What a difference three weeks makes. On 24 September, new Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young moved a motion re the then-forthcoming World Day Against the Death Penalty:

That the Senate:

(a) notes that:

(i) Friday, 10 October 2008 is the sixth annual World Day Against the Death Penalty, and
(ii) this day of action was established in 2003 by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty in a commitment to the universal abolition of capital punishment; and

(b) calls on the Rudd Government to urge the 60 remaining nation states that continue to use the death penalty as a form of punishment, to abolish the death penalty as a matter of urgency, and halt all executions of those sentenced to death.

The major parties voted against it, while the Greens, Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding all, commendably, voted for it. It went down 44-7.

Yesterday Hanson-Young tried again, moving the same motion, slightly amended to reflect that the Day had now passed. The result? “Question agreed to.” No vote. What changed? A welcome change of heart on the barbarity of capital punishment? Or weren’t the managers of business and whips paying attention?

Peter Fray

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