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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Mr L R JOHNSON (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I wish to ask the Minister for Territories a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Wills a few minutes ago. Will the Minister confirm or deny reports that 24 New Guinea natives who were sentenced to death by the Supreme Court at Wewak yesterday were defended by a patrol officer who had participated in the apprehension of the accused? Are patrol officers generally regarded as legally qualified and as being sufficiently competent to defend persons accused of murder, and was the defence counsel in this case so qualified to appear for 25 natives on a murder charge? Will the Minister say whether it is usual for sentence of death to be carried out, and will he consider tabling the transcript of the com i proceedings for the information of the House?

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