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Friday, 11 November 1910

Senator O'KEEFE - There may be a little difficulty in that case, though it is not insuperable. At any rate there is a tendency nowadays to shorten the hours and lighten the labours of domestic servants. Indeed, we know there is a necessity for doing so, as is shown by the very great difficulty of getting a sufficient number of domestic servants under present conditions.

Senator McColl - How would the honorable senator state the number of hours worked by members of Parliament?

Senator O'KEEFE - There are very few members of Parliament in Australia, and the public know quite enough about their work. Senator Story, as a contractor of experience, should know that there will not be much difficulty in getting information as to the number of hours worked by the average workman, or as to the wages earned. The figures obtained may not be of great use generally, but still they may be of some value to those who are concerned with the study of social problems. But I do not think that Ministers themselves can seriously believe that questions iv. and v. ought to be allowed to remain on the census paper. I look upon question iv. as affecting a matter that is purely one of private concern. I believe that a large' number of people would object to putting down in writing what money they have in the bank, or in the house, on census day. Of course, the Savings Bank statistics are easily obtained, but the question bears an aspect of prying into the private affairs of persons, and, as such, may be resented. If the information obtained were likely to be of great value one might be disposed to overlook the inquisitorial character of the question; but under present circumstances I am satisfied that it ought not to remain on the paper. Personally, I should absolutely refuse to set down what amount cf money I had in the house, because I should think that that was a matter that concerned me alone. Question v. is even more ridiculous. I cannot understand how a responsible Minister should have al lowed a question of that sort to go upon the census paper. In my opinion, the question is an impertinence. Furthermore, what is meant by asking a person whether, he is a total abstainer from alcoholic beverages? Does the Minister mean by " alcoholic beverages " such liquids as are sold as patent medicines, and have been shown on analysis to contain various proportions of alcohol? Are they alcoholic beverages? A temperance lecturer might frequently take some of these quack medicines, believing they possessed valuable medicinal properties. What about the unfortunate mother who has to give her child a spoonful of gin because it has the colic ? Is that child lc- be put down as a total abstainer or as one that consumes alcoholic beverages? The question is absurd. If the object is to discover what beverages are injurious to health the question does not go far enough, and we should ask the householder whether he is accustomed to drink tea or coffee. I was under the doctor a few months ago, and he told me that I was slowly poisoning myself, because I was in the habit of drinking four or five cups of tea in the twenty-four hours. The question is impertinent as well as absurd, and has no doubt been included to please the total abstinence section of the community, who are engaged in what they no doubt believe to be a good work. If they want this information they ought to get it in another way. A person who is in the habit of taking a glass or two of an alcoholic beverage in a week or in a month will probably say that he is an abstainer. The answers given to this question will not be reliable, and it must fail in it's object. I move, as an amendment -

That the figures i., ii., and iia. be left out.

Senator Walker - I suggest that we might take the questions seriatim.

Senator Findley - That cannot be done now, because a motion has been moved to strike out all the sub-sections.

Senator Walker - Could I not move a further amendment?

Senator O'Keefe - I shall be prepared to temporarily withdraw my amendment to enable the honorable senator to do so.

Senator Findley - A motion has been moved that certain questions be disapproved of. If a vote is taken on that motion, the whole thing will be disposed of.

Senator O'Keefe - My amendment would be put first.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator cannot move it again, if he withdraws it, because he will have exhausted his right to speak.

Senator O'Keefe - Then, in that case, I cannot withdraw my amendment.

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