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THE DUNEDIN EXHIBITION.

SALE OP INTOXICANTS.

[Fbom Odb Pabliameniaey Eepoeteb,]

WELLINGTON, July 2.

There was a short discussion in the House this afternoon over the measure introduced by the Government for the purpose of authorising the Dunedin Licensing Bench to grant a license for the sale of intoxicants within the Exhibition Buildings, The Colonial Secretary, in moving the second reading of the Dunedin Exhibition Public Street Closing and Licensing Bill, said that the first object of the measure was to enable Cumberland street to be temporarily closed. There could be no objection to that; but he understood that some opposition would be raised to the fourth clause, which authorised the license of a person to sell liquors within the building. The opposition to this clause was on the ground that a vote had been taken in Dunedin against the granting of further licenses, but it must be obvious to hon. members that when that vote was in contemplation it was simply intended to deal with licenses for hotels, so that the Government could not see that any valid reason was disclosed against the issue of the license now wanted. The Government were first asked to grant the absolute right to sell liquors at the Exhibition without reference to the local Licensing Bench; but that proposal they could not support, and decided to endeavor to pass this Bill, leaving the question of the issue of a license to the local Committee. Mr Fulton could not allow the second reading of the Bill to be taken without entering hisprotest against one part of it, at any rate. He had no objection to the first part of the Bill, but to the fourth clause, which sought to override the vote given under the local option poll, he must enter his protest, Already he had bad the honor of introducing two or three petitions against ! the sale of intoxicating liquors within the j Exhibition Building, and others were on their way to the House, Were there not I already sufficient houses in Dunedin where i a man could get more intoxicating liquor than was good for him? Or would those | supporting this Bill tell him that its object was not for the purpose of gain ? The object of the Dunedin Exhibition was to bring together the products of all countries for the purposes of education and comparison; and to say that the persons who went there must necessarily require refreshments of an intoxicating nature was, to his mind, something that he did not like to criticise. There were no great complaints because no intoxicating liquors were sold in the Wellington Exhibition, and it was to the credit of the previous • Government that they never sought to introduce a clause of the kind now under review. Another question to be looked at in connection with this matter was this: not only would the wants of the ordinary visitors be supplied, but also what would be called the necessities of many persons who had to take charge of the establishment. He would seriously ask hon. members whether in allowing such a thing as this they were not encouraging those persons to neglect their duties and possibly to endanger the safety ef the building by their incapacity to perform the duties assigned to them. It would be nothing less than a place where a man could go and do what was commonly called “ nip ” and “ shout.” He had no great love for the publicans, but, putting it on that ground, he asked what right had the Exhibition Commissioners to interfere with the privileges of the various houses already licensed in the district? What would be the result of granting a license ? No non-intoxioating drinks worth drinking would be obtainable, for it would be expected that everybody would take liquor. In the interests of the many people throughout the colony he entered his protest against the Bill, and should vote against the clause in question. Mr Kerb said that to compare the Wellington Exhibition with the proposed Dunedin Exhibition was to compare a small fish pond with the ocean. The member for the Taieri had said that there would be a great deal of danger if drink were allowed to be sold in the place. He thought just the reverse would be the case, and that the prohibition of drink would endanger the safety of the building, because those in charge of the exhibits would go out in search of it if they wanted it. There were other drinks besides brandy and whisky which the hon. member might be glad to get—viz., tea, coffee, lemonade, and other teetotal beverages.—(Mr Fulton : But nolloense is required for them.) The total abstainers in New Zealand were injuring their cause by their extreme zeal. They would shortly want to make a law preventing a man having liquor in his own private house. It would be better for thejr cause If they gave a little more latitude. Already his pigeonholes were filled with teetotallers’ grievances. He did not know why they were sent to him.—(Laughter.) Mr Tanner would support the second reading of the Bill, but expressed a hope that in committee clause 4 would be struck out. If exhibitions were to depend on the sale of intoxicating liquors for their success, then the fewer exhibitions held in this country the better. Mr Allen said that although the ground had been somewhat cut from under bis feet by the previous speakers, he wished to emphasise what had fallen from them, because he had had the honor of presenting a petition signed by 2,500 inhabitants of Dunedin and suburbs praying that clause 4 of the Bill should not be allowed to pass. When the last local option poll was token the holders of publicans’ licenses, doubtless with the view of having a monopoly of the trade, voted against any increase. The same argument applied now. If the Exhibition Commissioners wished to get a license for the building they should have I got the Licensing Bench to close one of the existing houses, in which case the license could have been granted without infringing the provisions of the Local Option Act. Another alternative course had been pointed out to him by the member for Gladstone ; that was the taking of a new poll, when the people might have said: “ Under the special circumstances existing, we desire a license to be granted.” He took it that the great principle of local option ought not to be infringed, even by an Act of Parliament.

Mr Ross would also 'vote in committee against the granting of this license, He would merely take this opportunity of saying that the Exhibition Commissioners were not all in favor of the license being granted. Mr Fish would not dispute with the member for Roslyn if he were speaking for himself; but so far as his knowledge went the hon. gentleman had not said one word against the application at the Commissioners’ meeting. As a matter of fact, Sir R. Stout, who was an apostlh of temperance, had spoken strongly in favor of this license being granted, stating that, while persons were allowed to sell liquor outside, there could be no harm in permitting its sale within the building. Mr Saundebs had no objection to the principle of the Bill, but hoped that in committee the clause allowing sale of intoxicating drinks at the Exhibition would be struck out. There was no doubt that this Exhibition would be very much more, respectable in every why if grog were not sold there.

Mr Ross wished to make a personal explanation to show that other Commissioners than himself Were in favor of the exclusion of the sale of intoxicating liquors. He need only refer to Mr Allen’s remarks just made.

Ur PlsU: Mr Allen did not express hi* objection at the meeting of the Commissioners.

Ur Allen explained: that the reason bo did not raise his voice was because he waa not present when the question came up, Mr Mabchant doubted whether Sir S. Stout could have made the positive statement attributed to him, and asked the member for Dunedin Sonth whether the mental attitude of the question had been correctly represented. Mr Fisb : I cannot tell you what Sir B. Stoat’s mental condition was at the time—(laughter)—l only know what he said. Dr Fitchett corroborated Mr Fish’S version of what Sir R. Stout had said. He had stated; “If we could abolish drinking, 1 would heartily co-operate with the effort, but while it is being sold outside the Exhibition it would be very foolish indeed to attempt to prevent its sale inside.” Mr Mabchant said that the hon. member for Dunedin South had stated that Sir £. Stout was strongly in favor of the issue of this license, but the statement of the bon. member for Dunedin Central did not bear out so strong an assertion. Mr Soobib Mackenzie said that if the Bill were going to be overthrown on the statements made by those opposed to it, never was a measure overthrown on such slender ground. The arguments of tho member for the Taieri amounted to this: that because some men are virtuous there are to be no more cakes and ale. The whole of the arguments used were ineffectual and absurd.

Mr O’Conob objected to the Home being tamed into a licensing committee for Dunedin. He would have liked to see the people given another opportunity of voting as to whether this license should be granted or not.

Mr Hobbs trusted that the attempt to override the already expressed opinion of the people would be defeated, and the clause struck out in committee.

Mr Hakkness said that Mr Soobie Mackenzie had laid down a doctrine that Parliament had toe authority to override any Act it might make. While he admitted that he denied they had any right to endeavor to set aside the expressed voice of the people, he was willing that another vote of the ratepayers should be taken on the question.

The second reading of the Bill was then carried on the voices.

On this question the ( Post’to-night says: “ There Is something ludicrous in the idea of the secretary to an enterprise of this kind applying for' a publican’s license for a building erected by the aid of a Parliamentary vote, and for snch purposes as the_ Exhibition. That the Licensing Committee should have entertained the application for a single moment is surprising. They must have known well that they could not legally grant it, and they should not therefore have gone through the farce of adjourning the application. We now hear that a special Bill is to be introduced to authorise the granting of a license in this case. We are confident that such a Bill will not have the slightest chance of passing. It 'will meet with the strongest opposition on all sides, and from members of all views on the general temperance question. Any attempt to force it through will engender a feeling of antagonism to the whole project, which may produce damaging results. The sale of intoxicating liquors in the building is not necessary to either the comfort or convenience of those who will visit the Exhibition, in fact it would probably impair both in a great many ways. The direct profits which might be expected from the trade done would, we believe, but very poorly compensate for the loss which would certainly be entailed in other ways by the Exhibition being used for such a purpose. A very large number of people would undoubtedly conscientiously abstain from visiting the show if .it were licensed for the sale of intoxicants, and the idea of its being so licensed must have already militated against the extension of the list of guarantors and shareholders. Persons committed to what is known as the temperance cause could not become partners in or parties in any way to such a business. The directors will be consulting the best interests of their enterprise by at once intimating their abandonment of their grog-selling project. All sides will then be able to work cordially together to render the Jubilee Exhibition in Dunedin the complete success which all must wish it to be, not only for the sake of Dunedin, but also for that of the colony.”

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Bibliographic details

THE DUNEDIN EXHIBITION., Evening Star, Issue 7949, 3 July 1889

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THE DUNEDIN EXHIBITION. Evening Star, Issue 7949, 3 July 1889

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