Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 26 July 1906

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) . - I came to Melbourne to-day with an open mind on this subject. I found that there was so much to be said on both sides that 1 would not determine how I should vote until I had heard the arguments. I no longer have any hesitation. Senator Turley has given us such a clear speech, and has furnished such ample reasons, that we are, I think, justified in opposing the Bill. The measure, if it were necessary at all, ought to have been introduced by the Government.

Senator Playford - There was no necessity for us to introduce it; the Government can do all that this Bill provides for without it.

Senator WALKER - That is a very good reason why we should reject the Bill, and I expect the Government to oppose it. If they can do all that it provides for without it, clearly it is quite unnecessary. Another point against the Bill is that it infringes the liberty of the subject. The soldier has as much right to enjoy his glass of beer as I have. Personally,I am next door to a teetotaller, but I am not going to vote in favour of a measure which would treat the soldier differently from other people. I have been consulting a retired colonel with regard to this matter, and he tells me - what I did not know before - that in military canteens there is what is known as a wet counter and a dry counter. Those soldiers who donot wish to take alcoholic drinks can get' what they require without mixing with those who prefer stronger liquors. In Sydney we have the Victoria Barracks in a very crowded part of the city - in Oxfordstreet. If the men in barracks cannot get what they require at the canteen, they will get it outside. It is known to those who live in Sydney that there are in the vicinity a number of public-houses not of the highest character. If we. abolish canteens, there will be a temptation for our soldiers to go to these places. I should like to see a vote of the soldiers of Australia taken on this subject.

Senator Millen - Local option.

Senator WALKER - Yes, local option.

As I say, I came here prepared to vote in the direction which I deemed to be proper ; and the more I look into the matter, the more 'I am of opinion that the Government ought to have introduced the Bill if they thought it necessary. However, we have been informed that the Government do not think that a measure of the kind is necessary ; and I must say that the decision at which I have arrived is mainly the result of the informative speech to which we have just listenedfrom Senator Turley.

Suggest corrections