that some of them should be given an opportunity to express their opinion on the question. I do not accept the Minister of Defence as an expert in this matter.

Senator Playford - I do not pretend to be one.

Senator TURLEY - I should much prefer to accept the opinion ofany man in charge of a regiment in Australia to that of the honorable senator as to what the effect of this legislation is likely to be. I do not know that it is necessary that I should make any further quotation from these reports in connexion with the American law. I have referred to the opinions expressedby the American Medical Association., the Association of Military Surgeons, the American Association of Public Health, the Professor of Hygiene at Georgetown University, and others competent to give a valuable opinion on the subject. In . spite of all this evidence to the contrary, we are told that the American measure has been such a success that we should copy it here in the interests of the Defence Forces. There is another point in connexion with this matter to which reference might very well be made. I should like to ask whether we are justified in attempting to enforce a particular manner of living upon men because they happen to be in the employ of the Government. We know that the Minister of Defence would not be prepared to enforce such conditions of living upon any other Government servants.

Senator Playford - We do not provide canteens for other Government servants.

Senator Millen - We do not provide canteens for the men of the Defence Forces. Thev provide them for themselves.

Senator TURLEY - They pay the whole of the expense in connexion with them. Apparently, the Government believe that, by taking advantage of the position they occupy, they can force these men to becoming teetotallers whether they like it or not.

Senator Millen - If a private employer were to do that, the Minister of Defence would be the first to denounce it as an act of tyranny.

Senator Playford - There is no analogy between the two cases.

Senator TURLEY - Let me inform honorable senators that recently a committee has conducted an inquiry in England into the existing conditions under which canteens and regimental institutes are conducted. I have before me the report of their proceedings, dated 1903. I take it that some of the men who gave evidence before this committee know something about the working of canteens. I find that, with one exception, they are agreed that drinking in the Army has not increased under the canteen system, and that it would not be wise to abolish the system in the British Army in any part of the world. A great deal of interesting evidence was given before this committee, which honorable senators can read if they take sufficient interest in the matter. I find a statement here by Lord Roberts. I do not know whether he knows anything about Army .matters, but there are a good many people who 1believe that he does.

Senator Col Neild - Does he know as much about them as Senator Pulsford?

Senator TURLEY - I am not prepared to swear that he does. He was examined before the Committer* to which I have referred in connexion with a speech which; he delivered at Meerut in 1888, in which he said -

Some two years ago, when passing through Rangoon, I had an opportunity of seeing an institute which appeared to me very much what soldiers require. On entering the building, I found myself in the temperance room - a spacious, airy apartment, in which 300 to 400- men were assembled. Some were playing games, others were talking and amusing themselves ; every one seemed at his ease, and there was an. air of comfort about the place which was very marked. Waiters were bustling about with tea, coffee, and light refreshments. Neither beer nor other intoxicating drinks were, of course,, allowed in this room. Passing on I came to another room, with " Silence " written in large letters over the door. This was the reading and writing room, and a goodly number of men were here.. Further on I found myself in theref'reshment room, which was much about thesame size as the temperance room. At one end of it was a coffee shop, where all kinds of oilmen's stores and regimental necessaries could bepurchased at a cheap rate, and where very inviting looking suppers were being prepared. Small tables were scattered about, each covered with a clean white tablecloth, and with such conveniences as could be supplied without much expense. Here several men were enjoying their evening meal, with which those who wished for it could have beer brought to them from theneighbouring canteen. On going into the canteen, 1 noticed that it was nearly empty ; the men apparently preferred to have their beer with their suppers, or had drunk off their glass, and had gone to join their comrades in some other part of the building. Further on I was shown into a large room, which was occasionally used as a theatre. Here there were a number of men listening to a capital comic song whichwas being sung by a bluejacket from one of the ships. in the river. There was, as I said before, an air of real comfort about the whole place ; and I thought to myself, " Is a soldier likely to prefer wandering about the dirty bazaars and back slums of Rangoon to joining the fun and partaking of the comfort of the Institute?" There is little doubt, I think, what the choice of (most men would be.

Lord Roberts spoke in the same way at Simla. He is a teetotaller, but he is aware that it is practically impossible to prevent the men in the Army from drinking. Hestates that he believes it is better that soldiers should be given facilities to obtain beer and other refreshments which they require, under the control of their officers, than that they should be permitted to go outside, as he states, " into the dirty bazaars and back slums of Rangoon," or of any other place in which they might be stationed. That is evidence to which we should pay some attention. Lord Roberts does not dream of suggesting that canteens should be abolished in connexion with the

British Army. He says that he will be glad to see the day when there is no drinking whatever by any one in the Army, but that is very different from saying that we should not give the men of the Army an opportunity to obtain the refreshments they require under reasonable, clean, and decent conditions. That they should be given facilities to obtain the refreshments they require under such conditions is all that those in favour of the canteen system advocate. Evidence was given before the committee to which I have referred by men belonging to the Royal Army Temperance Association. I believe that Lord Roberts was responsible for the establishment of that association when he was in India, and its operations have been extended to Great Britain by men who have been transferred from India. At the present time, according to the evidence of the secretary of the association, it numbers something like 35,000 of the men in the British Army. These men do not drink intoxicants1, but "the canteen provides for them as well as for those who do. In his examination, Lord Roberts gave this evidence : - 4711. Is there any point that you would like to bring before the attention of the Committee? - No, except to wish it all possible success in carrying out what is greatly my desire, to make the soldiers' institute a comfortable place which the men will be attracted to go to instead of visiting public houses in the neighbourhood ; to make it in all matters respectable, where they -can have their games and their writing and theirreading. their eating, and their drinking, in moderation, and where everything is done to elevate the soldier. That is my great wish.

That is the opinion of Lord Roberts; but, knowing very well that it is impossible, he states that his idea in connexion with regimental institutes is to provide adequate accommodation and reasonable facilities for the men under his command. A number of questions were sent to Lord Kitchener, who, I suppose, knows pretty nearly as much on this subject as does Senator Pulsford. In reply .to the question -

What are your views as to the organization and management of a regimental institute, especially with reference to the wet canteen?

Lord Kitchener returned the following answer : -

I think all canteens and institutes should be run on co-operative lines. The wet canteens should be dealt with separately, and though enabling men to obtain refreshment, it should not be made into an ' attractive lounge. It should, in my opinion, be run more on, the lines of a railway refreshment-room, where tea, coffee, and sandwiches can also be obtained. , The profits -«»' the wet canteen should be higher than those on dry goods, except in the case of one pint of beer, which, when served at the club, might be issued at the most moderate profits.

If the Minister will take the trouble to go through these reports, most of which, I think, I have read, he will find the same opinions expressed, not only by the officers in command, but also by officers generally, the men, and other persons interested. Nowlet us take the position in Australia. We are supposed to have a Defence Force. We have men in different places, from Thursday Island right round the coast. Annually a number of men are induced to travel from their homes, and to spend a certain time in camp for the benefit of their health, and, I suppose, to make them more efficient in their duties. Yet we have the Government acquiescing in this Bill, without even referring the proposal to their officers or seeking the opinions o'f the men concerned.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - What is the opinion of the men ?

Senator TURLEY - I believe that if a poll of the men at the military establishments throughout Australia were taken, it would be found that an overwhelming majority of the officers and men are in favour of allowing the canteen system to remain as it is.

Senator Col Neild - I do not think that five per cent', would be found to be in favour of the Bill.

Senator TURLEY - The men who are constantly in barracks are under discipline all the time. It is far better for us to provide them with reasonable facilities, such as reading-rooms, writing-rooms, and places in which they could hold entertainments, or to which, with the profits from the canteen - as" is done in the British Army - they could bring outside entertainer than to say to the men, " When you go outside you can drink 'as much as you like, and act as you like, but in the barracks you shall not have any inducement held out to you to get a glass of beer or other liquor in moderation." Now let us take the case of the other men who would be affected by the enactment of this Bill. In each State every year a number of men are drawn together from all parts. In some cases men travel hundreds of miles in order to get to the camp. The majority of them are tradesmen, labourers, and others who, when not in camp, are accustomed, at the close of a d'ay's work, to go into an hotel for a glass of beer, and to drink it either there or at home. By this Bill it is proposed to say to all these men, " In this camp you shall not have any liquor, but you may go outside and drink there what you like." On this point, I have been able to get some Information from a man who is well posted, and who has no objection to the publication of his name. I refer to SurgeonMajor Thompson.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - And a very able man he is, too.

Senator TURLEY - When I met Dr. Thompson in the street, about a fortnight or three weeks ago, I asked him to tell me what his own experience in Queensland had been. He said, "When the camps were held at Lytton, before the canteen system was established, we used to have all sorts of persons with drinking establishment in the locality." There was not a public-house, but a number of persons used to come down, and, as is done in other places where men cannot get liquor openly, establish little shebeens.

Senator Playford - What ! Sly-grog shops.

Senator TURLEY - Yes. Does the Minister mean to tell me that he has never come across any siv-grog shops ? Even although the law is carried out by the administrators to the best of their ability still in Australia there are hundreds of places in which liquor is sold on the sly.

Senator Playford - I do not know where thev are. At all events, there are none in itv State.

Senator Col Neild - Thev are to be found aH over South Australia.

Senator Playford - No. There is not one sl\,-grog establishment I believe in the whole State. I have never come across one.

Senator TURLEY - It is no wonder that South Australia is termed the " model State," if there is not a place in it in which liquor is sold contrary to the law. I know that in Oueensland there has been a fair amount of sly-.grog selling going on. Now and again I have had a drink in these places.

Senator Mulcahy - Oh !

Senator TURLEY - I am not posing as an angel, but as an ordinary individual.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator is really too modest.

Senator TURLEY -I do not profess to be any better than the honorable senator. I dare say he has often had a drink in these places, although he does not care to mention the fact here.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator is too modest when he says he is not an angel.

Senator TURLEY - Surgeon-Major Thompson went on to tell me that since the establishment of the canteen system in Queensland they had had less trouble with the men, as thev had been able to buy what they required in the camp. He said that the men preferred to hold a sort of jollification amongst themselves rather than go outside, and that it was not necessary now to send out so many picket parties at night to pick up mert and bring them in.

Senator Playford - They were picked up in the camp

Senator TURLEY - Picked up in the camp?

Senator Playford - Very likel'y.

Senator TURLEY - That is rather art unfortunate remark to come from the Minister. What he virtually says is that drunkenness must have been prevalent in the camp under the eves of the officers. I do not think that officers, as a rule, are inclined to induce men to become drunk in camp. That is the reason why they wish to see fair facilities provided.

Senator Playford - Thev do not induce the men to drink, either outside or in camp.

Senator TURLEY - The officers know very well that the men are better off when they can get a .glass of beer in camp than they were when they had to go outside, and probably a picket party had to be sent out to bring them home. The ' Minister knows perfectly well that that has been the experience, not only in Australia, but in England and the United States. It is the experience of men, I believe, all over the world that where reasonable facilities are given, the officers have . far more control over the men than obtained when the men were compelled to go outside to get whatever refreshment thev required. The Bill should not be allowed to go any further until the Government furnish us with the opinions of the men who are in active service, and of the officers, and say whether they are prepared to support the measure or not.

Senator Playford - Let us refer the Bill' to a Select Committee. , That is the proper way to deal with it.

Senator TURLEY - There is no need to refer the Bill to a Select Committee'

Senator Playford - Honorable senators would get the information they want then.

Senator TURLEY - No. The Minister wants to appoint a Select Committee, which is to proceed from Melbourne to Thursday Island.

Senator Playford - Not necessarily.

Senator TURLEY - Would the honorable senator bring the officers down to Melbourne to give evidence?

Senator Playford - If the Government are to , get information, am I to bring the officers here to give it?

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Why was not the information obtained before the Bill was introduced?

Senator Playford - Could not a Select Committee get the information by sending up a series of questions?

Senator TURLEY - The information could be obtained by the Government without the aid of a Select Committee or a Royal Commission. All they need to do is to frame a number of questions.

Senator Playford - A Select Committee could do that, too.

Senator TURLEY - Is the Minister afraid to accept the onus of administering hisDepartment? Is he afraid to tell us whether the Government are prepared to support this measure or not, and furnish us with such evidence as he may be able to collect through his officers from the men on active work all over the Commonwealth ? I do not see that there is any reasonwhy either the Department or the Government should attempt to shirk their responsibilities in this matter. It is all very well to say ''appoint a Committee." but a Committee of this Senate could only makeinquiries in Victoria.

Senator Playford - A Committee could frame questions just as well as I could.

Senator TURLEY - Is a Committee required to frame questions which may be sent out to officers in different parts of the Commonwealth ? Does it require halfadozen members of the Senate to frame halfadozen questions?

Senator Playford - The Committee could examine persons in Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales without the slightest trouble.

Senator TURLEY - How could a Committee undertake a task of this kind when Parliament is sitting? The Minister evidently thinks that the onus of proof is on those who are opposed to this measure. We have no evidence as to whether the Government intends to support the Bill.

Senator Croft - The statement was made in another place that the Government did support the Bill.

Senator Millen -i saw in Hansard. that Mr. Ewing, a member of the Government, applauded Mr. Kelly, a member of the Opposition, who opposed the Bill.

Senator TURLEY - No vote was taken in another place. It seems to me that the best thing that can be done is for the matter to remain in abeyance until the Minister lets the Senate know whether he is prepared to ascertain the opinions of his officers and men, so that we shall not pass such a Bill in the dark. If we did we shouldprobablyfind, by-and-by, that we had acted to thedetriment of the interests of the Defence Forres, and that what we had done had led to intemperanceand demoralization.

Motion (by Senator de Largie) nega tived -

That the debate be now adjourned.

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