Janelle Saffin Labor MP for Page on the NSW North Coast on her feet in the Australian Parliament, 22 February 2010:
I speak in strong support of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Torture Prohibition and Death Penalty Abolition) Bill 2009 for a number of reasons. Firstly, I oppose the death penalty. I oppose torture and other forms of degrading treatment. And I do so on moral grounds. We come to this place with a whole lot of roles. But we are also law-makers and as a law-maker I do not have the right to pass a law that would allow the state to execute another citizen or subject another citizen to torture or other forms of degrading treatment. I do not see that any lawmaker, in Australia, in any country, has that right. It is not a right that is given to us. We have to protect life and we have to protect human beings and human dignity. So it is totally on moral grounds that I oppose those things.
Full speech at OpenAustralia
Ms. Saffin's second reading speech was unequivocal in its opposition to the death penalty. In this she supports the Rudd Government move to remove the death penalty as a potential option for both the Commonwealth and the states.
In marked contrast to Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott who appears to waiver on the subject - this month declaring that execution may be a fitting punishment for those responsible for mass death.Whether this was just another Abbott grab for a media moment or something he clearly thinks should be debated will only be shown by what he says and how he votes in the House of Representatives torture and death penalty debate.
Oh wait, it looks like he won't be speaking on the subject in parliament - preferring to dog whistle instead.
Something another North Coast MP, the Nationals Luke Hartsuyker, appears to be emulating in that he too has been rather silent in the House on this subject so far, intent as he is on beating up on vulnerable flying foxes at public meetings in his electorate.
It is good to see at least one local MP taking human rights seriously.
I commend all those members of the federal parliament who have spoken out against the death penalty over the last four years.