Are people aware that Canberra was once a place where alcohol was prohibited?
Canberra was a dry community for the eighteen years from 1910 to 1928. This was all due to the influence of King O’Malley who passed this legislation through the Melbourne parliament as soon as the ACT was established. Imagine working all day on the new federal buildings (lots of big stones, etc) and not even being able to crack a coldie at day’s end!
Interesting of course that when parliament made the move up to Canberra, one of the first pieces of legislation they passed was the repeal of O’Malley’s prohibition laws (and no – it took us until 1992 to legalise prostitution).
O’Malley used to rant on and was quite the firebrand speaker. He lobbied for laws to be passed that required barmaids to be a member of a publican’s family. This was to avoid barmaids being “hired for their physical attributes rather than their prowess in drawing ale”. Nooo!
He was also responsible for the American spelling of The Labor Party – being an American by birth himself, he thought that it was far more modern than the English spelling of Labour.
We immortalise O’Malley with the suburb and of course, King O’Malley’s in Civic.
Another bit of prohibition trivia – The Helm Winery in nearby Murrumbateman features a tasting room that used to house the ACT’s temperance society! Ken Helm of course is the owner – who was unsuccessful in his bid for the Senate in 2001, but has found his niche growing a lovely white moustache and making delicious rieslings.