Alcohol Research Papers

Note: Some of these papers do not contain up-to-date information and are included only for historical value or interest.

In the first few decades of the Western Australian (WA) Parliament there were a number of members of parliament (MPs) who strongly advocated temperance measures to establish alcohol prohibition in WA.

These measures included establishing State run hotels, reductions in the number of liquor licenses through inquiries by License Reduction Boards, restricting opening hours by six o’clock closing of hotels and conducting local option and prohibition polls to reduce the number of alcohol licenses in local areas.

The advocates of alcohol prohibition policies sought to drastically curtail the availability and consumption of alcohol in the State and drew support and validation for their cause from favourable similar measures introduced elsewhere, which they supported by investigations and reviews.

Operation of the liquor laws of New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand (1909)

This 14 page report, which was tabled in the WA Parliament in 1909, was the result of an investigation undertaken by Alfred Carson at the instigation of the Premier of the time, James Moore. As suggested in the report’s concluding paragraph, there was a sense of parochial satisfaction with the State’s alcohol policies at that time.

‘I cannot conclude this report without saying that, whatever the demerits of the liquor traffic in our own State, the average character of our licensed premises is incomparably higher than those which came under my notice in any one of the States I visited, and this notwithstanding that in Victoria, New South Wales, and New Zealand the process of eliminating redundant licenses, by one means or another, has been in progress for years.’ (page 15)

Click here to view or download a PDF [1.8Mb] copy of Carson’s report.

Prohibition in North America (1923)

This 40 page report, which was conducted by Thomas Walker MLA, who had been the Attorney General in the Mitchell government, which held office between May 1919 and April 1924. The author of the report was a passionate supporter for the adoption of the principles of prohibitlon in WA.

The report, which was tabled in the WA Parliament in 1923, presented a substantial amount of information obtained through interviews, from statistical materials and various written materials garnered from a tour by the Attorney General between February and June 1923 that involved 16 American States and 6 Canadian Provinces.

‘In the public schools of America scientific facts regarding alcohol are now being generally taught. The coming generations will know the truth, and after all perhaps the strongest foundation for a prohibition edifice is scientific education. There are those who believe that that is the only way of attaining ultimate National sobriety, but as the PremIer of a great State you will recognise, I think, that if science demonstrates that alcohol, however moderately consumed, is a menace to the longevity of the citizens of the State, and to the continuance of a virile race, it is the duty of the law-makers of the Nation, without waiting until all the ignorance of the people has been removed, to take action. 

A wise statesman would not wait until all the people had been educated to the evil effects and the dangers of the plague, or any lesser epidemic, before he placed laws upon the statute book prescribing regulations limiting the “personal liberty” of the subjects of the State so as to prevent the spread of any malady productive of fatality or the permanent injury to the victims of the disease.’ (page 39)

Click here to view or download a PDF [4.1Mb] copy of Walker’s report.

Select Committee into Alcohol & Drugs – Appendix C (1984)

The Select Committee into Alcohol and Drugs, chaired by Gordon Hill MLA, tabled its report in the WA Parliament in May 1984. A novel feature of this inquiry was the inclusion of research which outlined in some detail the impact of alcohol related problems in WA, encompassing both the health and criminal justice systems, as an appendix.

This separate examination of alcohol related problems, including extensive information about impact of policy measures, such as reductions in availability of alcohol and augmentation of law enforcement measures, was undertaken by the ADA’s then Research psychologist Dr Ian Smith. This research was published as Appendix C: Availability of alcoholic beverages and crime: An example of the value of social policy research..

Click here to view or download a PDF version (2.4Mb) of Appendix C of the report.

Swensen (1996) Alcohol caused mental disorders in WA with reference to the Indigenous population, 1981-1991

This paper was written in 1996 and involves an analysis of trends in hospitalisation due to alcoholic psychoses in WA over the period 1981 to 1992 by examining the prevalence of this mental disorder in the Indigenous population compared with the non-Indigenous population in WA.

The context of the study was to develop a better understanding of four interrelated issues involved in Indigenous deaths in custody – incarceration in police cells, alcoholism & acute intoxication, alcohol caused disorders of ideation and perception and suicide. 

Click here to view or download a PDF version [872k] of this paper.

Swensen (1985) The state and the alcohol industry in Western Australia

This paper was originally published in the March-April 1985 issue of Social Work News, the newsletter of the WA Branch of the Australian Association of Social Workers.

It canvassed some of the implications from the release in 1984 of the reports from two official inquiries in WA, with particular reference to the Royal Commission Appointed to Inquire into the Liquor Laws, which was chaired by Judge Syme of the Licensing Court. 

Click here to view or download a PDF version [188k] of this paper.