Forum Votes For Seating In Hotels
Friday, June 18, 1954
A "straw" vote on A.C.T. liquor reform at St. Pauls Anglican Club forum last night voted overwhelmingly for compulsory seating as a condition of the sale of liquor; also improved drinking conditions and extended hours.
The snap vote was suggested unexpectedly at the conclusion of the forum, in which speakers were Mr. A. T. Shakespeare, of the A.C.T. Advisory Council, Mr. F J McCauley, president of the A.C.T. Trades and Labour Council, Mrs. N. Park, representing the National Council of Women, and Mr. A. Borthwick, of the Anglican Club.
All 22 persons who voted favoured a change in the present conditions for drinking.
There was only one dissent to a proposal that liquor be served only where compulsory seating was in force.
Twenty persons, including both men and women, did not favour existing hotel hours, eight favoured extended hours; nine favoured extended hours without increasing trading hours.
Twenty-one voters favoured extended hours without improved drinking conditions.
Leading the discussion, Mr. Shakespeare said the crucial test in a reform was the response it received in terms of human behaviour. The question arose whether liquor reform was wanted or reform of liquor.
He advocated that before liquor itself might be reformed there should be scientific research into alcoholic content which would reveal the facts and be a basis for a standard.
Mr. Shakespeare said liquor reform depended for its efficacy as a reform on the behaviour of the individual. The proper study of Australian behaviour was a subject which had been studiously avoided by institutions of learning.
Until there had been a study of Australian behaviour, every reformer would be groping in the dark in endeavouring to assess the value of any reform, he said.
He did not believe the alteration of trading hours was a reform of any value unless it was accompanied by other needs of greater importance He listed them in order as Liquor content; human behaviour in relation to liquor; conditions that the law prescribed for the control of liquor; and the hours of trading.
NOT ENOUGH HOTELS
The fundamental fact in Canberra was the serious underprovision of hotels. The liquor trade had so far shown lack of interest in providing capital to improve drinking facilities for the public.
Extensions of hours would increase profits without increasing service to the public.
Questions which should be decided by the people were whether they favoured present hotel facilities, and whether they favoured the provision of liquor only to persons seated.
Other reforms in Canberra would be the establishment of community hotels, even if ac- commodation requirements were waived for five years, provided there was silting room and improved drinking facilities.
Mr. F. J. McCauley said reforms must be considered in the light of benefit to the community and not individuals.
He said he did not feel that altering the hours of liquor trading was a reform. The metropolitan Press, as agent of the breweries, had stressed the necessity for longer trading hours, and shed crocodile tears over the "unfortunate" unable to obtain a drink when necessary
'I believe there will never be any worthwhile liquor reform until breweries are nationalised," he said.
"The huge profits of the breweries must be turned to better advantage. Those profits could be used for the development of Australia."
Community hotels had been introduced successfully in other States, and could be used in Canberra. There was room for four - at Ainslie, Deakin-Yarralumla, O'Connor and Narrabun- dah. More hotels were urgently required. On N.S.W figures there should be ten more in Canberra.
He advocated liberalisation of club licences, as they were conducive to a dignified atmosphere in drinking.
Stating he preferred to see standing at bars eliminated, he added that conditions would be more orderly if drinkers queued for their beers. Food should also be provided at reasonable prices.
The question of extended hours warranted an alteration in the hours of trading. He suggested hotels trade from 10 a.m to 2 p.m., from 3.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and from 7.30 to 10 p.m. Con sidoration should be given to employées required to work broken shifts.
Mrs. N. Park said the Australian outlook to drink was different from overseas. An Englishman told her, "We drink for pleasure; you Australians drink to get drunk."
Abroad the main function of alcohol was an adjunct to food in gay surroundings, but in Australia the whole subject was out of focus.
The abuse of liquor had resulted in a sinister atmosphere in which children were brought up to regard hotels and wine saloons as 'dens of iniquity." Opaque windows and closed bar doors built up this mystery.
She said drastic reform in the A.C.T. might provide an example for the rest of Australia.
She advocated reduced alcoholic content, longer trading hours, ample seating facilities and attractive surroundings, that light refreshments be available, and at least one beer garden or communal centre be set up in Canberra.
Mrs. Park said liquor reform involved adult education on when to drink, what to drink, and where to drink It.
ATTITUDE TO DRINK
Mr. Borthwick said the problem of liquor reform was one of conscience. Prohibition was not the effective answer in Australia. Longer hours did not necessarily mean more drunkenness.
Hours were less important than the attitude to drink.
The liquor trade in Canberra, as in the rest of Australia, looked to nothing but profit.
'There is no tradition of courtesy or service," he said.
The community hotel suggestion was excellent, but the movement several years ago collapsed through lack of support.
Adoption by the Trades and Labour Council and the A.C.T. Advisory Council might form the nucleus of a movement to make it possible.
The liquor trade had abused its opportunity in Australia, and nationalisation of breweries was not so illogical as it seemed.
"The trade has asked for it," he said.
"Unless profit motives are taken away, I cannot see how reforms can be effected."