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Thursday, 23 August 1906

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I should like, in commencing my speech, to indorsethe protest made by the Minister of Defence in regard to the extremely intemperate speech on a temperance subject delivered to the Senate by Senator Dobson. It is a curious thing that if you want to hear anything that is absolutely intemperate and inflammatory, you must expect to get it from some one who is an ardent advocate of temperance. Such gentlemen may believe in temperance with regard to intoxicating liquors, but they always appear to me to be the victims of verbal and mental intoxication. On the occasion to which I refer, I am afraid that my honorable friend Senator Dobson was no exception to the rule. I wish to say at once that my honorable friend did not mean it when he accused those who opposed this Bill of being fond of drink, and of being claimants for the right of men to get drunk when they liked.

Senator Dobson - I never said anything of the kind.

Senator MILLEN - I begthe honorable senator's pardon. I took down the expressions as illustrating the type of remarks which he addressed to the Senate in support of the measure. If he denies having used them, of course - subject to a reference to Hansard - I must accept his denial. But whether my quotations are literally correct of not, they are not unfair representations of the kind of remarks which he made, and I am sure that when he made that intoxicating speech, he did not honestly mean all that he said. I desire to deal with some of the evidence - if I may so term it by a stretch of language - which Senator Dobson submitted to the Senate in support of his views. Honorable senators will recollect the manner in which he denounced the evidence quoted by Senator Turley as being taken from American sources, and therefore to be discounted. But Senator Dobson himself fell back upon quotations from an American temperance journal. I leave it to honorable senators to determine whether the evidence brought forward by Senator Turley, obtained from official records, and from reports submitted by officers of the United State's Army, and by their chaplains and medical officers, is not entitled to outweigh the quotations from the temperance journal produced by Senator Dobson.

Senator Dobson - Senator Turley's evidence was in the interests of those who conduct the drink business, which runs mad in the United States.

Senator MILLEN - Here is my honorable friend again giving fresh evidence of his want of temperance !

Senator Dobson - I stand to my guns.

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator is standing, not to guns, but to saloons. He is an advocate for the maintenance of drinking saloons.

Senator Dobson - Nothing of the kind. The honorable senator wants to put drink before our young men in their camps and barracks.

Senator MILLEN - I do not want to close up places where our young soldiers will get what they require under proper regulation, and drive them to drinking saloons. I regard the source of my honorable friend's evidence as indicating his want of logic, when he denounces the high official authorities quoted by Senator Turley, and brings forward a partisan temperance journal in support of his contention.

Senator Dobson - The journal which I quoted based its statements upon statistics and facts.

Senator MILLEN - The statements might have been published bona fide, but the very fact that they were quoted from a temperance journal indicates that the source was prejudiced. One can reasonably assume that a journal devoted to a particular cause will naturally select for publication only such evidence as supports its own views. But, on the other hand, Senator Turley produced evidence from people who are totally disinterested - clergymen, medical officers, and military 'officers, who have formed their opinions as a result of experience.

Senator Dobson - They made their statements on account of the saloon's which were established close to the camps.

Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend himself said, in dealing with his American quotations, that the dives established outside the military camps were the great curse of the American Army. Yet he is an advocate for such establishments.

Senator Dobson - What?

Senator MILLEN - Let him stand to his guns now. My honorable friend showed fromhis own quotations that the great evil that has attended the military forces in America was due to the saloons which hedge the camps around on every side. But what does he now propose to do? Does he propose that we shall have total prohibition in this country? Not at all. He wants to abolish the consumption of liquor under the discipline of the camp, but outside he would permit its sale. Does he believe in local option?

Senator Dobson - Certainly I do.

Senator MILLEN - 'It is a curious thing that, while our policy has been to remove from our citizen soldiers every disability which could differentiate them from ordinary citizens, while we give them the right to vote, and enable them in other respects to exercise the rights and privileges of citizenship, Senator Dobson urges that, so far as drink is concerned, they should be put in a distinct class by themselves. He believes in local option so far as concerns the ordinary citizen ; but where the soldier is concerned (he would not allow the principle of local option to apply. If the soldiers decided in favour of the abolition of the wet canteen, I should maintain that their wishes ought to be respected.But I deny the right of Senator Dobson, or any one else, to say that, if any soldier desires, to nave a glass of liquor" he shall have to go outside hisbarracks or his camp to buy it. If Senator Dobson were prepared to go in for absolute prohibition, I could understand his point of view. But, as he proposes to leave the hotels outside the barracks and camps flourishingvigorously, under no discipline, and with all sorts of other attractions, from which the canteen is free, it appears to me that his attitude is utterly illogical.

Senator Dobson - My attitude is that I would have no public-house inside any barracks or camp.

Senator MILLEN - But does the honorable senator believe in the maintenance of the public-house up against the barracks or camp? If my honorable friend is so strong on the point, why does he not advocate prohibition?

Senator Dobson - I would vote for prohibition, so far as concerns the supply of drink to ouryoung soldiers.

Senator MILLEN - But, at the same time, the honorable senator would allow the young soldier to go outside his barracks, and get as much drink as he liked.

Senator Dobson - That is not correct.

Senator MILLEN - Does my honorable friend then believe in absolute prohibition ?

Senator Dobson - We could not enforce it. If we could I would vote for it.

Senator MILLEN - Exactly ; and if we abolish the canteen, we shall not have abolished drinking, or removed it beyond reach of the soldier. We shall merely have stopped it from being sold where it can be consumed under restriction, and where there is every inducement for temperance to be observed.

Senator Dobson - My honorable friend is very intemperate and unfair, so far as my argument is concerned.

Senator MILLEN - If I have been unfair, I express my regret, and if I have been intemperate, I can only say that it was due to the evil communications that corrupt good manners.

Senator Dobson - Let the honorable senator continue to advocate the inside " pub."

Senator MILLEN - Why should Senator Dobson be so touchy about the " pub " outside?

Senator Dobson - I am not; but the honorable senator is advocating the " pub " inside.

Senator MILLEN - I shall always advocate the public-house under proper control and discipline, as against the publichouse free from control and discipline.

Senator Dobson - This debate has caused the Minister to issue fresh regulations for the control of canteens.

Senator MILLEN - Senator Dobson has asked where there is a case of a properly controlled canteen. My reply is that no one who had ever seen the canteen in the Victoria Barracks, Sydney, would ask the question.

Senator Dobson - There is drunkenness there.

Senator MILLEN - It would be a fortunate thing if the percentage of drunkenness in Tasmania were as low as it is in the Victoria Barracks, Sydney.

Senator Dobson - There are no canteens in Tasmania.

Senator MILLEN - I am speaking of the whole population of Tasmania. Although I have lived for some time in Sydney, it was only on the introduction of this Bill that I took an opportunity to have a look at all the frightful horrors we have been given to understand are associated with canteens. Having gained my impression of a canteen from some of the speeches made by advocates of the Bill, I went to the Victoria Barracks, Sydney, with a certain amount of fear and trembling, having some doubt whether it was the sort of place I ought to visit. The canteen was a revelation to me. The Minister will confirm my statement that a better or more orderly club could not be conceived ; indeed, one would not know there was a canteen there, unless taken to rather an out-of-the-way place where it is conducted. In connexion with the canteen are splendid recreation and billiard rooms, a small hall with a stage and pianola, and various other accessories for the innocent entertainment and amusement of the men.

Senator Playford - Chess and draughts are also provided.

Senator MILLEN - There is everything that can be conceived of as being likely to attract the men away from the injurious and, unfortunately, seductive influences outside.

Senator Trenwith - No barmaids.

Senator MILLEN - No barmaids. The man in charge of the canteen is under no inducement to force liquor on anybody ; on the contrary, he himself would be penalized if he allowed the soldiers to consume more than they ought. Compare that discipline with the conduct of an ordinary hotel. Did any one ever hear of a barmaid or barman being dismissed for selling to a customer more liquor than he could safely carry? I venture to say that the penalty would be the other way about.

Senator O'Keefe - There are numbers of barmen who are ordered by their employers not to serve drunken men.

Senator MILLEN - That is so; I am not making any accusation against the ordinary conduct of the trade. But honorable senators will recognise a considerable difference between an ordinary barman and a man in charge of a canteen, who knows that nothing a customer can say can affect the authority which issues the instructions I have indicated.

Senator Dobson - Is the honorable senator speaking of canteens generally, or of only one canteen?

Senator MILLEN - I am speaking of the canteen at the Victoria Barracks, Sydney.

Senator Dobson - Does the honorable senator not know that the Minister has stated publicly that irregularities have occurred in each of the canteens?

Senator Playford - Not in connexion with drunkenness.

Senator Dobson - The idea of giving credit for drink ! Is that the way to regulate canteens?

Senator MILLEN - Do saloons not give credit ?

Senator Dobson - I have nothing to do with saloons - I desire to get rid of them. Does the honorable senator know that the Minister is going to prohibit all spirits at canteens? Is that the liberty of the subject?

Senator MILLEN - Is it my friend's method of answering a question, to ask another one ?

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