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Thursday, 30 August 1906

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) .- This Bill has, I have no doubt, been introduced with the best of motives; but the intentions, worthy as they are, may, if carried out, largely result in frustrating the objects of its promotors. We have to decide whether we believe that the Bill will achieve its object, and I give every credit to Senator Pulsford and those associated with him for a firm belief that the measure will do' something to check the great evil of drink. After listening to their arguments, however, I am forced to the conclusion that, praiseworthy as "their effort ist it will probably end, I shall not say in disaster, but in rendering worse the evil they hope to check. In my opinion, the great evil of the drink traffic throughout the Commonwealth arises partly from' bad Licensing Acts, and partly from the corrupt administration of the Licensing Acts. I am not so much concerned with sly-grog drinking, bad as it may be, as with the existing conditions in every State, arising from the two causes I have indicated. When I consider the way in which liquor is sold in military canteens, I recognise the fact that, whether that sale be under military regulation or not, 'it is quite possible for liquor to be dispensed there without the element of profit entering into the transaction. Of all the disastrous circumstances in connexion with the drink traffic in this, as in other communities, none is so bad in its effects as the profit derived from the sale of drink to men. I do not know enough of military organization to know whether the element of profit is altogether removed from canteens.

Senator Mulcahy - There is no personal profit ; but whatever return there may be is expended for the benefit of the men themselves.

Senator CLEMONS - If there were the element of personal profit, I should do my utmost to remove it, because, in my opinion, no profit ought to accrue from the sale of liquor.

Senator Mulcahy - That would make the drink cheaper.

Senator CLEMONS - In no case would I allow .any profit to be made.

Senator O'KEEFE (TASMANIA) - - It would be better to keep the present prices, and apply the profits in providing amusements for the men.

Senator CLEMONS - I am not much concerned about that. I consider that the element of profit' ought to be removed when liquor is sold in canteens, because it is the element which is the most objectionable in the ordinary methods of .selling drink in public-houses. Reference has been made to the State ownership and control of the liquor traffic; and I have wondered publicly and privately why the Labour Party, whose chief political ambition at the present time is to nationalize industries in their various phases of ownership, distribution and exchange, have never, so far as I have been able to ascertain, brought into prominence the question of the nationalization of the drink traffic.

Senator Stewart - We cannot do everything at once.

Senator CLEMONS - Quite so; but I am at liberty to say something as to the order in which the Labour Party choose to achieve the objects they have in view.

Senator Pearce - The nationalization of the liquor traffic is a plank in the platform of the Labour Party in every State.

Senator Givens - What power have we to deal with the liquor traffic?

Senator CLEMONS - What power have we to nationalize the tobacco industry?

Senator de Largie - The nationalization of the liquor traffic is urged in the last speech of Mr. Prendergast, the leader of the Labour Party in Victoria.

Senator CLEMONS - I ask Senator Givens what power we in this Parliament have to nationalize the land, the tobacco industry, or any other industry ?

Senator Givens - The tobacco industry represents a monopoly which could not be dealt with by a State, and we have ample power under the Constitution/ to deal with the land as we propose.

Senator CLEMONS - We have no power, and Senator Givens is aware of the fact, to deal with the nationalization of anything. I do say, however, that as a first practical start, the Labour Party, in their attempt to carry out their mad schemes of nationalization, would have done much to gain, perhaps, the sympathy of men. like myself, to whom the idea of nationalization is abhorrent, if they had moved in the direction of the nationalization of the drink traffic. Had the Labour Party done so, they might, as I say, have got the sympathy of many men who positively hate nationalization, as representing the destruction of industry.

Senator Findley - If the honorable senator thinks our schemes are mad, why not give the people an opportunity to vote against them?

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