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Thursday, 13 September 1973
Page: 993

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) - I do not propose to detain the Committee for very long. I explained last evening the personal dilemma in which I found myself in respect of this matter and the personal experience that took me away from a particular position with respect to the death penalty. I also indicated to the House that I believed in maintaining the death penalty for treason. I thought that was put quite without ambiguity and, even though I may attract a measure of displeasure from my colleagues on both sides I must say that I do not approach this question with respect to treason from the point of view of deterrence in any shape or form. I believe that a country, in its corporate state, is entitled to protect itself and when there is any attempt to infringe that corporate integrity and security it is entitled to resort to all forms in order to ward off those who would seek to destroy it. When a person seeks to destroy the security and integrity of the state, I must confess that no consideration of deterrence goes through my mind, I say unhesitatingly that the community is entitled to resort to retribution. This is the one ground on which I find myself quite overwhelmed by the high considerations of the safety of the state.

I agree with the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) that there are many cases which could be cited and which go into what one could describe as some twilight zone of difficulty in characterising and identifying whether something is treason simplicita or not. The Minister instanced the historic case of Sir Roger Casement. One can recall in our time Pontecorvo, George Blake and Alan NunnMay, to mention but three. One could go on; but that is to no avail. Possibly what the Minister would invite us to do, in conjunction with the observations by the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), is to be a little more definitive as to what treason is in this day and age, because certainly in the -United Kingdom the Treason Act of 1352 still holds the field and that is a complete piece of nonsense. I have put my position; I can do no more. I must support the amendment.

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