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Thursday, 7 December 1911

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I thank the Minister of Defence for his courteous explanation of the position, but I had no intention of attempting to abolish capital punishment by an amendment in this clause. I recognise that every such question must be dealt with on its merits. But when an honorable senator asked by interjection whether we could bring such a case before Parliament, I replied that more than once when Parliament has deemed that an injustice, was being done, it has practically compelled a matter to be reconsidered. I do not share the feeling which is so frequently expressed in the press, and by members of Parliament, too, that politicians should have no voice in the determination of these questions. They should be the last court of appeal if there is a belief that anything wrong is being done, or is going to be done, by any branch of the Public Service, whether it be the Naval or the Military, or any other. 1 believe that in the very rare instances where such a thing was likely to be done, Parliament would, with due decorum, give to any case the most calm, fair, and non-party consideration. It should have, the last say, quite irrespective of whether we abolish capital punishment or not. It was not my intention, I repeat, to try to abolish capital punishment by a side wind. Seeing that a general court martial will consist partly of persons not responsible to us, or our Ministry, Parliament ought to have the last say as to whether a death sentence shall ' be carried out or not. In order to test the feeling of the Committee, I move -

That after the word "confirmed," line 6, the words "by the Parliament and" be inserted.

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