Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 November 2005) . . Page.. 4234 ..
existence, in turn know they are likely to be paroled or are likely to con the system that they have rehabilitated themselves. The community’s fear is that life imprisonment is vulnerable to change of government and therefore to change of legislation. The challenge is for governments to join together to ensure a reliable regime that will withstand the test of time. I do not support the death penalty but I challenge the government to demonstrate unequivocally that life imprisonment means life.
MR SPEAKER: The member’s time has expired. Mr Pratt, during your speech you referred to the judiciary in a rather offensive tone by declaring that they were lax. I ask you to withdraw that.
Mr Pratt: I withdraw that, Mr Speaker.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.09): I welcome this motion from Ms MacDonald. It is timely. I concur with a lot of what Mr Pratt had to say. I will deal with just a few points. The motion is timely because of the Nguyen case, on which all 17 members of this Assembly signed a petition to the Singaporean government. I have been following that case very closely and I was delighted to be one of the members who signed that petition. He is a young man who certainly has committed a very serious offence but who, to all intents and purposes, has cooperated with the authorities there.
I take Mr Pratt’s point about not being arrogant with other governments, but I am somewhat amazed that the Singaporean authorities would not take into account the fact that he was cooperative—I understand that he might even have been a very useful witness in relation to some bigger fish further up the chain—and that they have maintained their stance in relation to this young man. I must say that all the attempts on behalf of so many people in Australia, this Assembly included, seem to be coming to nought in relation to that, which does indeed sadden me.
Mr Pratt, as I said, made some excellent points in speaking to Ms MacDonald’s motion, which is about a very difficult issue. Like Mr Pratt, I have certainly had some fairly strong views on it in the past. In terms of the words “in any circumstances”, I still need some convincing there, given the Nazi horrors of World War II and the fact that, for example, the concentration camp commandant of Auschwitz committed one of the nastiest crimes ever by any human being.
I encourage members to watch Nuremberg, a magnificent video for hire about the Nuremberg trials. It highlights just how fair the judges were for the time—1946, when I think all countries had the death penalty—because some of the war criminals got off, some of the offences were dismissed, some received certain periods of imprisonment and some, as was a custom of the time, were sentenced to death, including the Butcher of Auschwitz. It is difficult to say exactly what to do when people commit such horrendous crimes against humanity.
Mr Pratt referred to something which lots of people have highlighted in this debate, which has been going on for a long time, that is, the need for true life sentencing for very horrendous crimes, be they local or international, whereby the perpetrators are never to be released. I do not particularly care how you do it. The Americans have systems whereby people can be sentenced to 200 years imprisonment and, unless you are talking about Albus Dumbledore, no-one is going to outlive anything like that. Obviously that is