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Wednesday, 19 April 1972
Page: 1263

Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) -I want to raise a matter of importance.I have here 2 bottles. The first one is sold by a hotel in Australia. It contains an adulterated alcoholic beverage. I will be able to name it in a moment, when I mention the composition of it in technical terms. A certain hotel in Australia is selling it only to Aborigines. I have here another bottle of the real McCoy. This one costs approximately half the price of the other bottle; it is quite a genuine one having the tangy port smell. The other one obviously has been adulterated. I understand that quite a number of hotels do this sort of thing. It has been reported to me that in the area in which such liquor is being sold to Aborigines there is temporary blindness among some of the youngsters and many of them suffer from tummy pains - and the publican concerned goes on making a fortune. This is a reprehensible practice and it ought to cease forthwith. I ask the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) whether he will take appropriate steps to have an immediate inspection carried out at the particular hotel. For obvious reasons I shall not name it publicly at this time. I trust that appropriate assistance will be forthcoming from State authorities if it is necessary. If not, I shall be only too pleased to name the publican, the hotel and the State in a about a week's time in this chamber.

I feel that another factor may come into this. I should imagine that the Deprtment of Customs and Excise would be more than interested in the fact that this liquor has been diluted by the addition of another mixture. The brewery that distributes the bottle of liquor would no doubt be delighted to know that another mixture other than its own has been added. This has been independently tested - unofficially of course - by a highly qualified scientist. The contents are a type of wine. According to his reckoning, there is 0.5 per cent of methenol in it, which may come from the ordinary fermenting of wine contents. There are indications that there is also benzine and pyradine in the bottle; it could be anything from 20 to 50 per cent. This measuring has not been done. I have no doubt that people in the Commonwealth Department of Health are highly qualified to carry out an analysis of it with a minimum of delay. I trust that the appropriate Government authorities will the take appropriate action, also with a minimum of delay.

A Townsville businessman has approached me and said that he is prepared to give a statutory declaration regarding a local corner store where he saw 6 bottles of methylated spirits being sold to a little fellow of 12 or 13 years of age who promptly took it around the back street to his little mates, and they proceeded to indulge in the metho binge. Black people, or low income white people for that matter, do not like to drink methylated spirits or any combination of methylated spirits and any other types of alcoholic beverage; but because of economic circumstances and as those who indulge in alcohol say that it gives the drinker a kick, they are forced to drink this sort of rubbish.

I believe that unscrupulous hotelkeepers and equally unscrupulous shopkeepers, large and small, ought to be effectively prosecuted for serving this sort of liquor to Aborigines throughout this country. Accordingly, Mr President, I leave this matter in the Minister's hands with, I hope, a great deal of faith. I will give him a sealed envelope that contains the name of the hotel and the town where the bottle was procured. There are 3 witnesses who were present when the bottle was procured: I think that might tie up the legal side. I have brought the other bottle along for comparison purposes only and I would like to take it with me when I go.

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