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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 9599


Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (13:55): I rise to acknowledge the dedication to the cause of social justice that is alive and well in the schools and community of the seat of Robertson. Today I want to particularly single out one school in my electorate, St Edwards Christian Brothers' College in East Gosford. I particularly acknowledge Mr Pat Dell, a fine teacher under whose energetic and compassionate guidance senior students have been activating their citizenship.

The senior students of St Edwards recently brought a petition to my office regarding the impending execution of Australian citizens Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, members of the Bali nine. The petition states their strong opposition to the death penalty and I will be presenting it to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is also my strong conviction that we must always advocate for this fundamental human right to life. This position is based on our shared beliefs and values in this country about the preciousness of human life and the fallibility of the justice system.

While Australians do not condone the drug trade and we acknowledge the criminal actions of these men, I, like the students of St Edwards, do not feel Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have forfeited their right to life. What this petition shows is that young Australians are certainly capable of judicious and fruitful participation in our democracy. I commend the students of St Edwards college for their passion and awareness of issues of social justice. I congratulate them on taking the initiative to show that they are good people and that they want to see fairness and mercy prevail in our global community.