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Thursday, 14 September 1911

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I shall not support either motion or amendment.

Senator Chataway - Surely the honorable senator will support the amendment.

Senator LYNCH - No; I regard the motion in its original form as so bad as to be. almost beyond the possibility of amendment. I am sorry that Senator Rae has thought it necessary to bring it forward. We all recognise that he is a man who does not believe in half measures. He does not believe in resting at any halfway house on the way to his goal. But in his present attempt to reduce the expenditure of members of this Parliament in connexion with the refreshment bar to even a lower amount than 4d. per head per week, the honorable senator is going further than even those who are aware of hia reputation were warranted in believing he would ,-go. One reason why I object to the motion is that it is not good Socialism. As a matter of fact, Senator Rae appears to me to be ranging himself alongside our honorable friends opposite. We have upstairs a Socialistic enterprise for the sale of liquors on the most approved lines, and it seems to me that Senator Rae's motion, if carried, would have the effect of driving members of this Parliament, who may desire relaxation or relief from parliamentary eloquence, across the way into the arms of private enterprise. I am afraid that such a proposal, coming from an avowed Socialist, may set a very bad. example; Dealing with the matter on higher grounds, I appreciate the motives of Senator Rae, while I do not approve of his methods. We are all aware that the awful evils of the liquor traffic in the industrial sphere have made the lot of those who work for industrial and social reform very hard indeed. While that is so, we should remember that this young Commonwealth of ours is remarkably sober, considering, that a. vast expanse of it lies within tropical and semitropical regions,, and that the hardships attendant upon pioneering in new districts are very great. Our consumption per head of intoxicating liquors is; remarkably low when compared with the consumption, in Germany, the "United States, or Great Britain. In endeavouring to make us better than we are at the present, time, and that is better in this respect than the foremost nations of the world, Senator Rae is attempting too much. He should remember the philosophy of the statement of Edmund Burke, that "The wisest safeguard against injurious excess is a rational indulgence." I venture to say that in this Parliament we set a very good example to those who may unfortunately be slaves to the drink evil. We- demonstrate that in the presence of temptations we are able to stand up against them. Any genuine reform, in the unfortunate slaves of drink must begin with the inward man. It is of no use to say that they can be Kept from drink by cast-iron regulations. They must be approached on ethical grounds, and taught to master themselves to such an extent that, by the exercise of their will power, they can refuse to indulge in drink. To close up the fountain upstairs may be to drive those who now spend only 4d. per head per week to some other place in the city, where they may .spend an unknown amount; and it may then lie in the mouths of some of our detractors - and, unfortunately, public men have detractors - to say that no one knows what the members of the Federal Parliament spend on liquor, since there is no refreshment bar in the building, and those who indulge in liquor go across the way, or to other places in the city where drink is sold. The figures given on tne subject are as reliable as any that could be secured, whilst the liquor sold on these premises is of the best quality, and sold at a fair price. The existence of the bar is a useful means of defending the character of members of this Parliament when it can be shown beyond a doubt that their expenditure in this direction amounts to the lavish sum of 4d. per head per week, including " soft stuff," and although no 3d. drinks are sold. 1 think Senator Hae must see that he has attempted something beyond his strength. He is trying to reform a body of men who do not need reform at all, and a false impression may be left in the minds of the public that the members of this Parliament need some moral fence to protect them from temptation. . The figures given show that the federal Parliament can set an example in this matter to other Parliaments. I hope the honorable senator will withdraw his motion, in view of the fact that .there is no .need for the reform of this Parliament in this matter.

The 'PRESIDENT.- Am I to under- - stand that Senator Lynch seconds the amendment?

Senator Lynch - No; I will have nothing at all to do with it.

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