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Thursday, 9 March 1972
Page: 663


Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of 'he Opposition) - The argument which has been put by Senator Wright seems to be an argument addressed to the person rather than to the subject mat'er. 1 will nol speak from my own experience. Now that the attack has been made on the experience of Senator James McClelland 1 should say that anyone familiar with his career and anyone familiar with the law books of- this counTy will find that his name occupies an honoured place in the law. If one were to look at the first pages of the first volume of the Commonwealth Law Repor's one might find a starting point. Then one can proceed through the other reports of this country and find his name mentioned many times in most dis inguished company.

Speaking in answer to Senator Wright, he staled that in some way the Senate had been grossly misled. I will read again what I read to the Senate. Honourable sena'ors will see whether I suggested to the Senate something that was wrong. I spoke of the Gower Commission and I read this passage:

The Commission therefore decided that while foreign experience gave support to the case for abolition it did nol give support to the case for a grading of murders.

The Commission did not reach this conclusion with any relish or without great consideration, but it reached it quite definitely. The report continues:

Our examination of the law and procedure of other countries lends no support to the view that the objections to degrees of murder which we discussed above arc only, theoretical and academic and may be disproved by the practical experience of those countries where such a system is in force. We began our inquiry with the determination to make every, effort to see whether we could not succeed where so many have failed to discover some method of classifying murders so as to contine the death penally to the more heinous. We conclude wilh regret that the object of our discusion is chimerical and that it must be abandoned. 1 will leave it "o the Senate to say whether I suggested that the Gower Commission was not engaged on that task. 1 also referred to what was said by Mr Christopher Hollis. 1 said that he wroe:

Not only is capital punishment not essential for the protection of society, it has no effect on the murder rale whatsoever. Therefore, there can be no question that the solution of all the countries about responsibility and diminished responsibility about murders of the first degree and murders of the second degree, is to cut boldly through them by following the greater part of the civilised world into total abolition.

It is my suggestion that whatever these crimes may be. whether they be murders or otherwise, one can have differing views to hose held by others about which is the worst kind of crime which may be committed. I suggest again that the test is really the attiude of the state. It should not be looked at so much from the point of view of the individual, but rather that the s ate sei the example that it will not punish by way of capital punishment







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