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Thursday, 17 November 1960

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) (12:48 PM) . - I also support the opposition to the death penalty. I hope that the Government is fully satisfied with the precision of its proposals in all respects, if it intends to impose the death penalty. We should remember that the death sentence was passed on Mr. De Valera and he subsequently became a British Commonwealth Prime Minister. For political crimes related to sedition and treason, Mr. Nehru and Gandhi were also imprisoned. I think it was Lord Attlee who said that passing sentence on people for sedition seemed to be one of the ways of ensuring that they became British Commonwealth Prime Ministers. It should also be remembered that only tv/o or three years ago very strong dissent was expressed by honorable members on the Government side of the chamber against sympathy expressed by honorable members on this side in relation to independence for Cyprus. Now that is a fact, and we now negotiate with the people, as heads of state, who, it was strongly suggested, should have all sorts of unpleasant things done to them, and one of whom was actually exiled.

So be very certain that what is being classified as treason is some real conspiracy against the state and not a matter of a political attitude in relation to independence, say, in the Territories, or some such matter. I name De Valera, Nehru and Archbishop Makarios to show how people classified as seditious end up as Prime Ministers in the respectable circle of the British Commonwealth of Nations and are dealt with by the heads of state who imprisoned them. Had the death sentence been carried out on De Valera what advantage would it have been to the United Kingdom? He did really express the wishes of the Irish people. They did not want to be a part of the British Commonwealth, and we now admit it, although it was never admitted at the time. So be very certain that any offence that carries the death penalty is not subject to the passions of the moment.

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