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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 12. 1966.

Liquor poll is meaningless now

Liquor poll is meaningless now

Shortly, the triennial liquor farce will be played out again. We will be invited to vote for prohibition (which no one believes in), State purchase and control (which no one understands), or continuance (which no one likes).

Except for the few remaining suburban no-licence areas (where, it may be said, the hypocritical stand of the prohibitionists does them no credit), the poll is of no significance.

If the government is to continue with the liquor poll, it should at least make it meaningful. This has been the cry of the reformers for some time. They have advocated without success a straight contest between continuance and prohibition, followed by options on control if continuance is carried.

This has been rejected, but it seems probable that we will now get a referendum on licensing hours in the near future.

In this case, we would suggest that the Government borrows a leaf from the reformers' book. First, give voters straight choice between prohibition and continuance. Second, let only those who voted for continuance determine the licensing hours.

We can see nothing undemocratic or illogical in disqualifying prohibition voters from determining licensing hours.

It may be objected that people who would otherwise vote for prohibition will vote for continuance merely in order to also vote for licensing hours.

In fact, this would be one of the major advantages of the poll. For this would show just how many voters sincerely believe in prohibition as an ideal, and how many merely want to impose their own ideas of social conduct upon others.

Should the vote for prohibition fall below 10 per cent of total votes cast, this would, we feel, be a valid mandate for any government to abandon the triennial referendum altogether.