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Thursday, 13 September 1973
Page: 998

Mr TURNER (Bradfield) - I rise at this stage merely to be consistent. I voted for the second reading of this Bill to abolish the death penalty on the basis that from all inquiries I have been able to make and the research I have been able to do it would appear to me that the death penalty is not a deterrent. Nevertheless, at the Committee stage we have been concerned with the possibility of some exceptions to that general rule which I accepted. Therefore I have voted for an exception in the case of treason. Treason is defined much more closely than it was in the past. I have excepted treason in the true sense; that is to say, that which endangers the whole framework of the state itself. It is true, of course, that that which endangers the lives of citizens is also in a sense directed against the state, but in a very special sense treason is directed against the state exclusively. I have risen from the point of view of consistency because again I must support the amendment that has been moved by the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party. In effect, it relates to political terrorism. It seems to me that this is on all fours with treason. It is something aimed not at individuals but at the whole framework of our society. I have confessed that capital punishment as a deterrent has little effect that I can discover. Political terrorism is aimed at the overthrow of our cohesive society. It would destroy our whole democratic concept. Because it is on all fours with treason I must support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party. This rests on a different principle from deterrence. As the honourable gentleman in the chair has remarked--

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes - Order! I think the honourable member should refer to the Minister and not to the gentleman in the chair, because the Chair has not made any remarks.

Mr TURNER - I am sorry, Mr Chairman. I wished to refer to the Minister for the Australian Capital Territory but at the moment I could not recall his Ministry. No disrespect was intended. He has put bluntly that capital punishment is based on revenge. Kinder words could be used such as 'retribution'. I believe that from the earliest times, in primitive and civilised societies, above all else people have been concerned to see that the society should be preserved. By terrorism it can be destroyed. Therefore it is a question of retribution, abhorrence, revenge, call it what you will; but I believe that society must make it clear that there can be no excuse for this kind of conduct.

Therefore I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party.

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