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Questions to

Ms Carolyn Male
Member for Glasshouse, Queensland Government.

(sent 23.12.05)

Could you answer a few questions in respect to the recent decision
by the Queensland Parliament to have a "Minute Silence" to remember
a convicted drug dealer?

In respect to the recent hanging of the convicted drug offender in Singapore.   The Parliament of Queensland had a minutes silence in memory of that drug dealer.

1   What do you say in respect to this "minute in memory" for that person to parents of young people who have died as a result of incidents involving heroin?


2  Do you believe that this was an appropriate use of the Queensland Parliaments time?


I was on special leave from Parliament on the morning of this particular debate, so have sent you a copy of the Premier's speech which sums up what the motion was about.

On 2 December 2005  Hon. PD BEATTIE (Brisbane Central-ALP) (Premier and Treasurer), by leave, (10.30 am): I move-

That this parliament notes the previous motion to oppose the death penalty imposed on Nguyen Tuong Van.    That this parliament expresses sympathy to the family of Nguyen Tuong Van, especially his mother Kim Nguyen.   That as a mark of respect for this young Australian man, hanged this morning in Singapore, and as a gesture of sympathy to his family this parliament observe a minute's silence.

In moving this motion, I want to say a couple of things.     All my life-and I know this view is shared by many on my side of the parliament-I have been passionately opposed to the death penalty.    One of the most horrific images that I have in my mind was when Barlow and Chambers were executed in Malaysia.    After the execution, Chambers' body was laid out and all the local media turned up with cameras, and he had his feet protruding from under the sheet. It was one of the most horrific images that anyone could ever see of the brutality of capital punishment.

This state was the first state in Australia to get rid of capital punishment.    I want to continue the tradition of Queenslanders who oppose it.    This minute's silence gives us a chance to ponder the brutality of capital punishment. It also gives us an opportunity to think about his mum and his family.    I know that there will be differing views about whether to have a minute's silence, and I respect those people who have a different view than I do on this. But I think an issue as fundamental as life and death should not go unrecognised by this parliament, bearing in mind that we are sitting on the morning of this execution.     It does us no harm to pause for 60 seconds to think about his mum and to think about the senseless loss of a life through capital punishment.

I want to make it very clear:   I have always had strong views against drug trafficking.    Nothing I am saying or doing today in any way excuses Van Nguyen's behaviour in terms of drug trafficking, because it does create human misery.    What we have to do is what I stated in my letter to the Prime Minister: try to get a prisoner exchange program with our neighbours and our friends. Singapore has been a friendly nation to Queensland and Australia for a long time.    Their troops train in central Queensland. I have met their Prime Minister and I have met their senior ministerial leaders, as have many of my ministers. But, in my view, we have to get them to come up with a prisoner exchange program.

Every night we see what is happening in Bali. Every night we see Australians on the news. Undoubtedly, they should know better.     I do not know how many times we have to tell people.    They should know better than to engage in drug trafficking, but that does not justify the death sentence.     We need to get a prisoner exchange program so that, if someone is sentenced in Singapore, Malaysia or any of those countries with the death penalty, they will serve the equivalent time in our prisons.

I want to make it clear that in the future if any Queensland citizen is caught in these circumstances-and God hopes there are none but we do have one at the moment-we as a government would be prepared to be part of a prisoner exchange program to have them serve their sentence here.    I want to make this point: I hope that we can have this debate in a very dignified way.    I respect the fact that not everyone will share my abhorrence of the death penalty, but I think it would be unforgivable for us as a parliament, sitting this morning, not to take some action to recognise what has happened.   I know that we normally have a minute's silence to recognise those who have lost lives fighting on behalf of this nation, and that is an important part of the tradition of this country-

Mr Schwarten: Members of parliament, too.

Mr BEATTIE:  And for members of parliament.   We do that when one of our former members has passed away.    Nothing I am doing today diminishes that.    No-one should say that it does, because it does not.    What we are doing is asking people to spend 60 seconds in silence thinking about the death penalty and thinking about this young man's family.

Ms Carolyn Male MP
State Member for Glasshouse

Ed:  We must give credit for at least taking the time to supply an answer to the questions but I think that
Ms Carolyn Male MP, State Member for Glasshouse ducked the questions somewhat.

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