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Thursday, 7 December 1911


Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - To my mind, the Minister may well accept a slight amendment in this proviso. It appears to me that no such extremely rigorous punishment as that of death should be inflicted as the result of a court martial, unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth has first confirmed the capital sentence.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - How can we discuss a matter of that sort?


Senator RAE - I do not desire to prevent the Governor-General from exercising the prerogative of mercy ; but, in a professedly Democratic community like Australia, we ought to recognise that the tendency amongst Naval and Military Forces is to pay less regard to human life than is paid to it by the average citizen.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - Would the honorable senator have every sentence of death reviewed by Parliament?


Senator RAE - Whenever the sentence of death has been recorded by a court martial composed partly of officers of the Commonwealth Navy and partly of officers of the Imperial Navy, .1 think that course should be adopted. It is quite within the region of possibility that capital punishment may be abolished by this Parliament.


Senator Gardiner - I hope that it will be.


Senator RAE - Should that result be brought about, it does not seem fair that any officer of our Navy should be at the mercy of a decision which may have been arrived at by a court martial composed partly of officers of the Imperial Navy. It may be urged that the Governor-General has to give his consent to the capital penalty being carried out, and that, whether or not that consent is forthcoming, will depend upon the advice of his Ministers. But I understand that the prerogative of mercy can be exercised by the Governor-General quite independently of the advice of his Ministers. I think that Parliament should have a final voice in this matter.







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