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Government doesn't abhor death penalty.

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30 November 2005

The Senate today passed an amended Greens' motion expressing its opposition to the death penalty.

The Government refused, however, to support the original Greens' motion that the Senate express its abhorrence of the death penalty. Justice Minister Chris Ellison said that Senators should not bring emotion into the debate.

"Words do matter," said Greens Senator Bob Brown.

"Just two weeks ago the Senate was recalled to change the word 'a' to the word 'the'. The Government knows that words matter, and it knows the signal it is sending by refusing to state that it abhors the death penalty," said Senator Brown.

"The dictionary defines abhorrence as: 'a feeling of extreme aversion and something to be detested'. On Friday morning, Van Nguyen will be hung. Does the government not find this abhorrent?" Senator Brown asked.

Over the last few years the Prime Minister has been equivocal, expressing occasional support for the death penalty.

For example, on 23 February 2003, the Prime Minster stated, in relation to the death sentence handed out to the Bali bombers:

"If that is what the law on Indonesia provides, well that is how things should proceed, and there won't be any protest from Australia."

"Australia's policy needs to be consistent and must be based on principle, not on pragmatism. Capital punishment has no place in a modern world," Senator Brown said.

Further information: Ebony Bennett 0409 164 603

Government doesn't abhor death penalty

Senator Brown, 29th November 2005

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