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Thursday, 19 July 1906

Mr MAUGER (Melbourne Ports) . - I move - .

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I have introduced the measure because, upon two occasions when the abolition of military canteens has been proposed,during the consideration of the Military Estimates, the question has been divided upon, late on Friday afternoons, when many honorable members have been absent, and, as I feel that a majority are in favour of the proposal, I have taken this course to secure an expression of opinion in regard to it. In this action I am strengthened by the revelations concerning the Queenscliff canteen . made during the progress of the Hawker inquiry, and by the facts stated1 in a return laid on the table of the House last session. The information asked for in that return was, first, the receipts from military canteens throughout the Commonwealth, during the preceding twelve months ; secondly, the expenditure during that period upon the establishment and maintenance of the canteens; and, thirdly, the profits, if any, on the sale of intoxicating liquors in the canteens, and the manner iri which those profits had been applied.

Mr Liddell - The honorable member does not propose to abolish the Parliamentary refreshment bar?

Mr MAUGER - That matter is not now under consideration, but, if my honorable friend has the courage to make the proposal, I shall be glad to support it. The receipts from military canteens throughout the Commonwealth during the period between the 1 st July, 1904, and the 30th June, 1905, amounted to .£15,032 18s. The return is .by no means complete, because it is stated that it is impossible to determine how much of that amount was derived from the sale of intoxicating liquors only, the sum representing the total receipts from the sale of intoxicating liquors, as well as other drinks, and cigars, tobacco, and other refreshments and provisions. The expenditure of the canteens, including the purchase and) maintenance of stock, was £13.778 17s. 8d., and the profits, " if any," on the sale of intoxicating liquors, £1,306 2S. 7d.

Mr Frazer - " If any " - that is a doubtful sort of' return.

Mr MAUGER - The return is most incomplete and unsatisfactory, and seems to have been devised to hide the facts rather than to give the information sought for. There is a foot-note to this effect: -

The way in which such profits have been applied. Maintenance; additional room, canteen. New South Wales ; social and gymnastic fund, Tasmania ; hospital donation, insurance, library, band, 'instruction and instruments, music, stationery, rifle shooting, prizes, sports, amusements, sundries. It will be seen that this is not a balance-sheet, as it does not take into account stock on hand.

Neither is it a return giving the information asked for. The first point which I wish to make is that our military canteens have been managed in an extremely unsatisfactory way. That is shown by some of the evidence taken during the Hawker inquiry At Queenscliff, Gunner J. P." O'Toole was in charge of the canteen. Now. military experts in America declare that it is degrading to commissioned and noncommissioned officers and to privates alike that soldiers should be compelled to act as barmen, in dispensing liquors for the benefit or detriment of their fellows, but that is the position occupied by Gunner O'Toole. He appeared to be anxious to hide the real facts; but, after a good deal of pressing, admitted that there were two prices for the officers' and sergeants' mess, and two retail prices. He also said that if officers gave their signatures, they could obtain whisky at 4s. per bottle, while common soldiers, whose pay is about 2s. a day, were charged 5s. 4d. a bottle.

Mr Frazer - That arrangement should be wiped out.

Mr Crouch - It has been wiped out since.

Mr MAUGER - The canteens themselves should be wiped out. Cross examination elicited the fact that if a gunner wished for ale, instead of for spirits, he had to buy, not a bottle, but nine gallons, a quantity equal to the contents of about fifty bottles, for which He had to pay a whole week's wages.

Mr Hutchison - It is " a way they have in the army."

Mr MAUGER - Yes; but it is radically wrong. It ought to be made easy to do right and hard to do wrong; but, apparently, men are encouraged to buy drink wholesale, and to spend a very large proportion of their miserable wages in purchasing it. It ma,y be asked, Is there a precedent for the abolition of canteens ? Has any other country done what is proposed? What is being done in this matter in Great Britain, the United States, and Canada? I believe in making precedents where thev do not exist, if it is necessary to depart from old established practice. Australia has led the way in adopting voting by ballot, adult suffrage, and many other reforms, and, if we had no precedent to guide us, it would be a good thing to set an example to the world in the abolition of canteens. But we have the American experience to guide us, which is exceedingly interesting and instructive. As far back as February, 1881. President Hayes issued the following order : -

In view of the well-known fact that the sale of intoxicating liquors in the army of the United States is the cause of much demoralization among both officers and men. and that it gives rise to a large proportion of the cases before the court marshals, involving great expense and serious injury to the service, the Secretary for War is urged to take suitable steps to reduce the sale and abandon the practice.

So far as I can understand, that order had a temporarily beneficial effect. For a considerable time, strong efforts were made to reduce the consumption of drink, and to remove the inducements held out to the men to partake of strong liquors. The improvement, however, did not extend over a very long period, and the American Government then decided to legalise and regulate canteens, and place them under the direct control of the military authorities. In 1889 the canteen was formally recognised by the Government, and among the conditions imposed were the following: -

To supply general articles for the soldiers' use - gymnastics, billiards, &c.

The sale of ardent spirits was strictly prohibited. Beer and light wine being allowed.

That was a distinct step in advance. The military and medical authorities, in common with temperance advocates, recognised that drink was demoralizing the American soldiers ; that it was destroying their physical constitution, and undermining their discipline. In view of the agitation which is now proceeding in Victoria against gambling, it is also interesting to note that the following order was also issued : -

Gambling or playing any game for money or any other thing of value is forbidden.

That orderhad a very good effect, and gambling became practically unknown in the American Army. Officers and noncommissioned officers testify that this rule in connexion with the canteen has worked beneficially.

Mr Crouch - Does the Bill deal with gambling?

Mr MAUGER - No; I merely mentioned that matter incidentally.

Mr Crouch - The honorable member lias never heard of gambling as an evil among Australian soldiers?

Mr MAUGER - I am afraid that it is an evil among all sections of the community. I do not know that soldiers are any better or worse than others. Although the sale of ardent spirits was prohibited in the canteens, the consumption of wine and beer went on to such an extent that in 1890 the following prohibition of canteens was passed by Congress by a very large majority : -

No alcoholic liquors, beer, or wine shall be sold or supplied to the enlisted men in any canteen or post-traders' store, or in any room or building at any garrison or military post.

From the very outset, this law was almost a dead letter. It was found to be defective, and the Attorney-General of the United' States reported against its application. It was generally disregarded, and the canteen became degraded to the position of an open public-house bar. The opposition to the canteen first appeared in army circles. This is a point to which I should like to direct the special attention of honorable members. In 1890 the Army and Navy Journal began to publish severe criticisms of the canteen system, and two years after, Colonel H. C. Corban, now Adjutant-General of the United States Army - an indisputable authority - stated in his report : -

The saloon feature of the canteen should be done away with without further experiment. The sale of beer superintended by a commissioned officer, and served by non-commissioned officers and soldiers is not conducive to discipline.

That is what I urged in directing attention to the fact that when a gunner was giving evidence in connexion with the inquiry to which I have alluded, he appeared to be anxious to shield his officers. Colonel Corban continues -

The men who drink spend the greater portion of their wages in beer.

Honorable members will notice that beer and light wines were dealt with in the report. Colonel Corban then deals with the argument which has been used in some quarters in favour of continuing the canteen. It has been urged that if you donot supply the soldier with drink in the camp or barracks he will go to the nearest public-house, where, being free from supervision or regulations, he will be very much more likely to drink to excess than if he were kept to some extent under observation.

Mr McWilliams - If soldiers start to drink in a canteen they will very soon go outside to obtain more.

Mr MAUGER - Colonel Corban makes this very pregnant remark, which I" would specially impress upon honorable members who may think that the canteen is a help to sobriety. He says -

The argument that the soldier would get drink elsewhere will not stand the test of reason, nor justify the Government in approving the system herein complained of. Drunkenness should be reduced toa minimum. This cannot be done by an open invitation to drink.

I have not time to quote the whole of this magnificent and trenchant report, but Colonel Corban goes on to point out that it would be just as reasonable for a father and mother to encourage their children to drink at home in the hope that they would become temperate and keep out of public houses, as to supply soldiers with drink in barracks. He shows clearly that "The sight of means to do ill deeds makes ill deeds done." The very fact that it is open to the soldier to partake of intoxicating liquors at any time of the day or night upon Sundays and week days, is an encouragement to drink, and there is no. doubt that the facilities afforded are availed of. From statements made , to me by noncommissioned officers and soldiers at present in our military barracks, I judge that young mien, who are practically total abstainers, enter our Queenscliff barracks, and before very long become habitual drunkards. The alcoholic taste is encouraged.

Mr Bamford - The term " habitual drunkards " is too strong.

Mr MAUGER - I am making the statem)ent on the authority of men on the spot. I am sure that many fine young men, with splendid physique, sound morals, and good prospects, are converted into drunkards owing to the temptations to which they are subjected, through the instrumentality of the canteen. When I asked my informant, a non-commissioned' officer, if he would be prepared to give sworn evidence in support of his statements to me, he stated that if I could assure him that his position would not be impaired, and that he would not stand the risk of being, reduced1, or of becoming marked by his officers, he would be quite prepared to state, on oath, what he communicated to me prvvatelv. My own experience goes to show that if you afford facilities such as are offered bv the canteens, vou are bound to work great mischief. Colonel Corban says-

The argument that the soldier would get drink elsewhere will not stand the test of renson, nor justify the Government in approving the system herein complained of. Drunkenness should be reduced to a minimum.

Here follows a pregnant sentence, to .which I would specially direct the attention of honorable members -

The exchange with an open saloon would be a first r;tte thing to recommend for adoption in the army of the enemy.

From what I have read I judge that the secret of Japan's phenomenal success in the late war lay in the fact that her soldiers were sober. They were not given to the use of intoxicating drinks, and' therefore their minds were always clear and free. The testimony of leading; soldiers and medical men goes to show that the successful fighter in the field of battle, as well as in the industrial world, is the man who keeps hisbrain clear.

Mr Johnson - Is drink excluded fromthe German army?

Mr MAUGER - Partially only. The authorities have attempted to reduce the consumption of drink by offering premiumsand rewards, but they have not excluded it absolutely.- General Howard, who was in command of the War Department of theEast, stated in his report to the Secretary for War in 1890 -

Commanding officers have generally, agreed', with me that it would be well to abolish the sale of beer altogether.

In his report of 1893, Surgeon-General: George M.. Sternberg made an attack onthe canteen. He said -

The young men who would not leave their barracks for intoxicants of any kind areled into bad habits -by the ease with which beer may be obtained, and the official sanctiongiven to its use.

That emphasizes the statement I made withregard to the Queenscliff Barracks, to theeffect that the facilities for obtaining intoxicating liquors at any time of the day or night encourage the soldiers to purchase it, and lead to their contracting bad habitsbefore they know that they are being injured. That is the experience all over the world. Now I wish to come to the prohibitory period. In 1899 the following order was issued by the Naval Department of the United States of America. Honorable members will notice that it is conclusive,, penal and mandatory.

Navy Department, 3rd February, lSqo. After mature deliberation the Department has decided that it is for the best interests of the service that alcoholic liquors on board ship, or within the limits of naval stations, be prohibited.

Therefore after the receipt of this order' commanding officers are forbidden to allow any malt or alcoholic liquor to be sold or issued' to enlisted men, either on board ship or within the limits of navy yards, naval stations, or barracks, except in the medical department.

John D. Long,


This order was issued in 1889, and from the latest reports presented by the War Department to Congress I learn that it hasproved effectual in reducing drunkenness, encouraging, temperance, and assisting thrift. Further, the number of naval' court martials has been decreased as theresult of this very striking and important order. I now come to the time when the existence of canteens was absolutely prohibited in America. It was as late as 1901 that Congress, by a large majority, reenacted its . former measure in language which officialdom could not evade. The following is the law of America in regard to canteens at the present time: -

The sale or dealing in beer, wine, or any intoxicating liquors by any person in any post exchange, or canteen, or army transport, or upon any premises used for military purposes in the United States, is hereby prohibited. The Secretary for War is hereby directed to carry out the provisions of this section wilh full force and effect.

That law was very strenuously opposed at the time of its introduction. The whole force of officialdom was arrayed against it,, and efforts were made, both in Congress and by naval and military officers, to secure its ineffective working. But the results have been eminently satisfactory, and the latest reports show that drunkenness has decreased, that the number of court martials has been reduced, that the men are tetter in health and pocket, and that discipline has been vastly improved. In a letter sent bv the Secretary of War to Surgeon-General G. H. Evatt, it is stated that not only has the law been in everyway successful-

Mr Crouch - What is the date of that letter ?

Mr MAUGER - It is dated the 10th March last. In this communication to SurgeonGeneral G. H. Evatt, CB., the Secretary of War says that the prohibition has been eminently successful. He also points out that the American Government were not satisfied merely with prohibiting the sale of wines, spirits, and beer in canteens. They have gone a good deal further, and have voted very considerable sums of money for the purpose of providing billiards, gymnasiums, and all kinds of recreation for officers and men. The details of this action are exceedingly interesting. In the Act, which was approved upon '30th June, 1902, Congress appropriated 500,000 dds. for the construction, equipment, and maintenance of suitable buildings at military posts and stations, for the conduct of post exchange, school, library, reading, luncheon, and amusement rooms and gymnasiums. In 1903 an additional sum of 500,000 dols. was appropriated for the same purpose, and in the following year a further appropriation of a similar amount was_ made. Last year the sum appropriated In this connexion was 35,000 dols., making a total °f 1,535,000 dols. In other words, the canteen has been made a public-house without the drink - a place where men can read and derive amusement, and where they can spend their spare time without being in any way injured. But the American Congress has gone still further. It has taken a step somewhat similar to that recommended by our Old-age Pensions .Commission. It has determined that no old soldiers' home - there are many homes for old soldiers in America - shall be in any way subsidized by the American 'Government if it permits a canteen to be established there, or allows its inmates to secure intoxicants. It will thus be seen that not only have the American Government abolished the canteen, but they have voted large sums of money to supply a substitute for it. In addition, it has been enacted that no home for old soldiers shall receive Government support if it provides its inmates with intoxicating liquors. I hold in my hand a very interesting testimony from Colonel Ray, the Commanding Officer at Fort Snelling. It is contained in a report which was presented to the War Office, in March of the present year. When questioned as to the effect of the abolition of the sale of beer and' wines in the army he said -

Nor do I find that beer is any more necessary for a soldier than it is for the employes of any great corporation, and I find that retail beer saloons are just as much a nuisance on a reservation and called a canteen, as they are off and called a saloon.

He then goes on to say -

There was no disorder in the post, that the discipline existing among the troops was not of the character developed by beer, and that the statement that disorder existed owing to the abolition of the canteen was not only false, but was an insult to every officer and enlisted man of the command, in implying that the laws of Congress, either to establish or abolish a canteen, could not be enforced in any part of the army of the United States without disorder.

Onehonorable member has asked what is being done in this connexion in other parts of the world. I might inform him that Amenca leads in this matter, but Canada is following closely in her footsteps. In the German army, orders are continually being issued directing attention to the evil effects arising; from soldiers partaking of strong drink. In Japan, the sale of strong drink is absolutely prohibited so far as the Government and military authorities are concerned. The leading medical men connected with the Army in Great Britain are also awaking to a sense of their 'duty in a most remarkable way. The most striking utterance in this connexion is that of Sir Frederick Treves, who, it will be recollected, accompanied the British troops in their march to Ladysmith. I will not detain the House by reading the whole of his remarks, but the following extract is particularly pertinent to the question under consideration : -

As a work producer, alcohol is exceedingly extravagant, and like other extravagant measures, it is apt to lead to a physical bankruptcy. It is well known that troops cannot march on alcohol. I was with the relief column that moved on to Ladysmith. It was an extremely trying time, apart from the heat of the weather. In that column of 30,000 men, the first who dropped out were not the tall men or the short men, or the big men, or the little men - but the drinkers, and they dropped out as clearly as if they had been labelled with a big letter on their backs.

Before I conclude my remarks, I wish to direct the attention of the House to a very striking illustration of the extravagance that is induced by the Government recognition of military canteens. I am confident that if the people of Great Britain could realize what is involved in it, they would immediately demand a change. My authority for the statement which I am about to make is the Daily News, which publishes an account of the sale of liquor, which was left over after the South African war. The article in question states -

Turning to wines, there were 1,500 cases of Allsop's ale, containing, it was calculated, 96,000 bottles, while there were, roughly, 1,600 cases of champagne-

Mr Bamford - The men in the ranks did not drink that?

Mr MAUGER - They did not. The article illustrates some of the results of the system of supplying drink to the officers of the army - drink for which the British public have to pay. It continues -

There were roughly, 1,600 cases of champagne, to say nothing of a large quantity of other wines, liquors, cigars, and groceries, the list of which reached the auctioneers too late for insertion in their catalogue. Such were the crumbs only which fell from the British Officers' mess. What must the feast have been like?

Sir John Forrest - Who wrote that?

Mr MAUGER - It was published in the Daily News. I contend that in this matter, medical and social science are upon our side, and that the experience of the American people goes to show that both our soldiers and the community generally, have everything to gain by carrying the Bill which I have the honour to submit for the consideration of the House. I am sure that inpassing the measure, honorable members will be keeping themselves in touch with the most advanced moral sentiment of the day, and I sincerely hope that they will agree to its second reading and speedily make it the law of the land.

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