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Wednesday, 14 September 1904

The CHAIRMAN - The keeping of minutes of the proceedings of meetings of the Executive Council is provided for in clause 25, which we have passed.

Mr FISHER - Cases involving capital punishment must come before the Executive Council, and therefore the decisions of that body will at times be the decisions of a Court. It is alleged that certain judicial record's have been lost, and I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether that statement is correct. A case involving capital punishment must come before the Council, and the Lieutenant-Governor might decline to submit to the Council a question in regard to it. The answer to the request for the submission of a question must' be recorded in the minutes, and would be virtually a judicial record. Would the Prime Minister be surprised to know that there are at present in Australia men who have been twice charged in New Guinea with murder, and with other crimes, who are, nevertheless, respectable individuals? It is alleged, however, that the records of the judicial proceedings in their cases cannot be found, .so that it is impossible for them to be used to prove that they are not guilty. In dealing with a Territory so far removed from the Seat of Government as New Guinea is, we should take every precaution, and I ask the Prime Minister to see that attention is paid to this matter.

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