11 January, 2016 11:15
CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | CONTACT
New South Wales Premier Mike Baird received a 29-minute standing ovation after delivering an emotional speech to the Women’s Temperance League NSW Chapter at a community hall in Kings Cross last night.
In what many describe as his “Redfern Speech” moment, Baird was praised by the anti-alcohol movement for “sticking to his guns” regarding the lock-out laws in Sydney city.
In his third appearance at a temperance function since he took over as Premier in April 2014, Baird was brought to tears as he bravely told the personal story of how alcohol had affected his family as young boy.
With welling eyes, Baird shared with the audience of Christian mothers an emotional recount of one harrowing sunday morning in 1979 when he was an 11-year-old boy.
“My father was a Australian Consulate-General based out of New York. As you can imagine, he was required to attend many events in this position, and we were often left out of it at home while he would do his job,”
“I’ll never forget one Sunday morning, the entire family was dressed for church and ready to go…”
“… That’s when my mother came down the stairs and told us that Dad wouldn’t be joining us. She said he’d had ‘too much fun’ the night before and wasn’t in a good state for church,”
“We cried and cried and cried. We had to stay home that Sunday because my dad had what I can only imagine was a horrible hangover. Mum couldn’t take us because our religion stated that women were not allowed to drive at that time,”
With tears dreaming down both Baird’s face and the faces of the four-hundred-strong audience of mothers, he finished with a vow to never let that happen to another Australian child as long as he was premier.
“Ladies, I have experienced first hand the disastrous effects of alcohol. I witnessed it, I lived it,”
With roots in the Southern United States, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, a successful abstinence-oriented movement, set up a branch in Australia in 1985. Despite playing a huge role in state policy, the movement has so far failed to bring about a full prohibition of alcohol, as happened in the United States.
However during World War I they were successful in bringing in mandatory closure of hotel bars and public houses at 6 pm, from the previous norm of 11 or 11.30 pm. Their greatest political win was having alcohol completely banned in Canberra – before it was made legal again following a plebiscite in 1928.
It appears the Women’s Temperance League is currently experiencing a resurgence at a state level, particularly under the religiously conservative current government. Mike Baird has reiterated that he is a huge supporter of their movement.
“People can criticise my lock-out laws all they want, but when they do that… I want them to think about that little boy…”
“… The one that had to miss out on church because his Dad was too busy representing the Australian government in a venue that stayed open past midnight.”
“Working with the women in front of me and my close friend Mr Scipione, I promise we will save this city and its residents from a life of sin”